Dale Tempest is back with his football betting insight column, and has some strong advice for anyone betting on the Bundesliga and matches behind closed doors.
When I joined Surrey Sports/Sky Bet 18 years ago in my first week the traders gave me two bits of advice: "Your opinion isn’t worth s***, the money will tell you what's going to happen" and "find someone who knows a lot more than you do and follow them".
Even to this day if I fancy a team and the Asian money (bulk of football betting) goes against my opinion I'll reduce my stake significantly, or not even bet. Over the years I can assure you it's saved me on many many occasions.
The other advice is a bit harder. Who do you follow? Whose opinion is so good you'd blindly follow them into any bet suggested? There aren't many.
Most bookmakers get ex-footballers to do their tipping as fans love to see what their former idols think. In truth they're usually the worst. I've never seen an ex-Liverpool player not tip his team. Tony Cascarino is probably the only ex-player I'd follow and there's a huge list of former stars lining up to tell you what to do.
I raise the points above because we're entering an unprecedented football betting phase. The empty stadiums of the Bundesliga, possible neutral venues when it eventually comes to the Premier League - all unknown territory.
We just don't know about so many things, so don't guess.
The excellent @StattoBets who's now writing for Sporting Life (if you take your football betting seriously this is the man to read and follow) suggests that German top-flight matches usually see around 45% home wins, 24% draws and just over 30% away wins. Those prices become 6/5 home win 16/5 draw and 9/4 for the away win. It's important to have a base to work from.
One look at the Bundesliga this weekend will have seen social media getting giddy about one home win from the nine games. The scream goes up that it's because of there being no fans, no home support. There may be a small element of truth in that but nine games is no decent sample size to be forming your opinions. There simply isn’t enough data on games played in empty stadiums anywhere in the world to suggest you should be betting with confidence in the new format.
For example, personally I would have probably expected fewer bookings than usual in the Bundesliga this past weekend, factoring in the lower intensity of the play, no fans pressuring officials etc.
But look at the numbers: 6-3-4-4-4-5-1-6-3. That's 36 yellow cards in nine matches. Once again, way too small a sample to form any view, but interesting nonetheless.
Regular followers of the German action, and I can't pretend to be one of those, will tell you to just back goals every week, Bayern and Dortmund (like Liverpool and Manchester City) to win every week and Erling Haaland to score every week. Six of the nine games delivered over 2.5 goals, the big guns delivered and the Norwegian teen scoring sensation did his bit at 5/6.
The bookmakers, of course, are aware of all these factors so the prices aren't exactly generous. So how do we find an angle?
The first thing I'd say is read all the analysis you can find. There's plenty to go at online. I may read three previews on a game and take out one stat or observation that maybe I hadn't considered. You'll know it when you read it.
So if you want to read serious previews then these are the people worth looking at.
Mark OHaire (@MarkOHaire) - He knows his stuff. Really intelligent and easy to read. He's even been finding data on the Belarus Premier League.
Stattobets (@stattobets) - Now writing for Sporting Life and is one of the best in the country. I've known this guy for many years and he's very good. He not only writes algorithms for fun but also permanently challenges and questions his own logic.
James Tippett (@JamesTippett) - Author of the excellent 'The Expected Goals Philosophy'.
Mark Taylor (@MarkTaylor0) - He'll give you some serious data. Very in-depth. It's not for everyone but I love it.
Tom Canduff (@TomC_22) - My Sporting Life colleague takes his Bundesliga very seriously and comes up regularly with a couple of gems. Worth a read.
As the cliche goes, football is of course all about opinions and we all have one. It's often clouded in fan colours or innate bias that we've formed over many years. Either way if you want to win regularly at football betting and particularly during this unprecedented period of football listen to the advice I was given 18 years ago: "Find someone who knows more than you do".
Good luck and stay safe.
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