Value Betting – How to Find Value from Online Betting

Value betting is one of the strongest betting strategies that you can apply. It’s based on finding odds that are too high for the outcome of the result and in turn, offering value.

Through this article, we will be looking at how value betting works and how to spot value. We’ve also included information on probabilities in betting, which is a key component of this betting strategy, along with real-world examples and the best betting sites to find value.

What is Value Betting?

Value betting is all about finding odds that are higher than the potential outcome of the event. The same methods are applied extensively in finance when you’re essentially buying at a lower price for the price to then rise and lock in a profit.

For sports betting, we’re looking at opposing the odds that are set by the betting site to advantage take of odds that are greater than the probability of the event.

Value betting explained

As a quick example, we’re going to look at a simple coin toss. We know that the outcome of heads to tails from the coin toss is 50/50 or in betting terms, this would be even money (+100) and an implied probability of 50% for both results.

So, a bookmaker would have odds of +100 for heads and +100 for tails if they were offering “true odds”. However, let’s say, for example, the odds for heads were +110 which translates to an implied probability of 47.6%.

We know, for a fact, that the potential outcome is 50% for it to land on heads, so the betting site is giving it less chance (based on odds of +110) than its true probability. As a result, the price of +110 would offer us value as we’re getting higher odds than the probability of the result.

It’s not as straightforward as this for sports betting. There are many factors as to why odds are what they are and to find value is a skill that uses data to back up theories about why the bet might offer value. We address this in-depth throughout the article.

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Understanding Probabilities in Relation to Value Betting

Understanding probabilities in relation to value betting is a key factor in successfully finding value. In betting, odds are merely reflective of the implied probability of that result or the likelihood of that result winning.

You can jump back to the section above to see the basic way in which it’s applied to a coin toss, but for this next part, we’re looking to apply that to sports betting.

NBA value betting

The game above is from the NBA between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. We’re going to take the moneyline odds to highlight the probability of each team winning.

Team Moneyline Odds Implied Probability
Miami Heat +140 41.7%
New York Knicks -165 62.3%

As we can see, the bookmaker thinks that the Heat have a 41.7% chance of winning and the Knicks have a 62.3% chance of winning.

A keen eye will notice that this only adds up to 94% and that’s because vigorish is applied to the market, which is basically the bookmakers cut on all bets. We have got a full article about how vigorish works if you want to learn more, but you don’t need to worry about it too much for the purpose of value betting.

To find value from this game we need to oppose one or more of the probabilities. If we think that a team has more chance of winning, then the bet offers value. If we think they have less chance of winning, then the bet does not offer value.

Let’s assume that our research shows that Miami has a 45% chance of winning and New York has a 60% chance of winning (taking vigorish into account). Our odds would look like this.

Team Moneyline Odds Implied Probability Our Odds Our Implied Probability Value?
Miami Heat +140 41.7% +122 45% Yes
New York Knicks -165 62.3% 60% -150 No

Based on our adjusted implied probabilities, we can see that betting on the Miami Heat to win at odds of +140 is going to offer value, whereas betting on the New York Knicks at -165 will not.

Value Betting Example

We’re going to include a couple of value betting examples to see if we can find any value from upcoming games across the US. We will apply a bit of strategy to our picks, but there is more on this in the sections below.

MLB value betting

The first game we’re going to look at is an MLB matchup between the Colorado Rockies and the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is an evenly matched game, but there are some key stats that highlight possible value within the over/under (totals) market.

  • Total has gone UNDER in 12 of Colorado’s last 18 games
  • Total has gone UNDER in 10 of Colorado’s last 13 games on the road
  • Total has gone UNDER in 5 of Colorado’s last 7 games v Pittsburgh on the road
  • Total has gone UNDER in 11 of last 16 games in this matchup
  • Total has gone UNDER in 5 of last 7 games when Pittsburgh plays at home v Colorado

As we can see, the trend here is that the game is that the total is going to finish under, simply based on the previous matchups between the two teams. The under is priced at -105 with the bookmaker which is an implied probability of 51.2%.

Based on the data, all the signs are suggesting that this is low, and it could be much nearer a 60% chance that the totals fall under again. As a result, the under on the totals bet for this would offer value.

NBA value betting

Our next example is going to jump back to the NBA game between Miami Heat and New York Knicks. We’re going to move markets to the over/under bet and we’re thinking that the value lies within the over 209.5 for the following reasons:

  • Miami covered the over 7-2 in playoff games
  • Both teams have been under average from the three (25%)
  • Both teams average around 35% usually from the three
  • Based on previous games, both teams need to play to their average and if they do, will cover the over comfortably

It’s a similar case to the MLB example in that, the bookmaker is pricing the over at -110 which is a 52.4% probability, but we think that this should be closer to 60% if both teams play to their ability. As a result, the over 209.5 points is going to be a value bet on this game.

Value Betting Strategy

To find value you need to have a solid strategy in place. In this section, we’re going to look at methods you can apply to find value from your bets.

1.   Follow Tipsters

The online marketplace is flooded with betting tipsters. Some are (much) better than others, but this is a good place to start to find value.

There are a few key points that you need to take into consideration when using a tipster. The first is the data to back up their predictions. If the site, simply says “Back Miami to win at +180” then this should be ignored.

You want information about why they are tipping a bet and the data to back that up. In our value betting example earlier, we included some basic stats that would back up the bet and it’s this sort of information that you want to follow.

Make sure that the tipster has some sort of accountability in terms of wins, losses, and profitability. A good tipster will use this as a marketing tool and be proud to display a winning record. Poor tipsters likely won’t show any of this info and the main reason behind this is that they are consistently losing. It’s fine to lose, but you need to be honest about it.

