When it comes to sports betting tips and strategies there are many things a punter needs to do in order to maximise their chances of success. Knowing how to interpret odds and doing your research are both key weapons in your battle with the bookies, but coming up with sport betting strategies that work often gets lost in the sea of numbers.
If you were investing money in property or stocks and shares you would always have a plan as to how much you were willing to spend, how to maximise your returns and also reduce any potential losses. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a similar plan when wagering your hard-earned cash!
To help you do this, we’ve created this guide which will tell you everything you need to know about sports betting strategy, including the best overall ones and also some specific tactics depending on the sport you are having a wager on.
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Having sport betting strategies that work are crucial for two key reasons, the first of which is that it gives you the best possible opportunity to make successful wagers that are based on information and statistics rather than just doing what your gut tells you or blindly backing favourites the whole time.
The second reason for having a good betting strategy is that it allows you to manage your betting budget effectively by encouraging you to size your bets properly, ensuring you will never blow your budget on one or two big bets and making sure you will only ever stake money you can afford to lose.
Keeping a close eye on your finances is perhaps the most important betting strategy you can utilise and there are a number of ways to successfully achieve this.
The golden rule is to never bet what you can’t afford to lose and the first step towards this for many punters is to access the responsible gambling page such as the one we’ve shown below on BlueBet and set deposit limits to ensure that you can only deposit a certain amount every day, week and month.
When it comes to the bets you place, the simplest way to manage your bankroll is to only bet a small percentage of your budget on any particular wager. You won’t be winning as much but those small wins will add up over time, and you won’t be risking blowing your budget with just one or two bets.
You will also be far less affected by the cold streaks that every gambler is familiar with, because even in your worst weeks you won’t be breaking the bank.
There are two sides to every bet, which are betting on an outcome to happen, called a “back bet”, and betting on something not happening, called a “lay bet”. Typically, bookmakers are the only layers, but the rise in popularity of betting exchanges has opened up the possibility of everyday punters being able to lay bets.
And that has led to a new kind of betting strategy called back to lay betting, which is taking both sides of the bet to back and lay the same selection following a movement in the price, which can either secure a guaranteed profit or minimise any potential losses.
Betfair are the undisputed kings of the exchanges and their colour-coded system let’s you easily tell the difference between back and lay bets.
Back to lay can be employed as a pre-bet strategy if you think an outcome is priced too high, but is probably best employed as an in-play decision if you’ve backed a long shot that is performing better than expected.
Let’s say you’ve put $30 on a golfer to win at 21.0 and they’re leading by a couple of shots going into the final day. You can be sure that their price will now be a lot lower and rather than just letting it ride and hoping they win, you can guarantee profits by laying the bet.
If the price has moved to 5.0, knowing that your traditional bet will pay out $630 if it wins, you can lay that same bet for $100 and if the golfer goes on to win you will lose $400 on the lay bet, still leaving you $230 profit as your back bet will be a winner. But if the golfer loses, you will make a profit of $70, which is the $100 you won for your lay bet, minus the $30 you put on your back bet.
You just need to remember that when you lay a bet your “liability”, which is what you will lose if you don’t win the bet, will be instantly taken from your account and then if you win it will be refunded along with your original stake, which is your profit.
Betfair also has a handy guide to laying bets, with a host of useful information for punters new to this type of betting, as well as a bet calculator to work out your liabilities.
A popular casino strategy is doubling your next bet each time you lose and that tactic can certainly become an effective sports betting strategy as well.
It really is as simple as it sounds so if you start with a $10 stake and lose, your next bet should be $20 and if that loses, the next one is $40 and so on! The downside is that your stake can rocket pretty quickly if you have a bad run, so you need to make sure you stick to your budget!
It’s also really important to remember that the reason this strategy works well in a casino setting is that any bet you are making is always even money or better, so your winnings will always cover the previous stakes you have lost.
In sports betting though you will often find yourself betting on odds-on shots where your profit will be less than the original stake, so if you’re employing the Martingale strategy it might be a good idea to mostly limit your bets to ones where the price is 1.9 or above, just like in the below example from Sportaza.
