Value in Sports Betting

I use the term “value” in my analysis all the time when giving reasons for a pick on a given day. What exactly is “value” when it comes to sports betting? If it’s a spread pick, it doesn’t cost any more to bet on it. But where does the value come from?

When you look at the word value in the dictionary as a noun, you’ll find it defined as “an amount, as of goods, services or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price of return.” As a verb, value is defined as “to estimate the value or worth of; to rate a certain price; to appraise; to reckon with a certain number, power, importance, etc.”

Simply put, value is a “good buy”. When investing in a stock or real estate, value is anything that you get at a lower price now than what the future price will be. If you purchase land at 70% of the cost it would normally be bought at, you have gotten good value if the land comes with no strings attached and no problems. You’ve essentially bought the land for 70 cents on the dollar.

If that land investment turns into a huge profit down the road, you’ve gotten good “value”. You paid 30% less for the land and now you’re making a profit. The more cash you make in comparison to what you spent on the land determines the value.

Of course, there are a lot of things that go into figuring out if land has value at the purchasing price. You have to consider how close or far away it is from an urban area, by the surrounding neighborhoods, how much traffic it gets, the per capita income of local residents, and much, much more.

For example, land bought in a residential area but is located in an area that sees a lot of industrial traffic is considered to have a diminished value. Take that same piece of land with the same kind of traffic and use it for an industrial mall and the value would increase.

Now, you might be wondering how this relates to sports handicapping. Value in sports handicapping is determined by the point spread, total or money line. Is the bet you’re making on either side good value because it’s sure to pay off? The answer is no because nothing is a sure thing in sports betting.

The key is to find value in lines over time that will lead to a great return on investment. The more value you find in a line, the more you should be betting on it. The less value you find, the less you should be betting on it. In this way, you can see both aspects of value as it relates to the present (the spread) and the future (increased bet size for bigger profit).

Value can come from a number of different aspects of sports betting, whether it be trends, matchups, depth and other factors. Since the betting public prefers to the favored team, I find it a lot easier finding value on underdogs. You really can find value in moneylines where it costs more to win less on the favored team, thus taking the underdog where you more by betting less.

Straight up records mean nothing in sports betting. It’s all about the point spread. A team sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference can have a better ATS record than a team at the top. An NBA team may have a straight up record of 4-12 but an ATS record of 13-3. A team like this would offer great value against the spread but terrible value on the money line.

To find value, I like to set a line for myself after handicapping the game and then check my line against the actual Vegas line. If it’s 3 or more points off, there’s usually some value there. If it’s 5-10 points off, then it’s a play that I really love and will not hesitate to load up on.

One way to find value is to compare the lines from previous games to the current one. This especially works when comparing lines against similar teams that your team is playing that day. Another is to check head-to-head history and see what past lines were in comparison to today’s line. I especially like using this for NBA totals. If teams tend to play in defensive battles when they get together, then they are likely to do so again, or vice versa.

The best way to maximize the value you get on a particular game is to shop around for the best lines. One sportsbook can give you an extra half-point on the spread, and another may offer you more cash on the moneyline. The best way to take advantage is to be signed up at various books with your account loaded and ready to go.