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Picking Winners vs. Picking Good Value

MMA Betting: Picking Winners vs. Picking Good Value

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

A lot of MMA bettors think it's all about picking winners. Now, let's not besmirch that skill. Of course, having above-average insight into who is more likely to win fights is a key part of betting on any sport. We just need to remember that unless we are able to relate that wisdom to the odds that govern MMA wagering, it doesn't really count for anything.

Having a good idea as to who will win fights is better for bar-room banter or impressing your friends. In MMA betting, it's a different story. Picking winners is actually quite elementary. There's a whole other game we need to concern ourselves with and that has to do with the mathematics that govern the actual betting of the sport.

At the end of the day, we need to be able to hone in on the bets that offer good betting value. To find where good betting value is, we want to find fighters who have a better chance of winning than what the odds suggest. That's it in a nutshell. In other words, it does us no good to say a 4-1 favorite will win the fight, unless that fighter should be a 6-1 or 7-1 favorite. Then, that fighter has good value. If that fighter is 4-1 and should only be a 2-1 or 3-1 favorite, we are getting poor betting value.

It's important to get away from the over-simplified dynamic of who will win a fight. The real game is picking fighters whose odds are a bargain. Their chances of winning are better than what the oddsmakers are saying. That's good value. Naturally, poor value is when a fighter's actual chances of winning are less than what the bookmaker is forecasting.

Good value can be found with favorites and underdogs alike. But underdogs are usually better candidates for finding good value. In MMA, and really in any sport, the favorites are thought to be a little better than they actually are, while underdogs are typically not as bad as they're made out to be.

If you guide your betting simply on the basis of who you think will win, it's likely that you're ignoring the concept of value. That might work here and there. Over the long run, however, accepting inflated odds is a surefire recipe for losing. There aren't many people who are able to succeed longterm at MMA betting. Those who are able to make it work are those who extract the most value out of all wagers they make.

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The part that makes this hard for a lot of bettors is that the principle of good value means you will actually bet on fighters who you think will lose. Let's say a fighter is +400. Another way of looking at that is that he has a 20% chance to win according to the odds. Perhaps you think that fighter has a 35% chance to win. In other words, you don't think he's going to win, but since he is receiving odds that surpass the actual probabilities, you make the bet. Over the longterm, that's a winning proposition.

The key to making this work is selectivity. Those who set the odds are real pros. We're simply not going to find an edge in every fight or anything close to it. There could be a 12-fight card with odds for all the fights and there might not be one nugget among the entire bunch. That's because these guys know what they're doing. The odds are usually on-target and that's not when we want to bet. But over the course of weeks, months, and years, we will find some odds that we feel are out-of-whack. That's when we pounce.

A successful bettor is not guided by opinion. Any Joe off the street can form an opinion on who will win an MMA fight. To successfully translate that knowledge into being able to bet capably, we have to be able to relate it to the odds. In other words, thinking a fighter will win is useless if the odds are not favorable. At the end of the day, this isn't about picking winners. It's about picking fighters who have a better chance of winning than what the odds say.

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