Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Value betting –The Secrets of Getting Better Odds Than The Average Punter

November 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Betfair Tutorials, Horse Racing, Recent Articles

The term “Value Betting” has been around for years, but what does it actually mean and should you get involved? In this tutorial we`ll show you some highly effective betting strategies that will enable you to beat SP prices on the exchanges.

What is value betting?

In a nutshell, you must consistently obtain better prices on your selections than the betting market is offering. Easy to say, much harder to achieve!

Lets take a basic example:


In the 2.30 at Cheltenham the favourite “Good Thing” is priced @ 5/4 (2.25 decimal ). This doesn’t represent any value in our opinion.

However, about 10 minutes before the race starts more money comes in for the second favourite, causing Good Thing to drift out to 3.00. This new price should be considered value, even though there may be negative rumours/reasons for the drift.


There are many schools of thought on this, but the true reality is that in this age of information technology it’s now much harder than in the past to find discrepancies within the betting market.

This is mainly due to the popularity of odds comparison websites combined with the  transparency of the betting exchange markets. Most punters are unaware that the on course bookmakers follow the exchanges and use them to offset their liabilities. In simple terms their  actions directly influence the collective weight of money.

Ultimately,  the betting market is not only accurate, but also the most efficient it has ever been at any point in history, which means odds differences are very quickly corrected, and in the long run standout value bets are rare, especially on well fancied horses.

Betting market efficiency means a horses true chances of success are directly linked to its odds. However, most punters still base their opinions about a horses ability to win before carefully assessing its opponents.

In actual fact these punters are unwittingly selecting horses solely based around their odds. It’s no secret that horses which go off at Evens win around 50% of the time, but there is very little if any profit to be made from backing them.

This  obvious example  clearly shows the punting masse`s make poor decisions when betting on fancied horses trading very short prices.  The majority are more interested in just backing winners, no matter what the price. With this in mind we have devised a set of principles that will help you obtain value on horses which the market has overreacted on.

Value betting strategy

In order to obtain value on fancied runner’s you need to adopt a different approach. Key areas to pay attention to are:

  • Probability
  • Running styles
  • In-play bet placement

Remember trainer form, jockey trainer combinations and horse form are usually reflected in  the prices on offer. You can view our Racingpost form reading guide here.


Naturally this refers to horses estimated chances of success. When assessing races it’s worth putting favourites into one of the following three categories:

  1. Strong favourites facing weaker opponents (often trade at very short odds 2.00 and below)
  2. Average favourites racing against opponents with comparable ability (often trade on Befair between 3.00 – 4.00)
  3. False- favourites ( best of a bad bunch) (often trade on Betfair between 4.00 – 6.00)

Category one favourites, have a 50% implied chance of winning, but represent poor value

Category two favourites have a 25 to 33% implied chance of winning and represent reasonable value.

Category three favourites have between a 16 to 25% implied chance of winning and represent good value, but are unlikely to win with any consistency, especially those trading between 4.5 and 6.00 on the betting exchanges.

Horse running styles

Even though every race is considered a unique event, professional race analysts agree that each race has a beginning, middle and end. Therefore in order for a jockey to maximise a horses chances of winning they must keep their mount close to the pace without expending too much energy, to soon. In jumps racing the most important factor to consider is a horses jumping ability, as poor jumpers rarely win

Naturally each animal has at its own preferred racing style; of which there are two main types to look for:

  1. Horses that like to lead (front runners)
  2. Horses that like to be held up (hold-up runners)

Front runners like to lead in their races, although not that many actually go onto win, even after leading all the way.

If there are several front runners in a race it maybe difficult to know which horse will take the lead or race prominently first, so avoid those races.

Hold up horses are usually raced with the pack, just off the pace, until the closing stages of a race when they are prompted by their jockeys to quicken and make a challenge for the lead.

You can assess  a horses running style using the racing The simplest way to do this is by clicking a horses name in the Racingpost betting forecast, then hover yor mouse cursor over each of its last few races in the RACE OUTCOME BOX of it`s form history.

If you read the race comments above you’ll notice that there are plenty of clues there, showing just exactly how this horse likes to race.

  • Made all, soon clear. ( Took the lead and was never in danger)
  • Chased leaders until led over 10f. ( Raced close to leaders eventually taking the lead)
  • Led after the 5f. ( 5f into the race its was in the lead)
  • Led soon clear, hit 3 out. (Took the lead clear of the rest of the field but hit 3rd hurdle )
  • Made all, soon clear, 6 lengths clear 2 out. (Led from the start, clear of the field by 6 lengths)
  • Soon led. (Took the up an early lead)
  • Led 3rd.  (Led until the 3rd hurdle)
  • Always prominent, left in lead 4 out. (Good position with leaders, beat off opposition 4 hurdles out

Staking & bet placement

Everyone  has a preferred staking plan, however it’s worth bearing in mind that in every race at least 50% of the horses will trade at bigger odds in play than just before the start of the race.

Therefore we advise you to consider the following staking plans which work in conjunction with a horses running style and in-play betting market reactions.

After all horses are not machines which maintain the same position or speed throughout an entire race. For example, a horse with odds of 2.0 at SP is likely to trade above this in play, and this is where you can find value. Simply watching a few live races will confirm this.

