Value Bet Explained – How to Calculate It Correctly

In this article we will outline the philosophy behind value bets. For serious members of the community who want to take their betting to the next level, this could be the most important term to understand.

In essence, when we talk about value betting explained, it’s a specific bet which is priced up at higher odds than it really should be. We’ll talk you through some examples shortly, but the main point is that this is a process used by many professional gamblers. While there are no guarantees, it is possible to make some serious money if you have an effective value betting system.

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How does Value Betting Actually Work?

The value of a bet equals its probability multiplied by its decimal odds minus one

Perhaps the best way to explain this is by using an example and, to do this, we really need a bet that is a 50/50 call. A coin toss is exactly 50/50 and it is possible to wager on the toss ahead of a cricket match.

The best football betting sites that provide odds for this market will generally quote both heads and tails at 9/10 if they are using fractional odds. This makes sense because both options have a chance of coming in, but the figures are not at Even Money because the bookmaker has to keep their edge.

But let’s say that you find a bookie who has quoted 5/4 on heads coming in. The number is too high for a 50/50 call and, therefore, there is some value in this pick. This is a very basic explanation, but it does perfectly outline the concept of value betting. It is unlikely that it will be available in the form that we have described, but there are examples of value bets which take place on a daily basis.

An experienced gambler knows how to calculate a value bet by using mathematical probability and we can, once again, use 50/50 as an example. This time we’ll look at a tennis match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal where there are only two possible outcomes in the result market - a win for either player. Having done our research, we see that the two players in question have met six times in the last 18 months and each has won three matches. For the purposes of this example, we’ll also assume that the form for each player is identical.

Based on those studies, we have established that the game has a 50/50 chance of going either way. Assuming that there is a ‘house edge,’ we might expect to see both players quoted at 9/10 for the win. However, one player has been priced with odds of 3/1 and they will therefore have the value.

An easy way to calculate the expected value of a bet could be the probability multiplied by the odds and then remove 1 from the sum. That would give us the value (the probability multiplied by the odds) minus 1.If the end result is greater than 0, then we can call it a successful value bet.

Value = (Propability * Odds) - 1


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How to Carry Out a Value Bet

Once the bet has been identified, bettors will just stake in the usual way by clicking on those 3/1 odds, choosing their stake and then hitting the confirm button on their bet slip.

Understanding and implementing a value betting system requires a lot of research into these statistics. It does not rely on ‘hunches’ or ‘gut feelings’ and this should be understood before anyone undertakes it.

It requires time and patience and it can be volatile, but as some pro gamblers illustrate, it can also be rewarding.

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Can Value Betting Work Within a Formula?

Those who use a value betting system as pro gamblers will not tend to apply formulas. For them, it’s all about finding a market where the bookmaker has lost their edge and they will then work out how much they are comfortable with staking.

Feasibly, it is possible to apply a formula such as a Martingale or Reverse Martingale, but both of those systems work better with a single wager. In addition, we want odds that are consistent - usually at 2/1 - for this type of formula to be successful.

However, if you do find regular 2/1 value bets, then you could potentially use a formula.

Please show me some Formula Examples

OK, so let’s say you have found a new sportsbook that has continued to. Value bets are all over their markets and there is a regular supply of 2/1 options. In this instance, we will apply the Martingale system. Full details of this can be found elsewhere on the site, but, essentially, we are doubling our stake in the event of a losing bet. When we win, we start up again.

Here’s how this might work:

Value Bet explained

Example One:

One: Stake £1.00 on selected wager at 2/1: Bet wins, Returns = £3.00 - profit = £3.00

Example Two:

One: Stake £1.00 on selected wager at 2/1: Bet Loses, stake lost.

Two: Stake £2.00 on selected wager at 2/1: Bet wins, total returns = £6.00. Overall profit = £3.00

Example Three:

One: Stake £1.00 on Selected wager at 2/1: Bet Loses, stake lost

Two: Stake £2.00 on Selected wager at 2/1: Bet Loses, stake lost.

Three: Stake £4.00 on Selected wager at 2/1: Bet Loses, stake lost.

Four: Stake £8.00 on Selected wager at 2/1: Bet Loses stake lost.

Bet Five: Stake £16.00 on Selected wager at 2/1. Bet Wins, returns = £48.00. Overall profit is £17.00.

In all cases, we have walked away with a profit and this would be the case no matter how many times the opening bets had failed. As long as punters follow the basic rules of the Martingale System, which are outlined elsewhere on this site, a profit will land as soon as one of our bets comes in. The only point to keep in mind is your bankroll and how many bets you can cover by doubling your stake.

You now know how to claim value bets, but it is unlikely that you will see them come in at 2/1 on a regular basis. Therefore, while they can work within most formulas, we don’t recommend using this as part of your overall value bet strategy.

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