Sports Betting Expected Value

By Betmaker Team

By Tom Wilkinson


Have you heard of sports betting expected value? Do you understand what it is and how important it can be to you as a sports bettor? Some people like to get into all kinds of formulas and numbers to examine expected value, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. When talking about sports betting expected value you simply want to be betting on things that give you more value than the current odds. You can find positive expected value on a moneyline, a spread, a future, live betting, props, etc. Let’s take a closer look at sports betting expected value.


Expected Value

In simple terms when you look at sports betting expected value you are putting a value on which team will win the game. For example, you might have a team listed as a -200 favorite and another team listed as a +170 underdog. Over time, the favorite is expected to win more often than the underdog. Obviously a -200 favorite is a lot more likely to win than a -130 favorite or a team that is listed as an underdog. What you can do as a bettor is convert that number into probability. Let’s keep this simple and say you find a moneyline that is even. Because the sportsbook is in business to make money, the odds will be -110 on each team. In reality, the odds on each team are even. If you think one of the two teams has a better than even chance to win, you have expected value on that team.



If you are going to make money in sports betting you have to overcome vigorish or vig. If you have the -110 example listed above, you are paying the extra ten cents on an event considered even. The true odds would be even, but you are laying -110. The vigorish is 4.54% so that means you need to win 52.38% of your bets to overcome the cost of the vigorish. Looking at history, sportsbooks will profit between five percent and eight percent on all money wagered, so you are fighting an uphill battle. To win money you have to avoid making mistakes and that means you need to get positive expected value whenever possible.


Finding Sports Betting Expected Value

There will be some people who will get into all kinds of formulas and look at statistics to find positive sports betting expected value. The problem with all of the data and the numbers is that they are constantly changing. It is difficult to consistently find sports betting expected value. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but for most people, it is far too difficult to plug in a ton of numbers and come out with winning picks. And all of the numbers in the world don’t guarantee you anything. But there are three things you can do right now that will help you pick winners and give you positive sports betting expected value.


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Bet Against the Public

One way that you can almost always get positive sports betting expected value is to go against the public. The public almost always bets favorites and marquee teams and you can oftentimes find good value in going against those teams. Keep in mind that this works better in sports that have pointspreads. It can be a little dicey in sports like baseball or soccer that have moneylines because teams can go on big winning streaks and there is nothing oddsmakers can do expect raise the price. That is not the case in football or basketball, as pointspreads even out the action. If you want to find immediate sports betting value then you should bet against the public, especially against marquee public teams like the Cowboys, Packers, Lakers, Celtics, etc.


Live Betting

If you want to win money in sports betting, and you have an idea of what is needed to find expected value, then you can do really well in live betting. Unlike pregame betting, oddsmakers don’t have much time to make the odds and mistakes are made on a regular basis in live betting odds. You will find excellent expected value bets on a regular basis in live betting. Whether it is on sides, totals, or props, there are some excellent live betting opportunities available every day at top online sportsbooks.


Line Shopping

This should go without saying, but if you want to win more money in sports betting and get the best expected value, you have to look for the best line. You can choose to have just one online sportsbook account, but if you do, you have no opportunity to look for the best line. I have written in the past about just how much money you can save simply by getting the best line and that money is huge in terms of padding your sports betting bankroll. You simply have to open multiple sportsbook accounts so that you can get the best possible number on all of your sports betting wagers.