Bookmakers’ odds are based on a huge number of statistics but it’s really important to realise they are not always perfect, and if you can spot an outcome that you think is more likely to happen than the bookies’ odds imply, then you have identified a value bet.
It’s all about using as much information as possible to work out the “true odds” of a particular outcome and comparing them to the bookie’s odds, to try and identify spots where you believe they have priced an outcome too high.
Taking football as an example, bookmakers employ teams of data scientists to analyze decades of data and develop highly accurate models for predicting the outcome of a particular match. What that means is their odds tend to reflect average outcomes and don’t always take into account more intricate details that are much more easily spotted by a punter looking at an individual match.
So let’s say we are placing a bet on the Southampton vs Leeds United game in the English Premier League on Palmerbet. The bookies have priced up the home side as 2.50 favourites, with the away team as 2.63 underdogs, which is the equivalent of a 38% implied probability.
They have used their models and statistics to come to the conclusion that more often than not the home side will win in this situation, but a quick look at the recent form of the two sides leads you to a slightly different conclusion.
Southampton are winless all season and lost their previous game at home, while Leeds are unbeaten in three matches away from home and will be feeling much better about themselves after securing their first league win of the season in their previous game.
So you may well come to the conclusion that Leeds’ probability of winning should be higher than 37%, and thus the bookies have priced them too high, which means a punt on the visitors is a value bet because in your estimation any potential winnings are more than they should be as the bookies have priced them up too high.
This tactic can be applied to any sport and while we’re certainly not saying that any bet is ever a sure thing, the key advantage of the value betting strategy is that it will maximise your returns over the long term.
A perfect companion to the value betting strategy is the Kelly Criterion Proportional Betting Strategy, which allows you to work out the optimum amount to wager when you have identified a value bet.
Named after the computer scientist who came up with the formula, the Kelly Criterion determines the optimal sum of money that should be wagered on an opportunity, based on the size of your bankroll and the likelihood of a bet winning.
The main purpose of the Kelly Criterion is to create the right balance between risk and reward by making sure you stake higher amounts when placing wagers with a higher probability of winning and lower amounts when placing bets that have a lower probability of winning, meaning that in theory your overall returns will be higher and your losses lower.
However, it’s not just about putting higher bets on at lower prices and vice versa because in order to use the formula effectively, you have to find an “edge”, which is the difference between the given odds and the true odds that you have worked out yourself.
For example, Leicester are hosting Manchester United in the English Premier League. They are 3.75 in the betting, which represents a 26.7% chance of winning. However, you’ve done your homework and crunched the numbers and in your opinion Leicester actually have a 40% chance of winning.
So you have to use this formula: (b x p-q) ÷ b = f
So in this case the equation would be (2.75 x 0.40 – 0.60) ÷ 2.75 = 0.18.
Therefore, you should bet 18% of your capital on Leicester City, which would be $18 out of every $100, as we have done below at bet365.
Sport betting strategies that work can be applied to every sport, but there are specific sport betting strategies that suit certain sports more than others, which we will highlight below.
“Prop” (short for proposition) betting is a popular soccer betting strategy because you are betting on the performance of a particular player rather than the team itself, so you don’t have to worry about the result of the game. If you’re betting on player A to have a certain amount of shots or get a booking, that result is not dependent on whether his side tastes victory or not, so you are reducing the number of variables that can affect your bet.
Another good soccer betting strategy is taking advantage of the fact that draws are always generously priced to either back them individually or combine them in big-priced doubles or trebles which can lead to a big return for small stakes. You can also place bets such as the “Trixie”, which is three bets, but you will get a return if two selections win.
We love our greyhound racing here in Australia so it’s important to know the best greyhound betting strategies, and due to the fact that there are a comparatively small number of runners compared to most horse races, strategies that involve backing multiple dogs such as the quinella and the trifecta are often the way to go.
The quinella betting strategy involves backing two dogs to finish in the top two, but the beauty of this bet is that it doesn’t matter what order they come home in, while the trifecta betting strategy runs on the same principle, but this time you are selecting three greyhounds.
Another good greyhound betting strategy is to try a handicap bet when one dog is a heavy favourite. If you bet on that dog to win by a certain margin then you’ll stand to get better odds and a bigger profit as a result.
