How to use football prediction services

Football betting is a domain of human action is very interesting for a lot of people. Consequently this creates a demand for tools that can help people improve their performance on the market, be it statistics services like, tips providers or alternative odds providers. I'm not going to name names but if you do a little research you will be able to find websites that provide you their own predictions to various sport events, including football.

I personally have used the services of one of these providers with little success. However, looking back at my approach, I realize I have made some mistakes so I'm going to share with you the lessons I've learned.

1. Do your homework before you start betting

While it's tempting to just dive in and take their odds at face value, excercise some patience. It will pay off. Start collecting data in an Excel file and compare it with the bookmakers' odds. See if you can find some patterns. Are they more accurate on underdogs wins or on favorite wins? Are they more accurate on home team wins or away team wins? Are they good at predicting draws? Are they better at predicting results of a team vs others? Remember, you have to compare their accuracy with the one from a bookmaker (which are pretty accurate).

If the website is offering a trial period make the most of it. If they offer access to their past predictions use it too. However, you must be aware that, in the case of matches that are further back in the past, the predictions might be altered. You can use the past predictions to check if they have altered them. For example you could check if the football predictions they made 3-4 months ago would ensure similar results (ie: return on investment) as their recent predictions. If the difference is significant do not trust past data and focus only on the predictions you have observed "live" on their website.

2. Pick up a betting strategy

The "holy grail" of football betting is the "value bet". However, different value bets offer different profit margins and require different bet size. Check our article, "Kelly Criterion, the value of value bets" which explain both of these aspects of football betting. Here are some tips:

  • Split up the bets in groups based on winings. For example you may have the group of bets that have a 10 to 50% profit, the group of bets that have a 50 to 100% profit etc)
  • Split up the bets in groups based on bet size. For example you may have the group of bets that require a 2 to 3% of your bet money, the group of bets that require 3 to 5% of your bet money etc
  • Analyze each group in terms of risk vs benefit. Check how likely it would be to hit a bad streak and what would be the effect of that streak.

I'll give you some example. Let's say you are interested only in football bets with a profit between 100% and 200% (matches where the end result payouts between 2 and 3) and that on average the Kelly Criterion says you should bet 4% of your betting account on each game. Look at the past matches and use the bet strategy mentioned above and check the evolution of your betting account. What was the biggest drop? What is the overall gain? Since you will be using Excel you will be able to play around with the size of the bet and decide which version is the most comfortable for you. 

The example above shows 2 different betting strategies that use similar performing predictions; one is more aggressive and relies on bigger bets. Obviously it would generate more profits but it also features bigger drops. I would be more confortable with strategy that provides steady and small increases versus a strategy that provides bigger increases but also bigger dips as you may not start with a winning set of bets (for example you could start on week 3). How about you?

We are really interested in your opinion about the subject of this article. Please share your comment below.