What is a value bet in football? action

What Is A Value Bet In Football?

By Dan Tracey - Oct 21st 2022

Although the term value bet is used regularly within football betting circles, it is also one that is often misused. If someone tells you they have placed a wager of this kind, chances are they actually have not.

Because even though we aim to extract value from the bookmakers, is not as easy as many people think it is, and if a friend is telling you that Liverpool to win at home at odds of 2/5 is good value, you should definitely ignore them.

However, we are now going to lift the lid on exactly what value betting is and perhaps more importantly, where it can be found. Therefore, if you get a pen and paper ready, we will soon enhance your betting experience.

For those who ever asked the question, what is value betting? The answer is as follows. Value is where the odds of an outcome unfolding on the pitch have been priced higher than its mathematical probability.


To explain further, we are going to move away from the pitch and up to the stands instead. Let’s say you have a 50p piece at the bottom of your jeans pocket and on its discovery, you ask the person next to you to choose heads or tails.

A selection that is as old as the creation of coins themselves and with there being only two equal options, the probability of heads or tails landing is 1 in 2. A figure that when converted to decimal odds is 2.00 (50%).

A Toss Of A Coin Is A Good Place To Start

This means if you were to place a bet on how it lands, you would either double your money with a correct choice or lose out due to it being incorrect. This equation is rather simple, but it does not offer any value.

The way value can be extracted from this scenario, is if heads or tails had greater odds than 2.00 (50%). For example, if heads was priced at 2.10 instead of 2.00, the odds would be greater than the probability of the occurrence.

It could still go either way in terms of heads or tails but making the right choice would allow you to make a greater return and this is what constitutes a value bet.

Then again, the flipping of coins is no good for those who want to bet on football, and to bring the logic to further life, we will highlight how it works within the beautiful game.

When it comes to value betting and football, it is very rarely found when backing the favourites. Especially if it is a team that usually finds itself sitting toward the top of the table. Take a Premier League fixture for example.


If Manchester City and Brighton were set to square off at the Etihad, the odds will probably look as follows:

Manchester City 1.20
Draw 7.00
Brighton 13.00

Although Pep Guardiola’s men are largely favourites to win at home, the price to back them is hardly inviting. You could look at this as a potential bankroll builder but considering these are not in-play odds the risk does not match the reward.

Avoid Backing The Favourites Regardless

While because the Premier League has a habit of throwing up surprise results on a regular basis, Brighton are more than capable of earning at least a point. It may not happen all the time, but it certainly could happen one time. The one time that you have backed City to win.

A 20% return on your investment, in a game of this nature is definitely not a return bet. A bet that in fairness the bookmakers would love you to place. If City slip up, your hard-earned money is theirs and that is the last thing you want.

However, the same league can be known to throw up value from time to time. Take this example between Tottenham and Newcastle:


Tottenham 2.05
Draw 3.50
Newcastle 3.50

A team that is part of the ‘big six’ and playing at home is rarely given a starting price of above evens in the win draw win (WDW)market. While although Newcastle are making great shakes in the top flight, Spurs do have the weight of history behind them.

Not only have they won their last two encounters against the Magpies, but they have also turned their North London home into something of a fortress. With Spurs having such an ominous home record, the bookmakers have shown far too much caution in their pricing.

Caution for them but value for you and to give Antonio Conte’s men an implied probability of 48.8% to win this fixture, is certainly one for the value hunters.

Sometimes The Numbers Are In Your Favour

While the reason for this value is because those who set the odds have been sucked into Newcastle’s good start to the season. Yes, they may have only lost one of their last 11 league outings at the time of writing, but they have also drawn half a dozen at the same time.

Add Spurs managing to win each of their last eight home league outings and odds of 2.05 for a home win almost leap off the page.

Of course, the hosts still need to win for you to start celebrating but the more value bets you can place, the more edge you will generate in the long run. Find the value every time and you can also afford a few losses along the way

Something that is incredibly important when trying to make money out of football betting because for all the tips that you ever receive, you will never win 100% of your punts. However, build enough of a buffer from winning value bets and the odd loss can quite easily be absorbed.

As always carrying out research beforehand is recommended and should you put the time and effort in that is required, you will soon develop a nose for good value. Start looking past the favourites and you can start looking towards more valuable winners at the same time.

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