Can using league tables help us choose winning bets?


Here at Bettingmetrics we are working incredibly hard every day in order to provide you with information worth reading which will help you to improve your betting results and generally speaking increase your betting knowledge.

We are happy to finally announce that our partnership with Winabobatoo is now official. Winabobatoo has been around since 2006 and it is run by Mike Lindley. He is exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable person when it comes to statistics, maths and of course football betting. He is one of the most respected people in the UK tipping industry. He massively distinguishes from 95% of the tipsters as he does not like bookmakers, he does not have any affiliate deals with them and his primary and sincere goal is to educate people and help them make some side income from football betting.

We are really happy that Mike Lindley agreed to write educational articles for Bettingmetrics. We are confident that by sharing his knowledge we are making a leap towards our major goal - helping our users increase their betting profits.

Below is his first article which explains why it is difficult to pick up winners based on team position in the league! Enjoy reading!

Using League Tables To Select Football Bets


How do we know whether a team is a good team or a bad team? What most of the punters do is to generally look at the league tables and hope that the teams at the top are the good teams and the one at the bottom are the bad once.

Another question we should answer is: How does that help when it comes to selecting bets?

Using my database of over 20,000 matches played since 2006-07, I will answer that question.

First of all, to be able to make comparisons of the teams’ different abilities, we need to create a simple rating; a rating based on the number of points a team has achieved relative to the number of games they’ve played.

How is this done? If the home team has 22 points from 10 games played, its rating is 22 divided by 10 = 2.20. If the away team has 18 points from 11 games played, its rating is 18 divided by 11 = 1.636.

The match rating is the home rating of 2.20 minus the away rating of 1.636 which equals 0.564. To remove the decimal places, the rating is multiplied by 100. The rating for this particular match would be 56.

Don’t worry, you don’t really need to know how to calculate the ratings, I’ve already done that. All you need to understand is that high positive ratings mean the home team was above the away team in the league table when the match was played, low negative numbers mean the away team was above the home side when the match was played.

Which games are included in my analysis? My analysis covers matches played in the top five English leagues from 2006-07 to 2016-17 and the top league in Scotland.

The scale of ratings range from 200+ when the home team is much better than the away team down to -200 or lower when the away team is much better than the home side.

All betting returns are calculated by placing a one point single win bets on teams. The odds used are the odds available around 48 hours before the matches were due to be played. The odds are based on the best odds available from five leading UK bookmakers

The first table shows the returns from backing all home teams relative to their Points Per Game rating:

Do not be scared of the table and the amount of numbers you see. I will talk you through the table. The first column shows the range of “Points Per Game” ratings. The top row shows the games where the home team is much better than the away side. These are the games where the match ratings are 200 or greater.

Various ratings bands are shown in the first column. The games in the bottom row are when the away team is much better than the home team. These ratings are -200 or lower.

The Win% column shows that when the PPG rating is 200 or greater, the home teams have won 68.43% of the time. Following the numbers down the Win% column, as the rating drops, the percentage of home wins drops. When the match rating is -200 or lower, the home team only wins 21.39% of the time.

As we would probably expect, the league table “Points Per Game” rating is clearly a good predictor of the percentage chances of the home teams’ likely win rate. The better home teams beat the lesser away teams more often than not.

The two columns on the far right side of the table show the amount returned from backing the teams in each of the rows, along with the percentage profit or loss.

Unfortunately, the teams that win most often, in the higher ratings groups, don’t make money. Backing the 1,020 home teams with a match rating of 200 or better made a loss of 35.19 points, -3.45%.

Obviously bookmakers are aware of this group’s high win chances and price the teams up accordingly. Unfortunately, we can’t make money from simply backing the teams assessed as being the most superior based on Points Per Game.

The next table shows the returns from backing all away teams:

Working up from the bottom, the Win% column shows 55.97% of away teams have won when the rating is -200 or lower. Backing the 1,122 away sides has made a profit of +13.23 point, or 1.18%.

The away win rates decline as we move up the table. Only 12.55% of away teams have won matches when the rating is 200 or better.

Similar to the home cases, the PPG ratings have identified where the most likely away winners will be but backing the teams that win most often isn’t the easy route to making money.

To complete the picture, the next table shows the returns from backing the draw:

The highest percentage of draws (28.10%) occurs in the ratings range of -99 to -50. Blindly backing all draws falling in that band has made a loss of 164.44 points, -4.77%. This is amongst the lowest losses of any draw ratings band, but again, it’s not the route to profitable betting.

We need to analyse this data further, in order to do that I will simplify the results.

The next table shows the combined returns for backing the home teams, draws, and away teams when the PPG rating is zero or higher. This is when the home team has the same or better Points Per Game rating than the away side.

When the league table says the home team is better, backing all home teams would find 52.17% winners but the losses from backing those home sides is 5.03%.

Because the home team is superior, we may expect the returns from backing the away teams in these games to be very poor. This is not the case. Backing the away teams has only lost 1.34%. This is from a win rate of 22.95%.

Examining the games when the away team is above the home side in the table shows:

Backing every away team would have found 37.65% winners and would have lost 4.22%. Backing the home sides would have found fewer winners (35.31%) but would have lost less. The home losses are 3.45%.

Consequently, backing the better home sides has made a loss of 5.03%; backing the worse home teams has only lost 3.45%.

Backing the better away sides has lost 4.22%; backing the worse away sides has lost 1.34%.

This evidence probably goes against what most bettors would have imagined would happen.

Investigating even further, what would happen if we limited home bets to home teams in games where the PPG rating is zero or above providing we can bet at even money or better?

In effect, the league table is saying the home team is best, and we’ve eliminated all home teams that are priced odds on.

We would have lost even more money than had we limited our bets to the teams at longer odds!

Similarly, what happens if we only bet on away teams when they’re above the home team in the table and their odds are 3.00 or better? The league table is saying the away teams are best and the odds are relatively high.

The answer is the same as before. This group has also lost more than would have been lost from backing away teams at shorter odds.

According to the league tables, the games that should perhaps appear to offer the best betting value actually offer the worst value!

The conclusion is that whilst league tables are a good indicator of the likely outcome of matches, the bookmakers will have already factored this into their pricing model (the way they come up with the odds). Unfortunately, this makes it extremely difficult to make money when using league tables as your main guide to bet selection.

As most bettors don’t look beyond league tables, it is clear to see why the bookmakers are likely to win, leaving the majority of punters to lose.

The league tables don’t lie but used in isolation, regrettably, they don’t tell bettors enough to give us an edge over the bookmakers.

We hope you enjoyed reading the above piece of information. This is the first educational article provided by Mike Lindley but many others will come. Our target is to publish anywhere between 1 and 2 articles each month so you do not only read the articles but you also have enough time to test some strategies. In order to be sure whether they work well for you I strongly recommend you to keep track of your bets. Obviously the best betting tracker tool around is Bettingmetrics, it is still for free so do not hesitate to give it a try.

As we are early in the season and you are still looking for a tipping service to add in your betting portfolio I would strongly recommend you to read the following article "how to choose a tipster".

Betting spreadsheet.