After having opened accounts with several bookmakers, getting to know their rules and procedures, and after analysing your risk- and bettingprofile, it's time to get down to business. It's time to pick games, it's time to consider what's good bets, what's good odds, get a market view, gather info about teams and events, etc. By following these simple steps, you should be well on your way:
- Get an overview.
Find out who's offering what. Get a view of the assortment from several bookies. Use the internet, and visit the bookmaker sites. Make use of an excellent free service like Betbrain, who compares odds presented by most bookmakers.
- Study offers:
It's important to superficially scan the assortment before you start examining the assortment more carefully. I mention this because if you are updated on the event, you'll automaticly know when a good object comes your way. Often you don't need to run a thorough analysis on a match in order to decide wether to bet on it or not. If you have to analyse every match you want to bet on, you don't know as much about the participating teams as you should in order to make a sound bet. If you can't decide upon wether to bet or not to bet on an event, perhaps it isn't a good object after all. Do not pay too much attention to the odds offered in this phase, just notice the events you feel "must" have a certain outcome.
- Genuine conviction:
The most common way of betting is to pick an object based on genuine belief of a certain outcome. First pick the object based on belief, then check the prices offered. This how the average punter operate. Very often, the average punter have decided his bet long before he's even seen the price offered. Sometimes the decision is based on a mix of genuine belief, and good price offered. By "genuine belief" I mean the hunch, or the feeling you've got before you've checked the table, the form, statistics, etc.
- Statistical analysis:
Let it be said: Use of statistical analysis should not be the only criteria when choosing betting objects. It should only be used as additional info to a genuine belief. Only use statistics when you are in slight doubt about the object and as a supplement to objects you've singled out through criterias mentioned further down on this page. With statistics I mean league tables, form tables, 5- and 10-year statistics, etc.
- Relevant criterias:
It's very wise to have a check on the participating teams' injury situation before placing a bet. The bookie presents his odds long before the match kicks off, and bookies are not nescessarily updated on the injury situation. Punters have here a rare advantage on the bookie, because punters can stay updated on injuries to the last minutes before kickoff. But if you have singled out an object, don't change your plan only because an unexpected injury occurs. If several key memebers of the team gets unexpectedly injured, then you should consider your pick (especially if it's a team with a rather thin squad, dependant on their key personell). Also pay attention to reports of viruses, squads suffering from the flu, etc. Very often during the winter squads are depleted due to flu or viruses.
- Type of match
The outcome of a match is often dependant on what kind of match it is. Is it an international, a cup game, a league game, a pre-season friendly, etc ? National cups are often difficult to predict, espescially less imortant cup games (like the league cup). In England, the league cup still have some importance, but in Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the big guns rarely put any great effort in the league cup.
And be aware of cup finals. Even though media has made one of the teams a huge favourite, it's stil a cup final, and very often an open encounter. International matches or important European cup matches are generally easier to predict than other league- or cup matches.
Friendly internationals often end with a draw, while important internationals rarely end with an away victory. Playing on home soil seems to be very important in international matches. And don't forget that a nations pride is at stake. Generally, internationals are "easy" to predict.
My advice is to avoid national cups in France, Italy Spain and Germany, and be careful in England aswell (the big guns often play with a very young and inexperienced team in the League Cup, but generally the League Cup has a higher standing in England than in the other big European leagues).
The European Cups are different. In the early rounds there can be some surprises, as the big guns are happy just to scrape through to the next round, but as the going gets tougher, results are often relativly easy to predict, as the home teams tend to win quite easily
- What league ?
It's well known that the Italian league is easier to predict than other leagues. Top teams versus underdogs rarely end with a surprise result, and when the top teams meet, a draw is always in the cards. Norwegian top division is often very predictable, as is the Norwegian FA-cup. In England results are often very unpredictable in the first quarter of the season, and in the final quarter. In mid-season, results are very predictable, espescially in the Premier League. English 1. division has been very open in recent years, and the less fancied teams beat the well known teams more often than before. Germany has become more unpredictable than it used to be only a few years ago. But still the top teams are very reliable at home. The French and Spanish leagues are also leagues with a high home win percentage. The French league is very similar to the Italian league regarding amount of home victories. One team in particular, Bastia, is one of the best home teams in Europe. When they play at home on Corsica, it seems as a draw is the best the away team can hope for...
- Match importance
The top teams in Europe often play a huge amount of games each season, thus they need to make priorities on which competitions to go for. It's virtually impossible for top teams to challenge seriously in every competition, due to the strain on the players. Very often top teams field a weakened side in competitions with a low priority. The national cups in Germany, France, Spain, and to some extent Italy, are examples of this. Top teams often bow out to a much weaker side in the early rounds. In France, it's a rarity when there's 2 or more top division sides left in the quarter-finals. Even in England, teams like Man Utd. are known to rest their top players in the league cup.
