When I first began my journey as a betting analyst, my main focus was on head to head and handicap betting. I was soley focussed on who would win and by how much.
Although I was well aware of Overs & Unders and the potential to bet on whether a match would end above or below the goal or points total, it took me a while to pay any real attention to the prospect of actually betting them.
And to be honest, it wasn't until a friend of mine made the claim that betting on points or goal totals was, in his words, a crapshoot.
Of course, this sort of claim only stirred my ambition and love for a challenge. "A crapshoot you say? Hmm, we'll see about that."
So I threw myself into analysing Over/Unders. And after a great deal of work and frustration and trial and error, I eventually developed an approach that has been quite successful for me in betting goal totals in football and point totals in the NFL and NBA.
And so in this article, I will share with you the key points of that approach in the hope that you too can improve your Over/Under betting.
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, I will see people refer 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 their 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.
It seems obvious enough, but all too often I see people speak about a team's overall form and scoring potential, rather than their specific home and away form.
And it matters.
Look across Europe at any league, and you'll see that clubs have particular tendancies when it comes to scoring at home as opposed to away. Some clubs for whatever reason, engage in higher scoring matches at home than when travelling, while others are the opposite, competiting in tense and cagey affairs at home, while seeing the totals run up in away fixtures.
Just look a couple of simple examples. In the 2010/2011 Premier League season, Blackburn home matches went Under 2.5 goals on 13 of 19 occasions. But away from home, Blackburn matches were Under 2.5 goals in just 6 of 19 matches. On the other hand, Fulham home matches went Under 2.5 goals in 8 of 19 occasions, while their away matches went Under 13 times.
So the point should be clear, that when considering the Over or Under in a particular contest, consider where the game is being played and how either club has performed in that situation.
This is once again, something I 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 distored 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, suddently seems less enticing.
So while averages can be helpful in large sample sizes, in general, it's best to track occurences.
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 occurence rate was so low? Probably not.
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.
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, I 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.
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 guage 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 teams 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.
Considering recent meetings between the competitng teams can be helpful.
And can often surprise you. You might see that while two teams have been consistently low scoring and defensive clubs within their league. But when the two teams meet, for whatever reason, they play open and offensive games with high scores a regular outcome.
But don't look too far back. It's not really that relevant what two clubs did 10 seasons ago. So only consider meetings over the last 3 or so seasons.
And similarly, only pay attention to a sample size of a minumum 2 or preferably 3 matches. Sure, the last meeting between two clubs might have been an unexpected 5 goal result. But it's one match and in itself doesn't mean much.
On the other hand, if you see that the clubs have consistently gone over 2.5 goals in each of their last 4 meetings in the last 2 seasons, then that is just the thing you want to make a note of in your analysis.
Situational analysis is a great part of my overall assessment when betting Over/Unders.
Look at how the competiting 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 tendancy 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 competiting. 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.