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Understanding Value and How Betting Lines Work

Understanding Value and How Betting Lines Work
Let’s play two truths and a lie. We’re going to give you three statements and two of them will be true and one will be a lie. It’s your job to pick out the lie.

Statement 1 – This post is going to be the single most important and useful post you read in your sports betting career.  

Statement 2 – This post is going to be long and at times might get a little advanced with the math.

Statement 3 – Walmart is actually owned by a team of four squirrels and a duck.

Can you pick out which two of these three statements is the truth? Yea, it’s the first two. Sorry if you were hoping it was the last one, but as far as we saw in last reports, Walmart is still run by humans. This guide is going to be the single most important thing you ever read in your sports betting career. The understanding of how betting lines work, how they move, and how to find value is the key to beating any sport at the books.

If you can understand the concept of value, how to spot it, and how to exploit it, you can beat any sport that you choose to bet on. Now, as you might guess with something this important, it’s not going to be a quick read. But, if you take the time and commit to learning everything we’ve provided for you here, you’re wallet is going to be very thankful. And, we also promise that it’s going to be a fun ride! Heck, we started off the guide with a game, right? Yes, there will be a little bit of math, but not so much that your head is going to spin.

In all seriousness, this is an extremely important concept to understand that most sports bettors fail to understand. Whether they weren’t taught properly, have never been taught this, or refuse to take the time to learn it, we don’t know. But what we do know is that if you don’t understand and utilize this information, you stand zero chance of being a long-term profitable sports bettor.

The Truth Behind Win/Loss Records

We understand that some of you might be a little skeptical about committing to reading this entire article. We get that. Most of the stuff you find on the internet that claims to be “groundbreaking” or “the most important thing you’ll ever read” is just utter clickbait garbage. So, as a measure of good faith, we wanted to lead off with some proof that most people don’t understand this concept.

How many of you have ever asked a friend how they did sports betting over the weekend? Or, how many of you have ever had someone tell you how they did? If they told you they went 5-3 (5 wins and 3 losses), would you congratulate them on a successful weekend? If they told you they went 2-4 (2 wins and 4 losses), would you tell them better luck next time?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, then this guide is for you. You see, win/loss records are actually a terrible indicator of how someone is doing as a sports bettor. The only except is if they are undefeated with no losses or they have all losses and no wins. Other than that, you cannot tell how well someone did sports betting from their win/loss record.

We’re guessing we have a lot of people’s attention now. And no, this is not some silly play on words or something like that. Let’s take a look at your buddies 5-3 and 2-4 records a little closer.

Your Buddy Who Was 5-3

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $20 +140 Loss (-$200)
2 $20 -210 Win +$9.52
3 $20 -280 Win +$7.14
4 $20 -110 Loss (-$200)
5 $20 +225 Loss (-$20)
6 $20 -330 Win +$6.06
7 $20 -275 Win +$7.27
8 $20 -275 Win +$7.27

5 wins? Yup. Only 3 losses? Yup. Total profit? (-$22.74). Wait…your friend lost money? That’s correct. Even though your friend won several more bets than they lost, they still lost money. Why? Welcome to value 🙂 Don’t worry. We’re going to cover this in full in this guide.

Your Buddy Who Was 2-4

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $20 -110 Loss ($-20)
2 $20 +140 Loss ($-20)
3 $20 +140 Loss ($-20)
4 $20 +165 Win +$33.00
5 $20 -110 Loss ($-20)
6 $20 +310 Win +$62.00

Only 2 wins? Yes. 4 losses? Yup. Total profit? $15. Yes…your friend with twice as many losses as wins is the one who made money.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Win/loss records are a terrible indicator of betting success. What’s important is whether or not you are getting value on your bets or not. Confused? That’s completely okay. We’re going to cover all of this and a whole lot more in the rest of this guide. We just wanted to start by pointing out how a lot of people don’t understand this concept. They’re way too concerned about chasing wins when they bet sports and don’t think at all about value. But, that won’t be you once we get to the end of this guide.

