In his book “Betting to win” Prof. Williams wrote: “If ever there was a golden age of betting, this is it”. He was absolutely right. In today’s world of soccer betting, we enjoy the services of bookmakers, online betting tips and media news. But still there remain two important questions any punter has to answer prior to placing his stake: who is the favorite and what bet to place. Online betting resources such as betting tips sites, team analysis made by experts and the media news help you to choose the match favorite and even to estimate the probability of win in no time. However, counting your profits at the end of the season, you find them, at the very least, disappointing. Why? The reason is clear: bad money management.

This article summarizes a research conducted in order to estimate the optimal parameters for money management strategies. The research is based on a comparison between statistics of top vs. Futebol secondary European soccer leagues playing in 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons.


In order to present the results of the research, a number of definitions are required.

  • “Value bet” is the measure of inconsistency between punters’ and bookmakers’ predictions for the upcoming match outcome. Each outcome has a distinct value.
  • A value bet refers only to the value of potentially profitable outcomes. For example, if the probability of a win is 50%, then only outcomes with odds higher than 2 are considered a value bet. The formula is as follows: odds x the probability of a win. If the value is higher than 1, the bet is considered a “value bet”.
  • The probabilities of home win/draw/away win are estimated by the average frequency of their appearance during a season.
  • Kelly’s strategy defines the optimal stake that a punter should place on a favorite.
  • Given the value of each outcome, the profit is calculated based on the assumption that the punter places a stake according to the Kelly’s strategy. If the betting stake is negative, the punter doesn’t play. The profit is calculated using bookmakers’ average betting odds.
  • An optimal value bet is the value bet that brings the maximal profit.
  • Data from ten top and ten secondary leagues from the following European countries was analyzed: Austria, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece, Italia, Scotland, Spain and Turkey.


A punter’s average profit from soccer betting is calculated for value bets from 1.01 to 2. The optimal value bet was found to be 1.38, offering in an average profit of 12% for the top European Soccer Leagues. However, the optimal value bet for the secondary leagues was found to be 1.5, resulting in the average profit of 19%. This difference means that a punter must have a higher confidence when betting on a secondary league, than when betting on a top league. The profit is higher because bookmakers’ predictions are worse, resulting in attractive betting odds for punters.