English Premier League Betting

Ryan Giggs Manchester UnitedWhen it comes to football in India I-League is the domestic competition, and the World Cup is #1 watched international competition. However in some areas English Premier League is the most famous. In fact, it’s not uncommon to read about crazed football fanatics in Kolkata actually getting into fights over their loyalty to Manchester United or MU’s bitter rival Chelsea. Whilst this certainly absurd to the rest of us, EPL is a great football league to follow if you’re a sports bettor. Here’s why:

In India, being in the business of taking bets is illegal and therefore no online betting sites operate here. In order to take advantage of this, many European Bookmakers such as www.bet365.com now targets Indian betting via the internet. These sites offer us the ability to deposit, withdrawal, and wager in rupees and because they are legal and licensed under European and International law, Indian authorities have no jurisdiction over them. Considering no one has ever been arrested (nor has anyone been fined) for wagering online from India, betting at these sites is safe bet.

Although most UK licensed betting sites do offer India’s I-League, as well as international football competitions, this isn’t their speciality. The largest wagering limits exist in their biggest markets, and for football there is no market larger in the UK than English Premier League. If you’re a high roller, or just want to get into following a league with a massive global following, this is the one. In the rest of this article I’ll cover information about EPL, the best betting site to wager it, and then conclude with EPL betting strategy.

Also see who offers odds on I-League betting.

About the English Premier League

English Premier LeagueThe English Premier was formed in 1992 as part of a breakaway league from Football League in England. The concept was undertaken as the offer of an extremely lucrative television rights package was presented by BSkyB. Since then it has formed into the biggest football league in the world. Recent figures have shown that the English Premier League has amassed a staggering £2 billion in revenue (Source) from the 20 teams currently involved in the league. The league is also the second most profitable, sitting just behind the German Bundesliga. International coverage of the Premier League really makes it a globally branded powerhouse being broadcasted in 5 continents with viewing figures surpassing half a billion (source) worldwide.

Since its introduction in 1992, only four teams have ever managed to win the title, those being Manchester United (12), Arsenal (3), Chelsea (3) and Blackburn Rovers (1). Current champions Manchester United are said to be one of the largest sporting brands in the world and a household name. The prestige, passion and more recently, money, are a major selling point in the modern game making the English Premier League a magnet for the best players in the world. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer and David Beckham will all go down as legends of the game that have excelled in the strongest of domestic leagues.

With the sheer success of the Premier League, it now attracts some of the wealthiest people in the world to invest into football clubs. Some fear for the financial future of the Premier League in what is now known as the “billionaire’s playground”. One thing can be certain, as long as these billionaires continue to invest into the Premier League, then the best players will follow. A league which has a high percentage of the world’s best footballers is always going to be a sporting as a financial steam train.

Best EPL Betting Site

In our strong opinion the best betting site for Indians, is also the best website for betting English Premier League regardless of location. That website is www.bet365.com which coincidentally is owned by the same family that owns the Stoke City Football Club. In case you’re not aware, Stoke City FC was established in 1863 making it the oldest club in the English Premier League. This obviously means their betting site is entirely legit, 100% above the board, and well financed.

Speaking on the Indian side of things first, the reason Bet365 is number one – they offer us the ability to deposit, withdrawal and wager in Indian Rupee (INR). They’re also one the few online betting sites that offer rupee account holders a sign up bonuses. Here Indians can claim a first time deposit bonus of 15% of their initial deposit up to Rs. 2500 free. To discover why they’re best for players regardless of location see my pages on Bet365 football odds and football betting markets.

EPL Betting Strategy

In this section I won’t rehash strategy already found on our football betting page. Instead I’ll introduce you to a different strategy that works best with large markets including EPL.

