If you read any book about sports betting or any kind of article about sports betting, what will you learn? Bet the underdogs! Every book, website, tout, service, you name it, are always telling you to bet the dogs. If everyone is betting the dogs, are the odds for favourites too high?
European football leagues are starting soon and to prepare myself for them, I did a small study using the data from the last two seasons from Premier League, Bundesleague, Serie A and La Liga Primera.
Dogs 760 / 542 / 0.71 / -21.8k
Fav. 760 / 728 / 0.96 / -3.2k
Dogs 612 / 578 / 0.94 / -3.4k
Fav. 612 / 563 / 0.92 / -4.9k
Dogs 760 / 551 / 0.73 / -20.9k
Fav. 760 / 717 / 0.94 / -4.3k
La Liga Premier
Dogs 760 / 748 / 0.98 / -1.2k
Fav. 760 / 704 / 0.93 / -5.6k
How do you read that table? Let's take Premier League for example. In the past 2 seasons you have had 760 games. If you had played every dog, your total odds would have been 542 (btw, I am using the European style odds, 1.35 etc.), return 0.71 (542/760) and for a $100 bet on every dog, you would have lost $21800.
What is interesting is that playing the favourites is a much better tactic in general, IF(!) you play every game. Only in Spain, your best tactic is to play every dog and almost break even.
Well, nobody plays every game. That would be insane. The question now is: can we use some very simple methods to find an edge from either the dogs or the favourites? I know for a fact that you can find an edge using sophisticated probability models and shopping for the best odds BUT for this article we would like to find simple methods for the average punter, who likes to bet for fun and TV-games, and not just for profit.
How about playing only home dogs, home favourites, away dogs, away favourites?
Premier League Bundesleague Serie A La Liga Premier
home fav 0.98 0.91 0.94 0.93
home dogs 0.84 0.94 0.77 1.03
away fav 0.91 0.96 0.95 0.93
away dogs 0.66 0.94 0.71 0.97
home fav 1.55 0.98 0.91 0.90 0.92
away fav 1.55 0.85 0.95 0.95 0.92
Home dogs in La Liga, home favourites under 1.55 in Serie A and away favourites under 1.55 in Premier- and Bundesleague and Serie A would have been a winning bet. Other possible good bets were home favourites in general in Premier, away fav 1.55 1.02 0.95 0.95 0.96
away fav 1.55 0.89 0.99 0.99 0.96
So, in Premier League, play every home favourite and big away favourite, dogs in Bundesleague and big away favourites, big favourites in Serie A and dogs and big away favourites in Spain, and pick the highest odd possible, and you will be just fine!
In the future I will go through more powerful, mathematical methods for finding an overlay in sports betting.