Team sports, like football, provide excellent opportunities for bettors to analyze data and forecast results. The wealth of information and available statistics on matches from different leagues and competitions around the globe contribute to the immense popularity of football betting.

Using an appropriate betting system increases the chances of making more winning bets on a consistent basis. The system utilized by punters should be compatible with their betting budget and risk tolerance. Once we cover the basics of the most common systems in football betting, bettors can decide which is the right one for them.

In the current publication, we provide information on arbitrage, matched, and value betting systems, as well as football betting strategies based on statistical analysis. We will begin our research by outlining some of the most commonly used football betting systems and the advantages of using them as opposed to betting at random.

Football Betting Systems and Their Advantages

People used to bet on different things since time immemorial. Nowadays, sports betting, and particularly football betting is a favorite pastime for millions of sports fans around the globe. Over the years, different strategies were developed in the hope that punters may utilize a successful approach every single time they decide to make a bet. Several of these strategies are particularly popular and can be used to win consistently from football betting.

The most widely used and profitable systems for wagering on football include the following:

  • Arbitrage betting
  • Matched betting
  • Value betting

Yet another approach to football betting is based on an analysis of the available statistical data to place informed bets.

There are many reasons why betting systems are so popular. First of all, they amplify punters’ chances of winning on a regular basis and increase their sports betting bankroll if used properly. Secondly, since betting systems rely on calculations, they take emotions out of the equation. Many bettors are often tempted to place a bet on their favorite football team simply because they hope for a win and ultimately lose their hard-earned money due to their inability to deal with their emotions. And last but not least, systems give structure to your betting, leaving a minute part of the betting process to luck.

Arbitrage Betting

Most football bettors might have already heard of arbitrage betting but are not sure how to apply this system to make financial gains from football betting. It may seem a bit confusing at first glance, but, actually, the idea behind it is quite simple. Many professional punters make a decent side income from this system.

Arbitrage betting opportunities arise from differences in market prices across different bookmakers for the same sports event. Sportsbooks calculate the probabilities of outcomes in a different manner, and hence odds discrepancies occur.

Another reason for price differences across bookmakers may simply be due to a mistake or a failure to react timely to sports news regarding a forthcoming football match. An unexpected injury of a key player might significantly change the odds for a match.

While figuring out the way arbitrage betting works, punters should be reminded of the fact that sportsbooks exist to make money and that they have an edge built into all the odds they provide, meaning that they always have a profit margin. Consequently, arbitrage betting is not possible by betting with a single bookmaker.

Quite the opposite, punters need to have at least two betting accounts with different sportsbooks to be able to put this betting system to practice. Thus, they basically cover all the possible outcomes of a single sports event by using different bookmakers for that purpose.

Example of Arbitrage Betting

  1. To better explain an arbitrage betting opportunity, we may provide an example. West Ham United is playing Everton in the Premier League. Let’s see what the odds of two different sportsbooks are for the same betting market regarding the forthcoming match. We will outline the basic steps in spotting an arbitrage betting opportunity, as well as calculate the implied probability of the offered odds and the proper distribution of the total stake.
    SportsbookStakeWest Ham UnitedDrawEvertonImplied Probability
    Sportsbook 1€143.431.763.604.5022.22%
    Sportsbook 2€356.571.813.754.2555.24%
    Total Stake€500
  2. Choose the best prices for both outcomesLet’s assume that a bettor has accounts in the two online sportsbooks from our example above and decides to explore an arbitrage betting opportunity by staking a total of €500. The first sportsbook offers odds of 1.76 for West Ham United to win and 4.50 for Everton to win. The second one offers odds of 1.81 for the Home team and 4.25 for the Away team. Bettors need to place a stake on Everton at the first sportsbook and make another stake on West Ham United at the second sportsbook. They are basically choosing the best prices for both outcomes from the two operators.
  3. Calculate the implied probability of oddsA vital step along the way is to make sure that stakes made on both outcomes will be proportional to the value of offered odds. For this purpose, bettors need to calculate the implied probability. This is done by taking 1 and dividing it by the value of odds (in Decimal format) and then multiplying the result by 100:The implied probability of Everton’s odds = 1 / 4.50 *100 = 22.22%The implied probability of West Ham United’s odds = 1 / 1.81 *100 = 55.24%
  4. Calculate the Total Arbitrage ValueNow that we have calculated that the implied probability for Everton’s odds equals 22.22%, and that of West Ham United’s odds stands at 55.24%, we simply need to sum both values, i.e. we receive the total arbitrage value of 77.46%.In case the result is less than 100%, this means that bettors have spotted a suitable opportunity for arbitrage betting, as our example suggests. An arbitrage percentage that does not exceed 100% is called a Surebet.
  5. Calculate how the total investment needs to be distributed in terms of stakes across both betsHaving found a Surebet, punters need to calculate how their total investment needs to be distributed in terms of stakes across both bets. The formula for calculating the distribution of the total investment is the following:Individual bets = (Investment x Individual Arbitrage %) / Total Arbitrage %(500 * 22.22%) / 77.46% = € 143.43
    (500 * 55.24%) / 77.46% = € 356.57

    In other words, to make sure that bettors will return the same profit from both outcomes, they need to wager € 143.42 on Everton with the first sportsbook, and € 356.57 on West Ham United with the second sportsbook.