How Betting Lines Work

Before we get into value and the meat of this guide, we need to talk about how betting lines work. We need to make sure that everyone understands what’s going on behind the scene because it’s necessary to understand the more important concepts.

First, what is a betting line? A betting line is how much the sportsbook is offering to pay you out in profit when you make a correct wager. This is going to look something like +130 or (-240) or something like that. The betting line will tell you who the betting favorite is and how much money you’re going to get paid out if you win your bet. The plus sign indicates the betting underdog and the minus sign indicates the betting favorite.

Now, you might notice that we didn’t say the actual underdog or actual favorite. The reason for this is that the betting lines are set by the sportsbook based on what they think is going to happen, and then they move based on the bets that come in.

Here’s the truth about sportsbooks. While they love to facilitate gambling and betting, they hate betting and gambling with their money. So, what they try and do is make it where no matter who wins a particular bet, they make money. How do they do this? Well, they try and get the right amount of money bet on each side of a bet so that they can pay the winners with the loser’s money and take a small percentage off the top as their profit.

In a perfect world, the sportsbooks would have the exact same amount of money bet on each side of a contest, and then they would take a small percentage off the top (the juice/rake) as their profit. But, we don’t live in a perfect world. The betting public likes to stick together, and a lot of times more action will come in on one side of a bet than the other.

In order to combat this, the sportsbook will adjust the amount that you get paid on a particular bet. If they need to get more money bet on a particular side, they will increase the payout for a win on that side of the bet and decrease the payout for a win on the other side of the bet.

For example, let’s say these are the odds on an upcoming NFL football game.

Now, let’s say that the money is absolutely pouring in on the Redskins for whatever reason. The sportsbook needs to do something, or else they’re going to be rooting of the Buccaneers to win the game. Currently, a $10 bet on the redskins will net you a profit of $13. A $10 bet on the Bucs will net you a profit of $6.67.

What the sportsbook will do is start to change the odds to try and deter people from betting on the Redskins and encourage them to start betting more on the Bucs. The new odds might look like this.

Now, a $10 bet on the Redskins will only net you a profit of $12 instead of $13 and a $10 bet on the Bucs will net you a profit of $7.69 instead of $6.67. While this isn’t a huge change, it can usually slow down the action on one side and speed it up on the other. If it doesn’t work, though, the sportsbook will continue to shift the betting lines until they get the action they desire. They will continue doing this back and forth all the way up until the time the best close to try and get things as even as possible.

This is EXTREMELY important to understand because you need to realize that the odds being given by the sportsbook are not indicative of what they actually think is going to happen in a game. They are representative of what they think they need to be in order to get the action that they need. They are completely affected by how the money is coming in on a particular bet.

How the Sportsbook Makes Their Money

You may be asking yourself how the sportsbook makes their money here if they’re just taking the loser’s money to pay the winners. Well, if things were completely fair (in our last example), they wouldn’t be +120 and -130. Instead, it would be +120 and -120 or +130 and -130. That difference there is the juice that the casino is taking off the top as their profit.

The best way to visualize this is to look at a bet that pays out the same on both sides. For example, let’s say that you were betting an NFL totals bet which usually pays out the same on both sides of the bet. It might look like this.

Let’s say that the sportsbook takes in the exact same amount of money on each side of this bet as they want to. Let’s say they take in $10,000 on each side of the bet. Now, let’s say that the over hits. The sportsbook is going to get $10,000 from all of the losers that bet the under. But, they still need to pay out the winners of the over. So, $10,000 paid out at (-110) is equal to $9090.91 in profit. Once they pay this out, the sportsbook is going to have ($10,000 – $9090.91 = $909.09) left over. This is their profit.

If the other side of the bet wins, the math is going to work out exactly the same. That 9-10% that they make is their profit. Because they were able to get the right amount of money on each side of the bet they were able to secure a win for the sportsbook no matter which side of the bet won.

