IN the third of a brand new series, we get inside the minds of some of WLB's brightest stars with their favourite resources, valuable insight and greatest memories of betting shared, with Tom Love (@TomLove_18) up next.
When did you first start betting? Can you remember your first bet?
I first started betting when I was 17, my brother would get the odd coupon from down the road and I’d pick a £2 acca and a 50p draw four-fold (one of which I actually won somehow).
My first actual bet, like most, would’ve been on the Grand National on a horse in Bradford City colours no doubt, and to no avail.
What sports or leagues do you focus and bet on?
I’m 90% focussed on football for my bets, simply because that’s where my passion and knowledge lies.
I like to have some variety in which leagues I dip into. I love the EFL and prefer punting in League Two compared to the Premier League as I think there’s greater value to be found but I love to get involved with card markets in Spain and Italy as well as goals in Germany.
I grew up watching Revista De La Liga on Sky and the Bundesliga Highlights Show on ITV4 and have always been a lover of football on the continent, whether that be native leagues or the Champions League/Europa League.
Outside of football I don’t mind a punt on the horses for the big festivals and I have dabbled in darts and rugby league in the past.
What sites or sources do you use to follow them?
To track bets in-play I put the personalised alerts on via Bet365 which is a nice feature. Ben Mayhew has some excellent and well presented data on his website which I use quite a bit before and after games.
What are your favourite websites for research?
WhoScored – Have loads of tabs to check team stats and player stats. Basic ones you can see on a player’s page and if you click on the ‘detailed’ tab you can see it in-depth (Shot zones/accuracy etc).
Soccerway – Easier to look at fixtures going back to a year or two also have a referee database which is good for looking at individual ref card stats in past games.
Statszone – £10 annual membership – Records all manner of stats and updates in-play, has game stats for the top 5 leagues and good graphics of where shots/passes/crosses/tackles come from.
WinDrawWin – Have lots of data and I use it especially for checking team corner statistics.
What stats do you consider the most important?
I tend to value Expected Goals (xG) more than the actual results of games. Some won’t like to hear it but the league table does lie some teams are lucky, some are unlucky and in a low scoring game such as football, where variance plays a big part, it can produce some outliers.
However, I’d rather back team A that average two xG over team B that produce one xG even if team B are far ahead of team A. I also consider shot area and shot volume a lot when making selections.
Are there any stats or trends you feel are irrelevant?
Yeah, possession doesn’t tell you enough but I don’t think many people value that too much these days, I believe teams can control the game without the ball in some cases.
Head-to-head is an area of myth too – the only time I will consider a H2H is if it’s the same squads and managers and there was tactical manoeuvres that were strongly effective. But when people say “Team A hasn’t won at team B in eight years” I cannot get onboard with people using that as a stat to worry about.
Squad and manager turnover is so regular and fluid these days, it means nothing.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt betting?
Bet the price. Something some people can’t get their head around is the influence the price can have on your selection. You might really like a bet but if the odds on offer are significantly shorter than you expected then don’t bet on it. Prices naturally contract closer you get to the game and that’s why I think it’s important to try manufacture your own odds for the threshold before something becomes a ‘no bet’.
Don’t bet on a team blind because you think they’ll win. The price is the most important factor in determining whether you should play the bet.
Why is value important in betting?
Put in simple terms, if you only back value bets, long term you are likely to do well. A lot of people ask me “how do you determine if a bet is value or not?” and my answer to that would be – If you get a better price than the closing line, as the closing line it the most efficient price in the large majority of cases.
I’d also urge people to shop around to get the best price possible on your bet. If you have just one single account the chances are you’re missing out on potential greater returns elsewhere, it’s small things like this which will give you a much better chance of become a more profitable long term punter.
In this game you are going to have losers, naturally. That’s often a hard thing to take, but if you truly believe you’ve backed a value bet and it loses then I feel the despondency is diluted.
Have you any advice for punters looking to try and find an edge?
The simple bit of advice is do your research. Use the websites I mentioned earlier, find a bet, find the best price for that bet and work out if it’s value or not.
I personally find the value to often be in the player stats market where I almost always beat the closing price. Follow teams news updates, managerial press conferences and tone of voice too. I try do this as much as I can to try get a flavour of the headspace of a manager and his team are in, I value psychology quite strongly and that’s often not factored into the price set by bookies as it’s not hard data.
I’d also add that it’s useful to build up your tactical knowledge. If two teams come up against each other with contrasting playing styles it can often open up many avenues into potential profit.
What’s your biggest betting win and how do you spend it?
I’ve not had a ‘jackpot’ style win yet but quite a few that stand out. This season I went strong on a player who was wildly mispriced in the tackles market and totalled up around £750 profit, suffice to say I’m now restricted on that site which is ridiculous.
I had one of my best wins in probably the worst game of the season when Arsenal drew 0-0 at Everton. After having a deep dive into tactical approach I went pretty big on what I thought were generous prices on David Luiz in the passing markets which all paid out about £800 in the end.
My most memorable win was £500 from a risk free £50 bet in the England vs Wales Euro 2016 game which I had 2-1 England on. That last-minute Daniel Sturridge toe-poke and the ensuing pile on live long in the memory.
Do you review your bets and track your winners/losers?
I used to quite forensically but in recent months I just haven’t had the time to keep an up to date spreadsheet. However, I keep a monthly bankroll for betting and can see if I am up at the end of every month which I have been 5/7 months since the start of the season.
I’d recommend to anyone to have a bankroll specifically for betting and not to bet more than you can afford to lose.
How do you cope with losing bets?
It’s the toughest part, especially when you put extensive research into a selection. It’s also the case that the feeling of losing a bet often outweighs the joy of winning a bet and it should hurt, if it doesn’t then you may have to take a step back.
I used to struggle with the temptation to chase your losses which I’m sure is something quite a few have had issues with. My advice for that is to just leave your phone/laptop and go out for a walk just to get out of that environment. It used to work for me when I was quite inexperienced but my ethos now is that it’s a long term game and I’ll only bet on things I feel strongly about.
What’s the best thing about betting?
The thrill. You have to enjoy it, that’s the main thing. I enjoy the process of researching a bet and knowing I have an edge on the bookies, and when it comes off it’s great!
It’s a hobby and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you are sensible with staking. It’s additional entertainment and it could make a rubbish game interesting if you’ve found an angle in.
As someone a few people follow to see them win a bet that I’ve tipped up is a lovely feeling too.
I see the tagline “When the fun stops, stop” and that’s so true. It’s meant to be fun and it certainly is for me.