    As a final word on arbitrage betting, we should point out that most bookies do not tolerate it, and tend to limit or close betting accounts if they happen to find evidence of it. However, it is not illegal, and as long as bettors live in a jurisdiction allowing online sports betting, it can be used as a reliable betting system.

Matched Betting

Matched betting is yet another betting system that involves betting on all possible outcomes of a sports event. Punters make a profit regardless of the outcome of the match. What differentiates matched betting from arbitrage betting is that the first makes use of sportsbooks’ promotions. These could be Welcome Bonuses, Reload Bonuses, or some current promotional offers. Matched betting is also known as back bet matching, lay bet matching, or double betting.

Due to the built-in profit margin of bookmakers, also known as vigorish, betting on all possible outcomes of a football match with a single sportsbook would certainly lead to a loss of money for bettors. That is why, to generate profit from matched betting, punters need to have an account with at least two sportsbooks or betting exchanges. At least one of the operators should offer a free bet for the system to work out.

Basically, a matched bet requires placing a back bet using a free bet promotion at a sportsbook and placing a lay bet at a betting exchange. We should point out the difference between placing a back bet and placing a lay bet. At online sportsbooks, punters always back their bets, i.e bet on a certain outcome to actually occur. On the other hand, at a betting exchange, punters can also lay bets, or bet on a certain outcome not to occur.

Similar to arbitrage betting, matched betting is completely legal, however, if sportsbooks realize that a punter bets only when there is a promotion they may suspend the account. Another disadvantage of matched betting is that punters will ultimately run out of sportsbooks to sign up for or promotions to utilize for the purposes of the system.

Value Betting

Value betting is another betting system that has gained wide popularity over the years and remains a preferred approach to sports betting for many punters. Making consistent profits from sports betting might seem like a task that is very hard to accomplish, especially to novice bettors, but in reality, it is not impossible. In their essence, value bets are bets that are placed at a value that is higher than what the actual probability of the market suggests.

In sports betting, bookmakers calculate the probabilities of outcomes based on their assessments and value bettors are supposed to spot which markets hold more value than what is reflected in the odds. Estimating the true probability is a technique that bettors master over time. In its essence, it is a skill to exploit inaccurately calculated bookmakers’ odds.

As was mentioned earlier, bookmakers adjust the odds to leave room for their profit margin, which varies across the different operators. Being aware of the real probability of an event occurring allows bettors to identify sportsbooks that offer odds higher than the said probability.

For figuring out the true probability of sports events, bettors need to be aware of the sharp and soft bookmakers within the sports betting market. Sharp bookmakers have very low-profit margins and tend to react to sports news very quickly, and hence, change their odds accordingly. They rely on high turnovers to make a profit. Sharp bookies usually offer prices that are as much close to the true probability of an outcome occurring as possible.

Soft bookmakers, on the other hand typically change their odds more slowly, and they reflect the true probability of sports events less often. Knowing which are the sharp bookmakers on the market can help Value bettors a great deal as their odds are typically close to the true probability.

To be able to utilize value betting, punters need to be aware also of the relationship between odds and probability. The latter denotes the likelihood of a certain event occurring. Higher odds mean a lower probability of an event occurring, and respectively, lower odds denote a higher probability of an event occurring.

As we already explained, to calculate the implied probability of a certain sports event expressed in percentages, bettors need to divide 1 by the Decimal odds offered, and then they should multiply the result by 100:

Implied Probability = 1 / Decimal odds format * 100

For instance, let us assume that a certain market had a 50% chance of winning, which would translate to odds of 2.00 (Decimal odds format). If a bookmaker offers odds of 2.10 for that market, that would represent a Value bet probability or the market in this case has more value than the odds reflect.

Once bettors have identified the minimum profitable odds for a certain betting market, they may use odds comparison websites to review and compare the prices of this market across different bookmakers and find the ones delivering the best value.

Kelly Criterion

While there exists a real risk for bettors to lose a great part of their bankroll to Value betting, there are also staking plans that may be followed to minimize losses. One such useful staking plan that bettors may resort to is the so-called Kelly Criterion.

