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How to Beat the Bookies in the Football Over/Under Market



How to Beat the Bookies in the Football Over/Under Market

One of the beautiful things about football betting is the availability of several markets to bet on. Unlike in other sports where one can only bet on a few outcomes, football presents you with a host of possibilities and opportunities to make money. In this article, we’re going to explore how to beat the bookies in the game of football in – the over/under market.

The Over/Under market

This market is quite helpful in the sense that it saves you from the stress of predicting what the actual outcome of a football match will be.

With the Over/Under market, all you have to do is predict the range of goals that will be scored in any given match, and if your prediction is right, you walk away with your winnings.

In practice, you could predict there won’t be more than two goals (under 2.5) scored in a match. Or you could predict that there will be more than three goals (over 3.5) scored in a match.

However, that’s not to say that betting on the Over/Under market is cherries and cheese.

Far from it!

Below are a few steps to help you beat the bookies while betting on this market.

Step one: find the average goals per game

Before going ahead to bet on the range of goals in any football match, the first step is to first research the average number of goals scored per game by the two teams.

Ironically, this is the trick the bookies use, too, to determine the odds for the Under/Over market for any given match. They look at the number of goals a team has scored over a given season (or a specific period) and then divide this number by the total number of games played.

Step two: Calculate the probabilities of the suspected scorelines occurring

Now that you’ve researched the average number of goals your target teams score per game. The next thing is to calculate the probabilities (chances) of various suspected scorelines happening. Logically, the suspected scorelines should fall within the range of goals you believe the game can produce.

For example, if you feel a game has a tendency to be cagey and might not produce so many goals. You may be looking at a suspected scoreline like 0:0, 1:0, 1:1, or 2:1. This kind of scorelines can fall within the “under 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, or 3.5 goal range.”

If you don’t have any suspected scoreline in mind, don’t worry. You can start your probability calculation from the bottom (calculate for under/over 0.5 goals), and work your way up (as high as under/over 4.5 goals). The only difference between you and someone who has suspected scorelines in mind is that you’ll need to do more calculations.

To calculate the probabilities of the suspected scorelines happening, you’ll need to employ the “John Haigh model,” which was published in his book “Taking Chances.”

In this book, John Haigh drafted a table that calculates the probabilities of a team scoring none, one, two, three, or four or more goals based on their average number of goals per game:

Average number of goals 0 1 2 3 4 or more
0.8 45% 36% 14% 4% 1%
1.2 30% 36% 22% 9% 3%
1.6 20% 32% 26% 14% 8%
2.0 14% 27% 27% 18% 14%

Let’s say you visit a site like to bet on a match where the home team has averaged 1.2 goals per game, and the away team has averaged 0.8. You can calculate the probability for under 2.5 goals happening by using the John Haigh table above.

But before you go ahead with the calculation, you’ll first need to determine the scorelines that can lead to an under 2.5 goals situation. This would be 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 2-0, and 0-2.

Below is a table showing the calculation for each scoreline probability.

PS: Note that you can do a similar calculation for under/over 0.5, 1.5, 3.5, etc. goals. We’ve chosen under 2.5 goals because we suspect that the game (between two teams who have averaged a total of 2 goals per game) will not produce too many goals. If you can’t suspect anything, just start with 0.5 goals and work your way up.

Exact score Probability of home team
to score the indicated number
of goals
Probability of away team
to score the indicated number
of goals
of exact score
0-0 30% 45% 30% x 45% = 13.5%
1-0 35% 45% 36% x 45% = 16.2%
0-1 30% 36% 30% x 36% = 10.8%
1-1 36% 36% 36% x 36% = 12.96%
2-0 22% 45% 22% x 45% = 9.9%
0-2 30% 14% 30% x 14% = 4.2%

Total under 2.5 goals probability:


Since we know the individual probabilities of each possible scoreline that can lead to under 2.5 goals occurring, we now add them together to get the overall probability of the match ending in under 2.5 goals, which gives us:

13.5% + 16.2% + 10.8% + 12.96% + 9.9% + 4.2% = 67.5%

Step 3: convert the probability to decimal odds

Since your bookmaker will most likely present the odds for Under/Over market in decimal odds. It’s expected of us to convert the overall probability we have above into decimal odds, too.

You can use this formula to do that:

Decimal odds = 100 / probability

In the case of our 67.56% possibility, we’ll have a decimal odd of 1.48.

This means that you should only bet on under 2.5 goals for a match if you find a bookmaker offering odds of higher than 1.48.

If you can’t find such odds on any bookies’ site, use a similar approach to calculate for other ranges of goals, and then compare the odds.

Although this approach does not guarantee winnings, it does provide you with a trusted strategy that can fetch you a positive expected value.



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