I’ve been value betting for several years now, and there is one question that I had to ask myself very often to max out my betting productivity. To develop my strategy and always perform at the highest level, sometimes I have to ask myself:
What is value betting?
It is a betting technique based on mathematics that is allowing you to beat the bookmakers in the long run. In sports betting and gambling, it’s a common saying that “the house always wins”.
Fortunately for us, with the proper strategy like value betting, we can get an “edge” over the bookmakers.
- What is value betting?
- What does a value bet mean? An example:
- Value betting tips: True probability in value betting
- What are the true odds in value betting?
- Is Value betting profitable?
- Types of value betting
- Live value bets: finding positive EV bets In-play
- How do you calculate the expected value of a bet?
- Value Bet algorithm
- How to find value bets?
- Value betting software
- How much can you make with a value betting strategy?
- Number of bookmakers for value betting
- The starting bankroll for value betting
- Money management strategy in value betting
- The value betting software you use for scanning bookmakers
- Steps of making money with value betting
- Why does the bookmaker always win?
Value betting is the process by which a bettor can spot an outcome with higher odds than its probability of actually happening. These betting opportunities with a positive EV (expected value) can be found with odds comparison sites such as BetBurger or OddsJam (for US bettors).
A value bet on sports events appears when the odds are higher than the real chance, the true probability of winning that outcome.
Placing bets on these wrong odds is giving you an advantage, an edge over the bookmakers. Value betting, in the long run, is the most profitable sports betting strategy.
It might sound hard to understand, but keep reading and you can find out every aspect you need to know for being profitable with this strategy.
What does a value bet mean? An example:
A value bet in sports betting is a wrong price or odds of an outcome. We say value betting because placing bets on these opportunities with the wrong odds is offering us a chance for beating the bookmakers. Placing only value bets is generating a guaranteed profit in the long run.
Bookmakers are trying to define the true odds, the real probability of every outcome on sports events. To get the most accurate odds bookmakers need to have every essential information about the past and the present of teams and players.
They are the most affordable software for value, matched, and arbitrage betting in the USA.
Some bookmakers are not fast enough in getting and implementing new information. Being late means that they are not lowering the odds fast enough.
Smart sports bettors are taking advantage of these mistakes, and they are placing bets on odds that have not yet dropped. Bookmakers are not doing this intentionally at all, but a lot of the time sports bettors are faster in taking action.
Value bet example (click to open)
- Novak Djokovic is playing against Daniil Medvedev
- Both are top players but most of the bookmakers think that Daniil has a 44% chance to win this match. For they are offering the odds of 2.10
- In many cases, the bookies are missing a piece of new information about the players (like Djokovic having a minor injury or being too tired because of a long match with someone else)
- In this case, the chance of Medvedev winning can grow to 55%
- If you are still able to bet on Daniil to win on the odds of 2.10, you have an edge over the bookie
These types of bets are called value bets. Of course, many times you will lose even these bets. But in the long run, if you have an edge on each of your bets, you will beat the bookies and become profitable.
Check my article about the best value betting software!
Value betting tips: True probability in value betting
The bookies are trying to figure out the statistical chance of every outcome in sports. But in the majority of cases, these odds are just simple guidance and subjective opinions.
My best tip for value betting: Figuring out the true probability of an outcome is the key element of value betting. In sports betting, we call these sharp lines or sharp odds.
Another good example of successful value betting in the long run. You can see that I had many dips, but overall if you can find overpriced bets, you will end up in guaranteed profits.
The average bookmakers have two strategies to increase their income:
- Offering very accurate odds with a fair profit margin (2 – 3%)
- Cutting the odds and increasing the profit margin (6-8%)
The ideal route would be to have sharp odds with a low-profit margin, but most bookies don’t have the knowledge and background for this.
Asian bookies and Pinnacle Sports on the other hand are capable of using algorithms that can define the true probability of an outcome with the help of arbitrage bettors.
