Apr 15, 2020
Apr 15, 2020

The value of information in soccer betting

The difference between tips and information

How does information benefit soccer bettors?

Identifying information soccer betting tips cannot provide

Separating unfounded rumours from viable information

The value of information in soccer betting

Knowing about something before everyone else is a key component of successful betting. Instead of relying upon soccer betting tips, smart bettors will collate as much relevant data as possible, analyse the impact it could have on the market and utilise this to bet accordingly. The emergence of new or previously unknown information can have a significant effect on soccer betting markets and therefore, the way you should bet.

The difference between tips and information

While factors such as low margins and high limits are very important to bettors, these are arguably rendered redundant in the absence of the right information. Bettors who can get hold of relevant and (more importantly) accurate information and act on it before anyone else will reap the rewards – as soon the majority become aware of it, a bookmaker will have already adjusted their odds.

Closing line

The last available odds offered before a market closes. Bettors who "beat the closing line" have placed a bet offering a superior return to the final odds offered; consistently beating the closing line is a sign of a successful bettor.

Information doesn’t necessary inform you of a winning selection to bet on, but it will help you consistently beat the closing line. In other words, the smallest detail capable of indicating how a team or individual might perform in a soccer match is crucial if you want to get odds with the best value.

A fact about an upcoming soccer match can move from breaking information to common knowledge in a short space of time.

Bettors have various sources of information, ranging from a digital feed to a contact with inside information. In terms of soccer betting, these sources can provide insight into team news, a manager’s plans for the next match or even more irregular occurrences such as a team threatening to go on strike due to a pay dispute.

While soccer tipsters might have comprehensive knowledge of the sport, in most cases the advice they give is predominantly based on subjective opinion. Some tipsters may appear to have an impressive track record for correct predictions, although there will be elements of luck and survivorship bias involved in their performance.

Conversely, factual information is just that – a fact. A fact about an upcoming soccer match can progress from breaking information to common knowledge in a short space of time, but being the first to know information that no one else is aware of is what provides bettors with an edge.

Indeed, someone who provides soccer betting tips might predict that Team A will beat Team B because their head-to-head record favours Team A and Team B is on what they deem a poor run of form. However, a smart bettor might enjoy value from Team B’s odds by betting on them the day before the match upon learning that Team A’s best player was injured in training.

How does information benefit soccer bettors?

There have been several examples over the past few seasons of how getting hold of information before anyone else can be beneficial for soccer bettors:

FC Astana vs. Manchester United (Europa League, November 28 2019)

As Manchester United qualified from their Europa League group with two games to spare, speculation began to mount that Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side would utilise their trip to FC Astana to rest the first team squad and field selected players from the youth team.

The potential returns from a €100 bet on FC Astana to win more than halved.

This speculation was confirmed when two days before the match, Solksjaer stated that “a few” youth team players would feature at the pre-match press conference and United’s travelling squad for the match was announced. This confirmed that numerous youth players were involved whereas several first team members were not making the trip to Kazakhstan.

The impact on the market was immediate. FC Astana’s odds to win the match with Pinnacle narrowed from 8.94 to 4.09, meaning the potential returns on a €100 bet would have more than halved from €894 to €409. Equally, the odds on the draw dropped from 5.81 to 3.81, whereas the odds for a United win lengthened from 1.31 to 1.89.

Elsewhere in other markets, the odds for the match to have under 2.5 goals fell massively from 2.91 to 1.97, and the odds for United to win with a -1.5 handicap almost doubled from 1.84 to 3.50.

Granada vs. Barcelona (La Liga, September 21 2019)

Earlier in the season, Barcelona travelled to Granada for a league match. While Ernesto Valverde had offered limited hints that Barcelona would rotate their team, the fixture notably came during a busy period – Barcelona had travelled to Borussia Dortmund for a Champions League game three days earlier and were set to face Villarreal in another league fixture three days later.

Indeed, the announcement of the match line-ups came with the surprise news that Lionel Messi was starting the match on the bench for Barcelona and they were also fielding what was broadly considered a second-choice defence.

While Barcelona’s odds only lengthened by a narrow margin, during the hour before kick-off Granada moved from 8.68 to win to 7.20 – diminished returns of €148 on a €100 bet – and the draw also shortened from 5.23 to 4.85, potentially denying bettors €38 on a €100 bet. There were also smaller but nonetheless notable movements on other markets: Granada to win with a +0.5 handicap fell from 3.31 to 2.95 and the match to have under 1.5 goals decreased from 5.19 to 4.90.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool (FA Cup, March 3 2020)

When Liverpool were drawn against Chelsea in the fifth round of this season’s FA Cup, the strength of the team Jurgen Klopp would elect to field was uncertain. In the previous two rounds versus Everton and Shrewsbury Town, Liverpool sent out teams featuring a large proportion of youth players, but it was unclear as to whether this trend would continue against more formidable opposition such as Chelsea.

A couple of bettors placing the same bet could have received considerably different odds depending on when their bet was placed.

On the afternoon of the match, a photo was circulated online showing the majority of Liverpool’s first team squad going for a walk in a London park, directly implying that Klopp would be fielding at least a relatively strong team.

As a consequence, on Pinnacle Liverpool’s odds to win dropped from 3.25 to 2.74, actually moving from underdogs to favourites in the process. The odds for a draw also shortened from 3.59 to 3.32, and Liverpool to win with a +0.5 handicap fell from 3.19 to 2.74.

The point to take away from this is not the results of the matches in question (although it is worth noting that FC Astana and Granada both went on to win), but the fact that two bettors placing a bet on the same market could receive completely different odds depending on when it was placed.

If a bettor knew about Solksjaer’s plans to field multiple youth players before the bookmaker and reacted quickly enough, they would have received much better value than another bettor who placed their bet after the pre-match press conference and travelling squad announcement.

Identifying information soccer betting tips cannot provide

As illustrated with those examples, getting hold of team news before anyone else is perhaps the most common method by which soccer bettors can get an edge. However, there are various other types of information, mostly concerning off-pitch affairs that can affect results, which can be even more beneficial in soccer betting.

This can occur frequently within a country’s lower leagues. A notable example was in October 2012 when it emerged that Kettering Town’s squad had issued an ultimatum over unpaid wages amidst the club’s financial struggles. The majority of bettors (and indeed bookmakers) were not aware of this.

Ultimately, Kettering only fielded ten players for their next Southern Premier League game against Bashley, and unsurprisingly lost the match 7-0.

This was a result that could not be foreseen according to Kettering’s recent form, meaning any bettor with knowledge of the pay dispute and ultimatum could have taken advantage of Bashley’s odds knowing that they would likely enter the match with a considerable advantage.

Separating unfounded rumours from viable information

The emergence of social media platforms during the last decade means that soccer bettors now have access to more real-time information and news than ever before. This has been partially responsible for the proliferation of tipsters in the soccer betting landscape who all claim to have valuable information.

Unfortunately, it is generally very difficult to verify how credible or reliable the source of this information actually is. It could simply be a tipster trying to attract more visitors to their website or a modern case of Chinese whispers with questionable truth. The fact remains that the quantity of false and unreliable information available far outweighs that which is accurate and useful.

Therefore, it might pay to react to a ‘leak’ of information before anyone else does, but it could also majorly backfire if the information in question turns out to be false. It is equally important to use a reliable source that can be trusted to only provide valid information when betting large amounts of money on soccer matches.

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