• Value is in the eye of the beholder

Many have struggled with the meaning of the word ‘value’ – in particular how to spot value in various markets.

So let’s look at some practical comparisons that may help you to fully understand and spot it more easily.

Many have their own take on it but here’s mine…

In a non-betting setting we all know value is about getting ‘best price’ for a product/service than is offered elsewhere. It can then be seen as ‘value’ if you wanted it in the first place.

A practical example being the lady who recently purchased yet another smoothie maker with all the latest add-ons included. She had seen it on offer some £30 cheaper than anywhere else. Having conducted some online research she concluded it was ‘value’ from a price point of view and what it could do in comparison to other less reliable brands. So in her eyes the price was ‘value’ for that product, at that point in time.

Now back to betting. In my book, the only way we can evaluate value is by comparison. Let’s say we specialise in backing horses that come from within the first three in the Betting Forecast, and we do this day in, day out.

From these three on our short-list we see a selection that has the following:

1. Won previously at the same course and over the same distance as it’s running on the day (known as a ‘Course & Distance’ winner, denoted by the abbreviation ‘CD’ next to its name).

2. Running on the same going as when winning previously.

3. Running against similar or inferior opposition as when winning last time.

4. The stable is in form.

Now in our day-to-day experience of evaluating the top three in the betting, we have come to learn that bookmakers price up a selection with the above form credentials around the 2/1 mark (3.0 decimal) in 9 out of 10 races.

Now let’s say the next day we again see a selection with identical form as above, only this time it’s priced up at 4/1 (5.0 decimal). A clear two betting points higher than selections with the same form that are usually priced at 2/1.

In a nutshell we have our ‘value’, and that is getting 4/1 about a selection that by comparison with others selections of identical form are usually priced at 2/1.

Continue to get value like this and you can’t help but make a profit in the long run.

As sure as night follows day others too will spot this value and snap up all prices above 2/1.

On the flip side, back the selection below its true odds of 2/1 and you are en-route to the poor house. The difference can be huge, as you will see below. For simplicity we are using bookmakers with no commission.

  • Win strike rate 33%
  • Backing at 2/1 (3.0 decimal)

Stakes out: = 100 x 1 point level stakes = 100 points
Returns (incl stakes): = 33 x 2/1 = 99 points

So after 100 bets with a win strike rate of 33% and backing at 2/1 would see us one point off breaking even at 99 points returned.

Now let’s see what happens when we get a bit of value at 3/1 with the same 33% win strike rate.

Stakes out: = 100 x 1 points level stakes = 100 points.
Returns (incl stakes): = 33 x 3/1 = 132

As you can see, by obtaining the ‘value’ and getting just an extra ‘1’ betting point brings about a huge swing with +32 points profit!

So what do we take from all this?

The message is clear, value is NOT about backing winners, it’s about what price you back the winners at?

The best way to ‘spot value’ is to specialise in one or two niche betting areas. We as punters can’t be experts in all areas in being able to spot value in every market, so our strength therein lies in finding a betting niche you have most knowledge about, and/or enjoy researching most.

The great advantage we have over bookies is the option to focus on certain markets and immerse ourselves on the contenders within it, until we know them inside out. This familiarity will bring about the ability to spot value and bookmaker pricing errors.

Bookmakers and their odds-compilers (on the other hand) have to price up every market available. The sheer amount of events now offered have led some bookies to use outside agencies, especially in the more obscure sporting markets.

You could start, for example, with the team you support or favourite tennis/snooker player who you feel you know more about than any others.

I know one chap who to this day is making a small fortune betting against his own football team by getting to know them inside out, especially their psychological approach to various games.

His team were renowned for beating the top teams in their division, only to lose or draw against all the mid-to-bottom teams.

He knew after they had achieved a giant killing and were playing lesser opposition in their next game they would bomb, not always, but more than enough to swell his betting account!

Yes he was backing against his team, but when it came to money he would never let his heart rule his betting head.

So that’s one place to start. Try it and go with what you know about your team or favourite player: their playing patterns, strengths and weaknesses etc. You know best if you watch them week in week out. You may be surprised by the results!

I will touch more on this next week with some great angles for profit, based on the above theory. Examples that would have already made you a nice wedge over recent weeks!