When trading football most of us like to “check the stats” before the game starts. This practice will (in theory) give us an edge over the market and help us make winning decisions, right? Commonly available football stats include:
- Head 2 Head
- Recent Form
- Average goals per game
- Number of goals per player
- And so on…..
These stats are great - quick and easy to access, easy to understand and some bookies even spoon feed them to us from their own websites (that should tell you something!). The big problem is, if you’ve not already guessed it is these stats are basically worthless on their own.
If you want to develop a serious edge over the market and start winning big you will need to supercharge the way you use stats in order to spot the real value on offer. Follow these 5 steps to start supercharging your football stats today!
1) Understand the lack of history in mainstream stats
Think back to the 2017 / 2018 Premier League when Man City won 18 games in a row, an amazing achievement of course and one which will provide for some great football stats. There is however little opportunity to make money here because by the time most people discover these stats the amazing form will have been “priced in” by the markets and the value gone.
In such circumstances with such short term performance always priced in finding a long term edge will always be difficult, sure you might jump in on the trend and have a few small wins but this is not a sustainable strategy in the long run! The sporting press, bookies and tipsters all love these short term stats and for those out of the loop it can seem very convincing that you should bet according to such stats, this is one reason why most “clued up” bettors still go on to lose!
I have found from personal experience stats worth looking at show how over many seasons history does repeat itself and simply basing decisions on one season or even worse the last 5 games will ultimately provide little to no value.
2) Spotting the less obvious trends
Most sports are in fact much more random than we are lead to believe and whilst patterns do form they are usually either obvious or not obvious, it is only the latter which are of any real value.
Less obvious stats usually involve moving away from the “who’s going to win” markets and towards those favouring other, less popular events happening in the game. It is also worth looking at certain stats across several seasons and you will be amazed at the way patterns form and history seemingly repeats itself. By doing this and staying away from the mainstream markets you will start to understand how real value can exist in the markets.
Once you start finding such value you will realise with some time and patience building systems which can extract such value from the markets really can be developed.
3) Extracting Value
Once you have developed a way of finding less obvious patterns you will then need to develop a way of extracting value form the market.
Since no one can predict the future your system will face both wins and losses and in order to make money you will need to extract cash from the market over the long run. In other words you win over the long run by your winnings gradually exceeding your losses, not by continually trying to guess who’s going to win!
I have myself found a few of my winning trading systems have developed around 3 - 5% return over the long run which means patience is needed to ride out the losing streaks and maximise the good runs. This patience and trusting in your system is also part of your edge as a trader since many people will be put off trading altogether by an inevitable losing streak. Ultimately this means those who can ride some losses out are better placed to keep developing their systems further and are more likely to make money consistently over the long term!
4) Develop your own questions
Stats are just numbers at the end of the day, you can have all the stats in the world but they are meaningless until you can put them into some kind of context.
For example the earlier example of Man City winning 18 games in a row proves some “patterns” do exist but when we see the short term and mainstream nature of these stats they become meaningless for deriving value from.
Learn to question how likely less obvious things are to happen and using historical stats make up your own percentages for such events. If you convert your own percentages to decimal odds (1 / percentage) you will see if your system for finding such stats has any value over the market price. In other words if you think it is more likely to happen then the market suggests then you should be backing this event over the long run and it should eventually be profitable.
5) Build your own stats database
Whilst many sites exist which provide “ready-to-eat” football stats as I have mentioned earlier they will not include the kind of less obvious stats which often lead to a winning edge.
Look at building your own football stats database and learn how to create advanced queries of it. For example this could be a series of Excel sheets with Macros used to sort data or better still a relational database and a self developed library of SQL queries used to extract such useful data.
How much time you put into learning to work with data really will pay dividends in the long run, advanced database sills such as using SQL are not ideal for everyone but becoming proficient in sorting and filtering data in Excel is a must!
Whatever you do don’t rely on pre-digested football stats being spoon fed to you!