Prop betting can also be a useful tennis betting strategy because you may not think a certain player will win the match but if they have a rocket of a serve then it may pay to back them to hit the most aces, or if they have been serving poorly in the tournament up to that point it might be worth backing them to hit the most double faults.
Another tennis betting strategy is predicting there will be more than a certain number of games or sets played, because that bet can come up if either player wins.
When it comes to horse betting strategy, information is once again key, and you should always do your homework before placing any equine wagers.
One of our favourite horse racing betting strategies is backing a horse to place rather than win. This gives you more chance of a return because you will be paid out if they finish in the top three or four, depending on how many runners there are. And because a place bet involves a win element and a place element you will get paid out extra if they are victorious.
And just as in greyhound racing, horse racing betting strategies that utilise the quinella betting strategy and the trifecta betting strategy to pick the top two or three in any order can be very useful, especially if you think two or three horses are streets ahead of the field but you can’t decide which one you think will win.
Place betting is most common in horse racing and golf, and a place betting strategy can be profitable because rather than relying on your selection to win, they just need to finish in the top three in most horse races, or the top seven in an average golf tournament.
So the core of your place betting strategy should be maximising your returns by looking at recent form, course form, and any other factors, to identify bigger-priced shots that you think have a great chance of finishing in the money.
And don’t forget that in bigger races you can get four, or even five places, and in more prestigious golf tournaments, you might get anything up to ten!
Live, or “in-play” betting is hugely popular and we reckon the key to a good live betting strategy is knowing which sports lend themselves best to in-play opportunities and using that information to your advantage.
The biggest attraction of football in-play betting is being able to view how a team is playing and how the match is shaping up, meaning you’re better informed when you place an in-play bet than you would be when making a bet before the game. So your live betting strategy should be to take advantage of that knowledge to make an informed decision.
The same applies to horse betting strategy in that you are able to see how a race is panning out and which horses are well-placed and running well, so your live betting strategy could be to use that information to select a higher-priced horse in mid-position that looks to be moving up the field nicely.
The key element of a lay betting strategy is using the fact that the price of your bet has gone down since you backed it, to “lay” that same selection so that you win either way and guarantee a profit.
You just need to be aware of the many different scenarios when you can use a lay betting strategy. And these could be anything from halfway through a golf tournament when your big-priced selection is doing really well, or at the quarter final stage of a sporting competition where a player or team you have backed is still going, or even midway through a football match when the team you have backed is leading.
Our golden rule is to avoid any betting strategies that involve chasing big wins, because you should be looking to build your bankroll up over time. One example of this is betting large amounts on low-priced favourites, which is not a good betting strategy in the long run because the favourites don’t always win and the amount you have to wager to get a decent return leaves you open to some serious bankroll damage if things don’t go your way.
It’s also not a good idea to only bet on favourites, not just because the odds are shorter but because you are taking the bookies’ word for it, and as we’ve proved in this article you should always be questioning the odds and using your own judgement and the information available to you, to make more informed selections.
Sports betting tips and strategies are not the easiest thing to get your head around but what this whole article really boils down to is simply the fact that betting strategies are an invaluable tool for maximising your earnings and reducing your losses by staking appropriately and always coming to your own conclusions about whether you should be betting on something at a particular price.
And by employing betting strategies, betting on your favourite sport will become a more immersive and enjoyable experience, which should be just as important as building your bankroll!
Unfortunately, no they do not guarantee success. They will however heighten your chances of a win and also allow you to manage your money better.
It’s tricky but is achievable and the best way to do this is by seeking out the value in the market and employing good money management.
In order to find the value in the sports betting markets, you need to look for likely outcomes with a high probability that the betting sites have undervalued.
There isn’t necessarily one betting strategy that is better than the other as different methods suit different people and everyone has their own personal favourite betting strategies that actually work for them.
Beginners are free to try any betting strategy they wish to but the best advice for newbies is to maintain sensible bankroll control.
Lee Bassin is a sports betting and strategy specialist with experience writing for a number of publications during a 20-year career. An expert in football and golf, Lee also has a passion for American sport, particularly the NBA and NFL.
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