Building a sports betting model begins with understanding what it is you are trying to achieve and understanding what metric you are going to use to create probability, so it will help if you’re useful with a spreadsheet! Knowing the sport and its markets are also crucial and once all of that is in place, it is all about data. Data is the skin and bones of any good sports betting model. A good starting point for most models is to add final scores to your spreadsheet, but things such as shots, conversion rates, position of shots and more can all be factored in. It’s a very complicated process that in a nutshell means using data and evidence of past performance to give probability and predictions of future performance.
Pros & Cons
- Pro - You’ll be provided with a thorough education. Even if you spend many years creating failed sports models at first, you’ll be learning a lot through the process.
- Pro - A good sports betting model is arguably the best and most accurate tool you can have as a bettor to beat the bookmakers.
- Con - It’s incredibly time consuming and not everyone will have the time to build a sports betting model amidst day to day life.
- Con - You have to understand more than just a sport. You’ll need a deeper understand of mathematics, equations and spreadsheets, which is not something every bettor will have.
There is simply no quick explanation to how to build a sports model. Even after reading this guide you’ll no doubt still come away with questions. It can take considerable time to wrap your head around the idea of a predictive model, and some considerable time more to create and correctly utilise one. Some people spend years mastering and tweaking theirs, so the first thing you’re going to need is patience.
Here is our quick six point run-through of what you’ll need to build your own sports predictions model.
- Patience and time If you do not consider yourself a patient person, then your foray into the world of sports betting models could end right here. But as well as patience, you’ll also need time. It’s can be a time consuming process and not everyone had that time. You do if you’re a professional bettor, but 99.9% of the betting world is not.
- An interest in Mathematics helps Yes, this is all about betting, but so much of a successful bettors life revolves around maths. Betting odds convert to probability, and creating your own probability can be converted to your own Betting odds. Probability requires research and records, statistical analysis and an understanding of the power of numbers - these are all things you used in maths lessons once that you thought would never be of use to you again!
- Understand the workings of Excel/Spreadsheets There’s a tricky list of requirements building, and we haven’t even made it to the actual model yet. It’s important that you understand how to use spreadsheets. They can seem complicated with so many functions, but with a little time and research you’ll find that understanding how linking cells, creating equations and values is not as complicated as it first seems. However you feel about spreadsheets, you’ll need to understand them.
- Understand probability and the theory of what you’re aiming to achieve Now spreadsheets are actually only important for a deeper level of model. But that is the level of model needed to really beat the bookies in the most emphatic way. SImple tables and charts where you have converted your own probability (found by looking at the basic occurrence of outcomes in a game) is arguably enough to gain an extra edge that helps you make money from sports betting, but that’ll come from having a greater understanding of probability and less fear of what the Best odds mean, as opposed to having an actual working, bookie-bashing model. But you definitely need as deep an understanding as possible of what probability is and what it means. The more you learn, and the more you brush up on those excel skills, the more you can do with probability. You can begin creating equations that factor in the value of a missing player, a set of weather circumstances or even a fixture build-up. You can even get creative enough to compile shot by shot data for each side, thus giving you a more accurate calculation of goal expectation. The possibilities are endless and it comes down to your desire, enthusiasm and understanding of probability and what it can do for you as a bettor.
- Know the sport, know the markets Statistics, maths and probability are king. There are definitely people out there who will tell you that they have made money betting on a sport they know next to nothing about. But that will be because they have a very mathematical mind that doesn’t need to know Manchester United’s capabilities to understand what the statistics from past performances can tell them. However, whilst you are building your models and working on a more basic level, have as good an understanding as possible of the teams you’re dealing with and the betting market you are working with is key. There’s no use taking a very basic level model and applying it to a league you’ve never, ever watched before. You won’t understand the variables, the importance of players, etc. Having a good understanding of your league and sport is important. Equally important is knowing the betting market. It goes without saying that you have to have a grip on a market and how your probability and theory can relate to the market. If you’ve always bet on the 1X2 betting market and that’s where your model assists you, don’t wander into the Asian Handicap market thinking just because your basic probability tells you a team are 77% sure to win a game that they’ll probably win comfortably and beat the handicap while they’re at it.
- Data, Data, Data, Data, Data… Did we mention Data? Your whole model, probability, theory, everything is based around good old numbers. The games, the goals, the outcomes. You need to really dig as deep as your knowledge of numbers and excel will allow you, and pull out as many relevant statistics as you can to help create an analysis that is as accurate as possible. Once again your mathematical knowledge and understanding of a sport and excel will combine to decide how far you can take this model, but some go as far as collating years and years of shot by shot data for each and every team and player, and assigning a value to it. A penalty or a shot is far more likely to result in a goal than a shot from a wide area or outside the box, and so a value will be applied to that. The expected shots combine in value to create expected goals which can be used to predict 1X2 outcomes, the goals market and even handicaps.
Some sports, such as horse racing, use systems that highlight a horse's chances in specific circumstances, but there are many variables that cannot be accurately measured or converted into some form of predictive model. Team sports are a much better candidate for a sports model because of the volume of statistics available, although tennis and some other head to head sports like darts could in theory be suitable for a statistical model. Football is the most commonly tackled sport using a model, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be translated to Rugby and similar team sports, and in particular US Sports. Professional bettors are more likely to be using sports modelling for one simple reason, and that is because they are extremely time consuming. To work a full time job as a casual bettor and busy parent, for example, wouldn’t leave sufficient time to put the hours needed into a good sports betting model.
There’s arguably little questioning that sports models will increase a bettors chance of being successful when betting. Even creating the most basic of models based on simple factors such as the season form to date, bettors will soon learn to look past the bookmakers best odds as a measure of a team's probability, and begin to understand their true value in any given game. It’s a time consuming practice that not everyone can afford to spend time doing, but for those that can, they’ll improve their understanding of what goes into deciding sporting events and how to identify true value.