3 Types of Value Bets You Need to Know

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Value bets are essential in order to understand when and how to bet on sports. While it’s possible to bet on sports and win some money without ever learning what a value bet is, why risk it and go without learning a great tool?

Many successful bettors never know what a value bet is but they implicitly understand the principles behind it. A big part of successful betting is risk assessment and many bettors can assess risk successfully all in their head without ever writing anything down.

Value bets teach you how to manage the risk of betting against the casino and determine what bets you should make and what bets you shouldn’t make. If a bet is determined to be a value bet, then it’s worth making.

You’re never guaranteed to win a value bet but if you make enough value bets over time, your chances will be much improved.

It’s important to not get discouraged when you’re making value bets and to remember that the odds are in your favor if you correctly assess value each time you make a bet.

Basically, when you make a value bet, you must consider the odds you’re given by the oddsmakers. If the oddsmaker gives you odds that you believe are less likely to happen, then you can place a value bet.

This is easier said than done however. Their whole purpose is to make money sports betting off the odds they give and stay in profit. If a sportsbook is giving favorable odds all the time, they’ll quickly go out of business.

To make value bets, you’ll need good information about which teams you like. You also need to learn how to competently assess the likelihood different teams have to win. Value bets are numbers-driven, so if numbers aren’t your strong suit, you may struggle learning how to make value bets.

While many bettors don’t even need to think about value bets, they’re a great tool to have at your disposal. If you have an analytical mind, you can use value bets to your advantage to increase your odds of winning over the long haul.

Factors of a Value Bet

Let’s go over the 2 different numbers you’ll need to know for a value bet. We’ll be using decimal odds for explaining how to calculate value bets, so we’ll discuss how those work first.

Decimal odds are a very easy form of odds to calculate. To calculate the return of a decimal odd, you multiply the stake by the decimal odds number. Here’s an example of decimal odds:

Yankees 2.4.

To calculate the return of a $1 bet on the Yankees at 2.4, you would multiply the stake, $1, by the decimal odds, 2.4. The total return would be $2.40. One big advantage of decimal odds is they allow you to easily calculate the return.

Next, you’ll need to learn about probability. While oddsmakers will give you the odds in a variety of numbers, including decimal odds, it’s up to you to determine the probability of a team winning a game.

View Inside a Sportsbook

Examine the sporting event you’re betting on. Look at weather conditions, the strength of each team, and their schedules to see which side of the bet looks stronger. Then you need to assign a specific number to the probability.

If you don’t give the team a specific number for their chances of winning, then you won’t be able to calculate a value bet. The probability number is the probability that a team will win the game. If the Yankees have a 45% chance to win the game, then their probability number would be 0.45.

Unfortunately, assigning a probability number is very difficult because there are so many factors involved in any sporting event.

Assigning the probability number is the hardest part of placing a value bet. You’ll never assign a perfect number. All you can do is try to be as exact as possible and weigh all the factors in a game as precisely as you can.

How to Calculate a Value Bet

Now, we’ll come up with an example of a value bet.

For this example, we’ll assume you’ve assessed the Yankees to have a 45% chance of winning a game. The oddsmakers have given the odds of 2.4 for the Yankees to win the game. Let’s calculate and see if this is a value bet.

Value = (Probability X Decimal Odds) – 1

Value = (0.45 X 2.4) – 1

  • Value = 1.08 – 1
  • If the value is greater than 0, then the bet is a value bet
  • So in our example, do we have a value bet?
  • Value = 0.08

Since the value is greater than 0, this is a value bet. As long as you’ve correctly assessed the probability of the Yankees winning, you can safely make this bet.

What Are the Benefits of Value Bets?

Value bets are the safest kinds of bets you can make over the long run. There are several benefits to consistently making value bets:

  • Bet more intelligently. If you consistently make value bets, you will be looking at the bets you make more closely. Many of the principles used in calculating value bets will help you make more intelligent bets on a regular basis.
  • Make more safe bets. You will also have safer bets if you make value bets. These bets are not guaranteed to win every time but they will be safer over the long run.
  • Keep track of bets. By taking the steps of analyzing bets, assigning probability, and making value bets, you may be able to better keep track of all the bets you make. Keeping a notebook of bets is a great idea as it can keep all your betting history organized and let you know how accurate your bets are.

3 Types of Value Bets

You can make a value bet on any type of wager. Here are some of the most common types of bets you can make and how value bets apply to them.

1- Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are the simplest type of bet you can make as they just involve betting on one side over the other. The betting is simple and you only have the option of assessing how likely a side is to win.

Even though there isn’t a lot of complexity to the mechanisms of the moneyline bet itself, it doesn’t mean that placing moneyline bets is easy. The sportsbook is still stacking the odds against you in a moneyline bet so you have to assess probability correctly.

MLB Player at Bat

You will have more success making moneyline bets if you consider all of the factors involved in a game or a match.

For example, when betting baseball, you should examine the playing field the team is playing on if you want to make successful moneyline bets. Are they playing on grass or artificial turf?

Different playing surfaces can affect different tennis players as well. If a player is more familiar with grass, they may play better on it than clay.

2- Over/Under Bets

Over/Under bets are another bet where you can use the principles of value betting to make more sound bets. Over/under bets can come in many forms but they all have the same idea.

When you make an over/under bet, you’re betting that a final score will be over or under a certain number.

In the Super Bowl the Cowboys may have an over/under set of 44.5. If you take the over, you’re predicting the Cowboys will score more than 45 points. If you take the under, you’re predicting the Cowboys will score less than 45 points.

If you want to make a good over/under bet, you’ll need to examine how good of a defense the team playing against the Cowboys has.

Just like the Cowboys offense can influence the outcome and points scored in a game, so can the defense and assessing probability correctly requires you to understand how good the other team’s defense is and if they will prove to be a tough matchup for the Cowboys.

3- Season Totals Bets

Season total bets are another bet you can make using value bet principles. Oddsmakers will give 2.1 odds that a team will have an over/under season win total of 7.5.

If you determine that there’s a favorable percentage that a team will end up on one side of the 7.5, then you can make a value bet.


Do you use value bets? Have any questions about how to use them? Let us know in the comments.