Having extensive sports knowledge is not mandatory to becoming a winning sportsbettor. Successful gamblers understand the market in order to identify advantages. Oddsmakers modify their lines in an attempt to control the flow of action on a spread or total. This is done with the goal of either creating a balance in wagers, or taking a position to ensure that a larger percentage of the action is at a statistical disadvantage. Our free sportsbetting guides will teach you how to become a profitable sportsbettor.
Expected value is the mean value in the long run for many repeated trials. To put things in simple betting terms, the expected value of a market is a theoretical “true line” that is set strictly on outcome probability. This means that betting either side of this spread or total would result in as close to a 50% win percentage as possible. We know that oddsmakers do not release true lines as they make adjustments to impact the balance of action.
Positive Expected Value
Now that we understand that the lines available at a betting site are not strictly based on game outcome probability we can see how profitable sportsbetting works. The oddsmaker adjustments create a margin between the true lines and the sportsbook lines. One side of the market will give you an advantage. The implied win percentage is greater than what the true line would suggest. We call this a positive expected value wager. If you were to place this bet an infinite amount of times you would generate a profit.
Lets look at an example to make sure everything is clear. Lets say two American football teams are playing each other. Team A is ranked first in the league and have easily won their last five games. Team B is a much weaker team that has injury problems. Oddsmakers use the tools available to them to determine that the expected value of the spread should be 9.5. This means that in a large enough sample size sees Team A winning by 9.5 points.
If they expect a larger portion of their customers’ action to be on Team A then it is beneficial to make that side of the game worse to bet on. Adjusting the available spread to 10.5 will not only pull some more people to the underdog side, but it will put the majority who continue to back the favorite at a statistical disadvantage. They are betting on a line that is 1.1 points worse than the expected value. This is called a negative expected value wager (-EV).
One of the reasons why people lose money betting on sports is because they base their selection procedure off useless information. Anything that has nothing to do with determining which side of a game offers positive expected value is worthless. The most common culprit are trends. Some of the biggest voices in the sportsbetting industry frequently cite many different forms of trends. All of them are useless. How well a team have performed against the spread on Sunday afternoons after playing a division rival is meaningless. All of the sportsbetting guides on our website will remind you to spend your time evaluating the margin between the expected value and the offered line.
Understanding how much you should be betting each game is just as important as how you determine who to bet on. Most beginner sportsbetting guides will instruct you to risk between 1% and 5% of your bankroll. The problem with this range is that it is very difficult to claim to be five times more confident in one play than another. Even experienced sportsbettors have difficulty with this. I recommend all novice gamblers wager a flat 1% of their current bankroll per game. Every time you believe you have identified a positive expected value situation place a bet. Stick with this bankroll management method until you are ready to upgrade to some variation of the Kelly Criterion (which takes into account your estimated advantage).