Getting Tuned into the Concept of Value

College Football Betting: Getting Tuned into the Concept of Value

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

The idea of value in college football betting is a key consideration for bettors. Understanding its full scope takes years of experience. The real veterans in this business and the ones who succeed have this concept nailed down. But even for novice bettors, there are certain things you can do to yield good value from your wagering dollar.

As you get more experienced, there will be other things that lie in the actual handicapping of a game that help you extract maximum value. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to getting the best value. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re not getting victimized in the value department.

First and foremost is the juice or vig. Those are terms used to describe the bookie commission–the price you basically pay in order to have the privilege of betting. Whenever we make wagers, we are subjecting ourselves to juice. In other words, our projected payouts never quite match the actual odds of what we’re asking to happen.

In football, for example, the point-spread is supposed to make either side of a bet a 50-50 proposition. But you see you have to bet $55 to win $50–so it’s not exactly equitable. In football, or any sport that uses point-spreads like basketball, you could pick winners at exactly 50% and you would lose. You are betting on a -110 line. You must wager $110 to win $100. That is juice.

But it’s not bad juice. Betting at -110, or even -105, which some books feature, is not as staggering a vig as you would encounter in other bets. Our job as bettors is to determine which bets have manageable juice and which ones bury us with exorbitant bookie commission. Straight bets, where you pick one side in a single game, usually offer the lowest vig, while it gets worse the more extravagant the wagers are.

The idea here is that even if we are good at picking winners, there is only so much juice we can overcome. To thrive in football betting, for example, your winning percentage would only need to be in the mid-fifties and you could still make it work if you’re making straight wagers. At least that is doable. It’s by no means easy, but it can be done. What we want to do is avoid the type of wagers where the uphill climb is too steep. The winning percentage we need to maintain in some forms of betting is simply too unrealistic to maintain over any kind of long-haul.

There is a gap in betting that exists. It’s the gap between the true odds of something happening and what you stand to get paid. For example, the odds of winning a straight football bet are theoretically 50%. But you need to win at a percentage higher than that to actually win in the long-run. That gap is rather small. It’s a gap you can jump across if you’re on your game. Other gaps are the size of the grand canyon and you need a helicopter to get over it.

Some of these bets include parlays, teasers, futures wagers, prop bets, or even regular straight bets where the commission is higher than normal. Like if you are making a baseball bet and one book has the sides at -150/+140, while another book has it -155/+135. The latter book is exacting a deeper commission with the 20-cent line, as opposed to a the more desirable dime-line.


Parlays can be tricky. A lot of people get hypnotized by the seemingly-grandiose payouts. What they fail to realize or refuse to acknowledge is that those payouts don’t come terribly close to representing the true probabilities of actually winning that bet. In sports involving point-spreads, parlays are paid according to a pre-determined payout chart. At the same time, a sport that has no spreads like baseball, boxing, or MMA will offer truer payouts, being that the bets are computed using the specific odds of the sides you are selecting.

It gets really deep with the element of value in wagering. Before mastering those concepts, you can get a leg up simply by which bets you decide to place. You can find a book that offers a -105 money line. That’s an easy place to start. You can stick to mostly making straight bets, where the juice is relatively small. You can avoid making extravagant wagers where the great-sounding payouts only serve to blind you from how much you’re getting juiced. If you do these things, you will be on your way.