The over/under variety of betting is particularly simple when it comes to soccer matches. Because soccer does not usually bring about an abundance of goals each and every game, the over/under way to bet is the route a lot of people do take. Betting on the over/under means you are simply betting on the final amount of total goals scored by both teams. Of course with each game the odds change and so too does the over/under itself.
A lot of sites now offer live over/under betting in addition to the other types of live betting they offer. What is unfortunate about live over/under betting is that if just 1 goal is scored in a game, and then a bettor decides to place a live soccer bet on the over/under, the odds have changed drastically because there is so few goals scored in a soccer match, typically.
Example of a Soccer Over Under
A sample of an over/under bet is very easy to convey. Let’s say that Crystal Palace is playing Reading in a game during the regular season. If the over/under is 2.5, a bettor wagering on the over is betting that at least 3 goals will be scored cumulatively by both sides. If that is the case then that bettor wins the pre-specified odds. If someone is taking the under they are saying that no more than 2 goals are going to be scored in the game.
With live betting, the odds and winning amounts change as goals are scored and as matches progress. Over/Under betting is probably the easiest and most straightforward form of betting on soccer because it only relies on one thing…goals.
Handicapping Soccer Totals
Many sports punters make wagers based on their gut feel or follow a football tipping website. For those interested in taking it further I decided to discuss handicapping soccer totals.
Step one is to calculate the total goals that would be expected in an average game. On the date I’m writing this article there have been 651 goals scored in 228 Barclays Premier League games this season. That’s an average of 2.855 goals per game, but more importantly 1.4275 goals per team per game.
Step two is to pick a game to handicap and compare each team’s goals for and goals against to the average. In this case I’ll use a match of South Hampton at Everton. This season South Hampton is scoring 1.3636 goals per game and allowing 1.8182 per game. Everton is scoring 1.5909 per and allowing 1.1818 per.
Step three is to calculate each team’s offense and defense poker rankings. Southampton is scoring -0.0639 from the league average and allowing +0.3907 from the league average. For Everton scoring is +0.1634 and allowed is -0.2457.
Step four is to calculate the expected goals for each team. To calculate goals for Southampton: add league average (1.4275) with their offensive ranking (-0.0639) and Everton’s defensive ranking (-0.2457) and see South Hamptons calculation is 1.1179. The same math for Everton is 1.4275+0.1634+0.3907=1.9816.
Step five is the complex part and is outside the scope of this article. To however touch on this: the pace of a game greatly increases once the first goal is scored. In matches where both teams are low scoring you might need to adjust totals down. When both teams are high scoring and will remain on the attack you’ll need to adjust the scoring up. Also adjustments should be made for injuries, form, motivation, red card situations and the like. This is something that comes with experience. For the purpose of this article – no adjustments are needed.
Step six is to normalize the data. This is because in time things tend to revert towards the mean. In this case let’s add their calculated expectations to the league average and divide by two. Southampton calculates as (1.1179+1.4275)/2=1.27 and Everton as (1.9816+1.4275)/2=1.70. This means we’re expecting 2.97 goals in this match.
Step seven is calculating the chances of over and under. Online bookmakers offer all sorts of over/under markets. The method I’m going to use works best on games where a push is not possible. So let’s calculate over/under 2.5 goals using the Poisson function of Microsoft Excel. For this I open a spreadsheet and enter =POISSON(2.5, 2.97, true) hit the tab key and that cell will show 0.4299 which means 43% of the time we’re going to go under 2.5 goals which leaves 57% of the time we’ll go over 3 goals.
Step eight is to use an odds converter. Plugging in 57% I see the odds for over 2.5 goals are -133 (1.754). Plugging in 43% I see the odds for under 2.5 goals are +133 (2.326).
This is a rough intro to handicapping soccer over under total bets. The key to taking it further will be focus on step five. You now have enough info to get the wheels turning and I wish you the best of luck.