Value Betting

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Value Betting

What is Value Betting?

Value Betting is backing something on the basis that you think the chances of it winning are better than the odds available. This means you are looking for something that you think is overpriced, therefore good value.

Does It Mean You Always Back The Most Likely Winner?

Backing something that is deemed value is rarely a bet on the most likely winner or favourite. In most cases the bet will be on an outsider or a bigger priced fancied selection.


You see a horse priced at 5/1 yet you estimate it has a 33% chance of winning (fair price 2/1). Assuming you are right with your estimate then there is still a 67% chance you will LOSE! IN THE LONG RUN if you are right then if you meet this situation 3 times then you can expect 1 winner (paying 5) and 2 losers (losing 1) giving you a profit of 3.

Any Horse Can Be Value

Short priced favourites can be value.

If a horse is priced at 1/4 then this is fair odds if it has an 80% chance of winning.

However if you think it has a 90% chance of winning then the odds are good value

Examples Of Value Betting

Many value bets are based on predicting returns to form of football sides, horses, greyhounds or anything else. There has to be a valid reason for them to return to form though for it to be deemed a value bet, rather than just a big priced guess.

Betting School ImageIn football a team might return to form because a key player has returned from suspension or injury. They might also have just had three or four very hard games in a row which they may have lost, which would lead to the conclusion they are out of form. However, playing an easier side could bring about a revival in their fortunes.

A horse might favour a particular type of course or a particular type of going and might have raced without its favoured conditions for many races in a row. When returning to its favoured conditions it will most likely be priced up on its recent form which wouldn't be very good. It can be expected to improve for a return to its favour conditions meaning the price for it to win is too big which makes it a value bet.

There can also be value gained in opposing big reputations, be it in football, horse racing or any other sport. In the 2007 flat racing season the Coral Eclipse at Sandown had three main contenders, Authorized, George Washington and Notnowcato. Authorized was sent off at 4/7 despite being unproven at the top level over 10 furlongs, George Washington was sent off 4/1 despite being unproven over 10 furlongs and Notnowcato, a winner of two group ones, one of which was over the same trip on the same ground was sent off at 7/1. Notnowcato won by 1 1/4 lengths and even those who only backed for place money cleared up.

Each Way Value Betting

Value bets don't just have to win to be profitable, there are also many value each way opportunities out there. Some horses in big field handicaps where four places are paid can be very likely to place but quite unlikely to win. Backing them each way can often effectively give you a free win bet on them as you believe they are very likely to reach the frame at least. Alternatively a horse could be such a big price that gaining a place could be very profitable alone.


You may back a horse at 33/1 in a 16 runner handicap not because you think it will win but because you think it has a decent chance of running into a place.

Another way a selection can be each way value is in races with a very short priced favourite. This will make all the other runners at least high single figures making backing each way a profitable bet if all it has to do is follow the favourite home to yield a profit. The bookies call these 'bad each way' races and whilst they often place restrictions on stakes it is not too difficult to get a bet on.

What Do You Need To Spot A Value Bet

To spot a good value bet first of all you are going to need a very good knowledge of the sport you are betting on so that you are able to determine what factors are in the favour of the bet which makes it look so overpriced.

One of the best techniques to find value bets is to price up markets yourself before the market is formed. By pricing events up on how you feel they are likely to unfold you can then compare your own market to the real market when it is formed and look for the differences. The selections that are much bigger at the bookies than with your own prices should be the value calls in that event. The bigger the difference, the bigger the value.


Finding value bets can also be applied to laying on the exchanges. Again, it is often best to decide what prices should be before the market is formed with the bookies. Any selection that is a smaller price with the bookmakers than with your own prices should be considered a lay because they are underpriced according to your odds. The more underpriced the selected outcome is, the better a lay it is going to be.


You may think a horse has a decent chance of winning but you think it should be an even money shot. The bookies have priced it up at 1/2. This should be a value lay.

Advantages Of Value Betting

Theoretically most bets you should place should be considered value bets. It is okay to place your fair share of bets at odds that are deemed to be fair if you think it is a very likely winner but you should never bet on anything that you think represents poor value.