These bookies can offer higher odds because they know that the lines offered by them are close to the true probability.
Above you can see a simple example of sharp odds and a possibility for positive EV betting. At Pinnacle the odds for Orlando Pirates to score less than 2 goals are 1.847.
If we consider this a true line or sharp odds, then Unibet is offering significantly higher or wrong odds for the same outcome.
But most of the other bookies can’t follow the same strategy and, in many cases, they don’t have enough confidence in their lines and odds. This is forcing them to offer lower maximum stakes and worse odds (because of larger profit margins to protect their edge).
The value bettors are trying to figure out the true probability of an outcome and by placing bets on odds that are exceeding these lines they can have an edge and beat the bookies.
What are the true odds in value betting?
True odds or in other name sharp odds are representing the real probability of an outcome. True or sharp odds are the odds format of the real statistical chance of your bet.
At bookmakers, true odds are very rare, these are offered only for some bets as bonus odds. In the world of sports betting, there is a margin between true odds and payoff odds.
This difference is generating profit for bookmakers and it is called the edge of the bookmaker.
The more a bookmaker can define odds the smaller the edge they can have on that outcome. On a tennis match at an ITF tournament, which is a small tournament without big players, is hard to define the true probability of a player.
Bookmakers can’t define true odds for players with a very short history and with a fluctuating performance. In these markets, the edge of the bookmaker will be very high, sometimes even above 8%.
But on the other hand, on markets like odd/even on corners where the chances are 50/50, they can offer an edge of even 3%.
There are two “easy ways” to get the closest to true odds:
- Using exchanges like Betfair to see the real probability of an outcome. This only works on matches with a lot of stakes.
- Using the odds and lines of Pinnacle as a guide
Pinnacle is still the best bookmaker at defining true odds. Comparing other soft bookmakers to Pinnacle with odds comparison sites is still very profitable in pre-match betting, on bigger leagues.
However in live betting, the odds are moving so fast and the events are changing so fast, that even Pinnacle is making mistakes.
Is Value betting profitable?
Value betting is the most profitable smart betting strategy. From a big sample of a source of value bettors, we already know that with value betting you can make 60% – 70% more than with arbitrage betting.
I have the same experience as well. Arbitrage betting offers you an income with a risk of almost zero but with the price of fewer profits.
Types of value betting
1. Value betting based on odds
The first and most simple value betting strategy is based on finding the true/sharp odds of an outcome and looking for bookmakers that offer higher odds.
I think it’s simply because there are many software, algorithms, and sites that are comparing bookies with each other. Finding value bets based only on odds in many cases does not require any experience and knowledge about sports.
Steps to follow:
- Find a value betting software that can define the true odds
- Open an account at some bookies that are making a fair number of mistakes (the ones that have the most value bets in this software)
- Follow a proper staking strategy (down below you can check the best ones)
2. Value betting based on experience
Many value bettors and arbitrage bettors have gained enough experience in this industry to spot value betting opportunities without software.
A simple example:
I’ve been watching tennis for many years. When I used software for value betting, I also followed the matches, because I was too curious about how the results are changing.
I noticed many times that one of the players seemed influenced by feelings, tiredness, or weather conditions. If you can spot a minor injury in time, you can place a bet on the next game result.
This way you have a good chance of getting your bet accepted and not voided later down the road.
Live value bets: finding positive EV bets In-play
Finding value bets on live sports events is fairly easy. The odds are moving very fast so the bookies are making many mistakes.
On a single event, you can find many entry points no matter if you are using value betting software or just spotting them manually.
Upsides of live value bets
- the bookies are making bigger and more mistakes
- more profits in the long run
- they can’t flag your account so easily for smart betting
- the bookies tend to limit later for value betting on live events
Downsides of in-play value bets
- the odds are moving very fast
- you will struggle to spot the right value bets
- the odds will drop faster, so it is harder to place the bets
- the chance of making mistakes is higher
- you will experience longer streaks of losing/winning bets
- it is harder to avoid big variances
How do you calculate the expected value of a bet?
