|Football Bettor's Survey|
Exploiting the Odds to Win
Odds and their movements present a unique opportunity to gauge what the bookie thinks and how the markets react to them.
Although the position that bookmakers take in public relations exercises is that they stand to make the most when there is an equal amount of bets on both teams in a match, the reality is that sometimes bookmakers think that a certain outcome is likely and use the odds as a psychological tool to draw the public into betting on the team they think will lose.
As the public likes to bet on favourites most times and these favourites do not lose or draw often enough for the bookmakers' appetite, it makes sense that they use this psychological function mostly in Asian Handicap odds. This is where the public can lose if they bet on favourites who win by just goal.
Considering how the bookie always wins from the general betting public in the long run, it is wise to piggyback on the bookies' predictions by considering how they market the odds.
You can tell what the bookie is trying to achieve from the early odds. If the top of the table-team is giving a ½ ball handicap to the number two team in the table, it is usually too high. The bookie is seducing you to bet on the underdog.
How do you tell if people have fallen for the trap?
Study the movement of the odds. Study it over two or three days. Check for large trends once or twice a day for three days and check the odds a last time an hour or two just before the match.
You can tell that most of the public are betting on a team when the price and odds on the team gets less favourable. Take note of heavy action where odds or prices have big movements.
Normally, the bookie likes to lay traps on favourites and popular teams which the public likes to bet on. So look out for favourable opening or early odds on these teams which eventually climb to normal levels when the match is about to start. (This take some experience and study.)
Check match facts against the odds movements. Check for Class, Form, Motivation and other factors as described in THE GUIDE. Is there something that most of the public wouldn't know? If the non-favourite team exhibits traits that could help them win (or draw) or if the favourite team has some factors going against them, bet on the underdog just like the bookie, when the betting public is going heavy on the favourites.
That was the most common scenario. However, there are other parties around - big timers with inside knowledge, betting syndicates, match-fixers, etc who are not necessarily friendly to the bookie.
Sometimes, the big odd movements are caused by these parties (less often) and not by the betting public. When you see particularly heavy betting on weak teams, check the various factors and if you realise there's no reason for it, be aware of such 'big boy' action going on. In this case, go with the flow of the betting. That is, bet on those teams which are being bet heavily on.
How do you make sure that the heavy betting is by these big boys in the know? Check out the forums. If everyone there seems to say they are betting on one team but the betting odds prove that money is being poured on the other, you will know that the heavy betting is not done by the Joe Publics.
The bookies need to let the public win sometimes. When? When the action is low. When you see little action on popular favourites from the odds movement and the asian handicap is reasonably high against the favourites, you might choose to bet on the favourites then.
Note: For the study of odds movements, we approach match analysis with a conspiracy theory kind of angle and assume that bookmakers have insider knowledge or are almost able to know outcomes of games based on connections or highly qualified handicappers, researchers etc on their payroll or both.
EPL Match Day: 19 Mar 2005
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace 2.05 0 : 1 3/4 1.85
Chelsea was giving the same 1.75 handicap to West Brom the previous EPL fixture and won the game 1-0 with a single goal from Didier Drogba. Chelsea was then leading the table with 8 points more than the nearest contender for the title, Man U. Expectations was that Chelsea would trash WBA, who was a relegation struggler. The very high and rather rare handicap of 1.75 given by the bookies seemed to confirm this fact. Punters lapped this up, confident of a sound trashing of WBA by Chelsea and bet on Chelsea despite the high handicap. Ever notice how top teams quite often (not always) beat bottom ones by small margins? Chelsea won 1-0.
Knowing that the memory of this was still fresh in the minds of punters, bookmakers posted the same opening handicap for Chelsea the following week at 1.75. Naturally, punters shied away from backing Chelsea this time, afraid of a similar scoreline with another relegation struggler, Crystal Palace. Some of them even bet on Palace, evidenced by slightly dropping prices on the underdog, thinking perhaps Chelsea were losing their form. This was even though they had won their previous game.
The bookies met two objectives with this match. They confused the public with the same handicap and the same team at different times and the favourites won heavily without much betting on them. Punters missed this opportunity to win from betting on their favourites but they noticed the scoreline and regained their confidence in the favourite again. Try not to get trapped in this hidden but vicious cycle.
Take note however, that on any matchday, there is seldom the case that all the favourites fail to clear the handicap, even when the public is betting heavily on them. Some will clear and some won't most match days. It is up to you to identify them based on researching the usual factors and the odds.
UEFA Match Day: 17 Mar 2005
Sporting Lissabon vs Middlesbrough 2.05 0 : 1/2 1.85
When you see odds like these, you first have to recognize certain factors outside the movements of these odds.
Middlesbrough, in that season, was an upper mid-table team in the English Premier League, the most popular league worldwide. Sporting Lisbon is a fine team from Portugal but relatively unknown when compared to Middlebrough even though they have produced some of the best known names in football currently like Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo.
People tend to bet on teams they know and think of less heard-of teams as not up to par.
We reason, 'Hey, if they're that good, I would have heard more of them, right?'
Well, we do not know the answer to that but we know that when a relatively well-known team is given a 0.5 handicap by a less-popular team, everybody bets on the popular team, confident that they can at least draw with the 'obscure' team.
Sporting Lisbon had won the previous reverse fixture 3-2. Punters were sure Boro would go all out to win this match to avoid disqualification from the UEFA Cup. Well, if so, why were the bookies so kind as to award Boro a 1/2-ball handicap?
This is the psychological function of the odds used to the fullest by the bookmakers to fool the public. A check with the odds confirm that prices on Middlesbrough are getting lower.
We do not know what the bookies know but the final score?
SPL Match Day 20 Mar 2005
Valencia vs Getafe 2.00 0 : 1 1.90
Valencia vs Getafe 1.975 0 : 1 1.925
Valencia was 6th and Getafe 13th on the Primera Liga table. A one-ball handicap was a lot to give for a separation of just 7 places.
Valencia had just lost their last game and Getafe was getting known as a giant-killer, beating Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao and drawing with Deportivo and Real Betis recently the previous four games.
You have to question just why Valencia was giving a one-ball handicap when Getafe was in hot form. There the bookies go again.
Not much movement in the odds (above) to suggest heavy backing of Valencia by the public to warrant such a handicap.
Verdict: Bet Valencia
Final Score: Valencia 3 Getafe 1
There is no such thing as a foolproof method. Sometimes, even the bookies/big boys make mistakes or events occur which have not been expected. Also, sometimes the big bookies intentionally let the public have a good week or two (rarer and rarer though) -to let losses wipe out the smaller bookies and throw off anyone who's on to their game.
On the whole, however, it is a very accurate way to predict winners based on the number of winning bets this has produced for some pro-bettors.
Remember that mastering this is something of an artform and takes some time and experience to get good at. Hone your analytical skills and try to think like the bookie. This is not for every match so just be on the lookout for unusual activity.
As always, when unsure, lay off.
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