How to identify a value football bet
When assessing any football match, your starting point should always be total goals and goal supremacy. You need to have some form of model that can predict these numbers and then be able to convert them into relevant odds for the market in question.
This is your assessment of the game – if the available odds are higher than your calculation then you may have a ‘value’ bet, assuming that external factors don’t affect the game too much.
You should adopt a similar process when looking at other markets and I’m going to look at the likelihood of a penalty being awarded in a football match as an example.
Betting on ‘will a penalty be awarded’
Your starting point should always be the general trend – how often penalties are awarded in a game. You might then want to introduce other variables such as the frequency with which the two teams are likely to win or concede a penalty, as well as factoring in the record of the referee and any other considerations such as new refereeing directives.
The next step is to assign ‘weights’ to these, in relation to their significance.
Let’s look at this weekend’s West Ham United Vs Sunderland game as an example.
The frequency of penalties being awarded
From the 380 games played in 2015/16, there were 91 penalties awarded and this sits well with the data from the two previous seasons, where the overall average for the full 3 seasons was 86.666, meaning that a penalty was awarded in 22.8% of all games.
Are there any trends associated with the two teams?
Players and managers change so it wouldn’t make sense to go back too far. There have been 16 penalties awarded in West Ham’s last 46 matches and 13 in Sunderland games during the same period, making up an average of 31.5%.
Referees interpret the guidelines in different ways but some will clearly pay attention to new rules more than others. Robert Madley will officiate the West Ham Vs Sunderland clash. According to Tranfermarkt, Madley has pointed to the spot 67 times in the 212 games he has presided over. However, his recent English Premier League statistics are startling to say the least. He gave 13 penalties in his 26 Premier League appearances last season and has already given 3 in 5 games this time around. That gives him a form rating of 51.6%, suggesting he continues to adjust his refereeing style each year.
New directives for officials
Referees are being encouraged to penalize players who are found guilty of ‘holding and grappling’ at set-pieces and this small adjustment as coincided with an explosion in the number of penalties awarded. 31 have been given in the first 80 matches (38.75%) and although it is a fairly small sample, the trend may continue for the foreseeable future, until players gets to grips with the new directives.
Once you have these bare stats to hand, you can then ‘weight’ them according to importance and calculate the probability of a penalty occurring.
Based on the above weightings we are looking for odds of 2/1 or better – if we can find these we may have found ourselves a ‘value’ bet. However, if you were to assign a weight of 80% to penalties/match and 5% for each of the others, you would need odds of 3.1/1 to break even with your bet.