One of the most common questions we get asked is, is it better to bet on favourites or underdogs? However, the answer isn’t as simple as telling you to bet on favourites or underdogs. The art to being a good gambler is understanding whether the odds that are available on any selection in any sport provide you with a value betting opportunity.
What you also need to understand is that the idea of value is something you need to determine through your own analysis, or the analysis of anyone else’s tip that you follow. Bookmakers provide odds about selections – and it’s up to you to decide whether those odds are too short or worth betting on.
What Is Value In Betting?
Value in betting is the ability to spot when the odds that are available about a selection are bigger than the probability of that selection winning. It doesn’t matter whether you’re betting on horse racing, football, golf, or any sport, you should always look for value bets.
The concept of value can be applied to favourites and underdogs and realising this should open your mind to the possibility of betting on selections at any odds, providing those odds are bigger than the probability of that selection winning.
At the time of writing this article, Premier League matches between Manchester City and Manchester United provided a perfect example of when the popular opinion of the merits of two teams had too much bearing on the odds of football matches between those two teams.
Table-toppers Manchester City were flying high and, after enjoying much more success in recent years than their neighbours, City were always made favourites for matches when the two sides met. However, the recent head-to-heads between the two sides painted a completely different picture, as United enjoyed a spell of four unbeaten matches against City.
Manchester City were odds on to win all four matches but, even though they were favourites, the value was definitely in backing the underdogs Manchester United.
We’ll use Frankel, one of the highest-rated horses of all time, to highlight the other side of the coin. Frankel ran 14-times during his career, and the 7/4 (2.75) he was returned in his racecourse debut was the biggest odds you could ever get about him.
In his other 13 races, Frankel was returned at 1/2, 3/10, 4/6, 1/4, 1/2, 3/10, 8/13, 4/11, 2/7, 1/10, 1/20, 1/10, and 2/11.
Those odds were that short that the average punter wouldn’t have bothered to have a bet but, such was Frankel’s superiority over his opponents, that many professional gamblers made a lot of money betting on Frankel.
When Should You Bet On A Favourite?
You should bet on a favourite when you think it has a great chance of winning and the odds that are available are bigger than the probability of it winning.
For example, if you think the probability of a favourite winning is 50%, then you should bet on that favourite when the odds are bigger than even-money.
Of course, not all favourites are even-money. Some favourites may be as big as 4/1 or even bigger. But the concept of probability and value still works the same. If you think the probability of the favourite winning is 33%, then odds of 4/1 offer outstanding value.
When Shouldn’t I Bet On A Favourite?
You shouldn’t bet on a favourite at any odds if you think those odds are shorter than the probability of it winning. If you think that a favourite has a 50% chance of winning, never be tempted to take even-money or less. Sure, you may have to sit and watch lots of these favourites win, but you will lose in the long run if backing favourites at odds that are shorter than they should be.
If you think the odds about a favourite winning are significantly shorter than they should be, you have the option to lay the poor-value favourite on one of the popular betting exchanges. This way, you have all the other runners running for you.
However, if you can narrow down the field by finding a few selections that you think can’t win, then betting on the remainder can provide terrific value. If you can narrow down this to just one selection, you’ll have found the type of value underdog that many professional gamblers make a living from.
When Should I Bet On An Underdog?
Wanting to take on a poor-value favourite is often the basis for finding a value underdog with which to take on the favourite.
For example, if you think that the even-money favourite should be 6/4, then there has to be value in betting on at least one of the other runners.
The bookmakers bet evens, 4/1, 5/1, 6/1, and 7/1 on a five-horse race. You know the favourite can win, but its previous form on soft ground suggests that it will run 5lb lower than its rating of 145. You check the form of the other four runners and see that three of those boast their best form figures on better ground.
However, the 5/1 shot has been steadily improving on soft ground and, though he has 7lb to find on official ratings, a further 2lb improvement may be enough for him to win in the prevailing conditions. Your analysis leads you to think that the probability of the 5/1 shot is much better than the odds imply, and you should have a bet on this value selection.
When Shouldn’t I Bet On An Underdog?
You should never bet on an underdog because ‘everyone loves an underdog’. You should also never bet on underdogs because you’re trying to chase losses. If you started the day with £100, and you’ve lost £90, having your final £10 on a 9/1 shot to try and win your money back is not advised. Instead, take a pragmatic approach to gambling by building a suitable betting bank and only bet on value selections, whether they are favourites or underdogs.
How Do I Find Value In Betting?
Now you know what value is in betting, you need to find value selections to bet on. There are two types of professional gamblers. There are those that have a vast knowledge of one or more sports and betting markets and use this knowledge to find value bets to make a profit from gambling.
The second type of professional gamblers are those that are happy to pay a monthly subscription to professional tipsters to do the hard work for them. Paying a tipster for his advice is an excellent way to start being a professional gambler. Not only will you get regular value tips, but you’ll also get advice about staking plans and betting banks. The choice is yours.
We hope that’s answered your question, is it better to bet on favourites or underdogs?