The important takeaway from this entire section is to realize that the betting lines you see at the sportsbook will move based on what people choose to bet on. This means that they may or may not be representative of what is actually going to happen in the game. As a teaser to a later section, value is when you find betting lines that are wrong and will pay you out more than they are supposed to on a particular bet. As you can see, this will happen a lot based on either bad lines set by the sportsbook or lines that move incorrectly thanks to the betting public. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

Breaking Down Implied Probabilities

Before we dive headfirst into value, we need to make sure that you understand a concept known as implied probability. Let’s start by breaking the phrase down. Probability is simply the likelihood that something is going to happen usually represented as a percentage. Implied means that something else is being used to imply to you what that probability is. In this case, they’re using the betting lines to imply to you what the probability they think a bet is going to win is.

For example, when you see (-150) as a betting line, what do you see? Well, as we stated earlier, you see that the team is most likely a favorite and you can compute that if you made, say, a $100 bet, you would get paid out a profit of $66.67. But, did you also know that you can take that betting line and convert it into an implied probability? You can take that (-150) and with some basic calculations you can figure out exactly what percentage chance the sportsbook thinks that bet is going to win.

Before we show you the calculations of how to do this, we want to point out that there are tons of implied probability calculators on the web you can use to do this for you. Just go to Google and look up “implied probability calculator sports betting” and you will have a ton of different options to choose from. But, just for the sake of thoroughness, we’re going to show you how to break down American odds into an implied probability.

If you are working with “favorite” odds (anything with a minus sign in front of it), the formula is the following:

Let’s start by figuring this out for (-150) odds.

A few quick math things to remember in case it has been a while since you’ve done any sort of math. The | | bars mean to take the absolute value of the number in the middle. This means that even though the odds are negative 150, you drop the negative sign and just use 150. Also, the ( ) parenthesis mean that you are going to do that calculation first before you do anything else.

So, here’s what our formula looks like when we’re doing it for (-150).

The implied probability of (-150) betting odds is 60%. You are getting paid out as if the bet is 60% likely to happen. If the bet is actually MORE likely to happen than this meaning you’re going to win more often than they think you should, then there is value in this bet. If the bet is actually LESS likely to happen than this meaning you’re going to win less often than they think you should, then there is no value in this side of the bet. If the bet is actually 60% likely to happen, then there is no value in the bet one way or the other.

Now, what happens if you are working with an underdog (plus American odds)? You can still calculate the implied probability, but you just need to use a different formula. Let’s say we want to calculate the implied probability of the odds +160.

Here is the formula:

The implied probability of +160 is roughly 38.5%. The same rules above apply in terms of value. If you are actually going to win this bet more than 38.5%, then there is value. If you’re actually going to win this bet less than 38.5% of the time, then there is no value on this side of the bet. If 38.5% is also the actual probability of this bet happening, then there is no value on either side of the bet.

For those of you that hate math, we are terribly sorry, but we had to go there briefly. Remember, there are tons of calculators that will do this work for you so don’t worry about memorizing how to do this unless you really want to. We just wanted to break it down for those of you that were interested.

Here’s what you need to be taking away from this section. An implied probability in a sports betting sense is the percentage chance that the betting line is predicting a bet will happen.

Betting Value – What it is and Why It’s Important

So, now that we’ve talked about what betting lines are, how they work, and how they move, it’s time to get down to the bread and butter of this article. It’s time to talk about value. Let’s start off by defining what value in sports betting is and then we can talk about how to find it and why it’s important.

Value in sports betting is anytime that you find a bet that is paying out better than it is supposed to. Remember, as we explored earlier, the sportsbook pays you out more money the less likely something is to happen and less money the more likely something is to happen. Basically, they pay you a premium for things that are less likely to happen to try and entice you to make that bet. But, what happens when the sportsbook is wrong or the line is wrong, and you are getting paid a premium on something because it’s “less likely to happen,” but in reality, it is more likely to happen? This is value.