By backing value calls you should be profitable in the long term as it only takes one win to make a big difference to your betting bank.

Disadvantages Of Value Betting

Value betting can sometimes be difficult if you don't have a very strong knowledge of what you are betting on. It is time consuming to price up lots of different events before the bookmakers do so and if not done properly it can lead to mistakes being made when deciding what is value and what isn't.

Betting on value shots rather than most likely winners should yield a profit over the long term but in the short term you have to be willing to expect losing runs. Discipline is required to not chase these short term losses and you must try not to give up during a losing run as if you are betting on real value bets then it should only be a matter of time before you back a winner and are back in a profit.

Value Betting Nonsense

Go on any forum and you'll see some comments on value betting that just make no sense. Here are some of the popular misconceptions:

  1. Short Price is not value. What matters as described in the example above is how the price compares to the chances of it winning. What the actual price is doesn’t matter.
  2. Bigger price is better value As above. A big price could be terrible value if the selection is priced lower than its realistic chance. 2/1 odds on something with a 25% chance of winning is worse value than Evens on something with a 50% chance of winning.
  3. If something is a short price, combine it in a multiple to get better value If something is a short price then it may or may not be value depending on the chance. Combining the selection with another selection won’t change the value of either selection it will just compound the value of each into one bet.

OLBG member Man O Bong has some strong opinions and advice about value betting and how crucial it is to making long term profits and those thoughts can be read here.

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Comments from the Forum

  • monkeytennis

    <r>One of the most debated subjects in betting. Is value betting the be all and end all of making long term profits. Are all winning bets value? How do you determine value?<br/>
    <URL url=""><s></s>Value Betting<e></e></URL><br/>
    Think this Betting School lesson needs anything else added to it? Disagree with anything written above? Let us know your thoughts and your insight could be included in the OLBG Betting School!</r>
  • iepale

    <t>I only can answer this question: How do you determine value?<br/>
    I take the first example above told:<br/>
    You see a horse priced at 5/1 yet you estimate it has a 33% chance of winning (fair price 2/1). Assuming you are right with your estimate then there is still a 67% chance you will LOSE! IN THE LONG RUN if you are right then if you meet this situation 3 times then you can expect 1 winner (paying 5) and 2 losers (losing 1) giving you a profit of 3.<br/>
    So, the way how I calculate the value is:<br/>
    First I estimate the win probability of some outcome. In the example the probability that my horse wins is 0.33. Therefore, my loss probability is 1-0.33=0.67.<br/>
    The expected value is what I win if I win times the win probability minus what I loss if I loss times the loss probability. Then, returning to the example:<br/>
    From the odds:<br/>
    What I win if I win: 5 pounds<br/>
    What I loss if I loss: 1 pounds<br/>
    From the probability estimation:<br/>
    Win probability: 0.33<br/>
    Loss probability: 0.67<br/>
    Value = 5 pounds * 0.33 - 1 pounds * 0.67 = 1 pounds<br/>
    If you need more information, the value in the statistics and probabilistic books appears as Expected Value.<br/>
    How to estimate accurately the probabilities is something that I have not found so far.<br/>
    Best regards.</t>
  • logical1

