What Is A Value Bet?

Value is a much used term in gambling.  Pundits will often describe a selection as a ‘value play’, but what does this actually mean?

Put simply, getting value is obtaining higher odds than the probability of an event occurring.  For example, if someone gives you 11/10 on the flip of a coin, you would be getting value, as the true odds are evens.  Similarly, if you take 10/11 on the flip of a coin, you are giving away value and it is a poor bet.

Assuming that you will be having more than one bet in your gambling career, value is absolutely crucial to making a long term profit.  When deciding on each bet, you needs to ask yourself: am I backing at odds that are higher than they should be?  It is a perverse way of looking at things, but a successful gambler will not bet on what they think will win, but on what they think is overpriced (meaning that the odds are, in your opinion, too generous).

Let’s say that Chelsea are playing Manchester United and you think that Chelsea would win the match exactly 50% of the time.  This means that you make Chelsea an evens shot.  If you can get 11/10 on Chelsea, then you are getting a price 10% better than what you assess the probability of Chelsea winning to be, and should bet accordingly.  This would be a value bet.  If the odds are evens, the price is spot on and you should not bet, as you have no advantage.  And if the price is 10/11, you should not bet (even if you think that Chelsea will win), as you are not getting good value for money from your bet.  This is because the odds are 10% worse than what you assess the likelihood of Chelsea winning to be.

In the immediate short term, this approach may not yield a positive return.  However, over time, it is the only way that you will have a chance of showing a consistent profit from gambling.  It requires patience and discipline and, most crucially, the ability to spot value.  Spotting the value is the hard part, and the ability to do so accurately is what separates the small percentage of winning gamblers from the huge pile of losing ones.

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