What Changing Odds Means For Your Betting Strategy

Sports betting odds can change drastically at any moment. Have you considered what implications that has for devising and executing your betting strategies?


Why Do Odds Move?

Sports betting markets do not offer controlled certainty, so the chance (or odds) for any given outcome will change in the time before an event starts.

A number of factors can affect odds, but the main reasons for price fluctuations are as follows:

  • New information: team changes, injury news, or even changes to conditions (e.g. the weather) will alter the probabilities of an event, causing changes to the odds.
  • Market confidence: public opinion continually shapes the odds on the market. If for whatever reason the public (collectively) changes their view, then the odds will shift accordingly.
  • Money: the demand for different outcomes will influence both bookmakers and traders alike. While bookies will balance their books by adjusting the odds, prices on the betting exchange move due to an imbalance in weight of money.


Value Moves With The Odds

The most experienced sports bettors aim to determine a theoretical price that represents value for an outcome, and then base their decisions around that. But it’s understated that if variables change, then so does the price that represents value.

Learn about Value Betting

I was once in contact with an enthusiastic bettor and reader of this site who was devising various strategies. Like many others, he was creating a pricing model to identify value bets and aimed to take those odds as they appeared in the market. However, the downfall for several of his strategies was that he also reasoned that odds which drifted to a greater price at a later point time would represent even greater value. His line of thinking was that taking a higher price would only improve the average odds of his selections, and thereby increase his profits.

That’s when we discussed a simple yet somewhat overlooked concept in sports betting: value moves with the odds. So in theory a price right now may not still be value in days, hours, minutes — or even even seconds time.

You heard right: a value bet a few seconds ago may no longer be a value bet now!

Example: New Information

To understand why value moves with the odds, here’s a very simple example. This concept is nowhere near as mind-blowing as it sounds.

Imagine there’s an upcoming football match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal and, given all current circumstances, the fair odds for Crystal Palace to win is 4.0. In this case, it’s correct to reason that a price of over 4.0 for Crystal Palace in the match odds betting market is a good bet to place at this moment in time. So if the market offers 5.0 for Palace, we’d place that bet (let’s assume we did).

Now, suppose the plot thickens. News breaks on the day of the match that two of Palace’s key players have come down with the Norovirus and are no longer fit to play. As a result, the match odds for Palace shoot up to 7.0 to reflect the weakened squad.

Suddenly that 5.0 bet isn’t looking so good after all, is it? It’s almost certainly not a value bet any longer.

The naïve mistake here would be to ignore the dent in Crystal Palace’s chances and rely on previous assumptions. Indeed the price of 7.0 is greater than the previously taken odds of 5.0 — but we cannot be sure that the new price represents value. That’s because we no longer have an accurate barometer for the ‘fair’ odds, as the previous fair price of 4.0 was created under very different assumptions that no longer stand. Therefore a re-appraisal is necessary to find out where the new value price sits. Only then can we determine if 7.0 is worth taking or not.

Similarly, if a negative change impacted Arsenal instead of Palace then that would strengthen Palace’s chances, which would be reflected by a decrease the odds for Palace to win the game. This scenario would strengthen the value of the original bet placed at 5.0.

The value you have isn’t in your control because your price is fixed while other variables are moving.

Yes, this may seem highly obvious. Yet bettors often forget that a series of small changes in circumstances can re-shape an event enough to move where the value lies. In particular, bettors must take care whenever a tipster suggests a “target price” — because circumstances may have changed from the time the tips were published.


You Won’t Achieve Value On Every Bet

One of the difficulties with sports betting is that even if you capture value at the time of bet placement, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still a value bet now or that it’ll still be one by the time the event starts. In fact, every strategy — even highly profitable ones — have a mixed bag of value.

In other words, some odds you take will turn out to be great bets, while others will turn out to be bad bets. This can be determined by comparing each your odds to those available at the start of the event (once their up/down journey is complete). Whenever your odds are greater the Start Price, that’s a value bet and you have successfully secured an advantage, irrespective of the outcome. For proof of this concept, check out my article Beating The Closing Line.

Unfortunately we as bettors cannot predict all changes in circumstances. Hence we cannot be certain that the odds we take at the time of bet placement will remain value by the time the event starts. So the aim is produce a strategy where the majority of bets will beat the start price by a substantial margin. And the only way to be sure that’s occurring is to monitor your results and check for consistency.


Should You Take Lower Odds Than You Want?

As a sports bettor you’ll continually face crucial decisions about the odds you take. Most often you’ll have to decide whether to accept lower odds than you initially wanted. Should you ever take lower odds?

There is no straightforward Yes/No answer as every bet needs to be assessed on an individual basis. Ultimately it depends on whether or not those lower odds still represent value.

One of the reasons I recommend the Smart Betting Club tipster proofing site is that their statistics reveal the impact of taking odds below those recommended by their tipsters. This highlights the point at which the value diminishes entirely for the strategy being used. You’ll have to evaluate your own strategy in the same way by analysing past data.


Adapting To Price Fluctuations

Given that odds fluctuate on the lead up to sports events, it’s important to consider what implications this has for your betting strategy.

For those taking a high-level stats-based approach to finding value, you’ll need to be aware that price changes within the market are occurring for a reason. Fluctuations may supersede the accuracy of your own odds compilation method. In other words, if changes occur that you haven’t accounted for then your method may not hold up.

On the other hand, the movement of odds can be highly advantageous to bettors. Changes in circumstances often creates temporary uncertainty, making it a prime opportunity for sports traders to secure exaggerated odds, or profit from price movements. It’s at these same moments that different betting sites are frequently mismatched with their odds, creating arbitrage and value bet opportunities for bettors to capitalise on.

If possible, automate your strategy. There’s no better way of dealing with price movements that having the ability to monitor live prices and act dynamically at the instant an opportunity appears.

For better or worse, the movement of odds will impact your strategy. The important thing is that you acknowledge that price moves usually represent a change in opinion — as well as value.

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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