The first thing to understand is the English Premier League betting market is near efficient. What this means in layman terms– the final odds offered just before a match starts (called the “closing odds”) represent each outcomes true probability. To give an example, let’s say the closing odds of a match between Manchester United and Chelsea were:

Man Utd 1.86
Draw 3.75
Chelsea 4.64

These are decimal format betting odds, where $1.00 wagered on Chelsea returns $4.64 if they win. When looking at odds in this format, it is difficult to gauge a team’s (or the draw’s) true probability of occurring. So for that reason, let’s convert them to required break even percentages better known as “implied probabilities”. The math for this is risk/return = implied probability. So to run through it quickly:

Man Utd 1/1.86= 53.76%
Draw 1/3.75=26.67%
Chelsea 1/4.64= 21.55%

These percentages (known as implied probabilities) represent how often each bet would need to win on average to break even. So if you expect Manchester United will win the match 58% of the time, betting them at 1.86 is a great bet. Now if you total all three probabilities together you’ll see 53.76% + 26.67% + 21.55% equals 101.98%. The reason they total more than 100% is the bookmaker’s need to make a profit; the extra is his advantage he built into the lines. To see a team’s probability with the advantage removed let’s divide all three by 101.98%.

Man Utd 53.76%/101.98= 52.72%
Draw 26.67%/101.98 = 26.15%
Chelsea 21.55%/101.98 = 21.13%

To spot checked this, add each of the three percentages together (52.72% + 26.15% + 21.13%) and you’ll see they total 100%. What we’ve just calculated is each team’s no-vig win probability. If the bookmaker had spread his advantage equally to each option, then these new percentages represent the markets actual opinion of the true chances of each occurring.

To make these again useful we can put them back into European odds. To do this we need to change our percentage to a decimal. So for example Manchester United 52.72% is 0.5272 as a decimal. We then use the formula (1/probability=European Odds). So 1/0.5272 = 1.90. This is the fair no-vig odds for Manchester United. After doing the same for all three options I get no-vig decimal odds for each team of:

Man Utd 1.90
Draw 3.82
Chelsea 4.73

Again these are the fair odds with no bookmaker advantage, so if we could somehow find odds better than these we would expect that bet to have positive expectation over the long haul.

Why is the Market Efficient?

The betting market for English Premier League is dominated by professional punters. Yes, recreational gamblers and fans well out the number professionals by head count, but when it comes to cumulative rupees wagered, these fans don’t even put a dent in the volume. When you understand this, the next thing to understand is how bookmaking works.

Bookies start off with what the call an “opening line”. These are the odds a talented handicappers working for elite betting sites (yes, the internet opens first) created for the match. Some betting sites have this handicapper working for them, while others open late and just copy what other betting sites offer. In either case, once the line is opened the bookmaker is forced to adjust his odds in order to manage risk; he does this based on wagers he is taking. Now imagine if the total goals market on a Tottenham versus Liverpool match was offered as follows:

Bet365: o2.5 1.80 / u2.5 2.00
Canbet: o2.5 2.05 / u2.5 1.85

When it’s possible to make multiple bets in such a way a profit is guaranteed no matter what the outcome of the game, this is called an arbitrage (also referred to as an arb or surebet). In the example above we have an arbitrage available – here we can wager Rs. 10,000 on under 2.5 goals at Bet365, and wager Rs. 10,250 on over 2.5 goals at Canbet and no matter what the outcome profit Rs. 250. While some punters might be tempted to take the free lunch sized arb, sophisticated gamblers wouldn’t because they make their profits over the long haul by taking advantage of +EV (positive expected value) bets and avoiding –EV (negative expected value) bets. In order for an arb to exist there must be both a +EV bet and a –EV bet. Over the long run only the +EV side will make profit. Figuring out which bet is +EV is simple if you’re able to view and track odd changes. I’ll come back to the odd changes portion in a moment but let me first make clear how bookmaking and the market works.

If any betting site offers +EV betting lines, the richest and most successful gamblers in the world are going to force them to pay the price. As a result these sites need to constantly adjust the odds based on wagers they are taking, in order to minimize their risk. Meanwhile if a recreational site with small betting limits attempts to change the odds in such a way they can profit due to fan biased, not only are the mid stake syndicates (people use multiple accounts to wager) going to jump in, but so are all the arbitrage bettors and market cappers as well. In today’s internet age it is incredibly easy to spot when a bookmaker is offering +EV odds, doing so will cost them. Keep in mind even if a site has $1,000 betting limits – 10 friends betting together makes it $10,000. If this site is used to taking $50 to $200 bets, the “money amount” wagered by those syndicates as well as the arb chasers and small sharps is far going to exceed that of the recreational punters.