For example, let’s say that we can see into the future and we know that a particular team is 60% likely to win an upcoming game. We then look at the betting line on that game and realize that the sportsbook is paying out as if the team only has a 40% chance of winning the game (implied probability). That means that the sportsbook thinks they team only has a 40% chance of winning (less likely), but we know because we can see the future that the team is actually more likely to win the game at around 60%.

This means the sportsbook is going to pay us a big premium as they think it’s a lot less likely that the team is going to win. They think that they have to entice us to take this side of the bet because it’s only 40% likely to happen. But, we’re going to end up winning this bet more often than we really should be based on the premium they are paying us. This extra money that we stand to win because the betting line is wrong is known as value.

The best way to see why this is so important is to look at some examples where the implied probability and what the actual probability are differ in our favor. It’s probably important to point out now that in the real world you aren’t going to be able to see into the future and know the actual probability a team has to win a particular bet. But, this is where the genius of sports betting comes in. The more accurately that you can predict that actual probability, the more you’re going to be able to identify value, and the more money you’re going to make. We’ll get heavily into how you can go about calculating what you predict the actual probability to be in the next section, but for now let’s look at some examples to show why all of this is so important.

In this first example, we’re going to look at 10 bets of $50 each. For simplicity purposes, we’re going to say that each bet is set to pay out at +150. When we convert this to an implied probability, we see that the sportsbook thinks that this bet is going to win 40% of the time or 4 out of the 10 bets. Here’s what our profit would look like if the sportsbook is right. In other words, this is what it would look like if the actual probability and the implied probability were the same.

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
2 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
3 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
4 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
5 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
6 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
7 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
8 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
9 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
10 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
Total profit = $0

As we thought, we would make no money because there was no value. You’ll notice that we had a losing win/loss record of 4-6, but we didn’t lose any money. That’s not super important for what we’re talking about right now, but we just wanted to continue driving home that win/loss records are completely pointless when it comes to measuring sports betting success.

Now, let’s take a look at an example where the implied probability and the actual probability are not the same. Remember, we’re still wizards that can see into the future and see what the actual probability is. Let’s say that our bet is actually only 30% likely to happen. Even though this is the case, the sportsbook still thinks it’s 40% likely and will be paying us out as such.

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
2 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
3 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
4 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
5 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
6 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
7 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
8 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
9 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
10 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
Total profit = ($50.00)

As you can see in this example, we lost money. When we take a bet that the actual probability is LOWER than the implied probability, we are taking a bet with no value and are going to lose money. We should have been getting paid out a higher premium because our bet was even less likely to happen, but the sportsbook can’t see the future, and they will pay out based on what they predict to happen and how the betting public has moved the line.

And finally, let’s look at an example where the actual probability is HIGHER than the implied probability. This is a situation that we are referring to as having good value and one that we’d be looking to bet based on the information we’ve accumulated in this guide so far. Remember, the implied probability is 40%, but let’s say the bet is actually 50% likely to happen. Here’s what that would look like.

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
2 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
3 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
4 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
5 $50 +150 Win +$75.00
6 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
7 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
8 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
9 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
10 $50 +150 Loss ($50.00)
Total profit = $125.00

Exactly as we expected! Notice, we were only 5-5 on the win/loss side of things (not a winning record), but we still turned a really nice profit! We averaged making $12.50 on each bet we made for a total profit of $125. All of this came about because we bet a situation where the betting line was wrong. We were getting paid a premium for a bet only being 40% likely to happen when in actuality it was 10% more likely to happen. Basically, we ended up winning our bet more often than we should have based on the betting odds.

This is value. This is what you should be looking for. This is the secret of sports betting. If you can consistently find situations where you are getting paid that premium where it really isn’t warranted, you’re going to be a very successful sports bettor.

Answering Some Questions

Now, we know that you probably have quite a few questions and we want to try our best to answer them. These are the most common questions we hear from people at this point in the learning process.

