What is a Bet? How to Calculate Mathematical Advantage?


What can you bet on?

With a bookmaker it is possible to bet on any and every official (timed) event which has an uncertain or unknown outcome (usually anything including an element of chance). It is possible to bet on:

  • the next president of the USA;
  • the colour of Queen Elizabeth II’s hat when attending events such as Royal Ascot;
  • the sex of the first born child of Prince William and his wife, Kate;
  • the winning nation of the annual Eurovision Song Contest;
  • whether alien life will be found in Earth’s solar system before the year 2014?

And naturally on all possible outcomes of any kind of sport, including football/soccer matches. Most online bookmakers also have virtual casinos and myriad other gambling games to satisfy the cerebral needs of their customers, whilst at the same time relieving them of their money.

Six dice fall from a beakerImage: Steba (Shutterstock)

For football, bookmakers offer various bets; one can bet on the home team to win, the game to end in a draw or for the away team to win; whether there will be fewer or more than 2.5 goals in the game; exactly 2 goals in the game, or possibly 3 (or whatever number you think); betting is available on individual players to score at anytime during the game, or to be the first or last scorer in the game.

Wagers are available on technicalities such as whether there will be a red card shown during the match; how many corners there will be; even on various thresholds involving the total numerical value of all shirt numbers to score during the game! There are literally hundreds of different events one can bet on in a single football game, some of them more predictable than others with odds to match the uncertainty.

The probabilities and odds computations in football games are unfortunately not as straight forward as when tossing a coin, but one should never lose sight of the fact that bookmakers survive and thrive from offering bets for sale and the odds are calculated on the basis of probabilities usually ensuring a mathematical advantage to the bookmaker.

But sometimes, it is possible for the player to calculate more accurately than the bookmaker and end up with the mathematical advantage on his/her side. This is the principle of ‘value betting’, which is core to ensuring a profitable betting career.

The only other ways of making guaranteed long-term profits with low risk attached are via either arbitrage or trading, both of which require a huge number of transactions for relatively small returns. Personally, I prefer higher returns and less work!

Ultimately, whoever bets and wishes to win on a long-term basis must understand odds and probabilities (gained from statistical information). Only in this way will you succeed in obtaining and using a mathematical advantage in order to counteract the logical approaches that bookmakers use to extract money from uninformed or just plain naïve gamblers. At Soccerwidow, I try to level out the playing-field and teach you how to tackle the bookmakers on your own terms.

Definition of ‘Bet’

Google Dictionary: Risk something, usually a sum of money, against someone else’s on the basis of the outcome of a future event, such as the result of a race or game.


Last Update: 23 January 2012

Categories:Betting Terminology Most Popular Odds Calculation



3 Responses to “What is a Bet? How to Calculate Mathematical Advantage?”

  1. 1 September 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Hi Soccerwidow.
    I read most of your articles about odds calculation and its all great stuff and just continue with good work. I will try to recommend you to as much people as I can 🙂
    I have a question about mathematical advantage in this case:
    let s say I found two matches whit higher odds than zero odds, first 2.4(bookie odds) / 2.25(true odds) = 6.6% advantage, second 1.65(bookie odds) / 1.5(true odds) = 10% advantage. So in this case if I play multiples I get a mathematical advantage of 17% (2,4*1,65 / 2,25*1,5) right? And if would continue to play like this I would need to adjust my stake so the winning amount is the same in every case?
    Thanks.
    Best regards

    • 1 September 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Betman,

      Regarding staking, I would always recommend the fixed win/ fixed win plan. Meaning adjusting the stake that you don’t exceed a fixed amount of risk (lay bets), or limit your winnings to a fixed amount.

      However, I would advise against multiples. It is already difficult enough to predict individual matches.

  2. 5 February 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    hi there,
    this is really useful stuff youre posting here. Im glad i have came across your site. Im looking forward to see some more advanced articles 😉

    br/bester

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