Imagine being able to compare the prices which a bookmaker offers for any given football match with prices based on your own evaluation of the teams involved. Such a comparison would enable you to see, at a glance, how much or little value the bookmakers are offering, allowing you to adjust your betting activities accordingly.

Pricing football matches is not as complicated as the majority of punters think. On the contrary, if you have a basic understanding of odds and probability and a few minutes to spare you can teach yourself to create a book about any football match.

Let’s start with the very basics. A football match can result in one of three ways: home win, an away win, or a draw. If the probability of each of these results were equal (33 .3%) then a balanced book which reflects these odds accurately would be:

  • HOME WIN = 2/1
  • AWAY WIN = 2/1
  • DRAW = 2/1

Now in real life, a football match is very unlikely to be so mathematically perfect. Even with only a smattering of form to work with, the probabilities of a home win, draw or away win can alter dramatically.

Past form is, and always will be, the greatest indicator of how a team will perform in the near future. All you need to generate an accurate book about a football match are:

  1. The home team’s home data
  2. The away team’s away data
  3. A calculator.
  4. A pencil and piece of paper/Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet

Simply turn to the league tables in your normal daily newspaper or online and all of the data you need will be presented in one easy-to read section.

Once you have this data, your calculator and something to record your findings, you are ready to start pricing the football match of your own choice.

Since odds offered by bookmakers are based on the perceived probabilities of events happening, you too need to start by calculating the probabilities involved in your football match. This can be done by following a few simple steps:

Analyse the Data
As an example, let’s say Man City are to play at home against Liverpool.

Looking at the form for Man City’s home games, we can see they have won 3 matches, drawn 2 matches and lost one

Man City

WDL
321


Next, we look at the away form for Liverpool, and find they have won 1 match, drawn 1 match and lost on 4 occasions.

LIVERPOOL

WDL
114


Now that we have analysed the data, we can convert this information into hard probabilities.


To calculate the probability of a home win:

  • Add the number of home team home wins to the number of away team away losses.
  • Add the number of home matches played by the home team to the number of away matches played by the away team.
  • Divide the first result by the second and multiply by 100 to give a percentage probability.

Using Man City vs. Liverpool as an example, our calculations would be:

  • 3 + 4 = 7
  • 6 + 6 = 12
  • 7/12 = 0.5833 multiplied by 100 = 58.33% chance

To calculate the probability of an away win:

  • Add the number of away team away wins to the number of home team home losses.
  • Add the number of home matches played by the home team to the number of away matches played by the away team.
  • Divide the first result by the second and multiply by 100 to give a percentage probability.

Example:

  • 1 + 1 = 2
  • 6 + 6 = 12
  • 2/12 = 0.1666 multiplied by 100 = 16.66% chance

To calculate the probability of a draw:

  • Add the number of home team home draws to the number of away team away draws.
  • Add the number of home matches played by the home team to the number of away matches played by the away team.
  • Divide the first result by the second and multiply by 100 to give a percentage probability.

Example:

  • 2 + 1 = 3
  • 6 + 6 = 12
  • 3/12 = 0.25 multiplied by 100 = 25% chance

To check that your figures are correct, add up the three percentages. The results should be 100% give or take a decimal or two.

In our example, the calculation would be:

58.33 + 16.66 + 25 = 99.99%

Once you are confident that your calculations are correct, you can proceed to convert these percentage probabilities into their closest true odds. Do this by referring to the following

 

PercentageTrue Odds
951/20
901/10
851/6
801/4
751/3
702/5
651/2
604/6
554/5
501/1
456/5
406/4
3515/8
309/4
253/1
204/1
1511/2
109/1
518/1

In the case of our example match, the percentages we calculated were:

MAN CITY TO WIN = 58.33%

LIVERPOOL TO WIN = 16.66%

THE DRAW = 25%

A fairly accurate price for each outcome would be:

MAN CITY 4/6

LIVERPOOL 11/2

DRAW 3/1

That’s all there is to it! Now that you have priced the match according to past performance, you can shop around for value. For example, you know that Man City are a 4/6 chance in real terms, so if you found a bookmaker offering (say) 10/11, you would know instantly that this is a value betting opportunity.


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