Sports betting can have very volatile results for the average punter, and NBA games are no exception. There is a way to minimize said volatility, however, and to make money off of wagering on NBA events in the long run. This concept is called value betting.
Utilizing this strategy requires you to adopt a completely different way of thinking, because you must focus only on selections that can give you an edge over the bookmaker. Therefore, even if a team’s chances of winning are slim, if there is value in the odds offered, then placing a bet on the team in question is the correct choice. It might sound contradictory to what you might be used to if you are new to the concept, but this approach ensures that you will, eventually, be able to turn NBA betting into a profitable hobby.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Value betting requires a high level of discipline, as well as vast amounts of knowledge of the sport and teams you plan to wager on. It can also take a considerable amount of time compared to recreational wagering, so this strategy is best suited for punters willing to turn NBA betting into a second job.
NBA Value Betting Explained
Value betting involves finding an event that has overpriced odds. That is, the actual probability of the event happening is higher than the odds suggest. A simple way of conceptualizing this is the classic coin toss bet. The chances of the coin landing on heads or tails are 50% for either outcome. Translating this into decimal odds gives us 2.00, and this reflects the true probability of a coin flip.
Now, we shall imagine that this coin toss is available at a sportsbook. It has been some time since the initial odds were released, and so far, more punters have wagered on heads than on tails. In order to fix this problem, the sportsbook decides to increase the odds of the less popular option to 2.5, but remember that the true probability of the coin toss has not changed. It is still 50%. In other words, the update turned wagering on tails into what we call a value bet, seeing as the odds are now better than the probability would dictate. We can even calculate just how much value we get out of this bet:
Value = (Presented Odds x Real Probability) – 100%
(2.5 x 50)-100 = 125 – 100 = 25%
Although rarely as substantial, this type of value occurs quite often at ordinary sportsbooks, especially since they tend to adjust the odds so that bettors engage with both outcomes equally. In addition, recreational bookies tend to reference the odds of what we call sharp sportsbooks, but they are seldom quick to do so. Instead, they will often prioritize catering to their recreational audience instead of aiming for more accurate odds. Mistakes, albeit rare, can also result in value opportunities.
In addition, the opposite process is called creating an odds tissue. When you use this formula, you calculate the odds of an outcome based on its probability, and it is fairly straightforward all in all:
100% / probability = decimal odds
100/50 = 2.0 (odds for a getting tails in a coin toss)
Determining the real probability of an event is also important, but this can be a tricky process. It requires you to take all possible data pertaining to the event into account. This includes player injuries, scheduling advantages or disadvantages, the team’s past and recent performances, anything that could affect the players emotionally before and during the event, and so on and so forth. Basically, all of the knowledge that makes professional NBA punters experts in this sports betting niche.
Although paying close attention to all of this information will always be crucial, you can take an easier route and simply use sharp sportsbooks to determine the real value yourself. Better yet, you could take advantage of value betting software and bots that allow you to make the proper calculations and find value bet opportunities fairly quickly. Since value betting is a popular practice among sharp punters, you will definitely be able to find tools that will cater to your own wagering needs.
If you wish to become a successful NBA value bettor, it is important to be as informed as possible about the way odds are chosen at recreational bookies. Earlier, we focused on how the odds tend to fluctuate since sportsbooks will adjust them based on various factors, and how this usually means that the odds at soft sportsbooks rarely reflect the actual chances of an outcome occurring.
However, even the initial odds offered by a sportsbook never reflect the true outcome of an event. To demonstrate, we will calculate the implied probability of two outcomes of the following selections:
This is the formula we will use to find the implied probability of either option: 100 / decimal odds = Implied Probability
100 / 2.10 = 47.619%
100 / 1.75 = 57.142%
Now we can just add them together and find the implied probability of both of the outcomes combined:
47.619 + 57.142 = 104.76%
As you can see, the result exceeds 100%, which is impossible in a real scenario. In other words, the odds here do not reflect the actual probability. This is what we call the overround, which will always exceed 100% since the extra percentage, in this case, 4.76%, reflects roughly how much profit a bookie expects to make from an event.
Soft and Sharp Sportsbooks
The sports betting sphere is more diverse than ever nowadays. Moreover, thanks to the NBA being an exceptionally popular league, you have an ample choice to pick from if this is your main focus as a value bettor. A lot of research goes into deciding which bookies you will use, but before you start looking, you should learn the difference between the two types of sportsbooks you will come across – soft bookies and sharp bookmakers.
The former refers to your average bookmaker. Soft bookies are the most numerous, and they primarily cater to the needs of casual punters who wager for fun. They are also an integral part of value betting, because it is within these bookies’ listings where you will find the vast majority of value betting opportunities.
What is interesting about them is that they usually use sharp sportsbooks as a reference when it comes to the odds, but they also take other factors into consideration. As mentioned above, engagement plays a big role in how they update their odds, much more than being concerned with whether or not those odds are accurate. Recreational bookmakers are also far slower to update their odds, and all of this translates to a reasonable number of opportunities to find value bets.