    <t>To see if the your selections have value in the market <br/>
    1. Total all your selection values = Total of all selection's<br/>
    2. Divide each individual value by the total total <br/>
    3. Multiply by each value x 100 = % winning chance <br/>
    4. Have your own estimated odds ( I never back below 2.5 so that's my top value) <br/>
    5. Check bookmakers odds I use Ladbrokes odds - these are generally skinniest and most accurate - then simply deduct your odds line from theirs to see if you have value or not - If you want to make it more simple and you don't need % value just leave out steps 1 2 3 <br/>
    Eg - Today - <br/>
    Course Newbury <br/>
    Time 14:55 <br/>
    Date 14/05/2015 <br/>
    Class 2 <br/>
    Distance 6 <br/>
    Going G / Soft My Est <br/>
    Horses Name TOTAL % Odds Ladbrokes Value <br/>
    Golden Steps 64.58 13.53 2.5 3.50 1.00 <br/>
    Accession 53.25 11.16 3.5 4.50 1.00 <br/>
    Eternitys Gate 52.29 10.96 4.5 10.00 5.50 <br/>
    Englishman 51.96 10.89 5.5 12.00 6.50 <br/>
    Chilworth Icon 51.42 10.77 6.5 16.00 9.50 <br/>
    Clear Spring 48.63 10.19 7.5 6.50 -1.00 <br/>
    Valbchek 44.04 9.23 8.5 12.00 3.50 <br/>
    Fast Track 41.17 8.63 9.5 3.50 -6.00 <br/>
    Magnus Maximus 38.17 8.00 10.5 20.00 9.50 <br/>
    Jimmy Styles 31.71 6.64 11.5 12.00 0.50 <br/>
    Total 477.21 100.00<br/>
    Sorry I cant find away to paste a table here looks ok until its posted ?</t>
  • Football DZR

    <t>I looked at the lesson and sorry to sound harsh but it reads to me like the nonsense that goes around and is supposedly attempting to be corrected<br/>
    Just seems like a confused muddle<br/>
    How can you even have a phrase like "disadvantages of value betting" !!!!!!!<br/>
    I am not sure if the person who wrote the lesson really understands "value" or has just read a bunch of things and parroted what they read from here there and everywhere.</t>
  • AghaMK

    <r>What about cricket session betting, full inning betting, winning team betting ?<br/>
  • nors

    <t>We have discussed this plenty of times but it would be good if members could succinctly sum up their take on value betting. <br/>
    This phrase to many members is the key to making a profit and it would be helpful if we as a group could come up with a template that new members and those new to betting could easily understand. <br/>
    This is really what OLBG (a guide to betting) is all about so we should have something that can ALWAYS be referred to.</t>
  • otbc canary

    <t>When it comes to Value Betting I think, like beauty, it lies in the eye of the beholder. We would all like to look at value objectively but inevitably it relies upon our subjective opinions more often based on hope and expectation than anything more substantive. For example, I felt Norwich's chances at WBA on Saturday were quite good following their fighting draw against Man City the previous weekend but my lifelong support for them I suspect influenced my belief. However, on Sunday I felt Man Utd at 10/3 to win the Manchester derby against the same City side that could not score against Norwich was good value. Can these inklings be calculated within the rules of probability? I suspect not and if they could it would doubtless spoil our joy at beating the bookies on the rare occasions when we get it right whether it be by luck or judgement. It was John Kenneth Galbraith who said '' In all large organisations it is always safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone'' and I think this applies to betting. Whom amongst us has been put off by what we regarded as a value bet because the price was too good. Bookies don't make mistakes do they?</t>
  • Callingnumber6

    <t>A difficult subject to get to grips with. The original 'Pricewise' Mark Coton wrote a book with that very title some 40 odd years ago. Long since out of print you could probably source one on line for a pretty penny. Having read it more years ago than I care to remember his idea was similar to the approach outlined above; if the odds offered underestimate your implied odds of winning you have a bet. If not, you don't. There was then some discussion about how much % of the betting bank you wager to take advantage of the discrepancy, apologies I forget the details.<br/>
    My own personal method is quite subjective and based on what I consider to be 'poor' favourites. For example if I consider a race to be 3 the field and the jolly is priced at 6/4 I have a look purely because I think the favourite is too short and that must mean 'value' in the other participants. The other question I ask myself before pressing the button is 'am I happy to back this at 6/1' (or whatever price is on offer). A quick sanity go/no go check.<br/>
    Sorry but I have been searching for a much more scientific way of doing it for a long time. As the concept of 'value' is like trying to knit spaghetti my idea of a value bet will be different to yours. The market offers so many opportunities these days all I can suggest is specialise in your chosen area of interest and become an expert. Remember the poor odds compiler has to price up everything; you can choose whether or not to bet. If you have superior knowledge you will spot value when you see it.<br/>
    Now off to nail some jelly to the wall...........</t>
  • davidg3907

    <r><QUOTE author="Callingnumber6"><s></s>
    My own personal method is quite subjective and based on what I consider to be 'poor' favourites. For example if I consider a race to be 3 the field and the jolly is priced at 6/4 I have a look purely because I think the favourite is too short and that must mean 'value' in the other participants. The other question I ask myself before pressing the button is 'am I happy to back this at 6/1' (or whatever price is on offer). A quick sanity go/no go check.

