Sports Betting 101: Legal and Ethical Ways to Place Your Bets

Sports form an integral part of the modern society. Aside from the obvious health benefits of direct participation in sports, even indirect participation in the form of fans has a profound impact on people’s lives. Nothing brings people from different backgrounds together like sports. Huddling together in a stadium or in front of a TV is a great bonding experience. However, there is another form of indirect participation in sports which can actually help you earn some money. It’s the wonderful world of sports betting. For most people, sports betting is a slippery slope. They wonder if it’s possible to make a living from betting. In this post, we are going to discuss how you can learn about sports betting and make a living using it.

When encountered with this question, most people respond with a resounding no. That negativity is often followed up with a clique such as “the bookie always wins”, or “it’s a mug’s game”.

To the majority of the public it’s unthinkable that one could consistently earn from sports betting. But while it’s true that sports betting is indeed a “mug’s game” for most punters, there’s no doubt that a small minority of professional gamblers, traders and value bettors exist and even thrive in many cases. And don’t worry about any jail time, there are many legitimate ways to make a living through sports betting.

In fact, you can start earning from sports betting immediately, but you have to be willing to devote some time & effort for it.

Here are the techniques you can use to make a living from sports betting.

1. Matched Betting

Simply put, matched betting is a technique for earning risk-free profits from sports betting bonuses & free bets. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone looking to make their first big leap into professional gambling without the risk of blowing their bankroll.

Matched Betting familiarises newcomers with using the decimal odds format, and the Betfair exchange. Think of it as the first step to professional betting.

And if you already know a thing or two about Matched Betting, then you’ll benefit from subscribing to a Top Matched Betting Service — which includes an ongoing calendar of current bonuses. For a relatively small monthly fee of £18-20, a specialist service ensures you’ll never miss out on any profitable betting promotions on offer. 

2. Arbitrage Betting

Onwards from matched betting, is the second step of arbitrage betting. It is also sometimes referred to as “arbing” or “sure betting”. If armed with the right tools, arbitrage betting is simple and highly profitable. 

Professional bettors ‘arb’ sports betting sites by covering all outcomes of an event, in order to profit from the difference in their odds.

To place a basic arbitrage bet, you need to utilize the “Back high, Lay low” philosophy. This means backing value odds at the Bookmaker and then Laying against it with an opposing exchange bet at lower odds in order to lock-in risk free profits. It is, in fact, the essence of successful sports trading.

Arbing opportunities are not limited to a particular sport or market and usually extend to many sports and markets. Sports betting blog Church of Betting points out that arbs even exist in popular e-Sports such as the League of Legends (LoL).

Arbitrage opportunities are short-lived, so you’ll need an arb finder to frequently identify them.  RebelBetting is one of the best available on the market today.

3. Value Betting

Once you’ve built up a bankroll from the risk-free methods of Matched Betting and Arbing, then it’s time to move onto techniques which require that you to take calculated risks.

In betting terminology, ‘value’ implies that the actual likelihood of your selected team to win isn’t as high as the odds suggest. By picking value odds, the ‘edge’ is in the player’s favour.

As far as value betting is concerned, winning and losing are always bundled together. However, your “plus EV edge” means that you’ll end up on top over the long-haul.

Value bettors who use bookmaker accounts are usually in profit. In some cases, they also include betting exchanges like Betfair. Regardless of the platform, sports betting pros always consider their sports value bets as investments.

Finding Value Bets

Chiefly, there are two main types of value bets:

Odds that go on to fall – If you are able to pre-empt when odds will decline in value, then you’re onto a winning strategy. A value bet is achieved when the odds settle at a lower price than what you had backed. 

Odds that imply an outcome is less likely to occur than reality – Rather than predicting a fall in the odds (and relying entirely on the accuracy of the market), you may already know that the real chance of an outcome happening is more likely than the odds suggest. For example, if the odds on offer are 10/1 at a Bookmaker, but you’ve calculated the “fair” chance as 7/1 then the payout on a win at the Bookmaker makes the bet profitable (assuming you’re appraisal is accurate). It’s therefore another type of “value bet”.

A value bet finder subscription is an easy way to find value. Trademate Sports is a good software for that purpose.


In case you don’t want to subscribe to value bet finder, you can use the help of a tipster.

Finding legitimate tipsters is quite tough. The world is filled with scammers in this field so you need to tread very carefully. Take the time to educate yourself on the risks involved in following tipsters by reading my post: Can Tipsters Be Trusted?

Where tipsters are concerned, finding that “diamond in the rough” is almost impossible without high levels of transparency and thorough proofing methods. Tiostrr is a highly recommended tool for this as all records on it are fully audited.

4. Strategies and Systems

While arbitrage, value betting and tipster services offer profitable selections to subscribers, bettors will have their account limited or closed in due course. This puts a ceiling on profitability. At some point in your betting career, you’d want to seek sustainable profitability.

A good way to go about that is finding your own betting system/model. But it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, and it takes a lot of hard work. Nobody is going to just hand you a winning formula. And if they did, then those opportunities would be competitive and very short-lived.

