Tried To Get Rich Through Soccer Betting. Here's What We Found Out About the Odds and Probability.
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Tried To Get Rich Through Soccer Betting. Here's What We Found Out About the Odds and Probability.

Ming Feng
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Premier League is Back!

The Premier League is back, and off I went to perform my yearly ritual.

I am not talking about that Singtel subscription plan to catch the matches as of yet.

Having been an Arsenal FC fan since the age of 12, I witnessed Arsenal’s golden era when the Arsenal Invincibles went 49 games unbeaten.

Arsenal's 49 unbeaten record invincibles
Source: Premierleague.com

When I received my first paycheque, I made a yearly commitment to place a $50 bet on Arsenal winning the title at the Singapore Pools (sg pools), in hopes of being a millionaire one day.

I couldn’t be more wrong.


10 years in and $500 poorer, here’s what I learnt about soccer betting odds.

Making Sense of Soccer Betting Odds – Championship Winner

There are a few different types of bet which you can throw your money away place your bet at Singapore Pools.

Firstly, we look at the most popular type, where you can place your bet on who will emerge as the Championship Winner.

English Premier 2020/21 Championship winner odds
Source: Singaporepools.com as of 15 September 2020

What this means is that if you place a $1 bet on Crystal Palace, should they emerge as the English Premier League Champion, you will receive a return of $500!

Given the odds shown above, here are the implied probabilities that the bookmaker (in this case, Singapore Pools) priced at.

TeamOddsImplied Probability of Winning The Title
Manchester City1.8056%
Liverpool2.3543%
Chelsea7.0014%
Manchester United10.0010%
Arsenal13.007.7%
Tottenham40.002.5%
Leeds70.001.4%
Leicester80.001.3%
Everton100.001%
Wolverhampton150.000.7%
Sheffield United200.000.5%
Southampton250.000.4%
Newcastle300.000.3%
Burnley300.000.3%
Westham300.000.3%
Crystal Palace500.000.2%
Aston Villa500.000.2%
Brighton500.000.2%
Fulham500.000.2%
West Bromwich500.000.2%

For a start, why on Earth is Manchester United’s implied probability of winning higher than Arsenal! Oi!

Next, you would have noticed by now the risk that you are undertaking for each bet you placed. Even if you are betting a dollar on Manchester City, you are technically reducing your net worth by 44%.

Soccer betting meme
Source: 9gag.com

Placing Your Bet on Match Winner – 1X2

If you wish to bet on the winner of a particular match, or commonly known as bet type 1X2 at the Singapore Pools, here’s what you need to know.

Betting on win, draw, lose is one of the easiest ways to bet on your favourite soccer team. If you think that you are looking at a 33.33% chance of winning when betting on a win/draw/lose, you might want to think again.

Soccer betting Liverpool vs Newcastle
Source: Singaporepools.com

Using the above as an example, if you bet on Newcastle winning and if they did win, you get $15 return for every dollar bet placed.

With that, you can calculate the implied probabilities for Liverpool by

1∕(Odds of Liverpool Winning) = 1/1.12 = 89.29%

Here are the implied probabilities:

1X2OddsImplied Probability
Liverpool1.1289.29%
Draw7.5013.33%
Newcastle15.006.67%

If you were to add up all the implied probabilities, you would have noticed that it adds up to 109.29%.

That excess 9.29% will be what we call a bookmakers’ margin. As bookmakers can very rarely make the perfect odds, they need to find a way to lock-in a guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome of the football match. The in-built margin ensures a bookie’s advantage to win long term.

Note that now that you are now no longer playing at 100% but close to 110% probability, the 89.29% winning probability of Liverpool is actually closer to 81%.

Neymar diving
Source: 9gag

Like Neymar’s Oscar-worthy dive, your world is a lie.

If the bookie wins in the long run, it means that consumers will ultimately end up losing.


The Asian Handicap Betting – 1/2 Goal

Now that we are on the topic of soccer betting, there is a very popular form of soccer betting that is very popular in Asia.

Asians simply love Math, don’t we?

Asian Handicap is designed to eliminate the possibility of a draw in a soccer match. The half goal (1/2 goal) is implemented to give either team a clear win since it is impossible to score half a goal.

The calculation on how to win is quite straight forward.

For example:

Asian Handicap Singapore Pools Soccer Betting Half goal
Source: Singaporepools.com

In this case,

  • Newcastle has a “virtual disadvantage” of -1.5 goals
  • Blackburn has a “virtual head start” of +1.5 goals

Whatever the final result may be, you need to add in the virtual disadvantage/advantage to the final scoreline to see if you have won your bet.

Assuming the final scoreline to be a draw at

  • Newcastle 0
  • Blackburn 0

If you bought Blackburn’s advantage at +1.5, your final scoreline will be at:

  • Newcastle 0
  • Blackburn 1.5

In this case, you get $1.30 from your $1 bet. Huat ah!

Like every other odds being laid out, the handicap goals and odds are calculated by the risk team of Singapore Pools to ensure their profitability in the long run!

Jesse Lingard score goal
Source: giphy

You would have noticed by now that the stronger team will usually be allocated the handicap goal. In this case, Newcastle (the stronger team) needs to maintain at least a two goals lead for you to win your bet.

A two goals lead can be quite challenging even for strong teams, especially in a competitive league like the English Premier League.


Singapore Pools Multiples Betting

For those who wish to take up a higher risk for their bets, they can go for the Multiples bet option.

Multiples bet option with the Singapore Pools is a combination of two or more selections. In order to win your bet, you need all your selections to be accurate. The odds of the bet will be the sum of all the odds multiplied.

Assuming you placed your bet on three different teams to win over the weekend.

  • Team A has an odd of 2.0
  • Team B has an odd of 1.5
  • Team C has an odd of 5.0

A Multiples bet allows you to place a dollar bet on the above three bets at one go. In the event that Team A, B and C all win their matches, you will receive exponential returns on your bet.

In this case, the return for every dollar from the Multiples bet will be

2.0 x 1.5 x 5.0 = 15

Do take note that the probability of all three events happening can be quite challenging. Using the same example, and assuming no bookie’s margin,

  • Team A has a 50% chance of winning
  • Team B has a 67% chance of winning
  • Team C has a 5% chance of winning

Using these probabilities, the final probability of all three events occurring is

50% x 67% x 5% = 1.68%

Bringing out the statistic geekiness in us, we calculate the expected return in this case.

You have a 1.68% chance of winning $15 and a 98.33% chance of losing everything. Your expected return, in this case, is $0.25.

The expected return is way lower than your initial betting cost. Again, you are on the losing end.


By now you should have realised that there is no way to beat the system in the long run.

Ultimately, the bookmaker is made up by a team of people constantly looking to produce odds that closely represent the chance of an occurrence, enough to tempt consumers to place a bet, but in the long run, make money out of it. These people are usually referred to as Risk Analysts, Traders or Odds Compilers and they are so good at their job to be able to even take into account different variables throughout the season.

These variables include home vs away performance, injuries to players, the referee and even the form of the players and teams.

National Council on Problem Gambling

If you know of someone who has spent quite a portion of their savings trying to game the math of soccer betting, you may want to refer them to this hotline:

1800-6-668-668

About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
You can contribute your thoughts like Ming Feng here.

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