Sports Betting Expected Value

Online Sports Betting and EV

Other than poor bankroll management, the top reason sports bettors lose is because they make too many –EV bets. If case you’re not familiar with this term, –EV stands for negative expected value.

To win in sports betting, you need to be incredibly lucky or to make more positive expected value (+EV) bets than negative expected value (-EV) bets. In this article, I’ll explain this concept in more detail, give some hints on how you can find +EV bets, or at the very least help you reduce the house advantage.

Expected Value and Expected ROI in Sports Betting.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept, say we bet on coin flips with you paying me $11 for every tails and me paying you $10 for every heads. If the probability for heads and tails is 50/50, then half the time you’d lose $11, and half the time you’d win $10.

On average you’re losing $1 half the time, so your expected value on each flip is $0.50 -EV.

This can also be quantified into an expected return on investment (ROI) by taking -0.5/$11 = -0.0455, which as a percent is 4.55% -ROI. If you haven’t figure it already, this is exactly how sports betting works. Point spreads, as well as over/under bets, are designed to be 50/50 propositions; yet at -110 pricing, you’re required to risk $11 to win $10 no matter which side you chose.

This means most sports bets are –EV with the house having a 4.55% advantage.

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+EV Bets, like the old anti-drug commercials, the first one’s free.

The easiest way to find a +EV bet is to take advantage of bonuses. For example, if you’ve never had an account at before, you can open one up and use Bonus Code: FRESH. This will get you a 15% free play bonus based on the size of your initial deposit.

To show the math quickly, let’s say you’re planning to bet the Patriots -5.5 against the Vikings +5.5 risking $300. At -110 the bet would normally be $300 to win $272.73. If you also had a $45 free play bonus, you could then risk this on the same side having $0 to win $40.91. Add these together, and your bet now becomes $300 to win $313.64, which in American odds format is +104.5. Taking advantage of bonuses is fundamentally the easiest way to make +EV bets.

Line Shopping is Key.

Almost as important, if not more, than picking winners is always shopping for the best price. Let’s say that in NFL football most online betting sites are offering the Jets +4 -110, yet one betting site for whatever reason has them at +4.5 -110. Obviously, no math is required to determine which option is the better bet.

However, just for the sake of discussion, historically point spreads of 3.5 to 4.5 have finished with the favorite team winning by exactly four 3% of the time. When you use a half-dozen or more online betting sites, and always bet at whichever has the best price, you’ll find yourself a small percentage of the time both changing losses to pushes / pushes to win and saving a few dollars here and there.

Over the long run, this adds up significantly and can make a winner out of a small loser, or add a few car payments to a winning bettor’s bankroll. To increase your expectation, always bet with the best price.

Off Market Moneylines.

If you’re not familiar with moneylines, refer to our article on baseball betting. For those familiar with them, suppose most betting sites were offering Phillies -180 / Giants +160, where another bookmaker had some sort of promo and was offering Phillies -170 / Giants +170.

Which is the better bet?

An inexperienced bettor might quickly decide each bet is the same because 180 and 160 average to 170, and therefore 170 is the fair price. This is a common mistake, and wrong. Moneylines cannot be averaged to determine a no juice market price. The correct way to go about this is to convert to a breakeven percentage and then remove juice.

Breakeven percentage is calculated using risk divided by return, with return being both the stake and the win amount. At -180, a $180 bet returns $280, the math is 180/280=0.6429, at +160 a $100 bet returns $260, the math is 100/260= 0.3846. Convert those decimals to percents and a line of Phillies -180 / Giants +160 translates to Phillies 64.29% / Giants 38.46%. Notice that if you add these together the probabilities total 102.75%. This is because juice is still included.

To remove juice, we divide each team’s breakeven percentage by the total breakeven percentage. The math is Phillies 64.29/102.75 = 62.57% and Giants 38.46/102.75=37.43%. Totaling these together, you’ll now see the probabilities equal 100%. The juice has been removed and this represents the bookmakers no juice probabilities. Going back to our original question Phillies -170 or Giants +170, we must convert the no juice win percentages back to a moneyline.

Converting back to a moneyline.

The easiest method is to Google search for a “Moneyline Converter”, but to do some math ourselves, let’s calculate Giants 37.43% by taking $100 stake divided by 37.43 = 2.67. That number shows us the bet is returning 2.67 times our stake, so $100 returns $267. $100 of that return is our stake, so the bet is actually $100 to win $167, which in American odds format is +167. The fair price in American odds format is Phillies -167 / Giants +167. Therefore, Giants +170 is +EV, where Phillies -170 is still –EV.

If we run this same math on -650/+475 we come up with a no juice line of -498/+498. The two lessons here are that moneylines cannot be averaged, and that saving a few moneyline cents on the favorite does not have nearly as much value as getting a few extra moneyline cents on the underdog. Keep this in mind when spotting off market moneylines at one of the online betting sites you use to price shop.

More +EV Betting Tips.

Consider this: if we or someone else published a book with every trick to beating sports betting, how long would it be before sportsbooks fixed it so that these opportunities no longer existed? Right now it’s not a problem, because while a small number of +EV bets can be found here and there, most sports bets are –EV. That’s the nature of the game: gambling sites, Las Vegas sportsbooks, UK betting shops, local bookies, etc make their money from the built in house advantage.

Now that I’ve shared information about sports betting strategy with you, here in this article and in other articles on our website, I’ll ask you a favor. When you find +EV bets keep them to yourself. Even if you’re a small bettor know that many wildfires are the result of a few small sparks. That brings me to my next point: There is no instruction manual or college degree program on +EV sports betting. There are only hints sprinkled here and there where theories are discussed. To get good you’ll need to pick up things up in bits and pieces here and there.

If you’re intrigued and willing to do the work, some great hints about half point buys can be found in my article on basketball betting. If you apply that same concept to betting on NFL football, and then research which sites sell half points at what price, you’ll end up in even better shape (hint: and 7 is your friend).

Also, in my article about Hockey Betting, we end with a prop bet scenario that gives a small introduction into Poisson Distributions. If you use that with our advice about line shopping, and backing juice out of moneylines, and then apply it to prop bets on any sport, you’ll be making money faster than you can learn to properly pronounce the 1999 German word of the year (Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (wiki)). While that has nothing to do with sports betting, it truly is a German word, and its insertion here probably caused half the readers of this article to forget half of what they’ve just read, and - hey as +EV sports bettors, that is a good thing for us.

If the context of this article, or doing the research is too complex, don’t worry. For most sports betting is a form of entertainment, and by simply using the advice we showed you earlier about line shopping, backing out juice to compare bets, you now have enough information to reduce the house advantage and stand a better chance of getting lucky.

When you use this info along with bonuses, such as the bonus for those who use the bonus code: FRESH, and employ reasonable bankroll management, you won’t lose much, and you stand a chance at finding a lucky run.

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