During the season run-in, mid-table teams, with little to play for, often beat top teams with medals in sight, or desperate teams looking to survive. Nothing to play for means no pressure and often these teams play very well. Ofcourse, the opposite also happens. This has all to do with psycology and be aware of these kind of games. Even already relegated teams can play better after their fate have been decided. The pressure's off, and suddenly they start to play well again. Stay away from these kind of games, they are usually difficult to predict.
Local derbies are alway special. Pay attention to these games. Derbies do tend to end with a draw, as the fear of loosing exceeds the will to win.
Early rounds in the European Cups can bring surprises, as the favourite "never" plays to his best if it's a first leg away game. The top teams know they can do it all at home in the second leg, and often settle for a dull draw or a minor loss.
Do not bother betting at friendlies, either it's internationals, pre-season, testemonials or show matches. It's a waste of money, although international friendlies are easier to predict than other friendlies. International friendlies often end with draw, because there is nothing at stake.
- Time of year
The season in most European leagues start in august and ends in may. During the first quarter of the season (september-october), results can be very unpredictable, and often less fancied teams bet the more well known teams. This is the time to bet on highly priced underdogs. Also be careful with the first rounds in the European cups. The top teams are just happy to scrape through to the next round, and matches are easier to predict after a few rounds.
From november to march, the leagues have usually settled, and things are back to normal. Results seem to be "normal", and the assumed top teams win their matches with ease. This is the time when the promoted teams start to feel the pace, and loosing their grips after a good start to the campaign.
During the run-in (last quarter), results may not be so easy to predict. Low table teams often beat the top teams, and form doesn't count for so much anymore. The bottom teams are desperate, and this makes this part of the season difficult for punters. It might pay off to have small bets on the underdogs, instead of heavy money on the favourites.
In the Scandinavian leagues, the season starts in April/May, and ends in october. The top teams often have a scrappy start, espescially those who have attended the European Cups (typically Rosenborg, IFK Gothenburg, etc..). But in the period June-September the favourites normally win their games, and it all seem very obvious. Results are known to more unpredictable in July, though.
- League tables
League tables should not be used as a pick criteria at all during the first months of the season, as they count for nothing in this period. Wait for the season to settle, and only start to use the tables after about a quarter of the season.
League tables should never be used as the only criteria when picking a betting object. Remember that bookies use league tables, form tables and 5- or 10-year statistics when they decide what odds to offer.
Form is the major criteria used by bookies to decide prices. Therefore, formteams are almost always recognised by bookies, and the prices reflect this. A team who have won it's last 4 matches are rarely given good odds by the bookie. You have to identify a team in form as early as possible, in order to get good prices before the bookie discover it. Often you can assume a change in form, not nescessarly based on results, but on reports on how the team has played, even though results haven't been that good. During a season teams hit periods with extreme luck, and periodes with really bad luck. Teams can play very badly for a period, then a change of management turn things upside down, and the team hit a winning streak.. It's vital to your success to identify these periods early on, before bookies get aware.
- Recent history
Some punters do not take 5- or 10-year statistics into consideration at all when picking objects. Succesful punters do not use these statistics as a vital criteria, but if other criterias like form and league table indicate a good object and the 5-year statistics shows the opposite, the object is often dropped. 5-year statistics can indicate a teams psycological superiority, but do not pay too much attention to this criteria unless form and league table indicate a good object. In England top teams are known to have so called "bogey teams". Man Utd, for instance, "never" seem to beat Sheff. Wed away , and Italian teams "always" beat English teams in European competitions.
Ofcourse, this could be superstitions, but when things happen over and over again, it would be stupid not to take it into consideration when the situation occurs. Differences in style of play is probably the reason for the "bogey team" theory, but it could also be just a psycological thing.
Often special high profiled games end with a draw. For some fixtures, the 5-or 10-year statistics indicate a draw. Typical games are local derbies, espescially Rome-Lazio and Inter Milan-AC Milan. These teams share the same ground, and the fear of loosing a local derby is always greater than the will to win. It's a good advice "always" to bet on a draw when these teams meet in the league.
- Special circumstances
Sometimes two teams only need a draw to qualify for a championship, or to avoid relegation. Sometimes one team need a draw to ensure the championship, while to opposition need a draw to beat the drop.
Bookmakers are very alert to these situations, and prices are often slashed in these situations. A "fixed" draw is typical for the Italian league, but will rarely happen in English soccer, due to the typical honesty of English teams. English teams play for pride, and for the sake of the sport's reputation. For us punters, it's a must to bet on these games, but very often bookmakers won't accept bets.
Time to read about value. What is valuebetting, and how, and where do you look for it. It's all there for you in the article: "Value analysis"
Parts of this article are inspired by Geir Høistads book "Oddstipping som levebrød" (in Norwegian only). His excellent book can be purchased by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org