If you want to earn money with sports betting you need to develop a betting strategy that you can follow. There are plenty of betting strategies published on the internet but as soon as a profitable system gets published, others jump on it and sooner or later the edge disappears.
It is important to come up with your own, individual betting strategy if you want to be come profitable in sports betting. Development of betting strategies is a tedious work but there are many tools and software products available that can support you.
Specialist software to develop and build betting strategies is simple to use and allows a first analysis right from the beginning. However, every user is using the same data source and filters making it difficult to come up with novel and profitable ideas. Software Vendors might also simply copy your strategy in case you are onto something. The alternative is to process your own data, store it in your master database and build strategies on top of it with tools such as Excel, Python or PostgreSQL.
Betting-Specific Tools and Software
You won't be surprised that there is sports betting specific software available that helps you with data analysis and strategy development. Individuals and companies collect betting-related data and build software products on top of that which allow the user to query the data through forms and test betting ideas on historical data. Some of the products are web-based so you don't need to download any tool or data at all. You can simply access a web interface and specify your betting rules. The tool will then run your query against the data and return some statistics on your betting idea. This allows you to test new ideas or refine existing betting strategies.
First, I will have a closer look at some of the players and offers in this space. Next I will focus on advantages and disadvantages of using such tools.
Adrian Massey's Website
There is the gold old Adrian Massey Website with plenty of data on horse racing. If you are interested in horse racing betting systems then this website might be a great one to explore. The design might put you off if you are used to modern and responsive web design but the information and depth of data is fantastic. On top of that you can access the data and query form for free.
The website includes a form that allows you to query the data and build simple betting rules. You can set plenty of filters:
- Time based (year, month, day)
- Race distance
- Race type
- Number of runners
- Starting Price
- Days since last race
You can also specify the type of bet you place (back or lay). After you submit the form you will get a custom report with the result.
I would suggest you to explore the websites, look at what kind of data is used and what filters are allowed. Maybe this will inspire you to develop your own betting strategy.
Betamin Builder is a tool that allows you to build and test betting systems for football. The have over 100k football matches in their database along with the odds of popular football betting markets such as 1x2, over/under 2.5 etc. It is a web based tool. You can create an account for free, login and start building your own betting strategies.
The process of creating a strategy with Betamin Builder is described in this article. The web interface is easy and intuitive to use, no need to have special technical skills. Once you have defined your rules and strategy the software will test it against the database. You will obtain a report with the result that contains number of bets, profit and loss, maximum drawdown and the yield. It also shows a nice graph with the cumulative profit and loss.
Now that I have covered some examples I want to look at the benefits and drawbacks of using betting specific analytics tools.
Advantages of domain specific betting system tools:
- Easy to Use
In most cases betting analysis software is very easy to use, especially for web-based products. You don't even need to download or install any software. You can just login to the website and start building systems through web forms. Filters in the form are self explaining and there is no need to have any programming skills. Overall, the user experience is just great.
- Start Immediately
You can also start building betting systems immidiately. After you sign up for a offer and your payment is processed, you can directly start using the tool. You don't need to spend any time on processing or cleaning the data since this is done by the tool provider. There is also no need to spend multiple months to learn programming or similar skills. You can just build betting systems right away.
Disadvantages of domain specific betting system tools:
- Everyone Uses the Same Data
Every user of the tool has access to the same data. This might be a problem as the level of innovation is somehow limited. You are not really able to bring in your own individual data which might allow you to build innovative and unique betting strategies.
- Everyone Uses the Same Filters
Not only the data but also the filters are the same for every user. In the end multiple users might come up with identical betting strategies that have been successful on past data.
I find it problematic that all users are focusing on the same data and using the same approach to analyse the data through identical filters.
- Your System Might be Shared
The biggest drawback from my perspective is that once you submit a query to a web based betting tool it will be processed on the server side meaning that your query will be visible to the vendor.
Now that we have covered domain specific tools let's have a broader look at general purpose analytics software that also can help use with data analysis in the sports betting space.
General Purpose Analytics Tools for Sports Betting
Now that we have covered domain specific betting tools to create a strategy the question is what is the alternative. So instead of using a third party software product you could build such service for yourself: This means that you take data from suitable data sources, store it in a suitable format and use some interface that allows you to query the data.
There are plenty of analytics products available that can help you with such task. Many of them are open source products and free to use. However, you need to invest some time to learn using the tool which can take weeks before you get to put together any strategy.
Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc
Probably still the most used software for analysis in the domain of sports betting is spreadsheet software such as Excel or the LibreOffice alternative. Especially when working with csv files or a smaller data set it can be a quick way to get first answers about some data.
Using Excel for analysis of sports betting data has several advantages: The functionality of Excel is relative simple to use and after spending some time with Excel you might be able to create a first analysis - even if you have never used Excel before. The cell-based spreadsheet approach makes it simple to inspect and work with the data.
However, analysis functionality with Excel is also somehow limited: Of course you can put together functions for more complex analysis and even build machine learning model with spreadsheet software. However, probably you won't be as fast as someone using software that supports machine learning models out of the box. A big drawback of Excel is scalability. Especially when you have a large data set that exceeds the memory size of your work station you won't get anywhere with spreadsheet software and need to look at more efficient methods of storing and processing data.
Python (or Another Programming Language)
As a programming language Python allows you to process and analyse data. It is certainly one of the most popular choices in the domain of data engineering, data anaylsis and machine learning. It will take some time to learn the basics of Python but I find that even after a short period of learning you can put something helpful together.
I am heavily using Python for sports betting activities such as processing and cleaning data, analysing the data, building betting models up to the creation of automated betting and trading bots. There are many Python packages available that can help you with sports betting related tasks:
|Python Package||Use Case|
|Scikit-learn||Building machine learning models|
|Pytorch, tensorflow||Building deep learning models|
From my perspective Python is currently the best fit for data-driven betting automation as it has a big ecosystem in the data space. Obviously could also use other programming languages such as Java or C++ and achieve the same, especially if you already posses programming skills in that language.
SQLite and PostgreSQL (or Another Database)
When working with sports betting data you might start with smaller csv or text files that you analyse. This works well when you only work with data sets that are just a few MB in size. However, if you would like to use more complex queries and larger data sets it might make sense to switch to a database system.
Using a database in the context of sports betting can benefit you in several ways: First of all it allows you to use SQL or similar languages to query and work with the data. With SQL you can write more complex queries compared to using a spreadsheet software. Databases also help you with data integrity: You can save any value in a spreadsheet and mix data types but when creating databases you need to think about the data that you want to store and its format.
Currently I am mainly using PostgreSQL where I have a master database with all the data. Depending on your application, the amount and structure of the data that you handle it might make more sense to use other database designs (NoSQL, Graph-based etc).
Summary on Tools to Build Betting Strategies
There is domain specific software available that allows you to test and build betting strategies on historical data. However, using off-the-shelf software also has significant drawbacks mainly the risk that you share your successful strategy with the vendor. The alternative approach is to learn the technical skills to create your own backtesting infrastructure for betting strategies which requires more time but might also be a fun activity.