What is Confidence in Sports Betting?
In this betting education article, I’ll be discussing confidence. This may be a “strange” word in the context of sports betting, but it’s really important.
Couldn’t sleep so I wrote this and I am not a writer nor editor, so I apologize for any typos, etc. As always, free to reach out with any questions. The goal of OddsJam is to help sports bettors become smarter and level the playing field with access to data.
Sports betting is all about thinking like an investor, day trader. You’re using real-time market data (e.g. odds) to find sharp bets. I talk about this a lot on my Twitter, YouTube, etc.
How do Betting Markets Work?
Sports betting markets are strange & dynamic. If I look up the price of Bitcoin, this is what comes up on Google: $15,779.40 USD. I basically know where I can buy & sell Bitcoin at this exact moment in time. Again, asset prices are constantly moving. In 20 minutes, Bitcoin could be $14,000. Nobody knows the future. It depends on supply & demand for this asset.
However, if I google the “price” for the Tulane Green Wave in college football, nothing comes up…
We can browse odds to get the best line for their next game against Cincinnati, but there really isn’t a “price” for each team. We can “buy” Tulane at +115 moneyline odds, or we can “sell” them by betting Cincinnati at -120.
So, in Virginia, the best price to “sell” Tulane is -120. But you can only “sell” Tulane at -120 if you have Caesars sportsbook. If you only have FanDuel sportsbook, then you have to sell Tulane at -138.
However, if you have more sportsbooks available to you, then you can sell Tulane (e.g. bet Cincy moneyline) at -116 moneyline odds on Suprabets or -118 odds on Pinnacle.
Anyways… this all is so set the tone that the sports betting market is very fragmented. Different locations have different sportsbooks.
Just like the crypto markets, sports betting lines are constantly on the move. It’s a market based on supply & demand and all information available at the time. Weather changes? Lines move. Lineups change? Lines move. Sharp action comes in? Lines move.
And nearly all things in a game are correlated. If Tom Brady gets injured, then the Bucs are less likely to win the game. The moneyline odds should move, and that’s obvious.
- They’re probably more likely to run the ball since the QB will be worse? So the “rushing yard” over/unders need to go up.
- Receiving yard over/unders likely need to go down for Bucs players?
- What happens to the total – probably goes down because the Bucs will be less likely to put up points?
- Since the opposing team will be more likely to be winning the game, will they be less likely to pass the ball? Should their receiving yard over/unders also go down?
- Etc. etc.
There’s no perfect answers to any of these questions, but it helps explain why the market is constantly moving – most things in a game are correlated. The weather forecast doesn’t just change totals. It changes props, etc.
How Does Confidence Help Me Find Profitable Bets?
Let’s head over to the OddsJam Positive EV Tool and take a look at the most profitable play. It’s over 2.5 goals in Canada vs. Croatia at +120 odds on FanDuel. If you’re new to EV betting, the Positive EV play (e.g. the profitable bet) is just the pick in bold with a circle around it.
At first glance, it seems solid. No other sportsbook is giving odds above +106.
And this is where the word “confidence” comes into play…
It’s not like we’re just comparing lines between DraftKings & FanDuel. As seen on the Soccer Odds Page, have betting markets from a variety of sportsbooks: Four Winds, Hard Rock, Leo Vegas, My Bookie, Pinnacle, etc. The +120 on FanDuel is a noticeable discrepancy.
Please note that it does not matter if a sportsbook is located in your location. It doesn’t matter if you have Pointsbet in your location – they’re still another data point to consider.
Typically, what I do is switch my location on OddsJam to California to see all sportsbook odds. I want to see everything, 100+ sportsbooks. Data = knowledge, and knowledge = power. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but there’s 50+ bookies offering betting markets on the over 2.5 goals. I want to scan all of their odds before placing my bet and determining bet sizing.
You want to think like an investor and hunt for value. Sports betting is all about finding enough value to beat the vig. Think like an investor and use OddsJam as your Bloomberg Terminal to find value.
At the end of the day, OddsJam is a product to help make data actionable. The market is constantly moving, there’s 100+ sportsbooks, and each sportsbook has tens of thousands of odds. You’re rarely going to find Positive EV bets manually.
Of course, there are some really profitable sportsbook promos. But, with many promos, sportsbooks are literally trying to give you money and a leg up. I explain odds boosts, sportsbook promos in this video if you are interested. You can always email us at [email protected], and we can talk with you about promos for free.
Anyways, back to confidence…
Looking across the market, FanDuel is a clear outlier. Using a fair odds calculator, the o2.5 goals at +120 on FanDuel is Positive EV to practically every other sportsbook market. And there’s like 50 sportsbooks posting odds for this wager.
For example, both Caesars & DraftKings have the over 2.5 goals at +100 and the under 2.5 goals at -130. Thus, the “fair” line with the juice removed is +113.04 on the o2.5 goals. We are getting +120 on FanDuel (e.g. better odds), so this play is Positive EV to the betting markets on DraftKings & Caesars.
If you don’t understand “no vig odds,” then I’d recommend watching the video below. It’s important to understand how sportsbooks make money. What is the sportsbook business model? You don’t want to try to beat sportsbooks until you understand how they’re trying to beat you. I’d also recommend reading the text on the no vig calculator a few times, as this is the most important concept / calculator in sports betting (in my opinion).
So, long story short, you could put every single sportsbook’s market into the no vig odds calculator. Let’s say this play at +120 (FanDuel, Croatia vs. Canada o2.5 goals) was Positive EV to every other sportsbook market. Then, yes, we’d have really high confidence that our bet is profitable. That would make me like a bet more.