The bottom line here, EPL is an efficient market because it ripples on down. The most talented punters with the largest bankrolls pick off sharp betting sites that created the market. The smaller pros beat up on the lesser talented recreational betting sites who merely copied the market that the sharp betting sites created. From here there are thousands of market cappers and arb seekers that make certain all sites across the board are forced to keep their lines accurate. Yes in small markets with tiny betting limits bookmakers can shade the line – but in EPL, far more times than not, the no-vig win probability at closing represents the true probability of that outcome occurring.

Profiting in an Efficient Market

What I’ve provided with so far in this article on English Premier League betting strategy is incredibly valuable if you know how to use it. Remember as a bookie takes bets, they are forced to adjust the odds in order to minimize risk. What they’re actually doing is sharpening their odds to ensure punters they service have no +EV bets available. Now this makes it sounds tough – if no bets with positive expectation are available then how are we going to find one. The trick here is using multiple betting sites.

The first thing to understand is which betting sites have the sharpest lines – this often, but not always, determined by which sites have the highest betting limits. From our personal experience the sites we consider sharp for football betting are SBO Bet, Pinnacle Sports, Canbet and William Hill, and the first two we just listed are the toughest to beat. A method that can be used to beat EPL is to watch and tack and odds. Let’s go back to our earlier example. The betting odds were:

Man Utd 1.86
Draw 3.75
Chelsea 4.64

We then did some simple math to determine the fair odds if the bookmaker didn’t have an advantage would be:

Man Utd 1.90
Draw 3.82
Chelsea 4.73

So again we’re looking for better than those odds in order to have a bet that will be profitable on average over the long haul. Now if we did these calculations using sharp betting sites such as Pinnacle, and SBO, and the line have sat for a while, we feel better that our numbers are accurate.

From here let’s say we were watching the odds at 10 different betting sites and suddenly we see the odds change at Pinnacle where Manchester United is now 1.75. A few minute later the odds at SBO move to Manchester United 1.76. Simple logic will tell us, huge bets are coming in on Manchester United at sharp betting sites that are forcing the line moves. These are being made by talented bettors with more handicapping experience and bankroll than us. If the odds were just 1.86 and now they’re 1.76 there must be a successful capper that found 1.86 a +EV bet. So our job is to quickly go to betting sites that are less sharp such as www.bet365.com and bet 1.86 if it is still available. The reason is if Pinnacle Sports and SBO just moved there odds, pretty much every betting site is bound to follow in the next few minutes – we’re looking to bet before these other sites get a chance to change the odds.

Now we still want to be responsible here. Sports betting is about pushing small edges and as a result there is a lot of variance. Teams that are 58% to win still lose 5 times in a row often enough – so it’s vital we never risk more than a few percentage of our bankroll on a game.

Now I could go on and on here with examples. What I should tell you is two paragraphs up, when SBO bet moved the line right after Pinnacle had – we should probably quickly remove the vig from each of their new set of odds using the same math I already showed you. This way we knew exactly what we’re looking for. For example maybe we don’t find 1.86 but rather found 1.81, is it profitable or not? The new odds at SBO and Pinnacle with bookmaker advantage removed is a good way to gauge this. So anyways, while I could go on and on – most betting done based on tracking odds and capping the market is also partially based on feel and experience. In time you’ll get used to how the odds move and pick up all sorts of things you can construe are the results of +EV bets. To see an example of how new tricks can be learned check out this article on the value of Bet365 bore draw refund.

Once again, I encourage you to wager responsibly – winning sports betting is about making a little at a time over the long haul – there will always be ups and downs and you’ll learn new things in time. Now if you appreciate the advice in this article, please consider joining a rupee friendly bookmaker using one of the links on that page. Thanks for reading, your support is appreciated and I wish the best of luck.