Let’s get this out the way early. If you’re not betting for value you’re never going to make long term profits….which is what most people are after. Keeping this in mind has really helped me turn my betting around.
In simple terms, if the chance of a horse winning is 50% you should only back the horse if the odds are greater than 2.0 (search the internet for converting %s to odds if you don’t understand this sentence). Anything less than this, than you will lose money long term.
This is how casinos make money, they rely on people betting on odds that are less than the true odds. If enough people bet like this, and do it often enough, the casino makes money and you lose money in the long term. Sports betting is no different. If you are constantly getting odds that are less than the actual chance of winning, you will lose long term.
Now the question you are probably thinking is; how do you find value bets? Assuming efficient markets, the odds provided should reflect the actual chance of winning (plus a margin for the bookmaker). In the financial markets, the markets are fairly efficient (unless you do some insider trading…illegal!), but in the sports betting markets there are lots of opportunities out there. This is mainly due to the limitations in how bookmakers compile their odds. Overall, to find value you need to be smarter than the bookmaker. To be smarter you need to focus on an area where you feel you have extra knowledge (an edge) which bring the odds in your favour i.e. obtain odds better than the true odds and you will make money over the long term.
In summary, always keep in the back of mind when placing a bet….is there value in this bet or am I just betting on who I think will win. By value betting, you will not win every time, but you should win over the long term.