First of all, we have to find out what is the true probability of the outcome to define the value of an odd.
(Real Probability of the odds in % * Decimal odds at the bookmaker)-100
Example to calculate value: True odds = 1.67 which is a 60% chance of a win
You are finding an odd of 1.90.
Value: (60 * 1.90)-100= 14%
If the value is over 0% the bet is worth placing. With this value bet example in the long run for every 100 euros of stake, you will make a profit of 14 euros.
Value Bet algorithm
Some sites are offering value betting services that are not focusing only on sharp bookmakers to figure the true odds out. A value bet algorithm can be developed with several methods.
One of the possible solutions is to gather odds from more bookies that are fairly accurate and generate an average “true line” based on their odds.
Another possible way to find out the true odds is to analyze matches and historical data for a long time and based on this data they are forecasting the true lines. Many statistical tools are successfully offering betting statistics and predictions based on this method.
How to find value bets?
There are several ways of finding value bets.
I think the two starting points of value betting strategies are:
- Comparing odds to the odds of a sharp bookmaker like Pinnacle, or more sharp bookmakers
- Learning enough and gaining experience to define better, sharper lines than bookmakers
- Comparing soft bookmaker odds to sharp bookmaker odds
This value betting strategy is the most basic, but with very good possibilities. Comparing odds with other sharp bookmakers is the best chance for a beginner to enter the value betting industry.
This kind of value betting needs less experience.
You do not need to be an expert in any sport to find value bets.
We already know that some bookmakers like Pinnacle or some other best Asian handicap bookmakers are very accurate in defining these true odds.
In this situation, the next step is to find odds scanner services that are scanning the bookies available in your country.
- Getting very experienced in a sport
Finding value bets without being dependent on a scanner service or sharp bookmakers is the most sustainable value betting strategy.
Learning enough from a sport, league, or market and finding real value in odds or lines not scanned by scanners and not realized by bookmakers is a large advantage.
Noticing value bets this way is the hardest strategy, it needs the most experience and time for learning.
The biggest advantage of smart bettors specialized in a market is that their knowledge can’t be limited or taken away.
Bookmakers will limit them very late because they can’t spot them as arbitrage bettors or value bettors.
With a short example to understand what I mean:
Learning enough about a certain league, sport, or market such as German basketball handicap betting. Watching many matches, studying the history of teams and players. Paying attention to the trends inside matches, like which team is more active in the first half.
Value betting software
The most simple and fast solution if you want to start earning with value betting is using the proper software. Some of them are offering services only for pre-match value betting (like RebelBetting). They have a good reason for sticking only to Pre-match.
In-play betting is offering many great opportunities but even sharp bookies like Pinnacle are unable to offer the true lines every time.
If you are an experienced value bettor, you can spot those matches where the odds are not offering real value. But RebelBetting chose the safest way by offering only pre-match value betting, so their customers can have a more stable and predictable income.
How much can you make with a value betting strategy?
The realistic ROI (Return on investment) you can make on value betting is between 2% – 4% in the long run, in pre-match betting.
In live betting, your return on investment can get even up to 7% – 8% depending on your strategy and access to soft bookmakers.
If you are underperforming at this level, continue reading and probably you will get an answer for the reason.
The main influencing factors of how much money you can make with value betting:
- How many bookmakers and accounts do you have access to
- The starting bankroll you have for betting purposes
- Your money management strategy
- The software you use for scanning bookmakers
- Variance in value betting
- How much time do you invest in learning and placing value bets
Number of bookmakers for value betting
Value betting is a very profitable smart betting strategy. Being this profitable means that after 500-1000 bets your balance at bookmakers will grow significantly.
The one thing bookmakers don’t like is if you are smart enough to beat their odds and win a lot of money. They have algorithms to filter out any smart betting activity.
