I started betting like many of us by placing a one-pound bet on a football team when I was a young teenager. The bet was a four-team accumulator in 1999, which included Manchester United winning the Champions League. I won that bet, and that gave me further confidence that it was possible to make a living from gambling.
Over the past twenty odd years I have had times when I was immersed in football gambling and other times when I moved away from it completely. On balance, I believe that I marginally up money. This is to the complete disbelief to my group of friends who hear a lot of my bets before and after the games and think this simply not possible.
So I have decided to take my gambling to this blog to show to myself and others my complete betting results. I also believe that my results will improve as I better implement what I believe works, stay away from what I think doesn’t and also to better analyse what is working and not working.
I also hope that some of you might also enjoy the ride.
Lesson 1: Focus on single bets
We all love the lure of a low stakes football accumulator (or parlay for our US friends) with the dream of a big win which can help improve our standard of living or just to celebrate with in style. This is where I started from but now this the type of bet I rarely ever place now.
Of course they rarely win. There are so many factors which affect the outcome of one single game, so to predict the outcome of a number of games in often the same weekend is basically just like playing the lottery.
Single bets are of course lower odds and so have a much higher probability of winning. While this is obvious it is less obvious how fast this approach can be in building a sizable bankroll. With so many games available to bet on now it means that small wins can accumulate rapidly if you take the time to look into each decision.
If you doubled a penny each day for 30 days, you would have over five million at the end of 30 days. The power of slow steady gains can be amazing.
Lesson 2: The Need to Specialise In Markets
There is so much change happening from one team’s game to the next, that it means that if you are to have any chance to think clearly about the dynamics of each game then you have to reduce the noise and one of the best ways to do that is to stick to one particular market.
The English Premier League is highly competitive. Most managers fail, and most players often only play at their best for a short period of time. This means that managers are under pressure to get results very quickly, and of course, it is only possible for a few to be successful, so most are constantly changing things and trying things to get that edge over their rivals. Even when they achieve that edge, it is soon copied by others, and this is how we see football and team sports in particular evolve. Understanding this and then trying to think through the way the manager is thinking is a very subtle but critical part of sports betting.
This blog intends to have three types of bets. One will be a low stakes bet on an expected result with low odds to compound the funds available. A bet on Manchester City to win is an example of this kind of bet, once we have checked that there are no red flags to warn us off this bet. This bet is often on things like HT/FT or Win Market or Handicap markets. Very simple bets.
The second will be more speculative and will look for information and signs that the manager might be going to try something new or perhaps that things might just return to their longer-term average. This is also low-stakes poker, but with much higher odds. An example of this is this recent bet by the blog on Rayan Ait-Nouri to score at any time during the game at odds of 22.0. This bet landed, and this is a bet the blog expects to continue to place for the next number of games, so it will be clearer if this was luck or an example of betting on an expected change.
Another example of this bet is this pick which saw value in backing Southampton at home to Manchester City at odds of 27.0 (Win at Halftime, Win at Fulltime) and 88.0 (winning 2-0 at halftime).
This type of bet will often look deeper into the available markets on an exchange or bookmakers site and balance that with an understanding of what may happen and then select the bet.
The third type of bet will be a higher stakes bet which might only come along once a month or less but the blog believes it represents a big opportunity. The odds will also likely be quite high. There are no examples yet of this kind of bet being posted. An analogy is the well known card game, Blackjack and the well known concept of counting cards. The player plays minimum stakes when the odds are not in their favour but is counting the number of high cards in play. Then when they know that the number of high cards is high and they also have the right card, they will increase their bet size. If we could only bet on these kind of opportunities in football then we would all be making plenty of money. But we are typically not disciplined enough.
From my experience it is best not to bet on multiple sports, or multiple leagues and even multiple teams within a particular league can also be questionable. I find that with the time I have available I probably only have time to have a good understanding of 6-7 teams in a league. This means that I have a good knowledge of how a change of one player by the manager might then give me an expectation of how they will adjust their play to either counter a threat or to create a threat in a game.
This brings us onto the importance of understanding bet size. This is without doubt the most important concept in successful gambling and in any form of sports betting.
Lesson 3: Have a Staking Plan
A stake is how much you place on a single bet. In this blog we have started with a total amount of money of €100. This is our bankroll. The stake for a typical bet for this blog is €4 while the bankroll is under €500. This means that it is 1 and 4% of the bankroll. 4% is high but as the bankroll is low the blog is comfortable with that. As a bankroll increases the percentage will decrease. (For the third type of bet mentioned above, I am happy to go as high as 20% while at these levels).
This is important as even when you have a clear advantage in a situation you may lose. Poker is the best example of this. There are many times when one player is more skilled than another player, but they lose because of variance (luck of the draw). Poker players will often only play in games where the maximum amount they can bring to the table is only 1% of their bankroll.
When the stakes get higher this becomes more and more important. As change can happen so quickly in sports, this can also mean that losing a large amount of money can affect players emotionally and that can lead to bad decisions when betting which then increases the risk of losing, and increases the risk of you losing all the money you have available. It is important to remember that this is not the same point as diversification.
In sports betting there are many traps. The majority of them can be avoided with the right staking plan. We have all been in situations where either we believe or the “crowd” believe that there is really only one likely outcome to a game, that it is a “sure thing” and “free money”. Many times this exact mindset even creeps into the players and fans and they then do not play their normal way and in the end do not get the result that was expected. There are then stories about how people lose big money on these outcomes.
Another trap I notice is betting a low stake on a bet but placing multiple bets on the essentially the same market. For example, if you think a team is going to win, then keep in mind not to put too much on that outcome, regardless of the different bets. Generally I try to limit it to two bets on a team. Also, limit the number of bets on a given day can also be helpful as some days you are just not thinking clearly.
I have found that having a good staking plan, that is one where you are not emotionally tied to the stake, frees up your mind to think more logically about the possible outcome of the game and what market prices look like good value. An example from the past month from my own experience was from the World Cup. I placed a bet on Saudi Arabia to beat Argentina and also on Japan to beat Germany. Both of these outcomes were considered foregone conclusions by most people, but in this situation there can often be opportunity.
This is the general framework for this blog’s betting strategy. I intend to share with you all bets that are placed, win or lose. Usually all bets will have a preview and then a review after it to see how it performed. There are times now where I do not get the opportunity to post all bets that are placed in real time but all bets will be shared and I will also screenshot my Betfair account to back this up.
Welcome to my premier league cash dash.