Betting is really a matter of finding value. Bookies aren’t mugs, and the odds that they offer are generally a fair representation of the underlying probability (slightly less usually, to give them their margin), and so the aim is to find those cases where the odds are not quite right. When multiple opportunities are available, such as in a horse race, there is a much higher chance of finding such value than in a football scenario with only three options – win, lose or draw. That is one reason why accumulators combining the results of multiple matches, goal supremacy, Asian handicaps etc. have risen in popularity in order to find some more markets where an edge is possible. But bookmakers also generally react to the market itself – they may think the appropriate odds are something in the region of 3.50, but if the money is flowing in on that selection then it will come in (and usually the other side goes out).
Finding value is often either a matter of a gut call, or the application of statistical analysis, or – as is more often the case – a combination of the two. Knowledge of the sport is essential, knowledge of what has happened in previous games/seasons/tournaments is vital. Whilst I have tried this approach with posts in this blog (particularly on F1 this season), there are many others that are worth reviewing. There are many covering exchange betting, but you could do a lot worse than checking out Dav Aulak’s blog (http://davaulaksportsbetting.blogspot.co.uk/) which covers football, tennis and a number of other sports on both sides of the pond. His picks are always accompanied by a clear analysis, and someone looking at taking their betting forward won’t go far wrong by checking the blog out (and this is from a Man City fan, the relevance of which will come clear if you visit).
So for the 2013-14 season I wanted to look at a season long market that could be checked and tested. I had read (and I apologise for the lack of an original source) that the promoted teams are often under-rated when it comes to their home matches. In this case I thought that Crystal Palace would be the team that could offer the best value, and so backed them for the win for each match at Selhurst Park (fixed odds) and laid the opposition on the exchanges (to cover both a Palace win and a draw).
With the fixed odds, the 19 home games came in at an average of 4.75 for a Palace win. That only goes down to 3.26 when the final top 4 are excluded. There were 8 wins from the 19 matches, for a +9.05 return on level stakes of 1 unit. Of course, the big result here was a win at 10.00 at home to Chelsea, but this is exactly what was expected in the theory – the odds offered would be higher than they should be, and at least once the team concerned would provide the upset.
On the exchange side of things the level stakes were at 2 units. This market returned a profit of +5.94 units. There were 11 winning matches here, and the average lay price was 2.48.
But let us not get too excited and think that this will result in 9.05x(stake unit) for every season! Palace finished with a home record of W8 D3 L8. The other promoted teams were Hull (7/4/8) who may have had a positive return (but I believe the odds would have reflected higher expectations of Hull – another thing to check!), and Cardiff (5/5/9). That said, Cardiff did beat Man City at home early in the season, and may have broken even but I doubt they would have hit the highs of Palace.
So we can restrict the conclusions to the play-off winners. Palace went up as the play-off winners having finished in 5th place in the Championship. What of this season? Leicester City won the title, and have been playing at the sharp end of the Championship for a while. I can see them doing rather well next season in the Premiership, and I am sure the bookies will as well. Burnley accompanied them as the other automatic promotion. This time the play-off winners were QPR, back up in the Premier League from a short stay in the Championship. Will they provide the same returns? QPR’s last stay in the Premier League was a disaster, notably at home where they won only 2 games, but a year out will have changed their approach and allowed them to get rid of a number of freeloaders. I don’t think the same value will be on offer this season, but it will be worth repeating the experiment to see if lightning strikes twice.