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Your typical punter may not understand the concept of value betting, and tends not to know much about the mathematical side of betting in general. For example: having frequented online forums, or these days, Twitter, it's interesting to see how most punters go about their business. You come across many betting styles such as lumping on "sure things", putting "bankers" in an accumulator or chasing losses by upping stakes after a bad run.

Many people also raise their stakes out of proportion to their bankroll when they get a few successive wins. This is also an error. You might hear poker players for example talk about "taking a shot". What happens though when they fail to cash - which is the most likely scenario - and half their bankroll is gone? This is not a calculated risk, it's a pure gamble and yes, sure, it's worked for some to propel them into higher stakes early. Key to successful betting though is managing your bankroll optimally, and I find little attention seems to be paid to that concept.

I specialise in value betting. I use maths, rating models and betting/trading strategies that have recorded a healthy ROI of over 30% on average for the last 4 years of advised golf bets on Nicspicks. To be a profitable bettor longterm, you must fully understand odds and probabilities and you should know how the compilers set their (false) odds incorporating a margin, and make their profits. You then need to shop around for best prices using an odds comparison service like Oddschecker. Spotting prices that are bigger than they should be and then staking accordingly is the key to longterm profitable betting. I suggest looking up "Kelly criterion" for optimal exploitation of value.

Successful betting is not necessarily about achieving a high strike rate. Would you rather be winning 80% of your bets and losing money longterm or winning 40% of your bets and returning a high profit on turnover? Basically every bet I post is a winner over time in my opinion so it doesn't make a difference whether or not it comes in on any given occasion.

Let me explain to you what this means: If I backed the odds of my selection at the same win exp% over a given period of time, the overall returns of that number of bets would well outweigh the total outlay. In short, it isn't 'gambling', its simple maths together with logic and my knowledge of my specialist markets, amongst other things, and thus becomes investing in probabilities rather than gambling.

Mathematical Value Betting Example: Poli vs Shaktar Donetsk (4/5)

Remember that anything can happen in 1 game of football so take it over 100 matches in exactly the same circumstances and same price: So if I placed a bet of £100 on a shaktar win @ 4/5 and I estimated that they would win this fixture (in these exact circumstances) 75% of times.

£100(stake) x 100(games) =£10,000(total stake)

Each win @ 4/5 would return £180

75 wins by £180(return) = £13,500

Therefore you are making a profit of £3,500 over 100 matches whatever happens on this particular night. And so then just by placing the bet, you can say it's worth £3,500/100(bets) = £35 per bet whether or not it wins or loses on this particular occasion, which brings me to a favourite quote of mine: "Find the value and the winners will look after themselves".

My estimations of the win expectation could be off which is why I always allow myself a % margin for error. As a general rule, I usually look for a 10% difference in the implied probability (odds) vs my own estimation of the true probability.

Now you'll no doubt get people saying silly things like "But it would be hundreds of years before they'd play this fixture that amount of times" but It doesn't have to be this game or even this market, you just need 100 selections @ 4/5 and with a 75% win expectation. Therefore that £3,500 profit(give or take) could be yours in a few months. 100 games is alsoreally too small a sample to get a very accurate conclusion, 1000 would be a better figure to allow for the 'laws of probability'

Incidentally, that bet lost (finished 0-0 with Shaktar missing 2 very good opportunities near the end) but it didn't change my opinion of the win exp%. Having watched the game, I thought I was spot on with my long term estimation.


  1. if you have priced a team at say $1.50, allowing for a %margin of error in your pricing, as you mentioned, would you therefore look for value at $1.50 plus 10%= $1.65plus to become a value bet??

  2. A value bet is any bet where the odds given imply a probability which is less than the true probability.

    IE: a price of 1/1 or 2.0 (evens) implies a probability of 0.5(50%). Usually I'd look for about a 10% margin on these odds so I'd want to be pretty confident the actual probability was 60%+

  3. @Mr.Nic's Pick
    or any reader of this blog
    please guide me to compile odds, how to do
    is there any book, method or what ever it is
    i would be glad to know this interesting topic
    pl friends guide me
    thanks in advance
    my email :bbliss47atgmaildotcom
    with reverence

  4. Basically you have to estimate your probabilites and then convert them to odds. Do a google search on 'converting odds to probabilities' or something and you should find some decent sites that will show you.

  5. Hi Nick,

    thanks for sharing your insights on golf betting here! I was wondering, could you recommend a good source for up-to-date statistics on players? I'd like to do some analysis of my own, but am having trouble finding sites that would allow me to download datasets that would include detailed stuff like GIR, drives on fairway, puts per hole and so forth.


  6. Ben,

    The PGA Tour has all those in depth stats on their official site. Unfortunately the european tour one is far behind. Not sure if tour-tips supplies that info


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