Online Betting / Betting Strategies / Understand What Value Betting Is and How it Works

Understand What Value Betting Is and How it Works

James Leeland
Fact checked by: Jim Knight
Publish Date: 06.03.2024

Value betting is a strategic approach in sports betting that defies the standard. Rather than assuming the odds you see are the true probability, the value betting strategy works to identify, and then capitalise on what’s known as sleeper odds.

Embracing value betting as a strategy can seem daunting at first, particularly for those who are used to relying on the safe predictability of reliable odds. However, with a disciplined approach and a deep understanding of the sport in question, this strategy can offer an excellent way to secure a more consistently exciting experience over a longer period of time.

What is Value Betting?

Value betting essentially means looking for odds with great value. Specifically, it means that you try to find the “true odds” of a bet, so you know if the odds offered are higher or lower than they should be, and then bet on the selection if the odds are higher.

Value betting is very similar to the best odds betting strategy, in that you will want to compare odds across bookies, but it goes further. Rather than just picking the best odds for the bet you want to place, you are specifically looking for a selection whose odds are higher (meaning a win fetches more money) than it should be.

How Does Value Betting Work?

The best value betting strategy will essentially have you calculating the true probability of an event, and then placing a bet on that event if the true probability is higher than the site’s listed odds state. What you’ll find once you start calculating these true probability odds yourself, however, is that the true probability is usually lower than what the bookmaker offers.

This is their profit margin (also known as overrounds), and so long as the percentage of that profit margin is less than 10%, it’s a regular, competitive odd. Anything over 10% is way too high and should be avoided. You can think of those overrounds above 10% as the opposite of a value bet.

What you’re looking for in your value betting strategy is the bets without that profit margin.

Value Betting in Action

Value betting is best understood in practice. Let’s say that the bookmaker has 1.8 odds for a team winning. To calculate the probability from those odds, use this calculation:

Probability = 1 ÷ [Odds]

So, in this example, the calculation is:

1 ÷ 1.8 = 0.556

Turn that number into percentage:

0.556 * 100 = 55.6%

This percentage will have the bookmaker’s profit margin built into it, and that’s okay. A true value bet gives you an edge over the house, even with their profit margin. Let’s say that the true probability of that team winning is 60%. In this case, the event is considered both likelier to occur, but it’s also a value bet. If you place a bet on it and win you can expect higher winnings.

Calculating the True Probability

Bookmakers use very, very complex algorithms to calculate their odds, and for the most part, you won’t have the times or the means to do those calculations yourself. That’s why it’s a great idea to combine odds comparison in your value betting strategy. Shop around for the various odds, and then take the best odds to use as the true probability, or go to a trusted sharp bookmaker (one with very low profit margins) to compare. You can use those odds to calculate the true probability.

True Probability = 1 ÷ [The Sharp Odds]

Expected Value

Now that you have the true probability, it’s time to work out the expected value of your bet. You’ll want to do this on bets that are already higher than their competitors, so that you can see just how much value you can expect out of betting on one site over the other. To calculate the expected value, use this equation:

Expected Value = (True Probability * Odds) – 1

In this case, you’d multiply the true probability you worked out from the competitor by the odds on the bookmaker you want to use. Then remove 1 from that equation. A value bet is one that has a higher profit percentage than what you can expect when using the sharp odds.

Thankfully, you don’t need to manually make these calculations yourself. There are many different options out there, from online value betting calculators, to free and paid value betting software that automatically fetches the information, calculates it, and provides you with the best value bets available.

How does Value Betting Work with Bonuses?

There are instances where betting bonuses can actually boost the odds in your favour (aka, a value bet). Value betting is traditionally done on single bets, since this is the best way to find those when odds are lower than they should be. Accumulator bets naturally increase in odds, which can be seen as a value bet, except that with every selection you add, the odds of each selection occurring drops considerably. You won’t want to make large accumulator bets, of course, but a double or triple bet boost can increase potential winnings.

You can also use free bets or even matched deposit funds on value odds, so long as the bet meets the minimum odds requirement. Since value betting means investigating the odds line-up for higher odds, it can naturally be paired with many bonuses.

Benefits of Value Betting

Can Be Done on All Betting Sites

The beauty of this strategy is that it can be used on any bookmaker. You can look for value bets and place wagers at all of our top-reviewed online betting sites without issue, because you don’t need the site itself to offer anything specific. Instead, you just need time. That’s why value sports betting is a pre-match bet strategy only. 

Higher Profits on Wins

Value betting strategies are not guaranteed wins. What they are is the chance to boost your winnings if you do win. With a value bet, you get more on a win than on a regular bet. This makes it a great option for all types of bettors. 

