The most useful weapon in a punter’s arsenal is information and knowledge and generally those punters who have the most information will be the most successful.
Research, Research and More Research
The key to gaining the edge over the bookies is to do as much research as possible. You need to not only research your bets well but also research every aspect of what you are betting on. What initially looks a good bet might become a bad bet once a certain piece of team news is known or once a trainer announces a certain piece of information. It is therefore vitally important that we gather as much information as possible so that our bets are based on all the information available, not just some of it.
Sports Stats Websites
Much of your research is going to be done through a sports stats website. For horse racing punters this is most likely to be something like the Racing Post or Timeform, for football or other team sports many bookies such as Bet365 have an extensive stats section on their website where as shortlist of bets can be narrowed down. You should use these types of website to make some initial selections that you would strongly fancy if all or most circumstances are in their favour. Then to find out about those other external circumstances you may have to extend your research to other sites.
Sports News Websites
Although a lot of the content may not be helpful to you, it is worth monitoring a collection of sports news websites for information that might relate to your potential bets. You might find some early manager comments or team news that affect your thinking or a trainer quote for a big race might tell you that a horse has had a setback or has been working particularly well.
A gateway to more information than you’ll ever need. If you are planning a bet on a certain fixture why not Google it and see what you get? You might see some team news or comments you missed when searching your regular sports news sites. You might also get some previews for the match which might highlight some other angles you hadn’t thought of.
This can be particularly useful when deciding on an ante post horse racing bet. Google the name of the runner you want to back and the race and you’ll most likely find articles confirming whether or not the race is still an intended target, particularly if the race isn’t too far away.
Twitter is the most up to date news source out there and every serious punter should have a Twitter account in order to follow people and profiles that are relevant to their betting habits. A serious horse racing punter should follow trainers, racecourses and horse racing news sites to get the latest information. Football punters (and bettors on other team sports) can follow players, clubs, news sites or even specialist profiles such as ‘Physio Room’ which lists players that are injured for each club and gives potential return dates.
The official websites of the top trainers can be particularly informative when planning a decent bet on a horse. They vary in how much information they provide (if any) but most will contain some sort of information on future runners and/or comments on recent runs. Either way you can learn something you wouldn’t have heard about elsewhere. This is particularly the case if a horse ran particularly poorly last time out, is returning from an absence, is trying a new trip or is likely to be racing on ground that it has never faced before.
What To Do With This Information
Not every single bit of information you read should be taken at face value. Sometimes managers play mind games in their press conferences and some horse racing trainers overestimate or underestimate their horses’ chances. With all the information you gather you have to decide whether it is still worth a bet based on the balance of the information.
Take Your Time
When deciding on a bet sometimes it pays to take your time before placing your bet. Obviously you want to get the best price possible and that will play a large role in when you place your bets but it’s not necessarily the best practice to do your research and lace your bet in one session. Try taking at least 24 hours to mull over your bets and look again at the form and information before you place your bets. You’ll be surprised by how often you think slightly differently when you take a second look.
Don’t Forget Value!
Once you’ve decided what selections you fancy don’t forget to apply your usual value calculation. Just because you think a bet is very likely to win, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily place that bet. Something might be a good bet at evens but a poor bet at 1/2, remember that whatever the odds the selection still has the same chance of winning. Consider how often the market thinks the selection would win if the event was replayed over and over (an even money shot would be considered likely to win every other replay, an 8/1 shot would be considered likely to win once in every nine replays). Then consider how often you think the selection would win. If it’s more often than the market suggests that is a good value bet. The more difference between your estimate and the bookies’ estimate, the better the value (or worse if you think it would win less often).