There are countless betting strategies open to anyone looking to bet on sports. Deciding which strategy will work best for you depends on what your aims are and how much time you are prepared to commit to your betting endeavours.
If we take horse racing as an example, the different betting strategies available include choosing a horse because you like its name, following the tips of a racing newspaper tipster, getting betting tips from another source such as a friend or online, trusting to instinct, following the market, using a staking plan and last but not least, studying all the available information and data and using this information alongside the odds to decide whether a bet is worth making or not.
We wouldn’t necessarily say there is a right or wrong betting strategy to employ. For the occasional punter looking for a bit of fun, simply picking bets by instinct or at random may well produce a return not too dissimilar to that of many tipsters in the long term. However, if you really want to make money from your betting - and with betting, winning is central to having fun in many respects - then in truth the only way to do that is to use a mathematical betting strategy that utilises as much information as possible in order to assess whether the odds on offer represent good value.
There is no single “mathematical betting strategy”, rather that phrase covers a range of approaches that use stats, trends, past results and other performance information alongside a logical, mathematical methodology to ascertain if a bet is worth making.
Whilst many less sophisticated approaches argue that the only thing that matters is winners, any serious gambler knows that value is at the heart of winning in anything more than the short term. A “value bet” is the Holy Grail for anyone using a mathematical betting strategy and a value bet is one where the probability of an event happening is greater than the odds imply.
An even money bet, or 2.0 in decimal odds, implies a 50% chance of that event happening, whilst a 6/4 shot (2.5 in decimal) implies a 40% chance. Implied probability is calculated by dividing 1 by the decimal odds available, i.e. 1/2.5 = 0.40 = 40%.
To use a very simple example, if a friend was to give you odds of 11/10 (2.1) on a coin toss, this would be a value bet because on a fair toss of a coin the true probability of either outcome is 50%, whilst the odds imply it has a 47.6% chance of occurring. Of course, there is still a 50% chance that you will lose any single toss of the coin but if you place 10, 100, or even 1,000 bets, your chances of profit are virtually guaranteed.
Any mathematical betting strategy should seek to find such value bets in the real world, be it betting on political elections, football, tennis or indeed anything. By using statistics and other information, a serious bettor should try to assign the true probability of any bet actually winning and only place the bet when the odds available are higher than they “should” be.