A key factor of soft bookies is that they will limit sharp punters if they manage to find out that you are not a recreational punter. It is harder to get caught when you stick to popular leagues, however, which makes the NBA one of the best choices for value bettors.
Sharp sportsbooks operate differently. In fact, you could say their approach is basically the exact opposite of conventional bookies. Instead of catering to recreational bettors, these bookies focus on sharp punters and through meticulous management of the analytics pertaining to an event, ensure that the odds they offer are as close to the real probability of an outcome as possible. This is achieved thanks to the advanced software they utilize, as well as data they use from professional punters. Professional sportsbooks make for excellent sources of information in terms of quickly determining the actual value of a bet. If you plan to give value betting a try, making use of both sharp and soft bookies will be quite important.
Apart from sharp sportsbooks, there is another category of bookies that cater to professional punters, and those are betting exchanges. These websites allow bettors to place back and lay bets, i.e., bet against one another. Exchanges are the only other type of sports betting website that will not restrict professional punters. As for value bets, they do not appear as frequently as they do at soft bookies. The bettor-led approach, however, does occasionally lead to excellent value opportunities, as punters are bound to make mistakes from time to time.
How to Find NBA Value Bets
Getting your hands on value bets can be an arduous task thanks to the ever-increasing number of sportsbooks, as well as the sheer variety of bets each website offers. It is for this reason that a software category dubbed value bet finders was created. If you wish to find value bets within a reasonable amount of time, it is best to take advantage of such software. There are many options on the internet, and they will all significantly reduce the time it takes to find opportunities, and they will generally make it easier to find possible value bets.
With that in mind, we should also emphasize that it is best you avoid betting blindly. The programs on offer are, indeed, great, but relying on them alone might result in some confusing situations. Being knowledgeable regarding basketball is crucial for any NBA value bettor. Things such as knowing the teams well, doing research prior to the game regarding scheduling disadvantages or injuries, and being familiar with how NBA sports betting works, in general, are all important pieces of information. This, along with knowing how the odds work in terms of value, will be of great use during your value wagering journey.
Cognitive Bias and How It Can Influence NBA Value Betting
It might seem obvious, but the fact that NBA punters are only human can have a significant influence on their performance. This means that they are just as likely to fall victim to psychological phenomena that can affect their wagering habits negatively. What we are referring to is cognitive bias, that is, basing wagering decisions not on true logic but on prejudices and biased views that do not reflect an event’s true probability or the bet’s value.
A key takeaway from the phenomena we will examine is that you will not be able to overcome them fully. What you can do, however, is learn a bit more about them and how you could be affected. Self-awareness goes a long way to becoming a better decision-maker and value punter, and it can help you control these biases better.
Gambler’s fallacy is one of the most dangerous examples of cognitive bias out there. This is an approach to wagering that is detrimental to your growth as a punter and your bankroll as a whole. It entails seeing patterns when there are none and believing that the frequency of previous bet results will somehow influence the outcomes of future bets in terms of probability. This is false. Each bet is independent of your previous ones, and going through a losing streak does not necessarily mean that you will win next time.
To illustrate, we will once again look at the coin flip. There will be times when you could, for instance, see the coin land on tails ten times in a row. In such situations, many punters would believe that the next flip is most likely to be heads. As we emphasized before, though, this logic is not sound. Regardless of the perceived streak, the probability of the coin flip has not changed. Each coin flip is an individual instance of a 50/50 chance of either outcome occurring, and that probability does not change.
Another example that showcases this phenomenon quite well is a real game of roulette that occurred in the Monte Carlo casino in 1913. The ball landed on black 26 consecutive times, and many bettors lost a lot of money by placing multiple bets on red. They did so thinking the ball would surely land on red soon because of the perceived black streak, but that way of thinking ended up being costly.
The next problem you should avoid, when possible, is succumbing to confirmation bias. This phenomenon refers to how we are likely to only take into consideration evidence that supports a desired outcome. Data that does not support one’s own hypothesis, on the other hand, often goes ignored.
As for how this can affect sports betting in particular, a common instance of this bias is how some punters will refuse to accept statistics that suggest a team they wish to win might have lower chances to succeed than they believe. Neglecting to analyze important data like this can easily lead bettors astray, and many punters have suffered avoidable losses due to this.
Ratio bias is one of the reasons we emphasized how important it is to learn to assess the probability of an outcome. It dictates that, when presented with two outcomes, most individuals would gravitate towards the one with the larger numbers.
Due to this, punters will often disregard favorites with fairly good value in favor of the underdog’s larger odds. On the other hand, the opposite could also happen, and a punter could bet on the favorite simply because their chances of winning are higher, again not paying any mind to the actual value, or lack thereof, of this hypothetical selection’s odds.
