A value bet is a bet whose odds have a probability value higher than the actual probability of it happening.
For bettors, it means placing continuous stakes on this type of odds will guarantee a safe profit in the long term since their odds is higher than the real probability of the event.
If we imagine a bet where the probability for each final outcome is 50%, for instance betting for a basketball match to end up with more than 180.5 points, and assume there is an actual 50% chance of each, the odds would be:
– More than 180.5: 2.00
– Less than 180.5: 2.00
Because bookmakers leave a margin the real odds would be:
– More than 180.5: 1.95
– Less than 180.5: 1.95
If you find a place where you can place one of these bets at odds 2.05 you have a value bet (again, assuming that the real probabilities are 50%).
This is for the theory…but experienced bettors know odds are the prices of bets, not their actual probabilities.
And this is the reason why you see odds constantly moving, with sharp bettors placing their bets on what they think as value bets. Bookmakers can not possibly open every odds at the “perfect price” for them, therefore they have no option but to manipulate odds in order to balance their books. They also construct odds to match public opinion.
Then how do you find value bets? This is the task for anyone willing to become a successful sports bettor. It is important that you understand the simple concept of betting value. That is, if you assess the probability of an outcome as more likely to occur than the probability implied by the bookmaker’s odds, it is a value bet. But remember, high odds do not necessarily mean value.
Do you think World #1 tennis player Novak Djokovic would be a value bet at 1.05 if he played tomorrow against a 16 years old promising young player with no ATP ranking, who is playing his first match on the main tour? Probably yes. But what if he faced his long time rival Andy Murray and was priced at the same odds of 1.05? You understand the point.
Detecting value bets comes with experience. It can be going against “the public”, against teams which traditionally a strong public following. It can also be in a situation where you think most bettors are overreacting to the last game of a certain team or player, therefore the opposite bet could be an attractive selection.
As we said, it comes with experience, but remember: every bet is actually a different product and presents a unique situation.
And this is why opportunities of value bets will always be there, as long as you bet on the best odds of the market.