What is Expected Value - A Complete GuideExpected value can help punters make better choices if we understand where and how to implement it. We teach what it is, how it can be used for more profit and how we can choose a bookie through it!
Last updated: 01 Apr 09:15
The best way to explain best odds is to Imagine that you’re about to buy a new pair of trainers. They’re made by a particular brand, they’re a particular model, a particular colour and size. Irrespective of where you buy them there’s going to be absolutely no difference in the product itself.
There are plenty of places you can buy them. Amazon, E-Bay, a load of other online retailers or shock horror…you could actually go out and buy them in a real shop! Strange world that we live in that physically going to a retailer seems like such an ordeal. But there you go.
Now let’s say that you’ve found 10 different places where you can buy the exact same pair of trainers. The only difference whatsoever is in the cost. Some of the online places charge different amounts for shipping or just price up the product differently to start with. Now, if all 10 charge a slightly different price, where should you buy your trainers? The answer is obviously, the cheapest one.
Now let’s say that by buying them at the cheapest place you saved £20 compared to the most expensive place and that at the cheapest place you buy them at, they’re £10 cheaper than the average place.
And finally, let’s say that you go through this process of buying online items about 20 times a year. New phone, new video games, jeans, kitchen knives, TV set, kettle, sunglasses and whatever else you need replaced or bought for the first time over a twelve-month period. Think about how much money you’d be saving if everytime you bought something you managed to buy it at the lowest price. A lot, eh?
Getting the best odds is no different to buying those trainers at the cheapest price. After all, a) saving money is the same thing as making money and b) a sports bet is the same as buying a particular model of trainers. It’s not like backing Chelsea to beat Manchester United means something different with one bookie to what it means with another. So what we’re talking about here with best odds is maximizing total earnings rather than minimizing total expenditure, which is what happened with the trainers. As we said, it’s the same thing because it’s more money in your pocket.
So let’s go through the same process as we did with the trainers but with sports bets and let’s look at the difference between placing your bets at best odds and not doing so.
On a particular weekend you placed 10 bets. Five of them lost, five of them won.
These were the ones that won. Next to them are the odds that you secured and next to that are the best odds that were available from across the 10 best-known bookmakers in the UK.
Now let’s say that you bet £10 on each of those five bets. You would have won £103 profit across those five bets by betting at the odds at which you bet at. But had you bet all of them at best odds, you would have won £140. That’s a difference of £37 had you bet them all at best odds. Or to put it another way, a difference of 36% between what you did win and what you could/should have won had you placed your bets at best odds.
Let’s look back at what we said about the trainers. The amount you saved on buying the trainers at the cheapest store is relevant in itself but when you add up all those savings over the course of a year, across 20 or so different purchases, it really does all add up.
It’s the same thing with betting. A regular gambler may place 1000 bets a year. A fair share of them are going to lose; that’s just part of the game. But if we’re going to take the weekend mentioned above as a typical weekend, look at the difference between betting at best odds and not betting at best odds.
Still keeping to the numbers we talked about and assuming we make an average profit of £60 a week (remember that half of the 10 bets lost but we’re rounding it up to 60 profit) on bets by not placing your bets at best odds. We do this for 40 weeks a year during the football season and end up £2400 in profit. Not bad, eh?
Well, no actually. Because we’re missing out on an extra 36% on average by not having winners at best odds. If we did place those bets at best odds we’d have won £2400 plus an extra 36% (thanks to best odds) and would/should have won £3264.
And just so we don’t come across as greedy punters moaning about not maximizing our wins because we didn’t bet at best odds, let’s look at it another way. Let’s say we placed much fewer bets every weekend but for far greater stakes.
One weekend we place £1000 on Tottenham to beat Everton at 1.7 which loses because it’s a draw. We also place £1000 on Liverpool to beat Burnley at 1.7 when it was available at best odds of 1.9. The second bet wins but that gives us just £700 profit on that bet so a loss of 300 overall for the weekend. Had we placed the Liverpool bet at best odds we would still have lost but only 100 rather than 300. None of us are so rich (or so foolish) that we can afford to be giving money away like that.
The next question then is why do bookmakers have different odds on the same outcome? These days the difference in odds between what different bookmakers offer tends to be less and less, especially on big markets like the 1x2 market on a big Champions League match or who’s going to win the World Cup. That said, you can find significant differences when it comes to smaller markets like a first goalscorer or a player to be shown a card.
The main reason they have different odds is because they have a slightly different opinion on the outcome of an event. Another reason is that occasionally bookmakers take a huge bet on a particular outcome from one or more big-hitting customers and then have to balance their book by slashing the odds on that outcome and consequently making the other outcomes in the market bigger.
But don’t worry too much about. We’re interested in the importance of best odds, not how they come about. Look at our odds calculator.
It’s obviously not practical to have accounts with 30 different bookmakers to ensure you always get the best odds on whatever you’re betting on. That would involve a lot of admin in terms of opening all those accounts and having your bankroll divided across too many different accounts.
But selecting say six or seven, including some of the bigger ones like Betfair (Sportsbook), Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddypower should allow you to get the best odds available all the time or at least the best odds available almost all of the time.
Better still, as explained in this excellent article under Point 6, in some cases you can actually hold multiple accounts using just the one broker. That allows you to secure the best odds across those numerous bookmakers whilst always having your money in just the one place.
And therein lies the key to this whole thing if you’re really serious about making a living from betting. If you have multiple accounts, every time you choose to have a bet based on taking all the key factors into account which should always include the best possible use of data, you absolutely need to ensure that you’re getting best odds or as close to that as possible.
As stated already, it’s absolutely impossible for all your bets to win so you need to make sure that the ones that do really count. And by that we mean, being paid out at the best odds and maximizing your winnings.
If you’re under say 30 years old and like sports betting, then you can consider yourself extremely lucky. You’ve never had to go through the ordeal of physically having to visit different bookmakers’ shops around town and asking them what price they’re offering on a particular outcome as you go in search of the best odds.
The furthest you’re going to have to travel is from one website to the next. Or not even that far because there are now quite a few websites that compare the odds offered by each of the bookmakers (normally between about 20 and 30) on a particular market.
They will tell you what each one is offering the best odds for the betting market you are looking for. Even if that particular bookmaker isn’t one of the ones in your portfolio, you can open a new account and benefit from best odds quoted.
Different betting advisors/experts/specialists will preach to you the numerous golden rules behind successful long-term betting. Everything from betting based on value to bankroll management to specializing in just a couple of niche areas rather than trying to be an expert in everything.
They’re all important but securing best odds as often as possible is perhaps the most important rule of them all.
Teemu MaarelaEsports & Ice Hockey Specialist
Bio:Teemu is an enthusiastic Finn who spent his childhood around ice hockey and video games, and he has 10+ years of experience with sports betting industry. Teemu specialises in analysing esports and ice hockey games. He contributes to Betting.com website in English, writing about his two passions - ice hockey and esports.