The way some punters prefer to place bets on parlays with numerous legs is another good example of this, especially when we consider that, in actuality, the larger the multi, the more difficult it is to win anything.
Outcome bias can be difficult to combat. It can be observed when the outcome of a bet affects the wagering decision of a future game, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the results of the first event.
For instance, let us say you and an associate were instructed to flip a coin, and picking the right side would win each of you $5. Once done, you got the $5, and your associate lost. When asked to evaluate your decisions, you rated your own choice highly, but your partner was not pleased with themselves. Moreover, they emphasized that they would choose the other side in the future if given a chance.
In reality, neither of you was right or wrong, and your decisions were the same in terms of value. The only thing that determined whether or not you would win was pure chance, and yet, the outcome certainly affected both of your assessments. This is what we mean when we mention cognitive bias.
The reason this phenomenon is so dangerous to punters is how an outcome can stop you from properly evaluating your past actions. If you made a good bet on a team that ultimately lost, this does not change the fact that your decision was good. But the outcome might make you believe your strategy was off, and you would thus change it in the future. The opposite is also true, where a bad wagering decision that leads to a win might trick you into thinking that a flawed strategy is good long-term when, in truth, it is not.
Hindsight bias refers to the phenomenon where individuals view past events as more predictable than they truly were. Basically, we can attribute the availability of the hindsight we have currently to predictions we had made in the past, even though we did not have the same knowledge of events to come back then.
The danger of hindsight bias is that it can easily cloud our judgment when we are trying to access past betting results. Punters are, on average, far more likely to attribute a win to their skill and a loss to bad luck simply because they now know what happened in the event in question. This can lead to the same problem we ran into when we focused on outcome bias, in other words, doubling down on strategies that have effectiveness, which is questionable at best, and abandoning ones that are actually useful.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Like all NBA betting techniques and strategies, value betting has its fair share of pros and cons. It will not be the ideal wagering solution for absolutely everyone, but it can be excellent for the right bettors. This is all reliant on a punter’s preferences, their willingness to adapt to the seemingly counterintuitive nature of this technique, and the time they can dedicate to placing bets on NBA games.
Benefits of NBA Value Betting
There is much to like about value betting when we consider that it can be far better for sharp punters than other sharp wagering techniques. First, it is one of the most stable ways of profiting off of wagering on the NBA, provided you do it properly, of course.
In addition, the risk of having your accounts be gubbed is far lower if you partake in NBA value betting as opposed to arbing and matched betting. The reasons behind this are two. First of all, the NBA is a pretty substantial league, so the risk of a sportsbook noticing your value bets among the numerous available listings is lower than them taking note of suspicious, niche bets. In addition, value betting is not as aggressive as matched betting or arbing, so this also results in a relatively low chance of getting gubbed. The significance of this cannot be understated, given how difficult it can be for matched bettors, in particular, to stick to that strategy as opposed to value punters who just need to be a bit careful to keep their accounts intact.
Speaking of which, another advantage value betting has over arbing and matched betting is that it is easier to do. For instance, there is no need to utilize a betting exchange if you wish to avoid this, and you will also not need to make as many sports betting accounts. Using a relatively smaller number of bookies is perfectly serviceable if you wish to value bet and do not mind missing out on some value betting opportunities. All of this also means that wagering on mobile tends to be easier for value punters too.
Possible Drawbacks and Risks of NBA Value Betting
Although value betting is, in general, the best method of wagering on sports, it does have its fair share of risks and drawbacks. First and foremost, it requires a lot from you as a punter. You will need to become an expert at placing bets on NBA events and be careful with how you pick value betting opportunities. Even with the aid of software, a certain level of dedication is still important.
It does have its risks, and as we just suggested, one of them is that value betting is not something that can make money 100% of the time. Unlike strategies like arbing and matched betting, there is still gambling involved, so you need to be prepared. Moreover, with value betting, you will occasionally wager on bets that have a high chance of losing. The value is more important, and this is what makes this technique useful, but it will nonetheless be frustrating until you get used to it.
In addition, there is also the risk of getting gubbed by your sportsbooks. As established, this is not as much of a threat as it is to arbitrage punters, especially if you stick to NBA events, but it is a possibility nonetheless. Soft bookmakers are, in general, not friendly towards sharp bettors.
If you absolutely love NBA basketball and are looking to use your extensive knowledge to win money through wagering on NBA events, value betting is your best option. It is an excellent betting technique in terms of balancing the ability to win money and longevity in terms of how long you will be able to wager at the same soft sportsbooks.
Sharp punters can use value betting software that can help find value opportunities within the dozens upon dozens of bookies out there, and this does considerably speed up the process. Naturally, value betting is not ideal and some will find other strategies more to their liking, and it does have its disadvantages. The dedication that it takes alone can be particularly unappealing to certain punters. At the same time, though, it gives professional NBA bettors the perfect opportunity to put all of their expertise to good use. Thus, whether value betting will be right for you is all a matter of what type of NBA bettor you are.