    Why look for the needle in the haystack when you can find haystacks like that? <br/>
    Put another way, why look for value in <B><s></s>backing<e></e></B> one of the other runners when you have already found exceptional value in <B><s></s>laying the favourite<e></e></B> at around 6/4 <E>:?</E> <br/>
    You would be likely to find value in 2 or more to oppose it, so now the question becomes, do I back more than one horse, or do I hope for the right one? If anyone could point me to 6/4 chances on a regular basis that should be 3/1 or higher, I would be very happy indeed. <E>:D</E><br/>
    Some are not keen on<B><s></s> laying<e></e></B>, I accept that. However, there is a caveat. For me to accept that; everyone who only <B><s></s>backs<e></e></B> horses, must also accept that by backing one horse, they are in effect laying <B><s></s>all<e></e></B> of the others. <E>:yes:</E></r>

    <t>There was an article I read on Twitter published in the RF Outlook by Kevin Pullein about cash out value. Really interesting again what is perceived to be good value? If you ignore that you have locked in a profit or you really need the funds:<br/>
    Brief example you bet 2 points @ 100/1<br/>
    Bookie offers cash out @ 50pts<br/>
    True odds of your bet winning are now 3/1 ....... Still value to cash out?</t>
  • nors

    <t>A couple dictionary definition of the word value : <br/>
    "The material or monetary worth of something:"<br/>
    "The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something:" <br/>
    If you believe that you are getting good value on a selection that you believe in this contest is generous then i think it does become a value bet. <br/>
    The different bookmaker price may also offer some value - taking 12/1 on a bet where the average price across different firms is say 9/1 would in some cases but seen as getting value.</t>
  • davidg3907

    <r>In its most basic form value, like beauty can be in the eyes of the beholder.<br/>
    I may think some mushrooms look really beautiful, until either a gardening expert says their stems are a millimetre too long - or they turn out to be toadstools! <E>:D</E> <br/>
    Long before I even attempted to work out trying to find value in racing (or even understand what it meant), I had many years of doing something similar in football without realising that is basically what I was trying to do. With only 3 outcomes to consider, I would advise anyone to start here if they have an interest in football, or commence with very small fields if wanting to concentrate purely on racing. <br/>
    Better class racing also makes forming a tissue easier as there is more information available, and most importantly it is likely to be consistent information.<br/>
    Even at this point, if four experienced people sat down to form their own tissue, it is possible that each could find 'value' in a different horse.<br/>
    There is nothing weird in that - it is simply a matter of slightly different approaches coming to slightly different conclusions.<br/>
    If those four people place an emphasis on a different aspect, whether going, distance, current form, or jockey and trainer combination, their final analysis is highly likely to be at variance.<br/>
    Who is wrong? Not necessarily anyone, as if that race was run 4 times, it may produce 4 different results. In the long term though, it wouldn't matter whether you picked the winner of this race, or the next one instead as long as you were getting better odds than you deemed to be correct. Your turn will come if your figures are well founded.<br/>
    Not all professional, or even successful, punters back exactly the same horses; some may even back different horses in the same race.<br/>
    Will England win Euro 2016?<br/>
    At this stage, if offered even money I doubt whether any of us would back them. Not simply because we may not think they will win, but because we have worked out that the odds do not represent good value even if we did think they would win.<br/>
    How about if offered 50/1 instead? Even though I may have had no intention of backing them and didn't expect them to win, this to me would be good value, and I would invest a few bob.<br/>
    The art is to ascertain what the true odds should be, easier said than done of course, but it will be somewhere between those two figures.</r>
  • nellberg1

