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How does the Logic of Sports Betting Work?

11 Minute Read
sports bet logic

With more and more people getting into the betting space, it may be confusing where you should start. There’s a lot to learn for sports betting for all newbie bettors – you need to be familiar with betting odds, popular betting markets and the best strategies. However, what’s the logic behind sports betting before going into those things?

Sports Betting is a Multiplayer Game

Before we go deeper into the concept, you need to know that sports betting is not a one or two-player game. It’s a competitive, multiplayer one.

Even though you’re directly betting against a bookie, they are also your vital adversary on your bets. Instead, you are indirectly competing against hundreds of bettors every day, trying to do the same thing as you; find good bets and make money. The stampede of bettors will affect the lines you see consistently and predictably; they bet the good ones (and move the lines) while leaving the bad ones.

This line movement after you bet doesn’t move randomly, as it reflects a kind of consensus of all serious bettors within the same market.

The Logic of Sports Betting

In this article, we’ll look at sports betting from another point of view with quotes taken from “The Logic of Sports Betting”. It’s a book that provides some excellent insights on how the markets work and some timeless tips on how you can win a few bets.

Don’t Base the Bets on “Tipsters”

The “sharp money pounding the game” may only be a few thousand dollars or less in total volume (page 48).

“Tipsters” are common terms you can hear for any game. These tipsters can push a team or player in handicap bets from -0.75/+0.75 to -1.25/+1.25, which is a huge difference. Reporters can use this information to take a bet with these odds. However, the book’s authors pointed out that this information is meaningless. Lines are brought up quickly on market-making books and the book requires low-limit bets that boost the line shifting. Also, once you know the tipster pushed a number, you’re getting it at -1.25/+1.25 handicap when they thought -0.75/+0.75 was the only good bet.

If you’re suggesting to people to bet on a sport, don’t think that just because sharps pushed the line makes it a good bet. Line movement is interesting and worth paying attention to, but it doesn’t have any more betting value once it does move.

Use the Entire “Attack Surface”

A player’s big advantage is that you have an entire menu of things you can use anywhere and anytime.

It’s hard for bookies to accurately predict the price and manage the hundreds of bets every day. One general advantage for bettors would be to check out a match where the spread or total has moved and see if the player’s props and other derivatives (first-quarter, first-half bets) of the match have moved along with it.

Miller stated that if you can identify where this information applies to various bets that didn’t move, you can make a guaranteed profit for your bet.

Track Your Bets

Always keep records of your bet – from how much you’re betting to the result of the bet. (Page 228)

There’s no exception for this one. It’s simple advice, yet it’s the one that many new bettors struggle to do consistently. Be transparent; the average bettor uses a Google spreadsheet or anything similar. You may also use our bankroll management tool to keep you more organized when tracking your bets. Are you winning or not? At some point, the bets you’ve recorded will start to speak for themselves. Once you’re ahead and recorded for, let’s say, a thousand bets, then it’s an excellent sign. But keep in mind that these records are still not definitive.

Indeed, you need to collect a big sample size of around 1000 bets, which is likely the minimum number of bets you’ll need if you want to find out if the strategy works or not. A thousand bets for a sample may seem a lot at first, but in reality, it’s the only way to determine if your actions are right or wrong. The reason is that after the thousand bet mark, the variance should not be as big of a factor as it is after only a hundred bets.

You Can’t Find Predictive Value in Public Money

The massive weight of public action has a relatively small impact on where the lines sit. It’s a fatal flaw with the “fade the public” concept.” (Page 64)

It’s an important point because betting would be much easier if the “fade public” really worked. Just check what side most people are betting on, and do the opposite. You’ll likely receive some easy money just by doing this! The information you can find on public money and the percentage of bets on Action Network or other websites won’t give you an edge (the data is also usually incomplete). You’ll need way more data than any of those can provide.

A betting expert once said that Sportsbooks are profitable as they take 2.1 both ways, not because the public are losers in any particular sense. The juice or hold keeps the bookies profitable and the crowd broke. Therefore, fading the public isn’t the way to go in the long term.

Beware of Anyone Bragging About High Win Rates

If you can find bets that will bring 67% profit, you can also find ones that bring 60%, 55% and 53% profits. There will also be a flood of lower edge ones. This includes the 55% bets that will obviously bring more money and lowers your overall winning percentage. (138)

Some bettors or “touts” brag about getting a 67% win rate on bets in handicaps or over/under. The chances are, they are full of it. The book outlines that if any bettor wins that frequently, they may also find bets that win 55% or 53% of the time, which is slightly lower than the initial 67% but still brings some decent return.

Win rate shouldn’t be the best measure of a bettor. Instead, a better indicator of how well a bettor is doing is their investment return or units won. This kind of information is easily manipulable, so you should be skeptical of any claim that a bettor is doing well (whether they’re bragging about it or asking for some cash for their picks).

Look for Angles Instead of Trends

If you’re looking to bet the angle profitably, it should be predictable, quantifiable and doesn’t account for the line. (186)

The quote above partly describes the big difference between an angle and a trend. An angle is something that hasn’t been considered in the line and may offer strong betting value. On the other hand, trends are the hallmark of most handicappers, especially the ones who sell picks.

A betting angle is something that’s more predictable, quantifiable and accounted for within the line. In other words, you need to plausibly explain why one thing may lead to another.

Miller also stated that betting against teams that had to travel long distances was a useful angle once before it turned widely known. “Most explanation for trends is gobbledygook”, he added, “they find the trend first and make up a story that fits in it.”

This is something you’ll need to use to back up your bet. Perhaps the weather has changed in recent hours without a spread adjustment. Maybe you think a midfielder will breach through any kind of defence more than the spread accounts for. It may indeed be tricky, as once you’ve announced an angle that may eventually matter and not already in the handicap, the market will adjust according to it.

The Algorithm in Sports Betting

When we talk about logic in sports betting, have you ever wondered how the betting algorithms help predict future matches? Sports data companies like APWin offer betting solutions powered by math formulas that evaluate data that solves complicated questions. These algorithms collect relevant data like team or player stats to predict the outcomes of a match.

Sports like football and tennis use algorithms generated via neural network building. These are divided into two types under criterion which target to gain:

Betting arbitrage algorithms (with changing odds for the result of a particular sport. The mechanics of arbitrage algorithms is to place a bet knowing about the better odds and place another bet after, which is against the first one):

Value betting algorithms (which consider matches from previous data and propose possible profitable ways of betting).

Value betting is indeed more popular. It's an algorithm that consists of two parts: it outlines the expected bet value and suggests the possible bet size that considers how much profit it can make. Data from past matches are encountered for value betting algorithms.

For example, they analyse the match's outcome from the past. And if a team scored 1.5 goals on average, then the algorithm will conclude that they can score more than 1 goal in the next match. This is how the algorithm works.

Conclusion of Sports Betting Logic

We hope that our tips above offer you new insights on sports betting. Remember that no one has a magic formula that allows them to win every bet. But you may come close to that by putting more effort into studying your bets and improving your betting strategy that supports your betting style.

Getting into the betting space for the first time can be overwhelming. You need to be familiar with the most profitable betting markets and find the best strategies for your bets. Besides that, you also need to get used to seeking the best betting odds to really find the edge for every bet.

Published on 24 June 2022 Last updated on 01 September 2022
Author: Tiago Martins

Tiago Martins


Tech entrepreneur and passionate about statistics, Tiago co-owns APWin and is responsible for all the technology that powers the platform.

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