Finally, don’t just use the tipster as gospel instead, use them as a base to find value. Check their tips against the data and decide for yourself if you think that the bet and the odds offer value.

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2.   Become Your Own Bookmaker

You need to change your mindset from a punter to a bookmaker. By creating your own betting lines, you can then compare them to the odds on offer and quickly determine if they offer value or not.

To do this you need to assess each game on a one-by-one basis. Determine the implied probability of a result and then see if the odds on legit betting sites will provide value.

Obviously, you aren’t going to set lines on all markets for all games, so choose games that you think might be close or even games that have big fan followings as the betting lines can be distorted because of the volume of bets rather than a mid-priced betting line.

The concept is that once you’ve created your own “book” you can compare to see how the betting sites see it. If the odds are higher, then this is value.

3.   Become an Expert in One Sport/League

There are thousands of bets you can place every day on offshore betting sites like BetOnline and Bovada. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume and search for value across the board.

But this takes considerable time, so the best way to become an expert in a single sport or league. For example, if you’re a diehard LA Lakers fan, then it makes sense to start with their games. You can target dozens of markets within a single game and there are multiple games per week.

As you expand your knowledge you can start to look at other games within the NBA. Often you will start seeing patterns as to where value might lie. Most of the top bettors will target a single market, such as the spread betting, over/under, or moneyline, and apply all their research to this across the league.

4.   Be Selective

The size of online betting sites means that you don’t need to rush into picks or force finding value bets. If something is tight or doesn’t quite feel right, move on, and find another bet. There is ALWAYS another game or market to bet on.

One of the biggest mistakes that we see is people forcing what they perceive to have value just for the sake of placing a bet. This is going to be a losing strategy long term and is not how you find a value bet.

Professional horse racing punters are a great example of this. There are tons of factors as to how and why a horse might win a race, but it takes a keen eye to consistently be profitable. In horse racing, some of the best winners place the least number of bets. They target races or courses that they are incredibly familiar with and wait to find the right bet for the race. Some will only place a handful of bets a week, but they go hard and back their knowledge to be profitable long-term.

5.   Implied Probability is Your Friend

Implied probability is the easiest way to find value. Use the data to work out the chances of a result coming and have that as a percentage. Don’t worry about the odds, just work on how likely that bet is to win.

For example, if you think that the Miami Dolphins have a 60% chance of beating the New York Jets, then this is your implied probability. Convert this to odds (use a calculator online) and then compare it to the price you get from the betting site. This will determine if it creates value or not.

Finding Value

Finding value is not easy. Sportsbooks run a tight ship and they have big teams and computers that determine the likely outcome of an event. But there is still an opportunity to find value.

One of the best ways to do this is to follow bet lines and determine why they are moving.

There are several factors that contribute to lines moving, but one of the most common is due to the volume of bets. When you have popular sports teams such as the LA Lakers in basketball or the New England Patriots in the NFL, it attracts a lot of money from casual punters backing their favorite team.

When this happens, the sportsbook reduces the odds from what they initially consider to be fair. Now the price no longer reflects the true probability of the result and instead is shortening because of the money.

Let’s run through a quick scenario of how this might work. The odds below are taken from a game as soon as the book opens and we deem these odds to be very close to “true” odds.

  • New England Patriots to win on moneyline @ -150 (60% implied probability)
  • New York Jets to win on moneyline @ +150 (40% implied probability)

Let’s assume that an hour before kick-off a huge volume of bets has been placed on the Patriots to win and as a result, the line has shortened.

  • New England Patriots to win on moneyline @ -300 (75% implied probability)
  • New York Jets to win on moneyline @ +300 (25% implied probability)

Now, we assume that nothing has changed in the build to the game in terms of starting rosters, injuries, etc. However, the bookmaker is now saying that the Patriots have gone from a 60% chance of winning to a 75% chance of winning with no external factors that would suggest a monumental change like this.

From this, we get a 15% boost on the Jets to win in terms of implied probability. The money has forced this line change with most people betting on the Patriots, but now, we get a boost on the Jets to win, and even though they are underdogs, creates a ton of value.

This is how you find a value bet.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Value Betting

In this section, we’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of value betting.

Advantages of Value Betting

  • Allows you to be subjective – To find value, you need to do your research. You’re then able to find the likelihood of each event via implied probability. This then allows you to see if the odds are in your favor or against you.
  • Working against market trends – Markets and odds move constantly, but the main reason is the volume of wagers placed on an outcome. When this happens, the more means the odds shorten, but the likelihood of that bet winning was the same as when the odds were long. You can then oppose these odds by either backing against them or laying on an exchange.
  • Removes guesswork – When you research each bet you come up with the likelihood of the bet winning and then the odds accordingly. You remove any guesswork from your bet and as a result, will win a lot more long-term.
  • More profitable – Applying any sort of betting strategy will help you win more frequently, but when you target value, this increases exponentially. If you think of it like a coin flip, if a betting site were to offer you odds of +110 on each flip, you’re going to win a lot of money. If you can consistently find this with sports betting, your profits will thank you.

Disadvantages of Value Betting

  • Hard to find – Bookmakers are very shrewd in their betting lines and have huge resources to make sure that lines are competitive. As a result, it’s not always that easy to find a strong value bet, but not impossible.
  • Limits for consistent winners – Bettors that consistently find value and win, may find that accounts can be limited in terms of the max bet. Unfortunately betting sites don’t like (big) consistent winners and are well within their power to limit them on-site.
  • Hard to determine probabilities – One of the key areas for a successful value betting strategy is being able to determine probability accurately. There is so much data online these days that it’s hard to accurately determine the correct probability every time.

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FAQs

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Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.