Back to articles

Soccermatics : The use of mathematics in sports betting

In this article, you will continue your education by learning about the use of mathematics in sports betting and, more specifically, football.

Anyone who has ever visited Bet2invest will know how a mathematical approach can change the way you think about sport and, more specifically, sports betting. Whether it's developing a pattern of expected goals or calculating the number of times you need to beat the closing line, maths is an integral part of being a successful punter. David Sumpter's book Soccermatics will teach you how mathematical modelling can be applied to football.

Complex theories made simple

The application of mathematics to sport, and football in particular, has exploded in recent years, but very few people have managed to bring the two together in the way they are presented in Soccermatics, so you don't need to be an expert in either field to appreciate the quality of David Sumpter's work.

The strength of mathematical models lies in the fact that they allow us to extrapolate from what happens in one situation to predict the outcome in other situations.

The author's personal experiences and passion for football are integral to his work, but it is the fascinating mathematical analogies that make Soccermatics a unique reading experience.

Those interested in betting will be drawn in by the questions Sumpter poses in his introduction: "How can bookmakers offer such attractive spread bets?" and "Why are the odds so hard to beat?". Although one may be tempted to skip to the last section to find the detailed answers to these questions, every page of this book is worth reading and offers something to learn.

The average football fan may not think about algorithms, tactical maps and histograms during a match or over the course of the season, but seeing how they can be used to explain events or the way the game is played will help you better appreciate the sport of football.

Like David Sumpter's father, many people think football is simple and straightforward - a game of skill determined by mistakes or moments of magic. While it is undeniable that some aspects of football are random and down to luck, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic's majestic goal against England in 2012, a 30-yard lob kick, can be explained by mathematics.

If you want to know why the team you support frustrates you by playing in a certain way, how important individual players are to a team or how different formations have changed the way football is played, Soccermatics will provide all this and more. It even goes so far as to explain how chants create an atmosphere at a football match.

Use of mathematical models in betting

There are a number of betting-related topics in David Sumpter's book, but he has also devoted a chapter to football betting and trying to beat the bookmaker. He states at the outset that "the strength of mathematical models lies in the fact that they allow us to extrapolate from what happens in one situation to predict the outcome in other situations", and he puts this principle to the test in the latter part of his book.

After discussing more advanced models that can be applied to betting earlier in the book, such as the Poisson distribution, Sumpter provides a very simple explanation of how bookmakers work before setting out how he intends to beat them.

Sumpter's approach is not necessarily complex; he simply tests a variety of strategies and abandons each one once it can be proven that it will not produce a profit. His Elo rating, odd bias, performance indicator and expert strategies all produce varying levels of success, so if you want to know if he can beat the bookies, you'll have to read the book.

Learn more about sports betting

A beginner punter can use the final chapter of Soccermatics to help them understand what it takes to make a living from betting. Bet2invest will help you further this education with articles on these topics.

Readers can even begin to understand the psychological side of betting thanks to the author's experience analysing common concepts such as long-term favouritism bias and how punters can be fooled by chance.

The final section of Soccermatics goes a long way to helping punters understand how odds are formed for markets such as corner betting or caution betting, and shows how simple probability calculations can be used to find value in football draw betting. However, if you're looking for the secret ingredient to making a fortune from betting, you'll have to work a lot harder than reading the last few pages of Soccermatics.

Monday, March 18, 2024

In my same category


When you don’t know your edge, how much should you stake ?

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

In this article, you will learn about the reinterpretation of the different betting plans with Kelly's formula, as well as explanations of the impact on the loss and/or gain of units, the asymmetry of returns, and the symmetry of probability.Four years ag...

See the article


What can we learn from the sports betting market ?

Saturday, March 23, 2024

In this article, we'll look at how we can deal with uncertainty, take an objective look at the past, try to predict the future, and also analyse how we experience an unusual or exceptional event.Understanding how we deal with uncertaintyOne of the most in...

See the article


Can xG be used to predict soccer matches ?

Saturday, February 24, 2024

In this article, we will attempt to understand what expected goals are, use xGs to predict football matches and, finally, analyse the model created by the duo Mark Dixon and Stuart Coles from the University of Lancaster in the North West of England.Sports...

See the article