WLB Analysis | Who Are The Best Favourites To Back?


ANOTHER edition of the ever-popular Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) analysis series. This week Will looks at data relating to favourites.

WLB Analysis | Who Are The Best Favourites To Back

I thought it might be useful to see how many sides that have started matches as favourites have gone on to win this season. So I’ve slaved over hours of number-crunching to bring to you an analysis of the pre-match odds and how they’ve compared to the end results in this season’s Premier League.

As of the week commencing 20th April 174 games have been won by the favourite this season out of 327 games. That’s 53.2% of Premier League games going to the ‘jolly’ so far this season, but, would you be in profit if you’d simply backed the favourite in every game? The short and obvious answer is no, I’ll expand later.

174 winning favourites leaves another 153 games. 81 of which have been drawn and the remaining 72 won by the outsider in the betting. Draws in the Premier League are typically priced between 3.2 (11/5) and 4.0 (3/1) so can be very rewarding but a draw percentage of 24.7% is nothing extraordinary compared to some divisions so turning a profit from backing draws in the Premier League would require a good strategy.

The following is a list of what your Profit and Loss figures would look like so far this season when backing the following in every game:

  • Draws – Profit from 81 draws = 219 points. Loss from 246 losing selections = – 246. Level Stakes Profit = -27 points.
  • Favourites – Profit from 174 favourites = 138 points. Loss from 153 losing selections = -153 points. Level Stakes Profit = -15 points.
  • Outsiders – Profit from 70 outsiders = 224 points. Loss from 250 losing selections = -255 points. Level Stakes Profit = -31 points.

As you can see the bookies have their lines bang on so blindly backing selections based on their price alone is destined to fail. The amount of points profit returned from backing winning favourites is less than the amount of games and that’s because of the 174 winning favourites only 54 of them were priced at Evens or greater.

Odds-Against Favourites

So then, the favourites when priced between 2.0 (Evens) and 2.79 (9/5) seem to have a lower strike rate than expected. Obviously favourites priced below Evens are more likely to win, that’s why they are that price but I also expected teams that were the more slight favourites would still win plenty of games; that hasn’t really been the case this season.

Let’s break this down further and get to the nitty gritty. By looking at the prices that favourites started the game in relation to the final result we should find some key trends. In 327 football matches, 186 had a favourite priced below 2.0 and 137 had a favourite priced between 2.0 and 2.79.

  • Of those 137 games in which the favourite has been priced between 2.0 and 2.79, the favourite has won just 54 of those games, 39.1%.
  • If you had backed the favourite in all 137 games when priced between 2.0 and 2.79 your profit and loss would be as follows; 54 winning favourites priced between 2.0 and 2.79 would have returned 73 points but the 83 losing selections also between those prices would ensure an overall loss of -10 points.

Odds On Favourites

  • With just 54 of the winning favourites priced at Evens or above that leaves 120 favourites that won when priced below 2.0. There have been 186 games in which the favourite has started at 2.0 or lower, with 120 winning that’s a percentage of 64.5%.
  • The 120 favourites that won at under 2.0 this season would have returned a profit of 69 points. But you would have had 66 losing selections too, therefore if you had backed every favourite that’s started under 2.0 this season you would have had made +3 points.

It’s marginal stuff but from that we can tell that in this particular season you would have had more success blindly backing the odds on favourites than the odds against ones. That tells me that you could have some substantial success with certain approaches.

If you could correctly identify ‘false’ short priced favourites you could hope to avoid some of those 66 favourites under 2.0 that lost and in-turn increase your profit.

The same goes for the potentially lucrative strategy of opposing the weaker favourites by backing the draw or outsider in matches with odds against priced favourites. More on that to come.

Potential Strategies

I thought it would be good to investigate what the result was in games when the favourites failed to win. As we know there have been 83 games in which odds against favourites failed to win and 66 games for odds on favourites, the results of those games are:

  • In the 83 games that odds against favourites (2.0 – 2.79) failed to win they drew 41 of those games and lost 42. The average price of the draw being around 3.40 (12/5) and the outsider being about 3.60 (13/5) meaning you would probably have had more success this season backing the outsider when opposing odds against favourites, but only slightly.
  • In the 66 games that odds on favourites (under 2.0) failed to win they drew 40 of those games and lost 26. The average price of the draw around 4.5 (7/2) and the outsider around 6.0 (5/1) meaning you would have had considerably more success backing the draw when opposing odds on favourites.

This season could be full of anomalies; I haven’t tracked back further through older seasons as it takes quite a long time. I would suggest this season has had a similar amount of favourites winning games as we have a usual top 7 in the Premier League and relegated sides look likely to go down on an average of around 32 points which is pretty common.

There’s a number of ways to go about backing and opposing favourites but I would suggest based on this analysis that the best profits are made backing odds on favourites in the Premier League. However, it may well be a different case in other divisions around the world.

How To Profit From Odds On Favourites

Evidently backing odds on favourites requires a decent sized bank to generate a good profit due to their short price, unless combining them in multiples.

The analysis also shows that the best way to oppose odds on favourites is to back the draw. Naturally people are nervous about backing draws as they are less common but because short priced favourites should be winning games you would expect them not to lose, and instead, draw the ones they fail to win. This analysis shows that is indeed the case.

Consistently opposing odds on favourites is a dangerous game. There have only been four occasions in which outsiders have beaten odds on favourites at a price of 6/1 or more this season. Stoke’s visit to the Etihad, Swansea at Old Trafford, Burnley at home to Man City and Villa at Liverpool.

Backing every 6/1 outsider this season would have given you 54 losing bets. Adding together the profit from those four big priced wins and loss from 54 losing selections totals at a loss of -23 points.

How To Profit From Odds Against Favourites

When it comes to opposing odds against favourites (2.0 – 2.79) it seems the best way is to back the outsider. I would also recommend using the ‘Double Chance’ market in these situations; it’s a market I’ve had continued success with.

Draw No Bet on the outsider is a good option too but as it cuts the price on the outsider substantially and would only win around 52% of the time this season (41 draws and 42 outsider wins), such similar figures suggest Double Chance is the better option and would bank far more frequently when opposing odds against favourites.

The key is to be a good judge of ‘false’ favourites. There’s potential for it to be a very lucrative strategy but so much luck is involved in football betting that we cannot be certain of any result before the final whistle. We just have to try and do all the other things better, like understanding when to use which market.

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About Author

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Will's an avid supporter of his local team, Swindon Town. He got into betting after a serious case of beginners luck landing a 14 fold BTTS accumulator. Whilst mostly transfixed to the English Leagues, he can't get enough of football and can regularly be found watching more obscure matches from around the globe. Will has a growing interest in American Football after watching the Atlanta Falcons in the States a few years ago. Outside of betting he loves nothing more than snowboarding, travelling the world and a weekend with his pals.

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