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Soccer Scouting - The article states the most common errors, other than poor money management, that make people lose money on the long run, and address every of them. Most of newbie punters make all of these mistakes, while numerous experienced punters make at least some of them. Mastering yourself is one of the keys to being a successful bettor, and I would advise you to pay advantage to the following things. Read the article with carefully, because important for bettors!
Underestimating home team advantage:
I’ve been reading a preview that states “the odds of 2.3 on the away team are value because teams are on equal level”. This was enough for me to dismiss this tipster as a serious punter, as the actual fact is that, in a match of two equal teams where the away team is priced at 2.2, the value would be on the home team. The home field advantage is a very important factor, and is something that most of the punters cannot calculate. Moreover, the public bettors who cannot calculate home advantage help us get value on numerous home teams. The home field advantage varies by league or, in certain cases, by team; I will not tell you exactly how much playing in front of their own fans boosts a team’s chances of winning the match, but I will advise you to monitor odds closely (especially when teams of nearly equal strength face each other). Generally, the home field advantage in a given league is less than -1/2 goals but more than -1/4 goals, and most of the punters are underestimating it.
Taking bets according to ancient form:
Of course, form is a very important factor in betting. Teams that start their season with a few consecutive home wins will have huge confidence in their upcoming home games, and so on. The thing most punters do not understand is that form is a very delicate thing – it is a bubble that keeps expanding but bursts very easily. Once a team loses its first match following a long winning run, the second defeat is usually not too far away (unless, of course, it is a top team), but many people will make bets on this team according to their previous form, and almost always lose, i.e., Osasuna started their 2005/06 season with nine home wins in a row. They were then held to a draw by Racing Santander and were a public bet in all of their remaining home games, as the public saw them as an invincible home team that should bounce back. The thing is, fantastic runs of form mostly come down to confidence, and once such a run form ends, you should not expect the team to repeat it. The same applies for extremely poor runs of form.
Using H2H the wrong way:
Novice tipsters adore H2H stats. Many of the picks they have are highly motivated by previous meetings between two teams and many picks are skipped due to not being favored by H2H. The truth is that a H2H pattern is usually set by a string of coincidences, and previous meetings are most of the time not taken into account at all by serious punters. Simply, teams change a lot over the years and previous meetings usually mean nothing when it comes to comparing the current strength of the teams and have no effect on the players. An exception is match where there are rivalries between the teams in question: in such cases, the team that has been bossing recent H2H stats usually has a significant mental advantage that should be taken into account. But these are extremely rare cases (Basel’s dominance over FC Zurich the only ones I can recall)
Chasing on losses:
Chasing is one of the most common reasons why punters lose and, although we all have a basic instinct that very much urges us to chase after losing runs, we must avoid doing this at all costs. There are two types of chasing: chasing regarding a certain team and chasing losses in general. You know you are chasing a team when you take them to win or lose (or, God forbid, draw) several times in a row. If course, it is completely Okay for you to go against a team, they get a result in a lucky manner, and you go against them next week, as value will probably be against them. However, my strong advice is to avoid betting on or against the same team more than three times in a row after not winning any of the previous bets regarding them – winning the bet would give you a short mental relief, but losing it would affect your confidence and make it almost impossible for you to objectively judge the team in question in the future. As for chasing losses in general, you know that you are chasing when you took 4 bets on a Monday evening after ending the weekend in a heavy loss. Having an occasional bad day/week is normal in betting, and the last thing you should be trying to do is to try and win the money back immediately – if you enter a day with the mindset of ‘I have to win today’, you will end up forcing bets – on the long run, it will have terrible consequences on both your confidence and cash balance. If you ended a day in minus due to errors you made yourself (taking poor bets which you wouldn’t have otherwise taken), we recommend (unless you are very experienced), skipping the next day of betting. Even if you take good bets, there is a chance you could lose again, and this scenario could leave you with a confidence problem that could stick with you for weeks or months.