This plan may yield good results provided that bettors are sure that they have identified a value bet. So, it is effectively used with Value betting. It helps bettors figure out the maximum limit of their stake for a value bet, or how much of their bankroll they can bet. Once punters have computed the chances of an event occurring, they may calculate the optimum bet amount, using the Kelly Criterion formula:

Bet amount = ((Odds х Probability – 1) / (Odds – 1)) х Bankroll

In the above formula, the probability represents the bettors’ assessment of a bet success rate.

General Comparison Between Arbitrage, Matched, and Value Betting

Now that we have already reviewed the basic principles characterizing Arbitrage, Matched, and Value betting, we may draw a comparison between the three betting systems.

Unlike Arbitrage betting and Matched betting, Value betting is not a system offering guaranteed wins, i.e. there is a higher variance in profits. However, with perseverance and diligence bettors who have chosen Value betting as their preferred approach to football betting will be able to enjoy lucrative results in the long run.

Compared to Matched betting, Value betting does not require resorting to free bet offers from bookmakers or signing up for a betting exchange. Furthermore, Value betting does not require placing two bets in a row with different operators. All that is needed is to find good market value and place a single bet. However, Value betting is characterized by a higher variance of profits.

In the table below, punters may review the basic pros and cons of the three systems, so that they can decide more easily which one meets their betting preferences.

Arbitrage BettingMatched BettingValue Betting
Guaranteed profitIncorrect calculations might lead to lossesGuaranteed profitsRequires placing two bets in a row with different operatorsHigher profits in the long termProfits are not guaranteed every time bettors place a bet
Basically, no risk is involvedQuick reactions are needed, as changes in odds occur often, and the arb opportunity may quickly disappearBasically, no risk is involvedMatched betting requires laying a bet at a betting exchangeDoes not require looking for free bet offersHigher risk involved
Betting accounts are often limited or closed by sportsbooksSince matched betting relies on promotions from bookmakers, it requires a minimum bankroll to get startedBetting accounts are often limited or closed by sportsbooksDoes not require placing two bets in a row with different operators
Requires placing two bets in a row with different operators

Betting Systems Based on Statistical Analysis

Many punters rely on statistics to achieve a consistent success rate in their betting endeavors. Collecting information has become easier due to the wealth of available data on the internet and knowledge of how to use it to their advantage considerably improves their chances of making winning bets.

As with the other betting strategies, there is not a 100% success guarantee, but knowledge of relevant data and the ability to analyze it may definitely lead to a positive track record. Sports betting operators always use statistics when they set the odds for all sports markets. It is only logical for bettors to make use of the same tools to succeed in sports betting.

If you are still wondering how you can incorporate statistics into a successful betting strategy, we can outline two stages. The first one involves using the available data to make informed decisions and the second one builds up to using the data to make your own calculations.

Depending on the betting market, punters make use of different statistical information. They may take into consideration the current league positions and the current form of both teams, several of their most recent matches, their forthcoming fixtures, and their home and away records. Many bettors who make use of more statistical indicators incorporate them into a spreadsheet to view the available information in its entirety.

At a more advanced stage, punters start using the available data to compute their own probability of matches’ outcomes. When they compare their calculations with those of bookmakers, and it turns out that an outcome is more likely to occur than what the bookmakers’ odds suggest, they have identified a value betting market. So making sense of the odds and the implied probability of markets is very important when bettors use statistics in their betting strategy.

However, punters should not forget that placing bets solely on the basis of statistical tools is not advisable. While they can considerably improve punters’ chances of placing a winning bet, the information contained in them might not be sufficient. Apart from both teams’ current form and the recent matches between them, outcomes of football matches are also impacted by other factors such as the weather, current injuries, suspensions within a team, new players added to teams, change of manager, and so on.

Yet another aspect to take into consideration is how long back in time should bettors go to make sure they use relevant data. Due to the dynamic nature of the sport and the fact that circumstances within a team change very quickly, bettors are advised to look into the team’s most recent statistics and pay attention to sports news.

Overall, in football betting, you can trust your instincts, follow tips, or make use of statistics to give structure and organization to your betting approach. Punters may also develop their own betting strategy or combine several tools to achieve higher success rates. It all comes down to personal preferences.


To sum it all up, deciding what is the best football betting system that works for you is a matter of individual preference. While arbitrage betting and matched betting guarantee punters a profit every time they place a bet and do not involve the element of risk, value betting provides opportunities to generate more substantial proceeds over the long term. Other bettors prefer to rely on statistics, sports tipsters, or use betting exchanges. Ultimately, the choice of a betting system depends on your betting goals and expectations. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.