If you’re fed up of chasing the life-altering win through throwing together stupidly sized accumulators then join the club. You are not alone. Instead of giving up though, why not explore one of these football trading strategies?
In 2021 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.
How are football trading strategies different to normal betting?
The core difference between being a regular bettor and following a trading strategy is simply the fact that the strategic approach tends to follow a consistent set of rules. This approach won’t generally tee you up for a one off payday but, over an extended period, you should be winning on a more consistent basis. That’s the logic at least.
Of course, you might be reading this thinking ‘I did follow the same set of rules’. Maybe you did, maybe you had a strategy. Perhaps it just wasn’t a good one. Don’t worry though, we’ve got a few of the best and most trusted football trading strategies for you to cast your eyes over – and one to avoid!
7. 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.
6. 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.
5. Matched betting
We’re legally required to state that there is no guarantee of specific results. The amount of money that you will make is dependent on the time and effort that you put in. Results can vary.
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.TRY PROFIT ACCUMULATOR FOR FREE >
4. Price boost exploitation
Nearly every online bookmaker offers their customers enhanced odds on a daily basis. 99% of punters who take the bet do exactly that, they gamble hoping to win at the increased price. The 1% that remains know how to exploit these offers for positive return. We know that different bookies price events in different ways, which can present opportunities of its own where you can cover all outcomes for a win. These bets are not risk free though with accounts likely to be restricted and, potentially, closed. Price boosts can sometimes present the same possibilities but without the risk of account implications. The reason being that bookies want you to take their boosted odds.
The method to this strategy is to place a ‘back’ bet on the boosted odds and then headelsewhere to cover the other possible outcomes; typically, this will be done via betting exchanges and, specifically, using a lay bet. With the exception of odds moving and liquidity issues, this strategy is a banker; returns are generally smaller though.
3. Lay betting strategies
We’ve just touched on lay bets in the above. Essentially, they are just a way of saying ‘that won’t happen’ rather than the traditional betting approach of ‘this will happen’. The logic to a lay bet does present opportunity though and it’s something plenty of bettors do. We’ll talk about two examples of how to use lay betting as a strategy.
The first is focussed on laying correct scores. It’s well known that predicting the exact score line of a football match is one of the hardest bets to win. With that nugget planted firmly in your mind, lay bets allow you to say ‘it won’t be that score’. Of course, there are plenty of score possibilities in any given match too meaning you can have several lay bets placed at once. The only way you lose is when one of the scores you lay actually washes in as the correct score.
The second of the lay football trading strategies we look at focuses on targeting specific in-play games. First of all, you’ll be looking for matches where you have a heavy favourite (cup matches can work well). The prospect of laying against a League Two side playing, for example, Man City is far from exciting. Your odds would be atrocious. If the underdog happens to take the lead though those odds start to improve. After all, it becomes like a handicap market. You now have the option to lay against the underdog with the idea that a significantly stronger team will come back.
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.
2. Player trading platforms
The nextstop on our tour of the best football trading strategies comes with somewhat of a twist; player trading platforms. Football Index were the first to market with this sort of ‘gambling meets fantasy football’ model; now though sites like Footstock and Sorare have also emerged in a similar space. What are they?
Well the specifics associated to each one depends on what site you look at because they are all different. The manner of making money is similar though. In really simplistic terms, player trading platforms allow you to buy real life footballers (in a virtual world) who are then rated based on their actual performances in actual games through data like that captured by Opta. Performance can be rewarded through the payment of dividends or prizes and, as with stock markets, capital appreciation i.e. buy low, sell high is the end game.
1. Kelly Criterion
The Kelly Criterion method
Here we look at a trading strategy that was developed to profit in the financial world. Its transition to football betting works seamlessly and, as football trading strategies go, it’s probably the one with the best grounding to help you build sustainable profit. It will take some getting used to though. The main reason for this is because the Kelly Criterion method is all about probability and bankroll management; this means you’ll need to master a few mathematical calculations before you can really set about using it. We realise that might not be uber appealing to a lot of people but the flip side is that you can apply the strategy to pretty much any event you want.
The starting place for the Kelly Criterion strategy is locating an event you’d like to bet on; let’s call it a straight forward match result bet. Initially, there are two pieces of information you will need; the first is given to you by the bookmaker – the odds. The second will take a bit more effort; you need to work out the actual probability. There are a lot of ways to do this so we won’t tread that path right now. These two elements form the basis of the first mathematical calculation, which shows the value of a bet.
If the value of the first calculation is negative then you do not bet on the event. If the value is positive then you can move on to the second calculation, which determines how much money you should look to stake. Of course, everyone will have different bankrolls and therefore your answer will be expressed as a percentage. This will give you a third and final calculation to establish how much cash you need to stake.
A real-life Kelly Criterion example
For the purposes of our calculation, we’re using the SkyBet odds of 2.60 for Burnley to win at home against Fulham. We’ll be using a probability of 42% and a bankroll of £500.
The first calculation:
The structure of the calculation is ‘(Probability as a decimal * decimal Odds )-1 = Value‘.
With our specific selection it is ‘(0.42 * 2.60)-1 = 0.092 i.e. 9.2%
As this is a positive number we move on to calculation two.
The second calculation:
The structure of the calculation is ‘Answer of calculation 1 in decimal form/ (odds – 1) = Stake percentage’
With our specific selection it is ‘0.092/(2.60 – 1) = 0.0575 i.e. 5.75%
The final calculation:
The structure of the calculation is ‘Bankroll * Answer of calculation 2= Stake’
With our specific selection it is ‘£500 * 5.75% = £28.75’
Which football trading strategies should you avoid?
The Martingale Method
The Martingale strategy was originally born in the casino world. It has slowly been adopted into sport. From a logical standpoint, it makes sense as to how you can profit following the process. It works. The practice will even see you thrown out of a casino. It does, however, come with a substantial warning; out of all the football betting strategies we mention this one comes with the highest risks because of the need for a big starting bankroll and the fact you can theoretically max out the staking limits bookies put in place.
The casino game the Martingale method was developed around is roulette. You pick a colour (red or black) and constantly double your stake until you win and, because the odds are evens i.e. 1/1, you’ll always end up with a profit equal to your starting stake. It’s a similar thought process in football. You find a bet where the odds are greater than or equal to evens and bet time and time again until it comes in, each time doubling your stake. Logically sound.
The trouble is, even starting with a modest stake of £1, if you run through 10 losses in a row you need to find some big money – by most people standards. Why? Well, £1 becomes £2, £2 becomes £4 and before you know it the stake for bet number 10 is £512 and you’ve already spent £511 over the past nine bets. That’s over a grand and even if you win bet 10, you’re only gaining £1 profit. It might take a good week to walk through this process too.
There you have it, our overview of some of the football betting strategies that could help transform the way you bet.