It is practically impossible to eliminate emotion when betting on football. Years of petty grudges, prejudices, and misplaced loyalties that build up over the years and decades means your heart often plays as much a role as your head. Personally, I can never back against my own team, or for their rivals, and after St Mirren single handedly ruined two accumulators in the space of a month back in the 80s, I’ve avoided them ever since.
Concentrating on different leagues within the UK, or trying your hand at international leagues where there is little or no history to shade your decisions can help, but there is another way.
Separating the Head from the Heart
This article will try a different approach. It will concentrate on using the tried and tested methods used in a completely different game and adopting them to betting on the beautiful game. It uses science and mathematics instead of assumed knowledge and gut instinct.
We certainly won’t be the first to look upon football in terms of pound signs and numbers purely in an attempt to become rich. Sepp Blatter has made a career of it.
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The strategies we are going to borrow will be from Blackjack (also known as 21 and similar to British Pontoon). Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games around and more time, effort and ingenuity has gone into creating betting strategies for it than any other game on the planet. Though to the outsider it is a simple game, it is a fascinating one that becomes more and more complex the more you delve into it, and it is certainly worth your while to read up on the basics.
On the surface it is hard to see how we can use the techniques that work for a card game for a sport with so much human intervention, but it is actually something that can be done relatively easily.
The first thing to remember is that this method has no need for traditional tips. The second is that this is a mid to long term strategy, to be used over the length of a season.
The three techniques we will concentrate on are progressions, doubling down and splitting. For those familiar with blackjack, these will be second nature, but for those whose sum knowledge of the game are hazy memories from that stag do in Blackpool or Vegas 2 years ago; don’t worry, they are relatively straightforward. If you understand blackjack card values and basic strategy, you’ll be fine.
The progression techniques we are going to be using originated with games that have a probability of around even, and we should not be too greedy. Remember this is a long term strategy, and that is designed to give results over a season as opposed to big dramatic wins in the first two or three weeks.
With that in mind, choose a market to bet on and stick to it, for example:
The top four in the Premier League to win
The leaders in each of the English four leagues to win
The bottom placed team in each of the four leagues to lose.
Man City, Real Madrid and Celtic to win
The next thing to do is to choose your unit stake. Again you need to stick with this, so choose one that you are comfortable with and can afford. Multiply the number by 55, and if you aren’t comfortable betting that amount, reduce it.
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This technique, common in roulette as well as blackjack, simply dictates how much you stake on your next bet, depending on what happened on the last one. There are many variations, but they can be split into two types – positive and negative. Using a positive one means you advance down the sequence each time you are successful, so in effect you pay for future big wins out of past winnings.
Negative progressions are the opposite. You increase your bets when you lose. This is obviously the more risky method as you are leaving yourself exposed to some possible big losses if you hit a long losing streak. It is up to you, but for this, a negative progression works best.
Next you need to decide on the specific type of progression. The most popular, basic and dangerous is the Martingale method. Originating in 18th century France for use in betting on the outcome of a coin toss, all it involves is that you double your stake every time you lose. This continues until you win, in which case you return to your unit stake. As you can see, using this method, you can very quickly be betting large amounts of your hard earned, in order to recoup your losses.
My favourite method – because it is less risky, and also because it involves some remarkable but simple maths – is the Fibonnaci sequence. Named after a 12th century Italian mathematician, this amazing sequence of numbers influences everything from the shape of galaxies to the mating habits of rabbits.
Instead of simply doubling up every time you lose, progress down the next number in the sequence, multiplying your unit stake by the relevant number each time, returning to 1 when you win.
Now we can start to get a bit clever, using two popular blackjack techniques, the first of which is doubling down. In blackjack, this is simply placing another bet (the same size as your original one) in return for another card. There are many theories on when to do this in blackjack, but it’s simple for our football method. If one of your selections has already lost (the advantage of staggered kick-offs), place a new bet for the remaining fixtures.
The second method is a proactive one. If you perceive that the chances of your selections coming in are slim due to one or two of the matches, split the bet into 2, placing the unit bet on each. These last two techniques allow you to influence the chances of success, but should be used sparingly.
Though it may sound unorthodox, this is a good alternative strategy to have in your armory. Any advantage we can gain over the bookies is surely no bad thing.