Great questions! Let’s go ahead and answer these.

We only used the same bet with all of the same variables to prove our point. The idea is that if you are always making bets with value, you’re going to win in the long run. We could run a bunch of simulations to show you that this is the case, but we’re going to spare you the long page of all numbers. This principle works if all the bets are the same or if they are all completely different.

There are two things that have to be there though. One, you have to be betting bets that have value. As you’ll see, you won’t get this right every time but as long as you are betting more bets with value than bets without, you will make money. Two, you have to be looking at the long term. There is variance in sports betting which means that even if you’re betting tons of bets that have value you might lose in the short term. That being said, you are going to win in the long run. This is why things like bankroll management are so important.

Look at our example above where we made $125. Imagine if we only had $200 in our bankroll and we were betting $50 a game (not smart). In our example, we listed all of the wins first. But, that very well could have been a bunch of losses first that only balanced out to a 50% win rate after 10 bets…or it might not happen for 20 bets…or sometimes more. If you look at 1,000 bets, it’s most certainly going to be very close to a 50% win rate, but in the short term, it might take a little while to get to the actual percentage. This is called variance.

So, to circle back and answer the question again. We only used the same payout odds to help make our point and have things be clearer. You could imagine each of those bets as a completely separate bet if you need to. Or, you can run some of your own simulations if you really need to see it and can’t take our word for it. As long as you are betting bets with value, you’re going to be a long-term winner.

Yup! We just happened to use a bet where we were underdogs. If you run a simulation where you are the favorite in every bet or even a mix of the two, you’re still going to walk away a winner if you are betting wagers that have value and you look at things over the long term.

Here are two quick simulations using a bet with the same parameters except this time your odds of winning the bet are 70% or in American odds that would be (-233). We’re going to look at a simulation where the bet is actually 60% to win and one where it is actually 80% to win.

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
2 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
3 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
4 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
5 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
6 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
7 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)
8 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)
9 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)
10 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)

So, our win/loss rate is 6-4. Awesome, right? Wrong! Come on, now. You should know better by now. Our total profit on this simulation is ($71.24). Yup, as expected we lost money because we were betting a bet with no value. The actual probability was lower than the implied probability. If this were a perfect world and the sportsbook’s line was correct, we would have been getting paid a higher rate or (-150) which we know is the American odds attached to 60% implied probability.

Now, let’s look at our value simulation.

Bet # Bet Amount Odds Outcome Profit/Loss
1 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
2 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
3 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
4 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
5 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
6 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
7 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
8 $50 (-233) Win $21.46
9 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)
10 $50 (-233) Loss ($50.00)

Our total profit for this simulation would be $71.68. Because we were betting a wager with value, we walked away a winner. It has literally nothing to do with our win/loss record (as proven) and everything to do with whether the bet has value or not.

This leads us to the biggest question of them all. We all are probably pretty aware that we can’t see the future. If we could, we’d be the best sports bettors ever and probably the best at a lot of other things. So, we can’t figure out the actual probability of something happening before it happens. But, we can make a prediction as to what we think that actual probability is going to be.

This is known as the predicted actual probability (PAP). For the record, that is not a real acronym, but we’re going to attempt to make it one. What you’re going to do in sports betting is attempt to predict how likely a team is to win a game or how likely a certain side of a bet is to win. The closer you are to correct, the more you’re going to be able to spot value, and the more money you’re going to make.

This is the heart of sports betting. Instead of predicting winners, you’re going to be looking to predict the likelihood of that team winning. This is how sports betting SHOULD be. This is what the experts do. This is probably new territory for you, but the sooner you can make the shift to approaching bets this way, the sooner you can be a long-term winner.

Let’s say that you’re looking at a wager that is (-150). We’ve already determined that the implied probability of that bet is 60%. This is a number that we’re always going to know because the sportsbooks give it to us. The number that we aren’t going to know is the actual probability, but we’ve already said we’re going to try and replace that with our PAP.

