• Rob Okell, Orio Sports

Your Guide to Beating a New League - Part II

Welcome back to the second instalment on becoming active in a new league. In this post I will document the 4 weeks of betting into a new league, along with some important lessons you can apply to your betting.

Having gone through all of the steps recommended in Part I, I decided upon the National League North as an ideal League for this exercise. It ticked all the necessary boxes previously mentioned for choosing a League:

  • Enough market liquidity to scale your bet size – Yes, good Asian offering

  • Publicly available resources & information – Yes, plentiful selection of free and paid data & media resources available

  • Large number of fixtures to scale your bet count – Yes, 22 teams in the league and an equivalent league (National League South) covered by the same data & media sources I had discovered.

I had acquired some match data to complement our existing access to Asian closing prices. My National League North prices were initially derived from these two components using the exact techniques we teach on our Odds Compilation course. Over the next 4 weeks I observed, and paper traded those prices, noting Asia open versus closing prices and recording teams that were heavily favoured or opposed by the market. The late moves were particularly insightful when they were not driven by team news.

Those market observations described above, and my qualitative research ensured I became comfortable and was able to identify where my initial prices would likely be better than the early market, and where they might not.

The majority of bets listed in this blog were executed on the day prior to match day. Liquidity was good in Asia, but Pinnacle didn’t open until match day, meaning I could be confident the larger players in this market wouldn’t be active until Saturday and there was still great value in the Friday prices.

At the end of the blog, you will see a table with all selections of the bets placed during the period (Mid-March to Mid-April ‘18).

The metrics for these bets (all bets Singles, Asia Handicap, broker executed only):

Bets – 21

Beat 100% Closing Price – 14 (66%)

Expected Value (vs Pinnacle 100% price) – 4.9%

Best EV bet – 24%

Worst – -9%

You will notice I have not included P&L in the metrics. The reason being, P&L from 21 bets will not tell you anything useful. It would tell you whether I ran above expected value or below, but it won’t give you any indication about the potential performance you can expect in the early stages of betting a new league. This is a lesson to carry into your current betting as well; try to ignore P&L for as long as you can. If you are following your process, betting when you perceive there to be value and beating the closing price, the P&L will look after itself!

Returning to the metrics detailed above, the pleasing thing about these results is the fact they were on a par with the performance I would expect from our trainees once they had become comfortable with the methodologies we teach. Although a small sample, it does show the opportunity there is in these types of markets. With the right knowledge, data and preparation. League dependent, 3%-8% is the range of Expected Returns you should be targeting. The 8% is not a ceiling of course, but if you can beat a league by greater than 8% betting the Asian lines, you will become very wealthy indeed!

From each round of fixtures, I have selected one bet to discuss the pricing and execution process, with a “lesson” to be taken from each. Furthermore, I have included a foray into the National League South due to a fantastic value opportunity that arose during that time.

Round 1 - 20/03/2018

Chorley vs Spennymoor – AH -0.25 Price 2.02 Closed 1.93

Lesson – Humility

I went into this bet very confident of a solid move in my favour. My Chorley rating was slightly above market implied rating (see our Excel Solver chapter on the Full Course for explanation of market implied ratings), and my Spennymoor rating lower. Combined my Supremacy Rating for the match had Chorley approximately 0.25 goals better than the available prices suggested. As you can see from the closing price, this move never materialised. It went a few ticks against, which meant my execution could have been improved. But, on a positive note, there was a very late move for Chorley, suggesting that any adjustments shouldn’t take my rating too far in the other direction.

What should you do in these circumstances? Re-evaluate your ratings for both teams after the match. Which rating needs adjusting? Did the performance from either team suggest you were on the right side and the market will gravitate closer to you the following week? Or is it the case one (or both) of your ratings are too far away from market to be correct?

There is a balance to strike when betting…be confident in your prices, but with the humility to always question. Leave your ego out of this game.

Round 2 - 24/03/2018

Southport vs Alfreton – AH -0.5 Price 1.93 Closed 1.81

Lesson – Market lag

Southport were a great example of how long it can take a relatively weak, inefficient opening market to catch up with the true rating of a team that undergoes significant improvement/decline. Southport for context had changed managers in October and been on a very poor run up until January. Performances improved as it seemed the new players and methods were beginning to have an impact. However, the market was still pricing Southport like they were going to be in a relegation battle.

