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Is betting on favourites a good strategy?
- Updated: 29th January 2020
Following up on the line of options to setup a strategy, we will now speak about betting on favourites or in “high probability” markets. Below we will present some situations and bring some important data, in order to try and draw an important conclusion.
Is betting on favourites always safe?
For those that have years or even a couple of months of experience, this question might seem obvious. But the objective here is being very explanatory, so that when in doubt (I’m still in doubt even these days), we can have more tools to decide in the best possible way.
What would we consider to be a favourite? Below I bring you two real examples of events that took place recently to explain this situation better.
This was a match between the 2nd place Palmeiras and the 4th place São Paulo.
Palmeiras were the favourites here, for a couple of reasons: they are strong at home, they needed to win in order not to completely jeopardize their title chances and they had a very good record against this opponents at home, not even having lost against them at their new stadium.
Why were the odds higher then? It was a local derby, with a lot of rivalry, which means it should be a dramatic match and theoretically without a lot of spaces initially.
São Paulo is fighting for a spot in the Copa Libertadores and they were coming off good performances.
Still, Palmeiras were the favourites, their chances were very good considering the scenario. The final result was a 3-0 for Palmeiras, and it could have even been worse.
See below a different example on that same round, of the same competition.
Here we had the clash between Atlético, in 12th place, that was on a very poor streak of results, that got them out of contention for the Copa Libertadores and inclusively caused the recent switch of their manager.
On the other side, there was Chapecoense, in penultimate place, with the 2nd worst defence of the competition and that had won only 1 match away from home in the entire season.
Atlético were also the favourites, the odds suggested that, but mostly due to the awful moment of form of the opponents and less due to the home side’s current moment of form.
The match ended with a 2-0 result for Chapecoense, exposing Atlético’s decline.
What does this mean?
What I want to showcase here is not a rule but more of an explanation regarding what I think about the favourites’ market.
The odds aren’t determinant whether you should bet on a match or not. I brought these two examples because both teams were considered favourites, the odds were very different, and the initial analysis were very different as well.
Those that don’t try to understand the match or try to imagine what might happen will simply look at these two odds and bet it all on Atlético. And that person would have lost it all in this case.
It could have been the other way around, Palmeiras could have been battered and Atlético won without any difficulty.
The question is: you can’t simply look at the odds, take a quick glance at the league table and bet a lot of money on an event, only following what the odds suggest.
In the Premier League, the odds for Manchester City and Liverpool are generally low, some of them even reaching as low as 1.10.
Obviously both sides will win most of their matches, like Man City did last season, where they’ve won 32 out of 38 matches.
Here the example is different. With those very low odds, the “trend” that the odds suggest is that the favourite always wins comfortably, and therefore the handicaps are very steep.
Those bettors that don’t try to analyse things rationally end up betting out of impulse and put their money on a -3.5 or -4.5 line for the favourites.
Sometimes they will win, but the odds aren’t worth the risk sometimes and on that case, they will lose money in the long term.
In La Liga, Real Madrid and Barcelona are always huge favourites. Last season, Real Madrid finished in 3rd place, only having won 21 out of 38 possible matches.
Those that weren’t looking for information and were betting only on what the odds suggested, would end the season having to make 2 or 3 more deposits because they’ve simply followed the odds.
Maybe a lot of people here can quote examples of great teams that with very low odds end up resulting in profit at the end of a season.
Of course there might be those examples, but will the profit on those markets be worth the risk that we’re taking?
Imagine an average season for Man City, where a couple of issues make some things go poorly during the season and City ends up having a season similar to Real Madrid’s last campaign, finishing with 21 victories. Would we be profitable betting on them during the entire season?
There are some examples that work out well, but there are thousands that don’t. It’s up to you to decide if you simply bet on what the odds suggest you or if you try to filter some options before going all-out taking risks.