Let’s say that we predict that our bet is actually 65% likely to happen instead of the 60% that the sportsbook is implying that it is. Here’s what happens if we’re right or wrong in the long term:

So, the answer to your question is that you have to do your best to try and predict what the actual probability is. The better you are at this, the better you are going to be at sports betting.

Calculating Your Predicted Actual Probability (PAP)

We’re hoping that all of you are now on board and wondering how we go about calculating our PAP. There’s a long and a short answer to this. The long answer is that this is sports betting. Literally all the information out there on how to sports bet better is aimed at helping you better predict your PAP. While a lot of places frame it as helping you pick out a single game winner, that information can still be used to figure out the percentage chance you think that team has to win the game.  The only difference is instead of looking for a yes or no in the win column for a team, you’re looking to figure the percentage chance they have to win.

Is this easy to do? Well, we’ll respond with a different question. Is sports betting easy to beat? The answer to that question is no which also means that calculating an accurate PAP is also not easy to do. But, it’s doable! And if you can crack the code and get good at it, you’re going to be a very wealthy sports bettor.

So, we also said there was a short answer to this question that we wanted to give you. That short answer is two different routes that you can take to figure out what the PAP is. Now, we are going to warn you already that we are going to WAY oversimplify things here. We’re basically going to give you the framework of how to go about doing this, and then it is going to be up to you (with the help of our other guides) to fill in the pieces and the details. We’ll give you the walls and the structure; you have to decorate the room.

The two methods for calculating your PAP that we want to look at today are the eye method and the math method. Are those scientific terms? Not a chance. We made those terms up because they’re easy ways to understand what we’re trying to explain.

The Eye Method

The eye method is the easiest as we’re just getting you to learn how to visualize picking a winner as picking them as a percentage. What we’d like for you to do is instead of imagining that two teams are going to play one game, imagine that they are going to play 100 games. For example, let’s say you are looking to place a bet on an upcoming NFL game between the Dolphins and the Browns. Let’s say that you think the Dolphins are going to win the game.

Great, but that’s the old way of looking at things. We want you looking at things in terms of percentages. So, instead of looking at this as one game, look at this as if it were 100 separate games between the teams. Do you think the Dolphins are going to win all 100? Probably not. Maybe you think they’re definitely going to win more than half of the time, but not much more? You decided that you think they’re going to win 60 out of the 100 and the Browns are going to win the other 40.

You’ve just figured out your PAP for this game. You think the Dolphins are going to win 60/100 games which if you remember anything about fractions is equal to 60%. You think the Browns are going to win 40/100 games which is equal to 40%. Your PAP for the Dolphins is 60%, and your PAP for the Browns is 40%.

So, for fun, let’s take this a step further and see if you are still interested in making your bet on the Dolphins. You look at the sportsbook, and the odd you see on the game are the following:

Now, convert that (-170) to an implied probability, and you get 63%. You think the Dolphins are 60% to win the game which is LOWER than the 63% implied probability. Should you make this bet? Nope. Even though you think the Dolphins are going to win, this is a bad bet. Your PAP is LOWER than the implied probability which means you aren’t getting paid the right amount on this bet.

Does this mean you should make a bet on the Browns? Well, let’s do the same calculations. When you convert +140 to an implied probability, you see that it is 41.7%. Your PAP for the Browns is 40% which means again, your PAP is LOWER than the implied probability.  This is an example of a bet that has no value if your predictions are correct.

The eye method is the way that a lot of people that understand value go about making their predictions. For some reason, looking at it as 100 separate games instead of one game where you have to come up with a percentage makes things easier. Keep in mind that just because we call this the eye method does not mean you should only be staring at the odds and thinking about the game to make your predictions. You should be doing research and a lot of homework to come to your conclusions. This method just helps you turn that conclusion and your research into a percentage in a way that our minds easily understand.

