Why you should avoid betting on exact score

Every bookmaker is making money by taking a cut from the amount you pay. This is done by making the payout lower than the prediction would imply. For a match where the home team has 50% chances of winning they won't give you odds of 2 but 1.9 or something similar. It will less than 2 for sure. On average, a bookmaker is taking about 3 to 10 percent for every bet placed. This is called "the margin". Important fact to remember: this is for 1x2 type of bets.

For the sake of simplicity let's assume a 5% margin. For a game where the chosen result has a payout of 1.9, the chances of winning are 50%. If you place 100 bets of 1$ for 100 different matches you will win 50 times and you'll get paid 95$. You paid 100$, you received 95$ back, the bookmaker made 5$, hence it used a 5% margin.

Now that we got the math out of the way for single matches, let's look at accumulator. Let' assume you choose an accumulator of 5 matches, each having a payout of 1.9. The chances of you winning is 50%^5 = 3.125% and the payout would be 24.76. If you were to bet 100$ on the accumulator you would receive 2.476$. This is what makes accumulator so appealing. However, for this bet the bookmaker won't have a 5% margin. After all, he has a higher risk so the bet needs to be more profitable. To use the same example as above, if you were to bet 1$, 100times on 100 accumulators with the same payout as above you would win 3.125 times, each time 24.76$. This means you would get 77.375$. You paid 100$, won back 77.375$ and the bookmaker made 22.625$.

What that has to do with exact score bets? For exact score bets, it's even worse than that. Let me show you the math.

In the table below you have the odds offered by a very well know bookmaker for a specific match where there were a lot of betting options for the exact score

Goals scored 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 10.5 7.5 9 15 34 91 276
1 12 6.75 8.5 15 31 81 276
2 23 14 15 25 56 151  
3 56 36 41 33 141 376  
4 201 121 131 226 440    

On the columns, you have the goals scored by the home team. On the rows, you have the goals scored by the away team. Each cell represents the payout offered for that score. So, the payout for the end result score of 3-0 is 9, for 2-2, is 15, and so on. We can conver these numbers into percentages by dividing 1 to each of the value. This would show us the "intermediary probabilties"

Goals scored 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 9.52% 13.33% 11.11% 6.67% 2.94% 1.10% 0.36%
1 8.33% 14.81% 11.76% 6.67% 3.23% 1.23% 0.36%
2 4.35% 7.14% 6.67% 4.00% 1.79% 0.66%  
3 1.79% 2.78% 2.44% 3.03% 0.71% 0.27%  
4 0.50% 0.83% 0.76% 0.44% 0.23%    

If you were to sum up all these probabilities it gives you 130%. However all the sums of the probable outcomes must be equal to 100$ we have to devide all the "intermediary probabilities" to 1.3. So we end up with the "real probabilities", which represent what the bookmaker thinks are the probabilities of each outcome. The table below shows the "real probabilities"

  0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 7.34% 10.27% 8.56% 5.14% 2.27% 0.85% 0.28%
1 6.42% 11.41% 9.06% 5.14% 2.49% 0.95% 0.28%
2 3.35% 5.50% 5.14% 3.08% 1.38% 0.51%  
3 1.38% 2.14% 1.88% 2.33% 0.55% 0.20%  
4 0.38% 0.64% 0.59% 0.34% 0.18%    

If we were to look at the exact score 0-2, the probability is 3.35% (close to that of the accumulator) and the payout is 23 (also, close to that of the accumulator). If you were to place 1$ on 100 matches on an exact score that has these properties you would win 3.35 times, exacty 23$ each time. This means you would have bet 100$, won 77$ back and the bookmaker would have made 23$ for providing you this service. The bookmaker has a 23% margin!!!.

However, this is not the last piece of the puzzle. The 23% margin is the average. Some outcomes are more probable, others are less probable so the risk varies. So, for one exact score result the bookmaker margin could be 10%, for another it could be 40%. Unlike single 1x2 type of bets where you can pretty much trust the payout is going to be small, or on multiple 1x2 accumulators where you can (sort of) confidently compute the bookmaker's margin, for exact score bets you are pretty much in the dark. 

If you want to make quick money with sports betting, I'm sorry, but I have no solution for you. If you want to win big, you either place small amounts on accumulators or exact score bets or big amounts on 1x2, double-chance or BTTS bets.

If you want to win steadily, the only way is to use single bets on outcomes that are less risky for the bookmaker and where you have value bets. You need to find a betting strategy that gives you value bets, follow the proper money management rules. You need to treat this as a professional. And unless you have inside information, you should avoid exact score bets.


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