The first moment when bookmakers flag you as a winning player, no matter the reason, you will face different kinds of limitations. The best scenario you can have is when you succeed somehow to stay under the radar for a longer period of time.
But sadly, if you are a winning player and your balance grows too high, bookmakers will limit your maximum stakes. No matter if they can prove that you are an arbitrage or value bettor, winning players are not welcomed.
Keeping this in mind even at the start of your value betting career, you have to think about different possibilities. As a smart bettor, you have more ways to make value betting sustainable in the long run.
I would like to mention some realistic steps in value betting:
- You start value betting with your own bookmaker accounts. You get limited at most of them in some months or a maximum of a year, depending on your betting activity.
- The next possible step is a grey area. Using the betting accounts of friends and family can be a sustainable strategy for continuing value betting if you have a lot of friends.
- After some years you will feel that you are running out of accounts. The next possible step could be using betting exchanges like Betfair, Asian bookmakers, or betting brokers. Each scenario requires a lot of experience to make a profit from value betting. Your ROI from these bookmakers is significantly lower than with soft bookmakers.
My advice is that even at the beginning of the road of value betting you have to think about a lot of steps ahead.
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The starting bankroll for value betting
In general, value betting requires less money to start than arbitrage betting. You don’t need to spread your money to as many bookmakers as in arbitrage betting.
The starting capital for value betting can be even 200-300 euros. But it is important to mention that the more money you are starting your betting activity, the faster and more profit you will generate.
Value betting profits are based on how much money you can roll over in a period of time. For most of the part, your return on your bets/investments will be constant in the long run.
But profits are very dependent on the amount of money you can roll over. If you start with 1000 euros and you can roll it over 50 times in a month, your profit will be 1000 euros on an average ROI of 2%.
But having the possibility to start with 2000 or 3000 euros can double or triple your monthly income.
The more money you have available for value betting, the more value bets you can place without waiting too much for a match to end.
The more bets you place and the bigger stakes you use will increase your income. Time is money, so the highest your hourly profit is, the more it worth staying 8-10 hours in front of the computer.
Money management strategy in value betting
Money management in smart betting strategies has a crucial role. It can make your not-so-good betting strategy a viable source of income or it can ruin even a high ROI value betting strategy.
Choosing the best money management strategy for your bets is not so hard. I think the best method is to fill an excel document with the history of your bets and make some calculations. This kind of calculation has saved me a lot of time and answered a lot of my questions.
Value betting System: money management & staking methods
1. Flat staking simulation for value betting with 3% ROI
In this staking simulation, I used a flat stake of 50 units for every bet. My starting bankroll was 1000 units. I ran the simulations with only 500 bets so you can see how a beginner balance can move up and down in a single month.
You can see, that on average the ending balance will be around 1900 units. With this staking plan for value betting your chance of losing all of your money is only 18.95%.
I would suggest using a flat stake of only 4% – 5% of your starting balance to reduce your chance of losing the whole betting balance and needing to recover betting losses. With this staking strategy at the end of the month, your balance could be between 290 – 3845 units.
2. Flat staking simulation for value betting with 5% ROI
Value betting on live matches is highly increasing your ROI without drastically increasing your chance of being limited by bookmakers.
In this money management simulation, your average ending bankroll can increase to 2440 units with the same number of bets and flat stakes of 50 units.
Your chance of losing the whole bankroll is decreasing from 19% to 9.6% and you have a high, 95% chance of finishing the month with a balance between 665 – 4370 units.
Placing value bets with higher ROI increases profitability and decreases the chance of being in a loss.
3. Variable staking simulation for value betting with 3% ROI
In this simulation, I used stakes of 5% of my actual betting balance. It can be noticed that the average ending bankroll is higher than with the flat staking method.
But the chance of loss at the end has doubled. The reason is that the more you win with this value betting staking strategy, the more you have to risk as a stake.
With the higher risk comes the chance of winning much more. Your maximum balance with this staking strategy could be even 7800 units at the end of the month.