The Math Method

For those of you that despise math, you might want to jump ship and skip to the next section because we’re about to go full math nerd here. Thankfully, it’s not going to be a lot of complex math, but it is going to be a lot of math. We just don’t want to hurt anyone’s brain that wasn’t ready for it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s talk about the math method for determining your PAP. The math method works when you have two sides of a bet or when you have multiple sides of the bet. We’ll look at both today. Again, please remember that this is an oversimplified example designed to give you the framework to build out your own math method.

Let’s start with that game between the Dolphins and the Browns we were talking about earlier. The first thing you need to do is come up with what criteria you think are important to determine the winner of a game. In your real formula, you will probably have a ton of different criteria. But, to keep things simple today we’re going to pick three and assume they are all that matter. We’re going to look at Rushing Offense, Defensive Sacks, and the Size of the Offensive Line.

The next thing we need to do is determine how important we think that each of these criteria is. The best way to do this is to take each as a percentage out of 100. So, let’s say that we think Rushing Offense is the most important at maybe 50% of the equation. And then let’s say that we think Defensive Sacks is second important at maybe 30% of the equation and that the Size of the O Line is least important at 20%.

The next thing you need to do is to give each team a numerical score in each of these categories. You can come up with this score with another formula using stats, or you can do research and give them a score from 1 to 100 if you’d like. We’re going to use the second method. Let’s say that we think the Dolphins have a killer rushing attack and we give them a score of 80 out of 100. We think they’re subpar when it comes to sacks, so we only give them a score of 30 out of 100. And we think their O line is average and we give them a score of 50 out of 100. We do the same for the Browns and here is what we come up with.

Dolphins Browns
Rushing Offense 80 70
Defensive Sacks 30 60
Offensive Line 50 65

Now, we need to build our formula that will give each team a score based on these criteria. The formula will look like this. Remember, you have to put in the percentages of how important each criterion is.

So, let’s calculate the Raw Ranking Score for each team. Just as a reminder, when you’re multiplying by a percentage, you can convert that into a decimal to make things easier. Just move the decimal point two spots to the left, and you’re all set. For example, 50% is the same as 0.5.



So, the next thing that you need to do is figure out what percentage each Raw Ranking Score is of the total points. This will give you your PAP. The total points for both teams is 59 + 66 = 125. We’re then going to take each Raw Score and divide it by 125. This will give us the decimal PAP which we then multiply by 100 to turn it into a percentage.

59 = Dolphins Raw Ranking Score

66 = Browns Raw Ranking Score

If you notice, adding up both PAPs equals 100% which is exactly what we wanted it to do. Based on your math equation, you think the Dolphins are 47.2% likely to win the game, and you think the Browns are 52.8% likely to win the game.

Obviously, this is a HUGE oversimplification because there are a lot of other factors that go into who will win an NFL football game. That being said, this process works and is used by a lot of very sharp sports bettors. You’ll probably have a lot more factors in your formula, and you’ll probably have a more complex way of figuring out the ranking scores for each category, but the idea is the same.

What’s insane about methods like this is that if you find a formula that works, you can use it on every single game and all you have to do is plug in your different scores for each team in each category.

This also works for sports where there are more than two options on a bet. Let’s take a horse race for an example. Now, we could sit here and do the calculations for every single horse, but we’re going to spare you the math and pretend we’re looking at a horse race with only four horses in it.

The process goes exactly the same here. First, come up with the criteria that is important. Again, we are only going to use four criteria, but your actual formula will probably have a lot more. These are the criteria we came up with and their importance expressed as a piece of 100%.

(By race conditions, we mean how well the horse is going to react to whatever the conditions are at the track. This is a fake example, but we wanted to clarify just in case you were curious).

The next thing we do is the same as with only two entrants. We give a score between 1 and 100 for each of the categories.

#1 #2 #3 #4
Speed 80 70 50 90
Age 60 60 65 70
History 70 90 80 65
Conditions 70 75 40 80

Next, we build out our formula.

We convert our percentages to decimals to make things easier.

