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Value Bets in Online Sports Betting

Here’s how to find and make value bets to get the edge every bettor is looking for


One of the most challenging things to explain to bettors who are just starting out is the concept of value betting. Cost, risk, profit — these are the three things you need to consider when it comes to a value bet.

Once you understand value betting, you’ll be set up for success. Even though this may seem like common sense to a veteran bettor, for the inexperienced newbies, it’s not. I know when I started online sports betting, it was difficult to wrap my head around value betting.

Becoming skilled at wagering your hard-earned money on teams that no one believes will win can feel a bit like learning how to repel down the outer surface of a building — you reach a point where you’ll have to let go and have confidence in yourself!

In this article, I want to give you the confidence you need in order to place value bets. Let’s get started!

Bookmakers odds

Bookmakers are tasked with making the odds for thousands of lines, bets, and markets. All these are meant for numerous different teams as well as individual players to win, lose, or draw a match. There are of course other kinds of bets, but these are the most common.

Occasionally, some bookmakers will provide odds better than those offered by competitor bookmakers. That is, different bookmakers will have different odds. They normally do this to entice more clients and get more players betting on the given team, market, player, or event.


Every now and then, bookmakers will make simple blunders on a special match or event and provide extraordinarily great odds for a rather predictable outcome. We normally forget that the people who make the odds are human beings like us and can at times make mistakes. Oddsmakers also utilize data and information to help determine the odds they offer.

Value Bets

So, what is a value bet? Just as the name implies, a value bet is simply a bet whereby the possibility of a given outcome is better than what the bookmakers odds on offer suggest.

It sounds confusing but when value betting, you’ll be making wagers that have a higher likelihood of winning than indicated by the bookmaker odds. That means you’ll have an advantage over the bookmaker.

Value bets explained

You need to look for percentages. For instance, say a given soccer team wins 30% of their matches while playing at home. The likelihood percentage of the team winning converted to decimal odds would be 3.33. This is equivalent to 7/3 fractional odds.

Therefore, if you made a $20 wager on the team and they emerged victorious, you’d earn an extra $46. In spite of this, you need to understand that value bets aren’t just based on only one match. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture.

Let’s say a league season has 10 games and you place a $20 wager on Sheffield United who has a 30% win percentage. This implies that you’ll lose 7 out of the 10 wagers. What is more, you’d break even as you’ll lose your $20 wager 7 times and win $46 three times. $46 multiplied by 3 equals to $138. This is almost equal to the precise amount you’d have lost on the other wagers. So, looking at the risk and reward we can determine this isn’t a value bet.

Now let’s look if the odds of Sheffield United winning while playing at home were 4.00 decimal (which is 3/1 fractional). Three wins at 3/2 for a $20 wager would bring you a profit of $60 each. $60 multiplied by 3 wins equals $180 worth of profit. Alternatively, when you consider the 7 losses of $20 each on the remaining games, you’d be up $40. Therefore, it’s for you to decide whether the cost, risk, and benefits are sufficient to stick to this as a value bet.

How to Identify value bets

Finding value bets is easier said than done. Just like all valuable things, it will take you time and effort. But I want to make it as easy as possible for you, so here’s what you need to do.

1.  Never favor the favorites

Always bear in mind that you’re controlled by the odds on offer. Betting on favorites every time is not a strategy. Why am I saying so? Being that they are favorites implies you’re more likely to win, right? Yes indeed.

However, you must be aware that the bookmakers will also place smaller odds on them than what the actual likelihood of them emerging winners is. That’s just how bookmakers develop their edge.

Let’s look at an example.

You’re never receiving straight odds on Barcelona to win. However, you’re making a bet that the other possible outcomes (draw or win) for Tottenham don’t come about. You’re at all times playing against the odds. Moreover, since the bookmakers would like the highest possible number of bettors to back the favorite, they will ensure the winning margins are low.

For instance:

Using a match between Barcelona and Tottenham where:

Barcelona FC 3/7, Draw 4/1, Tottenham 7/3.

This when converted to probability implies:

Barcelona 70%, Draw 29%, and Tottenham 30%

When you add the percentages together that’s a total of 129%. This implies that the extra 29% on top is the bookmaker’s edge. They are providing lowball odds on Barcelona emerging winners. Let’s say 200 bettors made a $20 bet on Barcelona winning, 90 bettors made $20 on a draw and 75 made $20 bet on Tottenham to win. That means the bookmaker has taken in $7300. Let’s look a little deeper.

¼  Barcelona emerging winners:

This will be 1.43 x $4000 = $5720. This leaves a $1580 profit out of the $5720 total stake on the game.


A draw would imply a payout of 3.85 x $1800 = $6930. This leaves the bookmaker with an overall profit of 370 on the game. The same applies when Tottenham wins where the bookmaker will have an overall profit of $2350.

From this example, you can now understand how the bookmaker earns lots of cash when bettors go for the favorites. That money is money that is going to the bookmaker, not money going into your pocket.

2.  Approximate likelihoods

Always ensure you do as much betting analysis research as you can. This will enable you to grasp odds as well as the actual value attached to them. One of the best ways through which you can assess value bets is by computing the implicit likelihood of an event taking place.

You can do this by looking at past statistics of the teams. Like with the Sheffield United example above, the results could be based on the win percentages they put out over the last five seasons.

Mastering Value betting will increase profits.

All the same, you have to understand that nothing is set in stone. Given that their win percentage is 30% doesn’t imply they will win just 30% of the time. With the 10-game scenario, let’s say they lost all 5 of their games away from home and won 4 at home. It wouldn’t take a lot tipping the balance to a better win for you, in case they were to get one win on the move. This would take their final percentage to 40%.

Also, you can take into account numerous other factors too, like the number of first-team players out with injuries, their performance in the last five matches, and if the team also plays during midweek. All these factors can affect the major league results.

3.  Odds probabilities

You can always compute probabilities from the odds. Let’s say the odds of a team winning a match were at 3/1. That doesn’t mean that they have a 50/50 chance of winning. Remember soccer has three outcomes. This simply implies that you have a 75% chance of losing.

The bookmaker’s odds can never be stacked evenly. They are never going to offer even money on two evenly matched badminton players competing. For instance, one of them may perhaps be 4/7 and this is where the bookmaker edge comes in. You can always change the bookmaker odds on offer to probability. That is the likelihood the bookmakers are setting.

We can use the formula A/B which stands for fractional odds. So, the probability is B divided by A+B then multiplied by 100%. Using that to work out the probability of 3/5 odds would be.

A + B which is 3 + 5 = 8

Then take 5 and divide by 8 = 0.625

Take 0.625 and multiply by 100%.

This gives us a 62.5% probability.

In conclusion

We know that online sports betting is fun, but we think if you are betting, you should also be winning money. And one way to do this is by finding and placing value bets. We hope this article helps you make some value bets on your own.

Value Betting FAQ

  • Where can I find value bets?

    You can always find value bets in any market. Like a hidden treasure, you've got to look out for them to find them. But if you’re well acquainted with the event, individual, or team that you’re wagering on you’ll have your own personal map and compass. Essentially, you need to look for odds that are, in your opinion based on your research and knowledge, wrong.
  • What kinds of sports have value betting?

    In pretty much any sports betting that we talk about on Betting Guide New Jersey, you can find value bets. Make sure to view our other pages to see where you can make your value bets.
  • Is making value bets the only strategy I can use to get the upper-hand?

    No! We have many guides and articles all about how you can get the edge with your online betting. Make sure to add Betting Guide New Jersey to your favorites because we are always adding helpful articles to help bettors like you.