The Hunt For Value

Over the course of a single day we can compare the odds that we took to the SP that the horse went off at. If the SP is lower odds than the odds we took then we found value on that runner, and…

…as long as the majority of odds have found value then it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a losing day, week or month. You will come back to making a profit eventually.

The title of this blog post was The Hunt For Value and as of yet I haven’t spoken at all about how we go about hunting value.

We’ve looked at how you can inadvertently be finding value if you’re making a profit, but what about going out to look for it specifically. Surely if that’s what we need then that’s what we should be doing?

Yes, that makes perfect sense. But… you don’t have to do this to make a profit!

To hunt for value you need to have a good grounding in maths. This doesn’t mean you need to understand ten page long equations, just that you can do simple arithmetic quickly.

The first thing we need to do when hunting for value is to create our own odds lines. There are many ways to do this, some of which have been looked at before in Β other posts on the Race Advisor. In fact, I wrote a series about it:

Once you’ve created your own odds line you can then compare the odds on each runner to the odds available. If the odds available are higher then you have a profitable bet.

In theory.

The reality isn’t quite so simple unfortunately.

You see the chances are that your odds line isn’t accurate. In fact I’m going to guarantee that it isn’t accurate. After all they’re only estimates and there’s going to be a degree either side of your odds that the “actual odds” could be.

The more you work on creating your odds lines, the better they will be but when you first begin you can assume the degree either side should be larger rather than smaller.

This means that if you were to bet on every horse that has higher odds you may be betting on some horses that are actually not showing any value.

To prevent this you need to put in a requirement of how much higher the odds need to be. For example you may say that the odds need to be 15% larger than your odds line for you to consider placing a bet. The better you get at making odds the more you can reduce this.

Ideally you should be recording all the odds for each horse against your odds line so you can go back and work out what percentage increase you need to maintain a value bet. However this does take a significant amount of time.

So we’re now looking for odds that are a certain amount higher than our odds line. Is that enough?

Not quite, but we’re nearly there.

We also need to consider our bankroll requirements.

It might be possible for us to place bets on odds at 100 when they should be 85. Will that make us a profit long-term? Yes.

So what’s the problem?

At odds that high you are going to have long, very long, losing streaks and downswings. This means that your bankroll is going to need to be very large to cover them and you could go months (if not longer) before you break out of a downswing. When you combine that with the amount of money you can get placed on these horses you need to ask yourself…

Is it worth it?

For me personally the answer is no. I won’t bet on anything higher than odds of 30.

That’s not because you can’t make a profit on them, but winners don’t come in often enough for it to be sensible with the size of bankroll I like to use.

And there you have it.

Everything that you need to know about value. If you’ve got a question on this notorious subject, please leave me a comment.

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Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. Very interesting piece Michael and thank you for it. You have brought up a good point where you mention high odds. In the last 14 days I have had 116 bets with a profit of just over 12 points (10% roi) but if I exclude all my bets over 20 then I have made another 11 points which puts my profit up to 23 points (or 20% roi). Early days yet for me at the moment though. I allow 30% on top of my vfm bets and so far it has worked out ok. Sometimes its hard to leave the shorter priced horses go but it is surprising how often they do get beat.
    Best wishes Mark Adams

  2. i joind the tips advisor managed serviice after receiving a e-mail from you that all i have received is a load of rubbish information i will give until the ene of the month if it not pick up i will cancell my membership .yours sincerly

  3. Michael after reading your blog would you say its not possible to make a profit dutching?

      1. Isn’t it more difficult to find value?
        When dutching which is best, sraight forward dutching for an even return on all selections, back your top rated to win and others to break even [ not to lose] or level stakes on all selections, as I have said to you before maths confuses me and I cannot work this out.


        1. If you’re just starting then simply do a level return on all selections. You can use the Odds Checker calculator at to do that.

          When you get more experienced you can start adjusting returns based on the different value each runners odds are offering and their likelihood of winning.

          It’s not more difficult to find value, you just need to look at it differently. If you’re creating an odds line then you can take the runners that are offering value and combine their odds to determine the value odds you need for dutching them all.

          There’s a lot of articles on the Race Advisor about dutching. Here is a search for them

    1. Neil,

      Dutching is massively under-rated in my opinion. More often than not there are 2-3 horses in any race that can win so why try to narrow it down to one if you can dutch for a profit?

      Dutching is similar to trading in that you can increase your chance of winning by betting on multiple outcomes (horses) but for a lower return. The flip side is that the outlay is bigger!

      And there’s the rub.

      if you can narrow a race down to 2-4 horses and dutch for a profit, then back them…if not, leave that race alone – there’ll be more and better races later, tomorrow, or the next day.


  4. SP is a pretty accurate estimate of a horse’s chance, e.g. even money shots win roughly 50% of the time, slightly less in fact to account for bookmaker margins. With this in mind, it seems to me that beating SP represents value and is the simplest way to obtain it. How can you beat SP? By only betting with bookmakers which offer best odds guaranteed, you will over time have a better average price than the average SP and therefore value. Trouble is, bookmakers quickly restrict punters who take advantage of their concessions and often withdraw the concession (Paddy Power’s favourite), close the account (Chandler, Boylesports and Stan James very quickly adopt this tactic), or simply restrict stakes to ludicrous levels (Bet 365 employ this tactic) so effectively closing the punter’s account. In such circumstances, the alternative is Betfair SP which, whilst not as good as BOG, is a pretty decent alternative. It don’t get any easier for the punter, that’s for sure.

  5. I have suspected for some time festival racing is bad news for punter, great news for bookie, a friend of mine who is an on course bookie has a pitch at one of the Yorkshire courses states, ” to have a pitch at Cheltenham or any of the big festival courses costs a bomb to rent “, of course the need to recoup their outlay, look at how many outsiders won at Cheltenham last year, I really would not go anywhere near these.
    Michael is right, stick to the 8-12 runner race, try to find stand out horses that are in with a shout.

    It is difficult though, especially when a horse wins for no apparent reason other than it has had 3 bad previous races, dropped down its handicap only to defy the odds and come storming home, this I find to be almost cheating and ripping us punters off.

    As far as dutching goes I would say try and come up with a method to dutch the place market, I have a excel calculator in which I enter the place odds for the first 3 or 4 favs, then with the projected winnings from this back a percentage of those winnings on the remainder of horses in the win market….these are at much higher odds.
    Sounds great but in practice results are up and down, still looking for that elusive system or strategy, great site, always enjoy a good read here, all the best

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