How Can Stats Help you to Make Winning Bets

Statistics may not have been everyone's favourite subject in the maths classes at school, but anyone who professes to enjoy placing a bet should be wishing that they listened a little more carefully to the teacher. Statistics are everywhere from televised sport to professional gamblers who have learned all the numbers and potential outcomes before jumping into a game of SNAP fast-fold poker!

The problem is, can they help us and, if they do, how do we know which statistics are most relevant to us when we're placing a bet? Is the multitude of statistics from American Football more or less useful to the gambler than those given out for soccer? Are individual player poker stats more useful than the standard poker odds at improving our game?

Comparing football and soccer for betting purposes is a tough call. Soccer, with its fewer chances, and smaller margins for error by the players, is ultimately less predictable. Eleven men from a considerably lower league can beat eleven men from the top tier of the English Premier League.

There are always upsets at the World Cup when a supposed ‘minnow' topples one of the big teams. There are no definitive outcomes from possession, tackles or even the number of corner kicks. There are too many variables to decide the outcome of any given situation in soccer, so the stats become almost irrelevant.

How many football supporters have sat (or stood) in the stands and heard ‘we'll never win today because we've never won at this stadium in 25 years.' Is this a relevant statistic? The fact that most of the players (and probably the supporters) wouldn't have been present at the same fixture ten years ago let alone twenty-five surely makes it irrelevant.

The fact that the team in question has won their last seven games by a margin of two goals and the team they are playing is at the bottom of the table doesn't seem to count for the disaffected fan who insists on the repeating the statistic again and again.

One of the recent sets of records which broke every statistic available was the 2015-16 Premiership winning season of Leicester City in the English Premier League, youd think it’s something that only happens on a game like FIFA 22. But it was an example of why soccer is as much a game of momentum as it is talent.

No one predicted or believed that Leicester would win at the beginning of the season (bar a couple of lucky punters), but early wins put the team on to a path of success against all the odds. But has this happened before or since? No, the stats don't ever suggest you back the outright Premiership underdog.

Man in Blue and Yellow Soccer Jersey Kicking Soccer Ball

The trick with gambling on soccer is to take every game on its merits – history doesn't count for much. A short-priced favourite is often the best bet available; the free-scoring leader against a lesser opposition that leaks goals? Check the previews in the Press and the form of the teams you're betting on. Whatever you decide, remember not to bet on your team – the heart rarely wins over the head.

When you’re watching your favourite NFL team it is very different. There are stats available for every player and every play. Understanding how a team like the exciting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been put together at the beginning of the season and how they might fare in the Super Bowl can often be arrived at by carefully studying their form. But, it is important to remember the context in which the stats were derived.

If Quarterback A has a huge average passing yards per game in a particular season when compared to quarterback B, then it might be sensible to assume that he will pass more when they play against each other. However, the context of the statistic needs to be viewed carefully.

If Quarterback A's team has only played the seven worst teams in the league so far that season and Quarterback B's team is at the top with no losses, then the statistic could very quickly become irrelevant. The quality of the previous opposition should always be quantified before making a judgement on the outcome of a game.

While sports games with their huge variables, can prove tricky for the gambler, poker at least has an established set of stats that a player can rely on. The game was revolutionised when the rank outsider (in that, there were no reliable stats on him), Chris Moneymaker, won the WSOP (World Series of Poker) in 2003. What revolutionised the game was the huge upsurge in interest after the game and the subsequent televising of tournaments to feed the interest.

Suddenly, the new poker devotees were able to learn what the percentage chances of winning with every hand was simply by seeing the %age listed next to the players' hole cards. In a stroke, the game was made easier for new players to learn and understand. It wasn't just their ‘feeling' that determined whether they had a good hand, because they now knew what their chances were. Statistics were teaching players to play better.

Black Playing Cards on Black Background

While learning how the professionals play hands, it is just as important that an improving player learns what he is best at. Does he or she play great pre-flop bets and then fail with the latter stages of the game? Do their personal stats suggest that they need to sharpen up their game when betting on the river? Stats will help tell a player where they are falling down?

The availability of on-screen stats has changed the viewing experience for sports fans – when you’re watching your favourite American Football team in a bar or watching Cricket at home on your Sky Sports Mobile App, or enjoying a game at streamed poker event, they all now provide them in volume. The key thing with sports betting is to make sure you know what is happening in the game before you place a bet.

There are statistics available that will help you and volumes of them that won't. The pundits may not know all the answers, but very often they will know the players and they will know how they, as people, will react to playing in a given circumstance. It could be any number of personal reasons that will affect their performance for the better or worse; return from serious injury, the recent birth of a child, playing against their previous club are a few examples to bear in mind.

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