And then we go ahead and plug in our numbers for each horse to get our raw score. We’ll spare you the math right out as it’s just plug and chug. Here are the raw scores you will get.

And then we need to take each of these as a percentage of the total points. So, the total points = 74.5 + 62.25 + 75.75 + 68.25 = 280.75

So, we take (Raw Score/Total Points) * 100 for each and this is what we come up with.

Add all those up, and you get 100% (There might be a slight variation because we did round some of the final answers.) You’d then take these numbers, compare them against the betting odds and you’d be able to find where your value bets are.

The key to using the math method is realizing that you’re not going to have it perfect from day one. In fact, you probably won’t be anywhere close if we’re being brutally honest. The secret is to constantly work on tweaking your formula and try and come up with a better and better formula each time. With enough work and expertise, you can eventually achieve a winning formula. At that point, you’ll still want to keep working because your formula can always be better.

Working Backwards

We’d like to point out a way that you can do all of this that might be easier for some of you. In all of our earlier examples, we converted the betting odds to a percentage and then compared that against our PAP. But, what you can also do is work in reverse. You can compute your PAP and then convert that into American odds. Then, you can compare those odds to the sportsbooks and look for places where you are getting paid out more than you should be based on your predictions

This is a great method especially if you expect lines to move. Then, you’ll know exactly at what point there becomes value in the bet and at what point you need to stay away. For example, let’s look at what we came up with in our earlier Dolphins vs. Browns example. Our PAP for the Dolphins was 47.2%.

Using our implied probability converter, we convert 47.2% into American odds, and we get +112. +112 is what we SHOULD be getting paid on this bet to break even. So, if we go to the sportsbook and we see that the Dolphins are +120, it’s a great bet! But, let’s say we go to the books and we see that they are (-110). Obviously, we are not getting paid out the amount that we want. But, this doesn’t mean we won’t eventually make a bet. We can now watch the line without having to convert it every single time. If it shifts and starts to pay out better than +112, we have a value bet we can make.

Return on Investment – The Ultimate Indicator

Before we close, we want to make sure that we point out to you what the real indicator of success in sports betting is – Return on Investment (ROI). ROI is a stat that tells you how much money you will make on every dollar you invest usually expressed as a percentage. For example, if you have an ROI of 25%, you should expect to make $0.25 for every dollar that you bet. Again, this is a long-term statistic, and it’s only true if you continue to have the same level of success as you did in the past.

Calculating ROI is rather simple and something that you should be doing. Here’s the formula.

So, let’s go way back to our first example where we made $125. We made 10 bets of $50 and ended up with a profit of $125. So, our total money bet is $50 * 10 = $500

This is the only indicator you should be looking at to measure the health of your sports betting. Anything positive is great. Anything negative means you’re losing. One thing we do recommend doing is measuring your ROI as a whole but then also broken down into subcategories.

For example, let’s say you bet on MMA and the NFL. You’ll want to know what your total ROI for every bet is first. Then, you’ll want to know what your individual ROI’s are for MMA bets and the NFL. You can then even take it further and break down your ROI for different weight classes in MMA.

The purpose of doing this is to figure out where you’re excelling and where you’re struggling. You might be crushing it in the NFL but getting crushed in MMA. If that’s the case, you’ll want to work on your MMA strategy, but also probably shift some of your money and focus over to the NFL where you’re crushing it. You can only make positive changes in your betting if you know what is going on and ROI is the indicator you’re looking for.

We covered A LOT today, but we’re hoping that in the process we helped to revolutionize the way that you approach sports betting. Instead of looking for those wins, start looking for value and don’t worry about what your win/loss record looks like. If your buddies are pushing you for that stat, realize that they have no idea what they’re doing and forward them this article.

Obviously, it’s going to take a lot of work to turn this information into cash, but you now have all of the tools. It’s up to you to decide how badly you want it. Sports betting is not easy, but if you can start identifying value, it can become very profitable very quickly.