So often we hear of value betting and how we should be using it to our advantage, but what exactly is it? How do we begin to understand it?
What you should know from the outset is that spotting the value in a bet is incredibly difficult even for betting professionals. If your eyes begin to glaze over when you start seeing the maths then don't beat yourself up for it – you are in the majority of people who want to bet for fun but want to try and understand a little more about what they are betting on without resitting their maths GCSE!
For the purposes of this article I'm excluding free bets and betting offers because although they can have a big impact on your profit they are not always available for every bet and so they should be discounted for the purposes of value betting.
Essentially value betting is boiled down into three clear components.
1. The percentage probability that an individual or team has of winning.
2. The Bookmakers odds.
3. The information you have on the team or individual that you are going to be betting on.
Combining all of these three elements gives you the information you need to decide whether a bet is value, or if the chances of winning are so slim that you will never recoup your outlay in bets to make a profit.
Out of these three distinct elements the hardest part of the equation to solve is how to ascertain the percentage probability of your bet winning.
There are many complicated ways of doing this which I will save for a future in-depth article on probability betting so for the purposes of this exercise we will stick with the simple way of determining the chances of a bet winning and how to find value.
Also you should bear in mind that because you are betting for value a high percentage of your bets will be losing bets because you will be betting on the underdog.
Because you will get the bigger odds on the small amount of bets that that you ultimately win, value betting is the way to make a profit in sports betting.
The best way of explaining how to value bet is by using an example and for that we will take today's TV free bet of Andy Murray v Jersey Janowicz in the Wimbledon semi-final 2013.
So to begin with let's start with the percentage probability that each player has of winning. This of course is a subjective matter and the percentage will vary depending on the person who is doing the analysis. This is what makes one gambling tipster or professional gambler better than another – the amount of information they have at their fingertips to be able to make an informed betting decision and what they do with that information.
This of course is the information age and so whilst the professionals have expensive databases and access to extensive historic data you also have at your disposal free Internet resources such as Wikipedia.org which will give you all the information that you need to do your research and make a betting decision.
Recent results indicate that Andy Murray is the better player and has the most chance of winning.
He has played in six tennis grand slam finals and been the runner-up five times his one win coming against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open in 2012. He also beat Roger Federer in the Olympic final 2012.
Coming into this tournament he was beaten in the final of the US Open by Novak Djokovic and was absent from the French Open due to injury.
Jerzy Janowicz' best result has been runner-up in the Paris Masters on the ATP tour where he was beaten in two sets by David Ferrer. He is currently ranked number 22 in the world and this is his first grand slam semi-final.
The 22-year-old has beaten Andy Murray once previously in the 2012 Paris Masters where he went on to be defeated in the final by David Ferrer.
We know that Murray has a great all-round game but what do we know about Janowicz?
He is 6'8" with a giant serve that will be hard to break and is one of the most improved players on the tour. Roger Federer has commented that this guy could go all the way-that's how good he is.
Knowing that he has beaten Murray once before in their two meetings gives you a 50% chance of victory. But that clearly isn't enough games to make a representative sample.
So to work out the percentage probability - if these two players played each other 10 times how many would we expect Murray to win?
Six or seven times is my guess so Murray has a 60 to 70% chance of winning. 70% looks like a realistic figure.
Now let's look at the odds we are getting:
The best odds on Murray winning are 1/4 so a £10 bet wins you £12.50. If you bet this ten times you would outlay £100 and return £87.50 (7 wins and three losses). If you bumped up his percentage chance of winning to 80% (8/10 wins) then your outlay would return exactly £100 so you are still not in profit on the bet.
Betting on Janowicz at 4/1 ten times will give you an outlay of £100 - three wins returning £120.
However decreasing his percentage chance of winning to 20% (2 wins out of 10) would only return you £80 and you would be out of profit on the bet. Increasing his chance of winning to 40% would return a profit of £60.
Finally what do we know about these players immediate form?
Murray struggled against Verdasco in his last game going two sets down before recovering to win the next three sets. If he gets off to a bad start against the big serving Pole then he is unlikely to find an easy way back into the contest.
Janowicz is technically in the same place that Murray was several years ago but he has the physical build and power that comes naturally to such a big guy and he will not have to work so hard to improve himself in that way.
The value bet here is fairly marginal but then most sports betting decisions are. Being consistent in your value betting is the way to achieve a consistent profit. If you can't stomach the losses that are the mainstay of value betting then it's not for you.
Betting on Janowicz is a thin value bet - if you upped Murray's chances to 8/10 then your bet is going to lose money over the long term. Betting on Murray is a loser all day long so if you don't believe Janowicz has it in him then at least you know enough to stay away from the bet!
If you take away anything from reading this article then it should be that betting on the favourite is not always the short route to profit and betting on the underdog requires some basic analysis to work out if you could be in profit for the long run.
Happy Value Betting!