Ask any shepherd and he’ll tell you the one way you can always tell it’s a sheep is that it follows the other sheep. Ask any bookmaker and he’ll tell you the same thing about football punters. They’re a similar breed that always follow the herd, and that’s why bookmakers always look forward to the big football matches.
Football punters back favourites. Not always, but nearly always. Favourites are at low prices by definition, which means that if you back them, your winnings are small when you win, and your losses are bigger when you lose. That means you need to be right the majority of the time to have any chance of making a profit. And football, as they say, is a funny old game. You get shocks and surprises, and when that happens the bookies cash in big time.
So Why Do Football Bettors Behave Differently
My theory is that it’s the frequency of events that makes the difference. Sure, there’s a lot of football played around the world and plenty on TV, but normally there’s only a couple of games on TV per day, and then only at the weekend. That means when you’ve bet, you have to wait quite a long time for your next bet.
Compare that with horse racing when there are 15-20 races per day and you can maybe see the difference. A racing punter can get his next bet on and see the result within a few minutes, a football punter has to wait maybe until the next day. That means he’ll be less likely to take a longer odds bet as it has less chance of winning, and he’ll then have to sit on his loss for a long time before he can attempt to make it back.
How Punters Can Get Better Odds
One way to get out of this cycle is to look for price boosts or enhanced odds. These are special offers from the bookmakers where prices on popular bets are increased to far higher than their normal level. These offers are typically for new customers only so there will be a limit to how many you can get, but if you’re prepared to spend a couple of minutes registering a new account you can get your hands on some great deals.
As an example, you might look for enhanced odds on Man Utd’s next match. You can pretty much guarantee that one or more bookmakers will have an offer on this. If United are trading at 1/2 at most bookies, the offer might see the price enhanced to something like 4/1. Obviously this is way higher than the true probability of them winning, making it a value bet. The enhanced odds means that you can place this bet with the odds in your favour. It’s like backing a long shot that is pretty much guaranteed to come in.
Like I said you can’t do this on every match, but when you see the opportunity you should take it.