Now that sports betting has blown up since its legalization in 2018, people have come out of the woodwork with different strategies on how to make money betting on sports.
Some of these strategies are legitimately successful, such as Positive EV, while others, such as “I gotta great feeling about this bet tonight,” are not so profitable.
One of these profitable betting strategies is to create your own sports betting model to predict scores/outcomes/stats and use your model to identify profitable betting opportunities.
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What is a Sports Betting Model?
At its core, a sports betting model is a system that has data input into it and can be used to identify profitable betting opportunities that takes out all biases.
Basically, if your model tells you that the Warriors are going to win by 10, but the sportsbooks only have the Warriors -7, that would be a profitable betting opportunity. You know, assuming your model is accurate!
That last sentence is the hardest part, too. Building a sports betting model can be extremely difficult and also time consuming. Let’s get into that part.
How to Build a Sports Betting Model in Excel
As previously mentioned, the process of building a model can be frustrating and difficult, but if you can get it right then it will pay dividends in the long run, making all the work seem worth it.
To get started, let’s list out the seven steps necessary to successfully build a sports betting model:
Choose Your Goal
Select Metrics/Data Points
Collect Said Data Points
Choose Type of Model
Build Your Model
Test Your Model
Step 1: Choose Your Goal, Make it Specific and Actionable
So you want to make money, but your goal can’t be that broad. It has to be based on actual numbers with a much more narrow focus. You should consider these questions when you are getting started:
What sport is this model for?
What advantage or edge am I looking for?
How long is my tracking time? (weeks, months, years, etc.)
Once you answer these simple questions and get yourself a specific focus to target, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Select Your Metrics/Data Points
This isn’t any more complicated than what the step says: you simply need to choose the metrics and data points that you are going to use in your betting model. Here are examples of some:
Obviously, some metrics are going to be more helpful than others, but the general rule of thumb here is that more data is better, as long as it is done right.
Step 3: Collect and Modify Data
Now that you have completed the first two steps and know what you are trying to accomplish, as well as knowing what metrics you are going to use to accomplish your goal. From here, you need to actually gather the data.
You can either:
Collect The Data Yourself
Now, if you have the free time to go in and compare all the different data across all the different sportsbooks, good for you. Nothing wrong with this route, but it is obviously the significantly more time-consuming way to go.
Use Publicly Available Data Sets Online
Luckily, we live in an age where almost any type of data you are looking for is going to be available somewhere on some website, it is just about finding it.
Some data is free, while other data is available but at a cost. An example of this would be OddsJam’s Industry plan! This plan gives access to arbitrage bets with alerts, +EV bets with alerts, middle opportunities with alerts, AND a pre-computed perfect line to compare the book lines to.
However, with all of the data the OddsJam programs provide you can make back all of that and much more by using that data in a sports betting model.
Step 4: Choose the Type of Model You Want to Use
This is where things can get nerdy, as there are a ton of different types of models to use. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what works for you, as long as it does, in fact, work.
Luckily, Excel has almost every necessary program required to run any of these models. Here are some examples of types of models:
Regression analysis attempts to determine the important factors/metrics/data that can actually determine the future outcome of an event. Basically, it looks at historical data to predict future outcomes.
Funny enough, the NFL itself used regression analysis on their own games, and came to the conclusion that passing efficiency had the highest impact on the outcome of games.
Another popular example of regression analysis being used is with the Oakland Athletics, famously coined Moneyball, used by manager Billy Bean.
Martingale & D’alembert
This model is risky because it involves progressively betting more money if your bets lose. Martingale deals with the actual dollar amount being bet, while D’alembert deals with increasing the percentage of your bankroll that you are betting.
W/L + Payout
As you can see, by doubling your second bet you were able to come out positive, despite going 1-1 overall. Of course, this strategy is also extremely risky because if you go on a cold streak you are losing, and risking, a lot of money.
This is the opposite of the above strategy, meaning that you scale back your bet size if your bet loses.
This one is pretty easy. If your first bet wins, then go ahead and double the bet size with your next bet. If you win three times in a row then you would scale back to the original bet size that you started with.
This one can be tough, as sports are not played by robots, and due to that fact, it is impossible to always know what is an anomaly and what is just a result of human error.
Anomalies can include injuries, weather, scheduling advantages/disadvantages, playing at home or playing away, and much more.
Step 5: Build the Model in Excel
As mentioned, you’ll want to decide which program in excel you want to use to run your model, and, most importantly, track the results. You need to track the results of your bets so you know whether your model is actually working or not.
Overall, here are the three most important things to remember when it comes to building your model.
Track your bets and also your return on investment
Track the metrics you are using to judge your model by
Understand your bet sizing strategy so you know how much to bet
Step 6: Test the Model and Track Your Results
As mentioned before, it can be quite fun to build a model, but obviously, you need to know whether it actually works or not. Give yourself a large enough sample size and see the results! If you are not profitable after an adequate number of bets, then you might want to go back to the basics and re-evaluate your model.
Step 7: Start Cashing
Having an edge in sports betting is the biggest advantage you can have. So, if you are able to build a successful, profitable model then congrats- you have given yourself that advantage.