    <r>As stated, value is "in the ye of the beholder", so all of this is just my opinion <E>:-)</E><br/>
    I had discussions about "value" with my mates all week when I was down Cheltenham. Their favourite motto when putting their bets on was "find the winners and the prices look after themselves". I tried explaining the folly of this thought process but it fell on deaf ears, so despite the bookies offering plenty of ways for punters to secure "value" many punters will have kept to their usual habits and missed out. Examples of "Cheltenham value" available to all punters in this case was:<br/>
    1) extra places available for e/w betting - Lots of bookies were doing this on the high street, for the big handicaps, but to add to this Paddy Power were doing this for some graded races also. Examples I can think of because I either backed them myself or alerted others were Altior 9/2 (ew 4 places) in the Supreme Novice and Al Ferof 14/1 (ew 4 places). My mate is the ultimate Al Ferof fan so he was going to back him come what may, but getting that extra place turns his losing bet into a winner and he's happy for the rest of the day/week/year <E>:P</E><br/>
    2) B.O.G on early morning prices - many times on the graded races I'd check oddschecker 1st thing in the morning and at best prices you'd be betting into a 100% book. This is because firms are boosting their prices to entice you in early on. They are pushing horses out by a point or so to get you to bet with them, and then the theory is that you'll bet on the ultra-competitive handicaps with that firm also. By the time the race comes around all the horses have been cut and the value has gone, for example The Gold Cup SP's were 115%. In the big festivals the best time to bet is on early prices with BOG, the majority of horses will get backed in and if you miss-read the market then you have the benefit of getting the bigger price anyway.<br/>
    3) Looking to take advantage of the tote pools - 99% of the time I don't even think about betting on the tote, but that blinkered view could mean I'm missing value. The scenario in which betting on the tote can be "value" is if you fancy a big-priced outsider. Prior to the Truimph hurdle a lad in our group said he'd keep faith with Gibralfaro, despite his poor prep run. His SP was 25/1, with some 33/1 floating about. A quick check on the tote showed he was 60/1. Obviously the dividends can change but it's unlikely to be significantly different as this was 2-3 minutes before the race. I didn't fancy Gibralfaro (He still managed to beat my fancy Zubayr home!) but I didn't think he was a 60/1 shot as he'd been near ante-post favourite prior to a poor trial.<br/>
    4) money back if 2nd/ money back if the fav win/ money back on fallers - in competitive races it's great to have these extra concessions. Wednesday saw 2 races where this looked solid as both races had 2 strong horses in it and then a big gap to the next runners, the Neptune and the RSA. In the end backing Yanworth, Yorkhill, More Of That and No More Heroes with the "money back if 2nd" concession would have only returned 1 winner and 1 free bet, but injuries put pay to the 2 in the RSA and given the shape of the race they seemed solid bets. <br/>
    Sometimes value isn't always about the price, it could also be combined with the place terms or by searching into different markets that aren't as "mainstream" as simple win only bets (betting without the favourite in some races made sense). I'm certain value is out there every day, it just takes some searching to find. The more you get to know the shape of a horse race market, or a football match, or a cricket game, the better you'll become at seeing the pointers and being able to get the value.</r>
  • nors

    <t>Great posts on this thread should be essential reading for all of us (and your mates - nellberg1)<br/>
    The "Shape" of an event formed by the odds is one of my main tools in finding winning and value bets.</t>
  • Robmull

    <r>I recall hearing on Channel 4 not long ago Sir Anthony McCoy state that "you can't live off value alone", or words to that effect. <br/>
    I totally agree with his comment, but as a regular punter, I am always keen to secure the best value possible for my selections. <br/>
    I have therefore penned a blog (see below) which I hope will assist readers when assessing the 'value' in respect of the myriad of concessions that are offered by bookmakers. <br/>
    How To Secure The Best Value Bets During The Turf Flat Season<br/>
    <URL url=""></URL></r>
  • shotashota

    <t>ar vici buralod mjera </t>

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