Sunday, August 14, 2011

Betting on Popular Markets

I have often wondered if anyone consistently makes money betting in standard markets in the 'big leagues'. By this I don't mean betting huge amounts of money but rather betting on very popular markets like the NFL and Premiership soccer.

These markets attract hundreds of millions of dollars in betting action every season but because they are so popular there is very little 'edge' to be had by bettors. A mistake could cost a bookmaker a lot of money and that is bad for business, so a good chunk of money made from these markets is reinvested in expert market analysis. Top lines-makers and odds compilers ensure that prices are accurate and balanced to attract good betting action on both sides of a game. Prices also need to be shortened or lengthened in line with demand.

In the early days of my betting I devised a number of systems for betting on soccer, based on statistics for the Premier League as a whole. I was surprised to have some success, a 5% profit on turnover one season, 7% in another but eventually the systems had a 'zero' season, followed by a negative one.

Why is it so tough? Quite simply in the big markets the bookmakers can't afford to get it wrong and they therefore spend a lot of money getting it right. There just isn't enough value in enough games.

Also consider that sport is always in flux. Imagine the impact of rule changes on a system. Soon enough goal-line and other technology will come in and change things forever. Penalties, offsides and red cards could all eventually be reviewed. In rugby, rules have been changing for years, some of which have had a big impact on the game.

Equipment has also had an effect. The dawn of super-light soccer balls that change direction seemingly on a whim, may have accounted for more goals in seasons gone by. Similarly, strong defensive teams and unseasonable weather may have accounted for fewer goals in other seasons.

Finding an advantage, in terms of value, in the big leagues is tough and the addition of unforseen elements can quickly erode what small edge you may have held in the first place.

I might find half a dozen games a season to bet on involving big Premiership clubs and most of those matches would be in cup competitions such as the FA Cup or Champions League. The rest of my betting focus is on lower league matches and horse racing.

There are a select few who make money on the popular markets - many will have huge funds and bet big on a few games a season. For my own betting I prefer higher turnover and so look elsewhere.

If you do get drawn to the popular sports leagues, then at least look at betting the more obscure markets on offer. Rather than going for the standard / match bet markets, why not look at the 'number of corners' or the 'number of bookings / yellow cards'.

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