What is ‘Value’?
Value is in important concept in betting that can be used to determine whether to strike a bet. A value bet is a bet in which the odds available for the bet have a probability value that is lower than the probability of that bet being successful. Consistently striking value bets is one way to ensure a long-term profit.
The odds set by any bookmaker for a particular outcome are an expression of what the bookmaker believes the probability of that outcome will be. For instance, odds of 5/2 or 3.5 equate to a probability of 28.57% or 0.29.
By comparing the probability implied by the odds with the true probability of an event occurring, it is possible, in theory, to find value. For example, if you believe the probability of a horse winning a race is 2/1 (33.33%) but bookmakers are offering odds of 4/1 (20.00%), you have found a bet where the probability of the outcome occurring is greater than the probability implied by the available odds.
In this example, the horse still has a 66.57% chance of not winning the race, so striking value bets does not guarantee short-term success, but consistently striking value bets will ensure profit in the longer term.
Although the principle of the value bet is simple to grasp, in practice, calculating the true probability of an event occurring can be difficult. Calculating the probabilities associated with outcomes in card games is straightforward, but for sporting events, where the outcome may be influenced by hundreds of factors, calculating true probabilities requires considerable expertise. The ability to consistently identify value bets is therefore one of the most important attributes of a successful gambler.