Simple to Use

While the concepts behind value bets can be difficult to wrap your head around, it doesn’t have to be challenging in practice. Use a free online calculator or software to find the value bets, and then place your wagers. Since value bets are single bets, they are straightforward to use, meaning you can start using a value betting strategy from the get-go, even if you’re a beginner. 

What to Be Aware of When Betting on Value Odds

Even the best strategy cannot guarantee a win. That’s why you always need to set your responsible gambling limits ahead of time, as it’s possible to run through a string of losses and start to feel frustrated. With responsible gambling tools in place, you can give yourself limits to keep your bets as cool and collected as possible.

You may also end up being limited by the bookmaker. If you make many large bets on value opportunities, and the bookmaker catches on, your bet limits may be throttled.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Value Betting Strategy

There are many different ways to get started with value betting. The first step, naturally, is to find the tool that you want to use to calculate your bets. You can, of course, always manually calculate those odds by first comparing odds across bookmakers, or going to a known sharp bookmaker, getting their odds, and then using that to calculate the expected value.

How to manually find value bets:

  1. Choose Your Bet – Decide what selection, sport or game you want to bet on.
  2. Find the Closest Odds – Go to a known sharp bookmaker and compare the odds.
  3. Calculate the True Probability – Do this manually or with an online tool.
  4. Calculate the Expected Value – Again, either do this manually or with a digital tool.
  5. Place Your Bet – if the bet is valuable, consider placing a bet.

You can, of course, cut a lot of those steps out by using value bet software. These third-party solutions work to fetch data from top bookmakers and provide you with a list of value bets on your behalf.

Other Top Betting Strategies to Try

Value betting strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bet strategies. We have put together in-depth online betting guides to help you fully understand all the different strategies used out there today, and how to get started with them. The ultimate goal is to create a betting strategy that suits your betting style, and your budget. To help you get started building your own, unique approach, just have a look at the other top strategies out there that you can incorporate into your approach today:

Betting StrategyWhat Is It?ExampleDifficulty Level
Best OddsComparing the odds for a single bet across bookmakersYou want to bet on a team to win, so you shop around to find the best odds for that event.Low
Arbitrage BettingYou bet on all possible outcomes with small bets that cover your bankroll at minimum.You bet on all events in a game with small bets. If you win an unlikely bet, you have a profit, but if you don’t you recoup what you spent.High
Hard/Soft BettingChoose 3+ bets, placing most of your funds on one, and the others as backups.Place three bets. The first is the long-shot designed to fetch you big winnings if you win, the other two are smaller, lower odds bets designed to help you win back what you paid in for that game.Medium
Head-to-HeadCompare statistics (team vs. team, player vs. player) to decide on who to bet on.In a tennis match you compare how well each player has performed based on surface experience, previous games, etc. to decide on who to bet on.Medium

Get Started Building Your Own Value Betting Strategy

Having a value betting strategy is a great way to enhance your experience. Navigating different value betting markets requires a thorough understanding of the sport, an analytical mind, and a patient, disciplined approach.

Whether you’re betting on football, horse racing, or tennis, the key lies in identifying undervalued bets and exploiting these opportunities. If you’re ready to take your betting strategy to the next level, consider exploring our comprehensive guides and tools that are designed to help you identify value betting opportunities and maximise your potential returns.

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Value Betting Strategies FAQ

👀 How is value betting different from odds comparison strategies??

You can think of odds comparison as a part of the process of value betting. Value betting means finding odds that are better than they should be. A great way to find those value odds is to compare odds across bookmakers.

🏈 What are the best sports for value betting?

The best sports for value betting are typically those with less predictable outcomes, which can potentially lead to higher odds. This includes sports like football, where a game can turn on a single goal, or horse racing, where a long-shot can win on any given day.

🤩 Is value betting a good strategy for beginners?

Yes, value betting is a great way for beginners to start building their own bet strategy, since it can be done on single, pre-match bets (giving you plenty of time to research). You are also betting only on one outcome, which suits small budget betting.

🤔 Do I always have to calculate the odds myself?

Yes, you’ll always have to calculate the odds yourself, since bookmakers aren’t going to point out their value bets for you (in fact, they shouldn’t even be aware of them). You can do your calculations manually, or invest in value betting software like RebelBetting or OddsJam that scans opportunities across bookies on your behalf.

😥 Why are my maximum stakes being restricted?

While value betting is absolutely legal, it’s a practice that bookmakers don’t like. If they catch on to you using value bets, you may have the amount you can bet restricted. Betting low can help you avoid this restriction.