Betting on sports has never been more popular, but sportsbooks are no fools, and finding value can be hard. However, there are ways to increase your chances of winning, and even guarantee a profit, as we explain below.
Playing at Online Casinos
As will be explained in the following tips, sports betting bonuses can be used with a spot of mathematical alchemy to guarantee profits, but sports bettors should not neglect the potential of online casino bonuses.
There are all different types of bonuses to claim at the top online casinos, from match deposit bonuses that can double or triple your bankroll, through to free spins and free cash that can offer the chance to win real cash prizes without any risk of loss (as no deposit is required to activate them). Even if you’re not into casino games, the chance of winning cash with zero risk is something well worth trying.
It’s not quite universal, but almost every sportsbook or betting exchange offers an introductory promotion for newly registered players. One of the most common types is free bets (sometimes with a qualifying requirement, such as $10 wagered for $30 in free bets). However, there’s nothing to stop you from signing up at two sites with comparable bonuses and playing them against one another to turn a good bonus into a guaranteed profit.
The way this works is simple. You sign up at two sites that have free bet bonuses. If they have qualifying requirements this is fine too, because you can back both sides of a binary bet (a win-only market, with draw bets refunded, for example. Or if you’re into political betting then backing Republicans and Democrats in a tightly contested seat is an alternative).
This will probably lock in a tiny loss, maybe $1, but if the odds differ you might even finish mildly ahead overall. After wagering any qualifying sums, the bonuses can be activated.
All you have to do is repeat this approach, using a binary market so that the free bet at one sportsbook or the other comes off, guaranteeing that you finish ahead. If the free bets on offer are of the same size then find a market with close to equal odds on either side.
If one free bet is $10 and the other is $30 then find corresponding odds so that the $10 side has a profitability sufficient to make more so you still finish equally in the black regardless of what happens.
Free bets can also be offered on a weekly, monthly, or irregular but recurring basis by sportsbooks, when you can repeat this approach for more guaranteed profits.
Don’t Underestimate Home Advantage
This tip applies to soccer, and many other sports besides. In soccer (football to Europeans) there’s a substantial advantage enjoyed by playing at home, more so than for many other sports. Two sides of roughly equal skill can often have the result determined by the home game factor. Because of this, backing the home side is often a good idea. However, there are exceptions.
The most obvious is that if you have a top side (Manchester City or Juventus, say) playing a team struggling to avoid relegation then home advantage is overwhelmed by the gulf in class. Home advantage is a real factor but it’s not magic so don’t get too carried away. If one team is way better, it’ll still probably win.
The other exception is rivalries/derby matches. Where local teams are locked in a decades-long rivalry then the home advantage matters much less than it does for other matches. Hearts and Hibs or Rangers and Celtic would be prime examples of this.
Breaking News Means Great Bets
Sportsbooks react to breaking news rapidly, but not instantly. If you’re watching TV or have an eye on social media when breaking news comes on then there’s a window of perhaps five to 10 minutes during which you can make a bet before the odds change. This can offer fantastic value by itself, and if you have an exchange account then you can lay the bet after the odds have changed to lock in profit. Laying bets is when you bet against a specific outcome, and can sometimes be much smarter than backing them, as we cover in the next point.
There are various sports and markets where this can apply, and it can be for various types of news. In Formula 1 examples include a pole sitter being disqualified (the drivers who qualify behind him then become great value for both winning the race and, even more so, leading the first lap) and when a driver transfers to a top team mid-season (as Verstappen did in 2016).
Rishi Sunak, currently one of the favourites to win the race to be next UK Conservative Party leader is just over evens for the job, but a few years ago had odds of 250/1 that could be backed for a few minutes after he was promoted to Chancellor.
Lay the Favourites in Title Betting
Title betting has its pros and cons. The cons are locking up money for perhaps a year or even more (if we count political leadership contests). Pros are that this long time frame makes it eminently possible to create an all-green book without any need for taking advantage of bonuses or exploiting short-term windows after news breaks.
European soccer leagues can be very good for this (probably not Ligue 1, with Paris Saint-Germain seemingly destined to win at a canter once more). Last season Manchester City and Liverpool took the EPL title right to the wire, and AC Milan secured Serie A glory by just two points ahead of rivals Inter. Close battles such as these and political battles like the Conservative Party (UK) leadership contest, which has a very useful electoral approach for bettors, can be excellent for laying favourites. It can even work for special markets like the winner of Eurovision if you start early enough.
The reason laying rather than backing is a good idea is this: the markets bounce around a lot. If you bet against a favourite, then repeat when the odds shuffle around it does not take much to finish in the black. During the course of the Conservative contest of 2022, there have been four favorites. One, Ben Wallace, chose not to stand, and the others (Sunak, Mordaunt, Truss) have all been at evens or shorter. Lay two favourites at evens and you’re green or without loss for any outcome. Lay three and you’re ahead whatever happens. It can feel counter-intuitive to bet against someone with very short odds, and this is not guaranteed to come off. But if it does you can keep betting on the market, just laying favourites until you’re satisfied with profit whatever happens. Just remember to keep your nerve and avoid the temptation to cash out early.
An extra perk of favourite laying is that non-favourites will end up very green and this means if their odds come down even to something like 10/1 you may be able to lay them too, ending up more in profit on the shortest odds teams.
Sports betting is a lot of fun, and the odds can shift into your favour if you take advantage of the tips included above. But always remember to only bet within your means.