4. Variable staking simulation for value betting with 5% ROI
The bigger value bets you place with % based staking strategy the higher the returns are. With this money management strategy, your winnings can be way more than with flat staking.
You can see that the chance of losing 70% of your bankroll is decreasing if you place bets with a bigger value. The average ending bankroll can get to 3900 units and your maximum balance can get up to 13000 units at the end of the month.
You have to notice that this staking strategy can make this strategy very profitable. But we have to face that the chance of variance is highly increasing.
If you click on the following links, you can read my reviews about two affordable arbitrage betting scanner services.
5. My money management strategy for value betting
I like to combine the flat staking strategy with the variable one. I’m starting every account with flat stakes of 5% – 6% of my balance and as the balance grows I’m increasing the stakes.
For example: If I have a balance of 1000 units, I start with stakes of 50 units. When the bankroll grows to 1500 for example, I start using stakes of 70 units.
With this staking strategy I’m scaling up my winnings but without the risk of losing too much.
The value betting software you use for scanning bookmakers
For beginners, I suggest using software with a fair monthly subscription price (30-100 euros) specializing in value betting. Using a scanner service is making your work easier and lowers your risk of placing bets without values.
By clicking on the button below you can read my review about one of the best value betting services.
They are offering a 14 free trial period!
Bettors from the US or Canada can have access to a scanner service that is including the bookmakers available for them.
Click here to read my review about the best service for them.
The only thing you have to set up is the bookmakers you are using. There is the opportunity to use arbitrage betting finders where you can set up the filters.
These scanners are more useful for someone with more experience. Setting up filters in a bad way can have a big impact on your value betting income.
I have also made a detailed table of the best arbitrage and value betting software. Click on the button below and check it out now!
If you are interested in other betting strategies like sure betting check my article on how to find arbitrage bets.
Steps of making money with value betting
- Register accounts at trustworthy soft bookmakers
- Every country has its regulations regarding sports betting and bookmakers’ licenses. The first thing you should check is the list of bookmakers you can legally use to avoid problems with the law.
- Check the available bookmaker if they are included in scanner services.
- Make sure that those bookmakers are trustworthy. If there are a lot of negative reviews or forum posts about them being scammy or not paying it is better to avoid them.
- Choose a value betting scanner service that meets your needs
- The biggest influencing factor is the subscription price
- The number of bookmakers scanned
- How accurate are the displayed value bets are
- The speed of scanning
- Without much experience, you should choose Pinnacle as a reference for true odds
Pinnacle has the sharpest, most accurate odds in pre-match betting. Comparing soft bookmakers with their true odds is still very profitable. – Click here to read my Pinnacle Sports Review.
- Place bets with a value of at least 1% – 3% but not more than 6%
Placing value bets with at least 1% of the value on them is decreasing the amount of variance. The more value a bet has, the less variance you will face in the long run. But have in mind that placing bets with too big value on them can flag your account for smart betting practices.
- Start with small stakes
Starting with small stakes will help you delay being limited and also will help you to decrease the loss if you make mistakes.
Beginner value bettors are making a lot of mistakes which can cost you a lot. I suggest you should bet only 3% – 4% of your bankroll until you get more experience.
- Analyze your bet history
After you place 150-200 value bets, you can start building an excel file with your bets and stakes. Applying filters and making calculations can highly improve your value betting strategy.
Check my following article to find out How how to not get caught arbitrage betting.
Why does the bookmaker always win?
Bookmakers are offering lower odds than the real probability of an outcome. They are lowering their odds in a way that on every match they have an edge of approximately 2% – 8%.
The goal for them is to attract as many bettors as possible so they wager money on every outcome. Even crypto bookies that are as regulated as the usual betting sites, need to have a profit margin of at least 3% to secure their long-term profits.
The other target is to get a balanced amount of stake in every outcome, this way they are maxing out their profits.