Ask for better odds

If you back short priced fancied runners why not ask for better odds in play to maximise returns on the winners, for example;

You identify a strong favourite on Betfair which has shortened in price to 2.2, just before the start of a race.

Consider putting an offer in the market for 2.7, making sure to tick the keep bets in play radio button on your betslip.

If you placed a £10 win bet at 2.2 the returns would be £12, conversely the same £10 bet matched at 2.7 returns £17.

The screenshot below confirms that short priced favourites do trade bigger in play. Grab The Glory was a strongly fancied favourite with a Betfair SP of 2.28 – (the highest price this horse reached in-play was 12.00) Obviously we are not suggesting that all winning favourites will reach these mega-value prices in-play, but this is no isolated case and scanning the results on Betfair confirms this.  Many favourites trade bigger in play on a weekly basis. As long as you’re realistic with your in play offers there is no reason why your bets won’t be matched.

When we say realistic we mean asking for a few ticks above the starting price.

Trading market movers

For those of you prepared to experiment decent profits can be made, if you can establish reasonably clear patterns in the running styles of fancied horses, using the horse comments feature. Consider employing a (lay to back strategy ) on hold up horses which go off at much shorter odds than they should.

You can then back them for a few ticks higher than your lay bet in-play. Conversely…

Consider employing a (back to lay strategy) on front runners which are trading at value odds at SP time, for example a proven front runner trading at 4.7 should reach least 3.7 in play.

Cautionary pointers

When using in play betting strategies make sure to use very small stakes initially until -

a) you have learned how to identify the right type runners and..b) you have a good understanding of how betting exchanges work, and know how to place bets in-play.

Resources needed

  1. Betfair account with sufficient funds to place regular bets
  2. FREE racingpost membership



Value betting is perceived as a concept that involves backing BIG prices, but in our opinion this is just another one of those betting myths. Obviously, everyone would love to identify 15/1 winners on a weekly basis, unfortunately the harsh reality is this is not going happen.

A more practical approach would be to employ the in-play staking strategies described above, on horses which have a real chance of winning.

Whilst obtaining value should be considered the key ingredient to profitable, long-term betting – backing horses simply because their price represents value should be avoided at all costs.


For those of you who don’t have the time to assess horse running styles the racing provide the Trading Post Extra tipping advice. This includes analysis of what they consider to be the best in-play trades/bets of the day. This advice is Part of the Members’ Club TIPPING

Other useful resources for checking market movers and shakers are…  Value checker and Oddschecker

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that following the crowd won’t generate consistent profits. Our how-to-guides are designed to provide you with a unique edge. We would love to hear your thoughts regarding this or any of our other betting tutorials, so…

“Please feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this page to let us know what you’re thinking?”

About Jonathan Burgess

Jonathan Burgess is an official Betfair Accredited Trainer and racing columnist for various respected betting industry publications such as: Betting School, The Daily Punt and Betfair's Education site. He also runs the Profitable - False Favourites Betting Tips Club Which cost just 24 pence a day. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

More Posts

Learn how to make realistic profits from betting
Practical, profitable advise direct to your inbox
  • Proven techniques I use in my own betting
  • Honest reviews on systems and services that are profitable
  • Exclusive tips to make your betting easier & more profitable

Get your hands on one of the most successful laying systems online click on the image below...

Copyright secured by Digiprove 2010 Jonathan Burgess


5 Responses to “Value betting –The Secrets of Getting Better Odds Than The Average Punter”
  1. david says:

    hi jon i like the post on value i have bought systems that say you must get value to win but i have found out it is no good getting the biggest price if they dont win . on the in running i have been looking at backing front runners then lay of at shorter price for a green book as you said i look at the pace of race going cd winners type of track suit front runners or held up class etc keep up the good work

    • Jonathan says:


      Thank you for your comment regarding value betting. As you say there’s no use backing big prices as they rarely win. Besides the majority of punters simply don’t have the stomach for this kind betting. There are so many possibilities in running, unfortunately most want to use Betfair in such a one-dimensional way -We covered this factor in another post on the blog. Why are people so afraid of asking for the odds they want? As long as they’re realistic there should be no reason to why they don’t get matched. to be honest the whole reason for using a betting exchanges is to give punters many many options that are simply not available with the high Street bookies.

  2. EASWARAN-India says:

    @thanks jonathan, for your views
    it is indeed not possible to play at optimal price and maintain a winning streak,
    nevertheless using DUAL BETTING BANK,
    one can back entire field since the percentage of the total horses do not go beyond 101 or 102 % at the most in the betfair,
    what do you feel about this method.
    you opinion will enthrall me
    thank you being a wonderful teacher
    sorry Master
    love and gratitude

  3. steve says:

    Hi Jon, another very informative article.

    If any readers are interested Fracsoft Site details horses style of running & full form breakdown

    All info is avaiable free,.I find it very useful.



Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] With this in mind I considered this a three horse race, with the main contenders being Accordingtolawrenec 7/1, Peptide Rose 11/4, Kaituna 15/2. Everything else ranged from 40/1 to 100/1. This is something we discussed in our tutorial value betting – the secrets of getting better odds than the average punter [...]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software