For those who have read through the betting 101 articles you may be excited about actually putting some of what you have learnt into action, but are at the same time quite daunted about the fact that without accurate modelling and handicapping methods it is impossible to ensure that you are placing positive expected value bets.

Handicapping isn’t an exact science, and while here on Sport Betting Insider we will try to help give you the tools you need to handicap games yourself (such as using methods like the Total Shots Ratio), sometimes this can be difficult for beginner punters, or for those who simply do not have the time to handicap matches themselves.

The sale of ratings and rated prices in nothing new in the racing world, there are hundreds of different providers offering their rated prices for races every day. However for sport punters there isn’t quite the range of products available as we might see for racing, but providers do exist (even if they are sometimes drowned out by the large number of tipsters). One such provider is the Z-Code System, which we recently reviewed. In this article we will look at how you can use a ratings provider like Z-Code to easily handicap bets, and find value rather than just the winners promised by tipsters.

Comparing available odds to rated prices

For this example I will choose four MLB matches using the Z-Code VIP Club ratings, and compare those prices to those currently offered by Pinnacle Sport. For each match I will assess the prices for the home team win, away team win, home team handicap, away team handicap, and match total using the ratings provided by Z-Code.

Money Line & Handicap Available & Rated Odds

Money Line Handicap
Team Pinnacle Rated Price Pinnacle Rated Price
Royals 2.9 2.17 1.86 1.56
Athletics 1.48 1.85 2.07 2.78
Yankees 2.03 1.89 1.54 1.64
Red Sox 1.9 2.13 2.70 2.56
Rangers 2.42 2.44 1.73 1.59
Indians 1.64 1.69 2.26 2.70
Twins 2.1 2.56 1.56 1.69
White Sox 1.84 1.64 2.62 2.44

As we can see from the above table, the rated prices made from converting probability into an odd (100/probability), gives us some potential positive expected value bets. These can be found where the available odds are greater than the rated price.

The value bets include the Royals at both the money line and handicap, the Yankees at the money line, Red Sox at the handicap, Rangers at the handicap, and White Sox and both the money line and handicap.

Interestingly in this example the Z-Code System rated the Yankees favourite in their match against the Red Sox, while Pinnacle Sport had the Red Sox as favourites. Z-Code also rated the Royals a much better chance at winning the match than Pinnacle.

Lets now take a look at the match totals for each of the four matches.

Match Totals Available & Rated Odds

Over Odds Under Odds
Match Total Pinnacle Rated Price Pinnacle Rated Price
Royals v A’s 7 1.90 1.37 2.00 3.70
Yankees v Red Sox 9 2.02 1.56 1.88 2.78
Rangers v Indians 9 1.93 1.89 1.97 2.13
Twins v White Sox 9 2.10 1.82 1.82 2.22

In each of the four matches we can find at least one value bet with Z-Code rated price lower than the Pinnacle odds on the over for all matches.

Calculating Expected Value

Now that we have found some possible betting option in each of the four matches we will calculate the expected value for each bet. The calculations below are using a single dollar as the bet stake. Note that all other possible options would result in negative expected value which is why they are not being considered.

Expected Value of possible bets

Match/Team Bet Expected Value
Royals v A’s Over 0.39
Yankees v Red Sox Over 0.29
Rangers v Indians Over 0.02
Twins v White Sox Over 0.16
Royals Money Line 0.33
Royals Handicap 0.19
Yankees Money Line 0.08
Red Sox Handicap 0.05
Rangers Handicap 0.09
White Sox Money Line 0.12
White Sox Handicap 0.07

As we can see from our table of expected values, we would expect to make the best returns on the over in the Royals v Athletics and Yankees v Red Sox and the Royals at the money line.

Selecting which options to bet

Unfortunately unlike simply calculating expected value there is no hard and fast, or simple way to decide on which bets you actually place. Assuming that you are confident in the rated prices for each match it certainly wouldn’t be unreasonable to bet all the options, or you may select those that represent the best value. It is here that you may also disqualify some bets for other reasons not accounted for in the rated price such as weather or a late injury. Some bets may also disqualify each other, for example the Yankees money line bet and the Red Sox line bet cannot both win.

What is important to note is that up until now at no stage have we looked at who will win the matches, only how our rated prices have compared to the prices offered by Pinnacle.

What does our rating service suggest?

Z-Code however provides more than just rated prices, it has a range of other statistics and information, as well as its own suggested bets for matches. As a (mini) review of  Z-Code, lets see what they say about our selections.

Royals v Athletics– unsurprisingly from our expected value calculations Z-Code rates the over and Royals at the handicap as 5 stars and recommended bets. The Royals are also rated highly on their power rankings. There is no mention of the Royals value at the money line.

Yankees v Red Sox- Z-Code have made a special note about the Yankees being their rated favourites for the match and are not shying away from their numbers. Again the over and the handicap are rated 5 stars but the handicap did not provide any bets on our analysis, so for us the only recommended bet is the over.

Rangers v Indians–  our analysis had the over and the Rangers at the handicap as providing value, however Z-Code rates the over 0 stars (it was the lowest of our expected values), and only rates the Indians at the line. Z-Codes suggested bet is with the Indians at the money line, however our analysis showed it was not providing value.

Twins v White Sox– Z-Code has rated the White Sox as 4 stars and a suggested bet at the money line, and has also suggested the over for the match. Our numbers also saw value in the White Sox at the handicap, but this was not suggested by Z-Code.

If we were to only look at bets which qualify as value, and are recommended by Z-Code we would be placing 5 bets. The Royals at the handicap, White Sox at the money line, and the Royals v Athletics, Twins v White Sox and Yankees v Red Sox all at the over.

What were the match results?

The point of this article was to show beginner punters how to use rated prices/probability in their individual punting, however I know that everyone would want to know how the matches actually turned out. Of course over such a small sample it is impossible to judge whether the handicapping provided by Z-Code is accurate, and expected value shows up over time rather than just four matches.

Here are the results of each of the positive expected value bets identified from the four matches, as well as the profit or loss from placing a $1 bet.

Match/Team Bet Type Expected Value Result P/L
Royals v A’s Over 0.39 win 0.90
Yankees v Red Sox Over 0.29 win 1.02
Rangers v Indians Over 0.02 loss -1.00
Twins v White Sox Over 0.16 win 1.10
Royals Money Line 0.33 loss -1.00
Royals Handicap 0.19 loss -1.00
Yankees Money Line 0.08 win 1.03
Red Sox Handicap 0.05 loss -1.00
Rangers Handicap 0.09 loss -1.00
White Sox Money Line 0.12 loss -1.00
White Sox Handicap 0.07 loss -1.00

Betting each of the 11 bets would have resulted in a loss of $2.95. However there are many ways to look at our results, Z-Codes totals predictions do seem very accurate and ended in total profit, and if you had chosen the top three bets providing value you would have also made money. You also would have also made money following the five bets which Z-Code recommended and were positive expected value bets.

But of course the morale of the story is that the calculation of expected value is critical for all sport betting, as we’ve seen previously, tipping winners means nothing if the price on offer is not providing value. And never forget that you may need to shop around to find the very best prices on offer.

About The Author

Daniel is the founder, owner and editor of Sport Betting Insider. When he's not writing content for SBI you can usually find Daniel cheering for the Sydney Roosters, spending Sunday nights watching Daniel Ricciardo, wishing he owned a Baggy Green, or at Canberra Stadium.

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