1) What is betting on?

The betting market is determined by the daily football matches that take place throughout Europe. Let’s limit ourselves here to the German Football League. So we have a normal Bundesliga weekend coming up and we look at the betting market for it.

a. Betting on the matches

The most important bets are still those on a home win – draw – away win, in short form 1-X-2, which we will also look at here. I will only briefly present the following two alternative forms of betting:

b. Over/under betting

Recently there has been an increased tendency towards over/under betting. This means that you can bet on whether there will be many or few goals in a match. This market is growing.

c. Long-term bets

Long-term bets play a subordinate role in the betting market. A question like “who will be German champion” or “who will be relegated” may sound exciting, but there is a very obvious problem: if you want to bet it with a bookmaker, you have to put the money in beforehand. So if you bet 100 euros on “Bayern will be German champion”, then you can’t play with those 100 euros for the whole year. On the other hand, you could have 34 times of suspense with it or even more. It’s interesting, but it’s also somehow no fun. Waiting sooo long for money, if you win at all.

2) What do the odds represent?

The odds determine how much money we get back if the event we bet on happens. If there is an odds of 1.5 and we bet 10 Euros on it, then if we win we get back odds * stake, so 10 * 1.5 Euros = 15 Euros. We would have made a profit of 5 euros.

The odds you get on a certain event you want to bet on basically reflect the probability of occurrence. Very low odds mean that you are betting on a very likely event, high odds mean that you are betting on a very unlikely event.

Most players prefer to bet on very probable events, because intuitively they would prefer to play what will happen. In order to make betting nevertheless worthwhile, games are then combined with each other.

3) Combination bets

From a mathematical point of view, all the odds are multiplied together in a combination bet if all the games turn out as predicted. Many players then combine what they consider to be ten clear favourites for very small odds and are then usually surprised that the bet did not come true because of a single match. I like to counter that the probability of having exactly one of 10 clear favourites wrong is 10 times as great as having all the games right. Because you have 10 chances for the wrong game.

Nevertheless, this is how bets are made. Mathematically speaking, it is also correct that the odds are multiplied together, since the probabilities of independent events must also be multiplied together to calculate the total probability.

The misconception among most players is that they think it is more likely that 10 clear favourites in their estimation will win than that a single underdog will win. But this is mathematically wrong, the aforementioned misconception. If you get odds of 8.5 on the ten combined games and also get an 8.5 for Bochum’s away win at Bayern Munich, then both are probably similarly likely. But who would bet on a Bochum win in Munich?

4) How are the odds calculated?

Let’s say a matchday is over and the new week begins. Then there are a number of oddsmakers who assess the upcoming matches and make their odds for them. In addition, there is a market of players who gradually start placing their bets on these odds. The original odds are usually made from the head by most providers according to the simplest analogue procedures. Of course, every oddsmaker very quickly gets an idea of what the competition is doing and where one might have calculated too high an odds.

Nowadays there are practically no fixed odds any more, so that the odds are variable and are adjusted to the market without further ado. Give any oddsmaker (among whom I personally count myself) a fictitious match (one that does not take place at the weekend) and he will “shake out” an odds. How good it is would then gradually become apparent on the betting market with the competing assessments. Certainly, there are individual differences in the quality of the oddsmakers, but these are largely irrelevant nowadays due to the possible adjustment of odds and the dissemination of information on the internet….

Of course, the player is paid the odds at which he placed the bet, even if these are subsequently changed.

5) Gambling strategies

General gambling strategies must in principle try to exploit the “errors” in the general assessments. There are a few standard mistakes that the whole market actually makes. Only: as soon as one talks about it and draws attention to this error, then – similar to the stock market – an opposite effect may be triggered. In this respect, these mistakes can perhaps only be described as temporary and have only little significance in the long term. In this respect, I am talking about exactly today:

One mistake is that a certain game with the corresponding commentary triggers an exaggerated euphoria, which leads to an exaggeration of the perceived playing strength of a team. So if Schalke wins 3:0 in a great game in a confident and convincing manner, then it is more likely that Schalke will not be able to play the next weekend because the course is relatively too small. Everyone has seen the great game, everyone wants Schalke, (too) many people play Schalke, the price, the odds one achieves are, due to market conditions, too small.

Another mistake is that too much emphasis is often placed on the results in smaller, less important games. So a team loses 0:2 in what is actually a good game, let’s say it’s Duisburg at Cottbus or something, then you have a good chance of playing Duisburg the next weekend. The market reacts too much to the result and not to the real course of the game, the odds you then get on Duisburg might be too high in relation to the probability of a win.