The Making of a Professional Football Gambler

By on February 17, 2015

moneyball

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be one of the great sport bettors in the game? A recent interview highlights how one of the industry’s best consistently picks a high rate of winners. Jon Price isn’t a household name, but his techniques produce results. His mid-60% success rate outperforms just about anyone else. In his interview, you learn that even at that rate of performance, Price isn’t buying his own hype. The professional bettor who flies around in his own private plane won’t accept his gambling-celebrity status until, he says, he breaks the 70% success mark.

This watermark is quite literally unobtainable for any known sport picker today. Most low level industry players don’t have much method to their madness. But analysis makes it clear that instincts, going from the gut, and even intimate knowledge of the game isn’t sufficient to promote consistent anticipation of winners and losers. But, if Moneyball taught us nothing else, it’s that statistics hold the key to a better understanding of the game. Even if many elements of football are based upon chance, the history of the game shows what sorts of things happen, making statisticians the best people to make soccer betting picks.

So what are the elements of gameplay that have the most predictive value over the outcome of a given match? The fact that Paul the Octopus predicted a greater percentage of winners at the 2010 World Cup than nearly any human means that statistics are either poorly understood, misappropriated, or possess poor predictive value. Gamblers like Price agree with the first two options.

The great 538 blog reports the statistics that have the most predictive value. I’ll refer you to the blog if you want details, but for now I’ll just list the most helpful stats for people who want to win at football betting. These stats won’t tell you which team will win, but they will help you analyze each player’s relative value for his respective team. If the total value of a team’s players is calculated, then the team’s overall strength can be mathematically analyzed, at least as much as you can given the chance that’s built into every game.

Obviously one of the most valuable statistics available is a player’s goal-scoring ability. After all, goals win matches and there’s a reason the best goal-scorers like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are the most sought after and valuable players in the world. However, to get a true value of a teams ‘worth’, we need to consider other important factors such as pass success rate, tackling success rate, save percentage (for keepers), assists and the number of chances created per match.

We can use the comparison matrix at Squaka to find these statistics out as well as give us an overall score for goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers based on several key factors. If we add up those scores for the starting eleven we can generate a statistical comparison for each team which will give us valuable data to base our betting actions on.

There are a million other numerical considerations that the best sports bettors use when coming up with their tips. But just by looking at these, you can see that the job is a lot more complicated than the average person might think. It’s not as easy as simply looking at the Premier League table and betting on the team that’s highest. This is the broad view that statistics can provide. It gives scientific structure to the seeming ethereal gambling world, and it’s how pickers like Jon Price can approach 70% success.

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