Value betting in football is effectively an alternative strategy to “backing winners”. It means that you are not necessarily looking for favourites, or even bets that you think have a greater chance of winning than they do of losing. All you are looking for is a bet where you think the bet is more likely to win than the bookmakers do.
For example, if the odds suggest that a particular outcome would happen 3 in every 10 times a match was played, but you think that it would happen 4 times in every 10, then that would be a value bet.
It would be a value bet even though you think the bet is more likely to lose than to win - you think the bet will lose 6 times for every 4 times it wins. The idea is that if you repeated this across 10 bets, then 4 of them would win, and you would make a profit because the bookmakers offered you odds on the basis that they thought you would only win 3 of the bets.
So the first question is, how do you calculate what the bookmakers think the probability of a particular outcome is? Well, you can do this using their odds. The probability contained within a bookmakers’ odds is called the implied probability and it is usually expressed as a percentage.
That’s because when you think about the probability of an outcome in your head, it’s more than likely that you do so in percentage terms. Something might be “50/50” or you could be “75% sure” that Arsenal will win.
How to calculate implied probability?
To convert fractional or decimal odds to their implied probability, expressed as a percentage, you can use a couple of relatively simple equations.
Calculating implied probability for fractional odds
Fractional odds are the most traditional form of expressing bookmakers’ odds, and the most popular in the UK. They are made up of a denominator and a numerator. In the odds 7/3 the denominator is 3 and the numerator is 7.
To calculate the implied probability of fractional offs simply divide the denominator by the denominator plus the numerator, and then multiply by 100. In this example, therefore, that would be 3 divided by 10 (3 + 7). That equates to 0.3 which multiplied by 100 gives an implied probability of 30%.
Calculating implied probability for decimal odds
Calculating the implied probability from decimal odds is even simpler. The equivalent decimal odds for the fractional odds given in our previous example would be 3.33.
To find the implied probability simply divide 1 by the decimal odds and multiply by 100. So in this case that would be (1 / 3.33) * 100 = 30%.
Ways to find value bets in football
So we’ve covered what value bets are and what the aims of a value betting strategy should be. But how do you decide if an individual bet represents value, and how do you find these easily?
Well, you need to find a system of calculating your own percentage predictions for any given event. For example, let’s say a bookmaker’s odds suggest that they have calculated the probability of an Arsenal win against Manchester United is 30%. You need to decide whether the true probability is higher or lower than 30%. If you calculate it to be higher, 35% for example, then you would have found a value be.
But how do you arrive at that 35% figure? Well, you could develop your own system based on analysing data or looking at football in a different way to bookmakers which could give you the edge. Bear in mind though, you’ll be competing with bookmakers who have significant resources to devote to calculating their prediction probabilities and therefore their odds. Unless you are a betting expert with access to significantly improved information or statistics, it is unlikely that you will be successful in calculating a more accurate prediction than bookmakers.
But don’t worry, KickOff can help you find value bets in football.
KickOff can find football value bets for you
Firstly, it is important to stress that there is no guarantee of profit in betting and just as it is difficult to compete with the bookmakers as an individual, it is a difficult task for even a company with our experience to outsmart the bookies.
However, we do have years of data to work with, and our kickoff algorithm generates a percentage prediction for every bet in every market in every match we cover. For example, let’s look at an example from the upcoming weekend (2/4/22).
Our algorithm predicts that Toulouse have a 53% chance of beating Paris FC. This is based on the form stats of the two team’s and thousands of previous matches. The best odds available at the time of writing for an Toulouse win are 2.15.
2.15 equates to an implied probability of 47% (1 divided by 2.15 multiplied by 100). This means the bookies’ believe there is a 47% chance of a Toulouse, after they have built in their margin. Therefore, this would be a value bet according to our algorithm.
This shows a member view of the KickOff accumulator tips page with the Toulouse v Paris FC match open
If you’re using decimal odds there is a quick trick which allows you to find value bets without calculating the bookmakers’ implied probability. Simply multiply the percentage prediction given by the KickOff algorithm by the decimal odds. If the result is greater than 100 then that indicates a value bet. In the above example, 53 x 2.15 = 113.95.
Non-members can get access to 5 predictions for each market every day. KickOff Pro users gain access to all predictions for every match in every market. Additionally, KickOff Pro users can order these our predictions from highest to lowest.
This allows you to easily compare predictions to best odds side by side which makes value bets stand out. It’s also great for quickly building an accumulator full of the bets most likely to be successful on any given day - this is ideal if you are not interested in pursuing a value betting strategy.