Each week, the lines would open and get backed. Open big again, with a slight adjustment but still shorten. My ratings made Southport around 8/11 for this match. I executed at 1.94 and again at 1.92, with the market going as short as 1.7, a late correction saw it close at 1.81 for an EV of ~2%. You will see in the bet list, we had further bets on Southport in later weeks.

And this is the lesson, if the market continues to move with you each week but the early lines continue to be wrong, you can have confidence in the reasons why you are ahead of the market and therefore confidently back your rating until the market corrects itself.

Round 3 - 31/03/2018

Tamworth vs North Ferriby – AH +1.25 Price 2.06 Closed 2.04

Lesson – Execution

If you were to glance at the league table, you might wonder why on earth I would back North Ferriby on the handicap. Well this was the case as above, where I deemed the market had not adjusted to some changes at North Ferriby. However, this isn’t the lesson here.

This lesson is “Execution”. North Ferriby were very easy to oppose for any recreational bettor. Adrift at the bottom of the table playing a home team that needed the win in their own relegation battle. Tamworth were acca fodder at 2/5 and there was no reason for there to be any flow of sharp money on North Ferriby until very late (if the bigger syndicates agreed with my rating).

The price did drift before being firm late but ended up as the poor bet, -3% EV. Why, because I didn’t factor likely market behaviour, and just backed my rating. If you are betting on a side that hasn’t been popular in previous weeks (closing longer than they opened) I would always look for the market sentiment to indicate it is likely move your way before executing. Don’t blindly bet into a drifting selection that historically isn’t favoured by the market, there’s a high % chance is your rating is still wrong.

Round 4 - 07/04/18

No bet

Lesson – there will always be another match.

Please, don’t overlook this lesson. As bettors, it is our patience & discipline that is one of the biggest edges we can have over the market. The bookmakers must always provide prices, however, we can choose to bet only when we are confident the prices available are wrong. Yes, we want to maximise our turnover to increase our expected returns but when you have scaled your betting and methodology, you will be active in a number of leagues and won’t need to force bets that could be negative EV.

Round 5 - 14/04/18

Spennymoor vs North Ferriby AH +2 Price 2.00 Closed (match called off) 1.83

Lesson – Ratings Adjustments

There will be many reasons you will make adjustments from your initial ratings…expected line ups, fixture list, weather, motivation, etc. This match was a great setup for taking advantage of an adjustment the market was yet to make. Spennymoor were due to play their 4th match in 7 days due to rearranged fixtures. For a semi-pro team, this is likely to have a significant impact on their expected level of performance and the early lines had not factored this in enough. I reduced their rating accordingly and coupled with the fact my North Ferriby rating was already slightly ahead of the market, this made for a great setup. After executing the bet at 2.00, the market trended in my favour until the match was postponed that morning.

The adjustments you make will be a blend of art and science. There is always going to be an element of subjectivity in these adjustments where you will use your experience to determine how many goals better or worse a team is likely to perform. However, because of this, they can often create the best opportunities in your betting.

Rounds 5, 6, & 7

Whitehawk FC

I couldn’t write these notes without documenting the opportunity that arose in the National League South on Whitehawk FC.

Stranded at the bottom of the league, they made wholesale changes in Dec/Jan and became a very good, consistent team. My match data ratings made Whitehawk team strength close to the league average throughout this period yet the early markets were still pricing them at -0.5 goals below average. You will see from the bet list I backed them 3 times in total, for an average 8% EV.

The lesson here; keep your eyes open for the right opportunities, even if not in your specialist league or area.

Bet List


We have learnt over the 4 weeks that if you apply some very simple steps you can set yourself up for success when betting into a new League. 4 weeks, 21 bets and close to 5% expected value is indicative of what you can achieve from your betting with the right training and methodology.

If you have the aptitude to grasp these concepts, the tenacity to master the process, and the knowledge of the game, you too can successfully beat these markets. This is just one league in one country, the potential returns you can make are huge when you successfully scale your betting. To find out more about our pricing methodologies and how you can compile your own market beating prices, please get in touch or check out our courses page.

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