Smart sports bettors are finding the weak odds and are betting on them with a big volume. Bettors who are attacking these weak spots are decreasing the income of the bookmakers. To stop this action, bookmakers are limiting winning players.
Their whole system and every rule is built up to get your money. Even the bonus offers are built up in a way that in the end if you are not a smart bettor, you will lose your money.
if you get a bonus of 100 euros after 100 euros are deposited, and you have to roll over both of them 10 times -> at a bookmaker with an edge of 6% -> the 6% of 2000 euros rolled over is 120 euros.
Without a smart betting strategy, you will lose at least 20 euros from your initial deposit.
The realistic ROI (Return on investment) you can make on value betting is between 2% – 4% in the long run.
Money management in smart betting strategies has a crucial role. It is one of the main reasons for professional bettors to be profitable.
For beginners, I suggest using software with a fair monthly subscription price (30-100 euros) specializing in value betting.
A value bet in football is an opportunity when you can place a bet on higher odds than the statistical chance of winning that outcome. If the probability of winning is higher than the odds you can take, you got the opportunity to place a value bet on a football outcome.
Each time you place a bet on higher odds than the probability of winning it, you are beating the bookmakers. These bet types are called value bets and they are the most profitable strategy in the long run.
Horse racing is offering many value betting opportunities. Many bookmakers can’t figure out the real chance of a horse. If you are able to find odds that are overpriced (offering odds of 4.50 instead of 3.60) your bet on horse racing will count as a value bet. If you are able to find these mistakes for your picks, you will beat the bookies and end up in fairly high profits.
Value betting is the most profitable betting strategy and based on my experience if you have access to enough bookmakers it can be done even for a living. Many bettors are making several thousand of euros from value betting as their main income source.
Some value betting services are offering semi-automated value betting software. These can place bets automatically only after a single click. The majority of 100% automated software is based on API from value betting services. So it is possible to create functional software for automated value betting but in most cases, they require programming skills.
Betfair exchange is used by many types of bettors. Generally speaking, this platform offers the most accurate odds. But many times bettors offer odds that are fairly overpriced. So even Betfair exchange is offering possibilities for value betting. This is the reason why so many value betting software is including them.
Many bettors who don’t have deep knowledge and experience in smart betting techniques might think that value betting is gambling on a new level. If you are doing it right value betting will generate decent profit in the long run. This fact and technique are based on mathematics. So, value betting is not gambling if is done right.
If done right, many bookmakers can’t spot every value betting activity for a longer period. But the truth is that value betting is not the best strategy if you are looking for a long-term income source (5-10 years). If you start winning, most bookmakers will limit your accounts. Getting new ones might get hard after some years.
Both are very profitable strategies, but the basic idea behind them is different. Matched betting is for taking advantage of bonus offers, and harvesting guaranteed profits in a short time. Value betting on the other hand is a long-term game based on overpriced markets and for way bigger profits.
Trading requires a fairly big experience in certain sports, but it can guarantee a fairly sustainable income source even for longer periods. It is based on small profits on a single bet, but many opportunities can be taken even on a single match. Value betting, on the other hand, will guarantee long-term profits (in most cases several times more than with trading) but as a less sustainable strategy (you will get limited at most of the bookmakers).
Pinnacle Sports is offering the most accurate (sharp odds). This fact is making them almost inevitable if you are planning to be a value bettor. Comparing odds from other bookies to Pinnacle lines is the most accurate sign for spotting value bets.
1. Football is offering the most sustainable profit growth with value betting.
2. Tennis is offering many overpriced odds so it is my second-best choice for value betting.
3. Basketball is a fast sport when betting in play. The bookies are making many mistakes
The biggest issue and reason why so many people stop value betting is the variance. It’s a fact that you can’t make guaranteed profits every day if you are not covering every outcome (or trading). Variance in value betting is the phenomenon of sometimes winning many bets in a row and other times having long-losing streaks. But if you are placing value bets you will end up in profits in the long run.