Professionals are highly secretive about their methods. Try Googling the “best betting strategies”, the “betting holy grail”, or the “best ways to model odds and predict sports outcomes”. What you’ll find are a lot of discussions between punters, even some pretty detailed sports betting studies that have been carried out. You’ll also be recommended a lot of Tipsters. But you won’t find anything concrete, so research deeply.

5. Sports Trading

Following on nicely from strategies & systems, is trading on the Betting Exchanges. While all of the same principles of value betting apply to sports trading, it involves an even greater element of skill and discipline.

Becoming a successful sports trader is incredibly difficult. It’s estimated that less than 1% of Betfair’s customers earn a consistent profit. And this is partly because the markets are so quick to correct. In other words, they’re highly efficient.

The efficiency of the betting exchange is often debated. However, based on a significant amount of data, it can be safely concluded that:

In an active sports trading market, the odds are (on average) an accurate reflection of the real life chance of an event occurring. Betfair prices are sharp — unlike Bookie odds.

So if you want to become a successful Betfair trader, you’ll need to be smart, dedicated, and willing to disregard poor advice such as “go with your gut”. In short: you need to be smarter, or know something more intelligent than the collective ‘crowd‘, on the exchange. This takes a highly methodical approach.

Successful Trading Tips

Here’s a summary of some of the key points that can help you separate you from the average sports trader:

Learn basic trading strategies. Learn about the techniques that every sports trader needs to familiarise themselves with.

Use Excel or better. You need to use a program capable of running simultaneous calculations on a large set of data. MATLAB is a good option.

Request your prices. On the betting exchange you have the option to request a better price than what’s available. Using a site like Betfair will give you major advantages in this regard.

Learn when to strike. Through practice and data collection, you will learn to improve the timing of your bets. It’s a vitally important skill — because once the market readjusts and corrects itself, value betting opportunities vanish as prices revert back to being (approximately) correct again.

Invest in software. Sports trading is highly competitive. You cannot expect to find an edge if you’re slow to the punch. A Betfair tool subscription will keep you up to date with new information.

Use less-popular markets. The most popular markets tend to be more efficient/accurate, and therefore offer less value to punters. Focus on ones that contain less public knowledge (represented by liquidity on the exchange).

Be original. Search for data items or influences that the betting markets (i.e. the public) either give too little — or too much — attention to. This will help to identify a bias and give you an advantage. I recommend reading my posts on Expected Goals, and Football Data.

Don’t let the market influence your estimates. Relying too heavily on the betting market odds will prevent you from beating the market.

Be aware of changes in variables. For horse racing this could be a non-runner. In soccer, a key player (e.g. striker) may be injured in training and it affects an upcoming fixture. Consider whether or not your trading model is impacted by these changes.

The problem you will inevitably run into is that, for the most part, you won’t be the only person who’s attempted (or attempting) your approach. As pessimistic as it sounds, your view is unlikely to outsmart the opinions of thousands of others combined on the betting exchange. That’s the reality of sports trading.

6. Become a Tipster 

Ok, this one isn’t technically professional betting.

There are however plenty of Tipsters that make a successful living by selling their selections to a gambling audience. So if you’re able to build up an active Twitter following, or a gambling-oriented mailing list, then perhaps you can achieve this too.

To prove your worth and demonstrate transparency to potential subscribers, I recommend signing up to Tipstrr where you can create a Tipster profile to publish your selections.

Betting Misconceptions

There are a number of basic misconceptions about sports betting, such as:

“There’s no point betting at high odds. It doesn’t ever win”

“The Bookmaker always gets it right” and 

“Why would I use Betfair? Bookies have the best odds.”

There’s plenty more which I’ve included in my list of the Top 10 Sports Betting Myths. Make a mental note of these, as it’ll put you in good stead while you’re starting out.

You’ll need to disregard much of the common advice given by the majority of sports betting affiliate sites, and approach your project with an open mind.

Do you need Math skills for sports betting?

The most successful bettors don’t have the persistent inclination of only to “pick the winners”, nor have any interest in the actual event (ironically). The most methodical approaches to gambling are the ones that succeed the most.

But does it all have to be so technical and complex? Is it possible to spot value from intuition, or basic knowledge of a sport?

In fact, there are many uninitiated and less knowledgeable people who tend to outsmart the bookies.

Some people are wiser at betting than others. Some people also tend to have a great ‘sense’ for identifying value. However, betting blindly without any mathematical justification is totally not recommended. Hitting hot streaks from a few winners over the weekend is fun, but great stretches of luck tend to even out with bad stretches in the long run.

So without a doubt, you need to be analytical to reach the highest levels of professional sports betting. And if that’s not you, then no sweat. There’s nothing to stop you exploiting several of the entry-level techniques outlined earlier on in this post. That still puts you light-years ahead of the pack.

Sports betting, like everything else in life, can only make you as successful or rich as you allow it to be.

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