In 2020 we’re lucky enough to have the world of football at our fingertips. As a result, it’s never been easier to bet on the sport we love yet most punters still haemorrhage their money away. I’ve been there. Believe me. Don’t fear though because over the years I’ve put plenty of research into beating the system and here I’m going to give you the five best football betting strategies to help turn you a profit.
5. Goliath Bets
Are Goliath bets guaranteed to make you money? No but your odds of making a profit are greatly improved.
Traditionally, a Goliath bet is based off eight selections – let’s call it eight teams to win. Usually in this scenario you’d end up with an eight-fold accumulator but by using the Goliath option your bet is broken down into 247 different outcomes. These 247 selections cover every possible combination from doubles up to an eight-fold win. As such, your stake is multiplied so a 10p stake will actually cost you £24.70.
Although that’s a dramatic ramp up of stake, just two selections coming in will see you with some winnings (not necessarily profit) even though six of your eight selection were wrong. The more of your selections you get right, the more you win and the returns can be huge. It’s this final point why your football knowledge and research is still vital.
4. Arbitrage betting
Arbitrage betting is probably something you’ve heard of but perhaps never believed to be viable. Let me assure you that it is completely viable. You’ll be turning a profit in no time. Arbitrage betting is all focused on exploiting the variation in odds across different bookmakers. Each bookie applies their own statistical approach to setting odds for an event.
As a result, you will occasionally find games where both outcomes are priced in a manner that promises a profit – regardless of who wins. Let’s look at a draw no bet example from the upcoming League One fixtures using the decimal odds format:
Sunderland to win is priced at 1.53 with SkyBet whilst Bristol Rovers are available at 3.10 with BetVictor. By strategically adjusting your stakes you can guarantee a profit:
£66.95 stake * 1.53 = £102.43
£33.05 stake * 3.10 = £102.46
This means your outlay is a combined £100 with a minimum return of £102.43; a near 2.5% return on investment. It doesn’t sound much but it’s a banker for profitable returns whilst you will also find more appealing bets as you explore opportunities. A 2.5% return for an afternoon’s work is also somewhat higher than a bank would pay.
3. Matched betting
Matched betting guarantees you a profit. Interested? I thought so. So how does it work? You’ll probably be well aware of all the free bet offers advertised by the many bookmakers. Well, matched betting only works when a free bet is available.
First things first, you need to find a free bet – most bookies offer these on sign up. Then it’s a case of finding a suitable event to wager on; you’ll need something that doesn’t have a clear favourite. It’s then a case of using your free bet to back a winner whilst utilising a betting exchange website to ‘lay’ against the team you’ve backed. A lay bet is simply saying I think team X will not win thus covering a loss and draw. You now have all three outcomes covered.
Of course, you need to calculate the relevant stake to lay whilst your amount at risk – called the lay liability – is higher than the stake as it needs to cover potential losses because of how betting exchanges work.
Don’t worry though because profit is guaranteed! Let’s look at an example:
Today, Kilmarnock host Dundee United. Your free bet, which in this instance will be via SkyBet, is to back the home side i.e. I think Kilmarnock will win. The odds are 2.30. You can lay the bet i.e. I think Kilmarnock will fail to win with Smarkets at 2.42.
£10 free bet stake * 2.30 = £23 – £10 as the stake isn’t returned = £13
Lay £5.42 * 2.42 = £13.12 (your liability is £7.70, the difference between £13.12 and £5.42, which is the backers stake).
If your ‘back’ bet wins, you make £13.00 profit from SkyBet but lose £7.70 on the Smarkets lay bet i.e. you’ve made £5.30 profit. If, however, Kilmarnock lose or draw then you win nothing on the SkyBet side but scoop your profit from Smarkets at £5.42 (minus a small commission).
The only other thing to consider is that most free bets require you to place a qualifying bet. Follow the same back and lay process as above and you will make a very minimal loss – usually pence – which will be more than covered in the second bet.
2. Price boost exploitation
Hopefully, we’ve covered the logic of a ‘lay bet’ in the above section regarding matched betting because you’ll be using it again here. Price boost exploitation is similar to arbitrage betting and matched betting – but it has two huge things in it’s favour over those. Where matched betting is concerned, you’re reliant on having free bets – that’s not the case here meaning nor is the qualifying bet. With arbitrage bets, you’re relying on an abnormally weighted set of odds on offer from a bookmaker – with price boosts, the bookie is deliberately giving you this edge whilst risk of being ‘gubbed’ (having your account restricted) is virtually zero. Why would a bookie do that? Plain and simply because most people won’t exploit the opportunity it creates and instead will just wager additional funds in a good old fashioned gamble.
So, in ordinary circumstances, prices on offer from bookmakers won’t vary massively – although there is some opportunity on offer as mentioned earlier – because across the board bookmakers don’t want to create an industry that can be fiddled. Price boosts, however, are intended to pull in new money and are only on handpicked events meaning the industry will remain in a healthy position. For people in the know, it’s time to get winning. This example explains how it is done:
In the opening Premier League fixtures, Everton travel to face Tottenham with a current price of 4.0 to win with SkyBet. Let’s fast forward a couple of weeks and imagine they’re boosted to 5.0. You can lay against an Everton win i.e. Spurs to win or draw with the Betfair Exchange at 4.5. You’re now into guaranteed profit territory:
£20 stake on the price boost * 5.0 = £100
Lay £22.32 * 4.5 = £100.44 (your liability is £78.12)
If your ‘back’ bet wins, you make £20 profit from SkyBet but lose £78.12 on the lay bet i.e. you’ve made £1.88 profit. If, however, Everton fail to win then you win nothing on the SkyBet side but scoop your profit from your lay bet giving you £1.87 profit after a 2% commission.
Again, like the Arbitrage bets, the returns aren’t always colossal but price boosts are available several times a day meaning profits can soon mount up with a lot of those who follow this method making a well north of £100 per week.
1. Kelly Criterion
At number one on our list of the best football betting strategies is the Kelly Criterion method. It’s a technique that’s been about for decades upon decades with the approach predominantly used in stock market trading. Thankfully, you can follow the same steps for football betting. Before we dive in to the ‘how’ I need to stress that researching your bets is important with this strategy because you’ll be trying to determine the probability of a win.
Essentially, you’ll have a pool of money dedicated to betting – it’s usually referred to as your bankroll. Based on the combination of actual probability and odds on offer the Kelly Criterion method will tell you how much of your bankroll to stake. The bigger the variation between the probability and the odds, the more you will stake. Logic dictates that you’re fine tuning what is on offer by the bookies and, as such, you’ll beat them in the long run. Let’s look at how it works using the Nations League tie between Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
After working out your probability, you need to calculate the ‘overlay’ or value of the odds.
If you’re looking to back the Czech Republic and they have a probability of 40% versus odds of 2.70 then your value is calculated as:
(Probability * odds) – 1
(0.40 * 2.70) – 1 = 0.08 or 8% value
Remember, with this strategy you are only betting where positive value exists. If your overlay comes back as a negative then leave the bet well alone!
The next step is knowing how much of your bankroll to stake. This is calculated as follows:
Overlay/(odds – 1)
0.08/(2.70 – 1) = 0.0471 or 4.71%
So, with a bankroll of £100 the Kelly Criterion method suggests you should wager £4.71 on a Czech win.
There you have it, an overview of the top five football betting strategies.
Good luck and, as always, bet safe!