When first starting out in the world of sports betting, most punters focus on head to head match result betting. This is of course natural as it is what most of us are familiar with. It takes a while before the majority of punters begin to consider alternative markets such as betting on over or under goal or points totals.
1. Last Week Doesn't Count For Much
Yes, recent form matters. But it doesn't matter as much as most people think. At least when it comes to outwitting the odds. Time and again, we see people refer to what a particular team has done in the last 3 weeks, 4 weeks or similar.
Yes, a club may have scored many goals or points in recent weeks or games. But does this really give you an accurate assessment of a team's true potential to score? No, not really.
To obtain a true assessment of a team's potential to score you have to look deeper and you have to take a longer term view. Consider their scoring form over the last 20 matches, or even longer. It depends upon the sport, league and in general, the number and frequency of games played.
Yes, recent form should be taken into account. But a sure way to continually come out on the wrong side of an Over/Under bet, is to become easily seduced by a recent run of high or low scoring games.
And more to the point, it's recent form that the naive betting public is often seduced by, which means there are opportunities in the Over/Under markets for those of us who like to consider true potential rather than impulsive knee-jerk reactions to a mere few weeks of form.
2. Track Occurrences, Not Averages
This is once again, something we see all too often, people quoting scoring averages when assessing a particular match.
Averages might be ok when analysing a particularly large sample size with scorelines of limited variance. But the problem is that even over a sample size of for example 15 matches, one irregular result can distort the average.
Consider the following hypothetical example:
- Let's say Chelsea have played 15 home matches with 45 total goals scored in those matches. That's an average of 3 goals scored per match. The Over/Under 2.5 goals is paying even money. Looks tempting considering Chelsea's home form in goal totals.
- Now let's say that two of those 15 matches were particularly high scoring, for example, a 4-2 and a 5-1 result, seeing a total of 12 combined goals scored. These two irregular results have severely distorted the average, which would be 2.53 in the other 13 matches.
- What may have looked like an excellent opportunity to bet the Over 2.5 goals, suddenly seems less enticing.
So while averages can be helpful in large sample sizes, in general, it's best to track occurrences. Look at how many times a team has gone over or under a particular goal total. In our Chelsea example, it could well be that while the average for the 15 home matches may be 3 goals per match, but that the actual number of times Chelsea home games have gone Over 2.5 goals could be less than 50% with a few high scoring matches giving an inaccurate and distorted impression. Perhaps Chelsea home games have only gone over 2.5 goals on 7 occasions.
Even if the average is 3 goals per match, would you feel good about betting the Over if the occurrence rate was so low? Probably not.
Below is a rough guide to the number of games you should consider in pre-bet over/under analysis. Of course it depends upon the league or tournament as well as the time of the season. For example, you may not want to count too many games in your analysis at the beginning of a new season as last season's statistics may be misleading due to personnel changes through the off-season. A way to deal with this is to count recent games as having greater value than games played earlier in the current season or the previous season.
So for example looking at Manchester City in the Premier League, you could count their last 20 matches as having twice the significance of the 10 matches played previous to those. In this example, you are considering their last 30 matches in total, but giving a greater weight to their 20 most recent matches played.
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3. Don't Get Exotic
Don't start getting too smart. Keep your Over/Under bets to the basic 2.5 goals or whatever the 'even money' line is for a particular match, typically between 2 and 3 goals depending upon the teams involved or the league.
The fact is, this is where the value is.
Sure, a bookmaker might be offering 5.00 for the Over 4.5 goals, but in general, bookmakers who offer these sorts of irregular goal total markets, tend to take a larger than average commission. If you want to know how to calculate bookies' commission, see this.
At the same time, value is wherever you can find it. And if you've crunched the numbers and have identified greater value in a higher or lower than typical goal total line, then by all means, take advantage of it.
But in general, we would encourage you to stick to the basics and concentrate on 'even money' Over/Under lines. You'll find your results to be far more consistent. And in terms of analysis, it's far easier to find historical odds data resources for analysis on the web for these markets than it is the more exotic variety.
4. Identify True Scoring Potential
By all means, analyse scorelines. But if you really want to improve your Over/Under betting, look at some deeper stats.
With any sort of analysis, we're attempting to gauge a team's true potential in a given match or contest. And simple goals and scorelines aren't always the best way to do that.
So look deeper. Try to develop an analysis that incorporates statistical categories that can give an overall better indication of a team's base form and their true scoring potential.
Look at shots on goal for and against, shots on target for and against, goal for shot conversion rates. The problem with goals is that they can be a little inconsistent and sometimes show wild fluctuation.
More than that, the general public usually only considers scorelines and bookmakers more or less frame their odds on what the expectation is of the average football bettor. Having a deeper understanding of scoring potential can give you a great edge and will see you reap the rewards on the balance sheet.
5. Consider The Situation
Situational analysis is important when betting Over/Unders. Look at how the competing clubs have performed in similar situations.
When a particular club is a heavy underdog away from home, have they typically been involved in higher or lower scoring matches? When playing inferior opponents, do they have the tendency to run up the score or do they just go through the motions and do just enough to get the win?
And don't just look at the situational trends of the particular clubs competing. Look deeper and seek out league wide trends. Are matches higher scoring at the beginning of the league season or towards the end?
These sorts of things are good to take into account in your overall analysis, and can often give you an edge and an angle that the general betting public just simply isn't aware of.