Fixed odds sports betting is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Provided one learns how to gain this edge, and more importantly adheres to a sensible risk management of his betting strategy, fixed odds sports betting offers a potential investment opportunity to those seeking a little more excitement than merely collecting an annual low interest return from their savings.
The aim of this article is to encourage the fixed odds sports bettor to think more analytically about his betting strategy, about the markets he invests in, about the type of wagers he makes, about betting value and numerical approaches to finding it, about ways of gaining a head start, and most importantly of all perhaps, about money management and an examination of risk. It is only through such clear thinking and critical appraisal that a bettor can hope to maximise his chances of success.
1. Set aside a betting bankroll
Without a proven record of long-term success, any punter should avoid betting more than he can afford to lose. The most sensible approach to safeguard against this is to set aside a bankroll for the purposes of betting, the size of which should not encroach on the need to pay school fees, books, bills e.t.c. If this is lost, the punter should consider the possibility that fixed odds sports betting will not, for him at least, offer a suitable investment opportunity.
2. Research your sport and be selective
There are literally hundreds of fixed odds sports betting opportunities to be found every week. To improve your performance it is prudent to concentrate on one or perhaps two key sporting markets (preferably the English Premiership). Research these thoroughly. Be selective and don’t bet because you have to, but only when you feel you have identified an edge. After all, the worst you can do by not betting at all is break even.
3. Keep accurate records
For all your betting, keep accurate records of the selections backed and their prices, the amounts wagered, and the profits or losses incurred. Keeping a truthful betting history will help you to analyse your strengths and weaknesses, to assess your profitability and, most fundamentally of all, to reveal whether you have the talent to gain an edge. For advisory services, keeping and publishing an honest record goes without saying. Without one, customers have no idea how meaningful any profit claims will actually be.
4. Test your forecasting systems
Punters adopt different approaches to forecasting and prediction. Some prefer to study subjectively, reading up on the news about each event, and making betting judgements on the basis of information about injuries, morale, motivation and so on. Others prefer to quantify information about form, and develop rating systems to predict the outcome of the next contest. For either approach, but more specifically for numerical forecasting, test and retest your systems, and identify significance. Be wary of spurious relationships, which may misrepresent the meaningfulness of any significant association between hypothesised predictors and the actual outcome of events. Remember that if one looks long and hard enough at a set of data, a relationship of one form or another, whether meaningful or not, can usually be found. Very few will ultimately turn out to be profitable in the long run.
5. Bet singles
Unfortunately, punters fed on the lure of the bigger payouts from multiples and perms still place these unfavourable bets en masse. For highly successful bettors, it is true that profits can be enhanced, but the risks in seeking them, through the larger overrounds and lower strike rates, will always be greater. Singles on their own can offer quite reasonable rewards without the undue worry of losing the betting bankroll early. A punter’s greed is so often his downfall. Why try to run before you can walk?
6. Back favourites or short prices
Contentious but undeniably apparent, at least in football betting, is the presence of a favourite–longshot bias. Demonstrated empirically beyond question in the European football fixed odds market, backing only short prices will not be enough on its own to secure a betting edge, but for those who choose to do so, the imposed average disadvantage is significantly smaller to start with. Backing shorter prices also means you will win more often and expose your bankroll to less risk if betting level stakes. It pays to bet consistently on teams like Man U for lower odds that taking long-shorts with teams like Hull City with bigger odds and lesser winning possibility.
7. Identify your risk preferences
Are you a risk seeker or a risk avoider? The answer to this question will shape your entire staking strategy and money management. Risk seekers are happy to back high odds and large multiples, preferring the thrill of big-win gambling to the mundane grind of “win some, lose some” betting. Furthermore, some gamblers are prepared to chase lost capital through ratcheting up the stakes after each losing bet. Be warned: this policy will NOT guarantee profits, whilst the risks of failure are considerable. If you prefer to play it safe, a simple level staking plan will suffice, or perhaps a policy of staking to win a fixed profit each time you bet. Betting a percentage of your bankroll through simple percentage bank staking or more advanced Kelly staking can yield significant rewards for the proven bettor, but he must be prepared to wait out potentially longer periods of loss making in order to secure a greater payday at the end of the line.
8. Always analyse your betting record
Money in the bank from winning bets is a wonderful feeling, particularly if you believe your skill and judgement has earned you that money. Avoid becoming complacent, however, and investigate whether your profits could simply have arisen by chance. If this is the case, they may not come so easily in the future. Even where you have established significance in a betting history, beware of unexplained factors that may be accounting for your level of success.
9. Learn how to lose
Perhaps the most important lesson a fixed odds sports bettor should learn is how to lose. Strange as this may sound, it is actually understanding how to manage losses and cope with losing runs that is so often the key to this business. Having the patience to outlast such deleterious sequences, and the willpower to resist chasing the losses, is the hardest part of gambling. Succeed here, and your chances of avoiding outright failure are greatly enhanced. Simply staying in the game is half the battle. If you aren’t in it, you can’t win it, regardless of any ability you have at predicting the market.