Doing your homework (or the logbook) well learned
I started this post by paraphrasing those well-known Star Trek TV Intros, and it comes very handy to tell you about one of the mistakes that my colleagues are making the most now that we are finishing the first round of the League: Having a preconceived idea about a certain team and thinking that this team is invariable throughout the season. That there can’t be anything that changes their philosophy in a specific match. Avoiding analysing each match individually and referring to “what each team is like in general”. Wrong! That leads us to generalise about betting, and if everything was so easy as to get it right by thinking in very general concepts, we would all be rich.
Who hasn’t heard a friend say ‘There will be a lot of goals because Madrid are very good up top’ or ‘without Messi Barça could lose’. True as fists, but not accurate enough to bet on without analysing their matches.
Let’s take an example: the first leg of the Copa del Rey round of 16 at the Bernabéu between Real Madrid and Sevilla. Zidane’s team, fresh from the Club World Cup and the Christmas break, and Sampaoli’s team, threatening in terms of level and play. Many injuries in the local ranks, and immediately my friends jumped in: “Today Madrid loses, Sevilla is going to take the ball away from them”. Well, a very succulent 3-0 win that gave me more than one joy… and not so many for them.
The moral of the story: let’s not just stick to simple and superficial analyses. Zidane knew how to read the game Sampaoli was playing, with a lot of ‘midfield’, and he filled his team with players who were hungry to play, as they didn’t do it often. James came on… and the Colombian had a great game. A much more lopsided match than the odds had predicted: a Merengue victory by more than two goals difference gave us $3.10 per $ wagered.
Betting strategies, based on a track record
You are going to tell me that what I am telling you now is a contradiction to what I have just explained, but quite the opposite… it is just the best example of the fact that any advice on sports betting must be taken in context. I have told you that you have to analyse the particular conditions of each match: injuries, suspensions, line-ups and the momentum of each team. But you also have to do this on the basis of the ‘trend’ that each of these teams maintains over the course of a season. Neither so much, nor so bald, as they say…
If a team never comes back from behind, or does so very rarely, don’t bet on it; but if it does so frequently and there is a chance that it will face a relaxed match, we can take a risk.
Example: Real Madrid again, in this case in the games against Deportivo de la Coruña at the beginning of December, and also in the Clasico. I know we already analysed the Barcelona game, but it’s just to give more weight to the argument. Think about the timing of the clash against the Galicians: a home game, a priori simple, but just before facing a trip of thousands of kilometres to play an important title; with half of your mind on that stage and another quarter of it on Christmas. On a cold night… perfect conditions for Deportivo to spring a surprise and take a 1-2 lead with just a few minutes to go. But there’s Mariano, Ramos, and ‘the flower of Zidane’. Said and done. The ‘result after 75 minutes’ market could give a lot of money for both Deportivo’s draw and their win. And at that moment it was a win, and it was paid at 12$.
Go slowly with the risks
If we already know how a certain team is doing in a specific match, and also, because of the type of opponent they are facing and the needs they may have, we can ‘draw’ a context of a possible outcome of the match in a more or less reasonable way, paying attention to the markets that give the best performance for that team and increasing our level of risk is the key.
It’s not enough for me to simply say that “Atletico usually win by the minimum away from home”, because then the man with the sledgehammer comes along and makes me take a loss.
The best example: Villarreal’s 3-0 win over Simeone’s side on matchday 15 of La Liga. My friends took it as a premature farewell of the colchoneros to the championship and wanted to start betting against them every weekend. But they heeded my advice. “Wait, Simeone is now putting them in ‘little ants’ mode,” I told them. Said and done: We took the ‘Half-time/end of the match’ market, placing draws at the end of the first halves and colchoneros wins at the end. Two good green odds of 4.00 and 4.33 against Las Palmas and Eibar have proved us right.
Varying the betting markets
As logical as it is likely to be, this is one of the betting strategies that is most likely to be abandoned as soon as we get overconfident. If, as we said before, the market ‘Atletico draws at half time and then wins the game at the end’ gives us success in two or three games… does that mean that I will always do the same in ALL La Liga games? Not at all.
The same team undergoes chameleon-like transformations depending on the moment of the season in which we find ourselves. You have to analyse the context to be aware of the possible opportunities.
If Zidane’s Real Madrid had until recently gone 40 games without losing, it was difficult to bet against them wanting to succeed. But within that premise, seeing that Los Blancos tend to concede goals in almost all of their matches is a way to be successful. Does that mean that they will always score goals against Los Blancos? There are games and moments when it’s complicated, despite everything. And if not, I can say ‘mea culpa’ in the Real Madrid – Granada matchday 17 at the Bernabéu. A 5-0 that was paid at 10.00, while I was advocating a Merengue victory with goals for both teams. You learn from everything… and my friends are there. Even from my mistakes.