Here’s an example of another profitable tennis bet: u20.5 games in Navvara vs. Baindl at +116 odds on FanDuel. It looks incredible. No other book is better than +100. I locked both of these plays in (obviously).
The point is, more data = merrier. There’s not really a magic “formula” that quantifies this, it’s just a fact. It’s not encompassed in a Kelly Calculator. When I make hard decisions, I try to get advice from as many smart people and people I respect. More advice = merrier. It’s information and it’s free. You can take it or leave it, but more information is better.
When every sportsbook is telling you a bet is profitable, then it’s a good bet. You have 100+ sportsbooks in the market. They’re all independent data points telling you where lines should be set. Sure, some sportsbooks have the same odds. Some sportsbooks (like Pinnacle, BetOnline, BookMaker) are sharper. Some sportsbooks are sharper for certain markets. There is no sportsbook that is “perfect” – they’re all betting markets.
As a sports bettor, you use all this data to make better bets. More informed decisions. Both of the plays above are “slam dunks” – I found them and hit ’em both in 60 seconds while writing this article.
Sometimes, there’s a little more disagreement in the market. Check out the play above: Jaden Ivey u4.5 Rebounds at +102 odds on FanDuel. Most sportsbooks have the over favored, but there’s a bit of disagreement as to “how favored” the over should be. DraftKings has the same odds on both the over/under (-115/-115). Thus, DraftKings is implying both plays are equally likely to occur. Caesars has the over very, very slightly juiced towards the over (-119 on the over vs. -115 on the under). Etc.
Again, there’s no magic formula for thinking about these things. It’s just a lot of logic in my opinion. I look at the 100+ data points in the market, and usually it’s pretty clear if the market disagrees or not. I’d rather place 10 bets a day where I’m very confident in each bet as opposed to rushing all of my plays.
That’s basically the point of the “Recommended Filters” on OddsJam. The filters are explained in this article a bit, as well as the video above.
Again, it doesn’t mean other plays are “bad bets” or “Negative EV.” I say this all the time on the OddsJam YouTube, but there’s a lot of way to find sharp picks. That’s why we have different building tools and the OddsJam Screen. The whole point of OddsJam is to take millions of odds and provide tools that make the data actionable. Sometimes I find amazingly profitable plays on the Screen. Other days, I mainly just use the Positive EV Tool. It’s all about looking for value.
Again, once you internalize how sportsbooks make money (simply charging a 5% to 10% spread), they become less scary. We’re always told you “cannot make money sports betting,” but that’s obviously false. If it were true, then arbs would not exist. So, long story short, you just need to find plays that are 5% to 10% profitable, and the easiest way to do that is by analyzing odds on other sportsbooks. It’s guaranteed to win in the long run because it’s just math.
Consider using the OddsJam Arbitrage Betting Tool to find Positive EV bets. Yes, this article is a brain dump, but that’s not a typo. When arbitrage exists, risk-free money exists, so, by definition, one play has to be Positive EV (e.g. profitable). Thus, you (literally) have 100% confidence that at least one bet is Positive EV when looking at arbitrage plays.
Here’s an example from the Arbitrage Betting Tool. By definition, we know either Seahawks -2.5 1H at -110 odds or Raiders +2.5 1H at +112 odds is profitable. At least one of these plays is Positive EV. We can then dig into the data and determine we want to lock this play in on FanDuel.
I locked this play in for the max I could, which was $137.50. I talk about this on Twitter as well. There’s a reason people don’t want to bet on sports full-time. You can’t bet “how much” you want – the sportsbooks determine that for you. It’s a fun, lucrative side hustle once you understand the concepts.
Note, this article doesn’t talk about historical data. Why? It’s basically irrelevant. So many people love to talk about “trends,” and it’s such non-sense. People look at the past and find “trends” when it’s really just “noise” or “variance.” People will lose three bets on Kyrie Irving and put him on the “banned list.” Makes zero sense.
The truth is, everything is encompassed in real-time market data. Supply/demand, all market information is encompassed in the current price of Bitcoin, and it’s no different in sports betting. Tom Brady’s divorce is priced into the Bucs moneyline – you have no “edge” there. The fact that Kyrie Irving plays horribly against XYZ team is priced into the market already – you have no “edge” there. Etc. It’s all priced in already.
There are millions of people betting on the NFL this weekend. Everything about the past is priced in already…
Actionable Sports Betting Tips
To summarize, here are a few sports betting tips I have.
- The Kelly Calculator is great, but, again, more data = merrier. Just something to consider. I try to look at every sportsbooks’ odds before placing a bet. It does NOT matter if that sportsbook is in your location or not. More data = merrier.
- The Betfair Exchange is an extremely valuable source of information and an extremely efficient betting market for major games. However, it is peer to peer betting, so it all depends on how close to game time you are. I’d recommend watching the video tutorial below if you are interested.
- Use the OddsJam Arb Betting Tool to find Positive EV plays with high confidence.
- I typically set min/max odds to +180 on the OddsJam Positive EV Tool. But… It depends on the # of games in a day. If there’s a lot of opportunity, I will typically lower it to +110 or +120. On slow days / late at night, I’ll increase it to +250 or something like that to see more opportunities. It’s all about making the data actionable. Sometimes, the EV Tool can get overwhelming on busy days.
- I’d suggest keeping the “Recommended Filters” turned on if you’re a new sports bettor.