The odds compilers working for the bookmakers can determine the probability of the outcomes in a soccer match with great accuracy. Not very surprising, after all, as the odds compilers can name themselves professional sports experts thanks to their occupation.

Nevertheless, the odds offered by bookmakers do rarely represent the “correct” probability of the outcomes of a soccer match – even when then profit margin has been removed from the odds. E.g. if the two teams are offered at the same price, it does not necessarily mean that the probabilities of each side winning the game are equal. The usual reason for this is that the bookmakers take more factors into account than just the match probability estimation. Obviously, the bookmakers want to maximize their profits rather than the correctness of their probability estimations.

This phenomenon is usually referred to as an uneven distribution of the profit margin. As mentioned in this article, the bookmakers operate with an average profit margin of around 88%. I.e. in the long run, the bookmakers expect to return 88% of the stakes. However, Globetting’s statistics show that the profit margin is unevenly distributed on different outcomes. E.g. if you bet only on home wins in general, the profit margin is 90% (higher than the average value), while if you bet on away wins in general, the profit margin is just 85% (below than the average value). So, a very basic piece of betting advice would be to bet on home wins rather than away wins.

In recent years, many betting experts have claimed that so-called underdogs are vastly overpriced and that betting on such “long-shots” will secure a great return on your investment in the long run, provided that you have the necessary patience to wait for the surprising results to occur. Moreover, it is often said that betting on popular teams such as Manchester U, Real Madrid, Milan, Juventus, Bayern Münich etc. is the certain road to bankruptcy.

In fact, such statements are completely wrong.

What actually happens when you back the underdogs? Well these are the hard stats, based on Globetting’s odds database containing results and bookmakers’ average odds for 40.000 soccer games from this and the previous three seasons.

Betting on away teams with an odd > 3.00 would have returned $0.82 for every $1 staked (21700 games).

Betting on away teams with an odd > 5.00 would have returned $0.76 for every $1 staked (7000 games)

Betting on away teams with an odd > 7.00 would have returned $0.70 for every $1 staked (2400 games

As mentioned above, you would expect to get back 88% of your stakes when betting on random selections. As the above stats show, the average return when betting blindly on outsider teams is considerably less – e.g. 70% for odds above 7.00 and as little as 55% for odds above 10. The general rule is that as the price increases so does the bookie’s profit margin.

Now let’s look at another odds interval – the home favourites:

Betting on home teams with an odd < 1.50 would have returned $0.94 for every $1 staked (5100 games).

Betting on home teams with an odd < 1.40 would have returned $0.95 for every $1 staked (3000 games).

Betting on home teams with an odd < 1.30 would have returned $0.97 for every $1 staked (1500 games).

These numbers show that the bookmakers have only got a slight advantage over the punters when taking bets on favourites. E.g. if you bet on home wins at odds lower than 1.30, you will get as much as 97% of your total stake back (compare to the average return of 88%). In fact, if you bet only on huge favourites offered at less than 1.20, the bookmaker’s profit margin has almost been eliminated. I.e. you can bet blindly on all such teams without losing money.

The stats also confirm the statement that the bookies’ advantage gradually decreases as the odds get lower.

The third and last odds interval to look at is the short-priced away wins:

Betting on away teams with an odd < 2.00 would have returned $0.98 for every $1 staked (2300 games).

Betting on away teams with an odd < 1.80 would have returned $0.99 for every $1 staked (1300 games).

Betting on away teams with an odd < 1.60 would have returned $1.06 for every $1 staked (550 games).

The returns here are interesting. Betting on odds lower than evens will return 98% of your stake, while you will get 99% back when betting on teams available at less than 1.80. Betting on teams offered at less than 1.60 will give you a 6% advantage over the bookies.

Bottom line is that it is actually possible to beat the bookies by betting blindly on all matches that fit into a certain odds interval. The recent stats show that short priced away wins, generally, are the best betting options for the punters. Simply back any away team priced at odds of no more than 1.60 – 1.65 and you will most likely make a small profit when the season is over.

It is important to stress than all the above statistics are based on the average odds offered by the bookies. With more than 100 online bookmakers offering fixed odds markets plus a growing number of betting exchanges, it will always be possible to find odds that are better than the market’s average odds. For most short-priced away wins, you will be able to get at least 5% higher odds by choosing the best bookmaker in the particular situation.

This information combined with the punter’s own knowledge provides a great opportunity to make money from soccer betting.