Many football bettors base all or most of their betting decisions on gut instinct, but while this might work out in some cases, you may find that a more methodical approach yields more consistent results. One of the most important steps towards adopting this type of approach is to spend some time analysing the form of the teams in question in order to get a more accurate picture of the probabilities of each potential outcome. This means obtaining some stats, particularly the home and away records of each team, and using them to create basic probabilities that you can then refine using a range of other factors.

The first thing that you need to understand about form is that home advantage is real. Across nearly all the professional leagues, it’s been proven that around 50% of games tend to end up with home wins, 25% end up as draws, and the other 25% are away wins. There are many reasons for this. For starters, the home team is used to playing on that particular pitch, and their tactics will reflect this. For example, teams with a wide pitch will tend to adopt a more expansive style to make use of the full width of the pitch, which might not be as effective on narrower pitches. Secondly, the away team has to travel to the game, which means that they will be more tired and uncomfortable after the journey than the home team. Perhaps most importantly, the home team tends to have a much bigger crowd cheering them on, which boosts morale and has the opposite effect on the opposing team.

The upshot of all this is that the separate home and away forms of each team carry more weight than the overall form, and therefore it is these statistics that should be used as a starting point for an evaluation of the probabilities. In the case of a home win, the probability can be worked out by adding the number of the home team’s home wins to the number of away losses by the visitors, and divide the total by the number of games played over that period of time. For a draw, you add the number of home draws by the home team and the number of away draws by the visitors, and divide them by the total number of games. Away win probabilities can be worked out by adding the number of away losses by the home team to the number of away wins by the visitors, and dividing by the total games.

For example, if the home team has a home form for the season of 7 – 3 – 2 (wins – draws –losses) and the visitors have an away form of 3 – 4 – 5, the basic probabilities for each result work out something like this:

Home win = 7 (Home team’s home wins) + 5 (Visitor’s away losses) = 12 out of 24 total games = 50%

Draw = 3 + 4 = 7 of 24 = 29.16%

Away win = 2 (Home team’s away losses) + 3 (Visitor’s away wins) = 5 of 24 = 20.83%

You can, of course take results from previous seasons into account, and this can be particularly nearer the start of the season. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that teams can change quite drastically from season to season, so if you make the comparison period too long, you will get a less accurate result.

It should be noted that this should merely be a starting point for evaluating probabilities. You should also take into account factors such as the availability of key players such as the star striker or the captain, the extra support and motivation in derby games, and the fatiguing effects of a congested fixture list. These intangibles can’t be entered into a calculator directly, but with a more detailed consideration of statistics – using the Fink Tank model for example – you can begin to assign numerical values to these and refine these over time to reflect the accuracy of the statistics that you assign to these eventualities. Once you have arrived at a fairly effective method for assigning probabilities, you can start to apply them to betting systems such as the Kelly Strategy and Value Betting in order to find the most attractive bets and decide how much to place on each.

This article was based on an extract from the comprehensive Football Betting Strategy guide on footballbettingodds.co.uk.