Rationalization of poor results of certain teams:
A thing that often leads to chasing is that punters unconsciously try to justify poor results of good teams and good results of bad teams, i.e., Xerez is an unfashionable team in Primera. Once they go on a 4-match run without defeat, you just know that there will be an army of punters going against them, that will find reasons why they’ve been lucky in every of the matches of their good run. Of course, it is completely possible for a team to really be lucky or unlucky several times in a row, but you should, whatever you think about a team, ensure to be rational at all times and all costs and look at things from an objective perspective. It is very possible for a great team to play like a mediocre one for a substantial period of time and vice-versa, and when you bet on a good team having a poor run of results ended, you should always wait for odds on them to be very, very tempting. Ie, many punters were happy to back Atletico Madrid at -1.25 vs Almeria as “they previously had a very tough schedule, were unlucky, etc”; and the match ended in a 2-2 draw. The right way to approach things is for the team in question to get huge odds – we took them at nearly 1.9 vs Mallorca – this maybe doesn’t seem like the right example, as they conceded a late goal to be held to a draw; but this type of pick will result in long time profit, while the aforementioned type won’t. Note that a football match lasts for 90 minutes and, although the team you think is good might have missed some chances during that time and conceded a funny goal, the fact is that 90 minutes is a lot of time, and if a team cannot secure a win during this time in several matches in a row and keeps conceding funny goals, chances are that the team has a mental problem, and you shouldn’t bet on them again unless you have a big reason to do so.
Not being critical of yourself:
One of the keys to becoming a successful punter is to be extremely critical of yourself. Be angry with yourself when you take a bet that is not value, admit it that you were lucky to win that bet on Thursday, question yourself even when you win, don’t hide behind your ‘previously proven methods’ when you hit a poor run of form. As discussed in my article regarding hit rate, the chances of a 60% punter going on a lengthy losing run are not too bid, of course, you will have a 0-3 and 3-7 once in a while, but if it happens too often; look at what went wrong. “The bet lost, but it was value” can be heard by some tipsters even after their teams suffer a 5-0 hammering, of course, it’s possible for a value bet to lose like that, but the fact is that you should look back on each and every one of your bets with maximum objectivity and we are sure that you will find some factors you missed out on and some estimations you were wrong at. No matter how experienced or skilled punters are, they always make mistakes (of course, me too), and the best thing you can do for yourself is to study your previous bets and keep your number of errors at a minimum. Don’t access your previous bets only based on whether they won or lost, analyze entire courses of matches, movements of odds, team news, ask yourself if you would’ve taken the bet again, regardless of whether it won or lost. Admitting you were wrong can be difficult, but not being critical enough on themselves leaves punters with unmerited self-confidence which always leads to self-destruction.
According to Wikipedia, “The gambler's fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy or the fallacy of the maturity of chances, is the belief that if deviations from expected behavior are observed in repeated independent trials of some random process then these deviations are likely to be evened out by opposite deviations in the future. For example, if a fair coin is tossed repeatedly and tails comes up a larger number of times than is expected, a gambler may incorrectly believe that this means that heads is more likely in future tosses”. I’m sure you heard many stories of people who lost a lot of money in casinos, betting on red after the ball stopped on black 15 or 16 times in a row. Of course, chances of the ball ending on red or black remain the same regardless of the previous outcomes, although it could be logical to believe that ‘it’s time for red to happen”. Things aren’t quite the same at betting, as a long losing/winning runs can affect teams in different ways, but the sure thing is that most of people have an intuitional need to try and ‘stop’ such runs by betting on the run to end, while the effects such a run could have on a team are debatable at best. Winning runs can often cause teams to become too complacent, and drop points against a very unfashionable opponent when most of the people were reasoning that “[in form team] is too hot for [other team] to handle, who cares if the odds are low”. Losing runs can, of course, motivate teams to try and play better, but they can also leave the players with a terrible lack of confidence. Such teams have a few traits that often repeat themselves, conceding shortly after scoring, needing too many chances to score, conceding injury time goals, etc. Moreover, bookies know that people will bet on fashionable teams in long losing runs, and will therefore often offer small odds on such teams that cannot be value – Ipswich, winless in eight matches at that time, being offered at only 2.1 at home against Nottingham Forest, who previously hadn’t lost away in five and a half months, is a typical example of this. The key note to remember is that a lot of players have Gambler’s fallacy and bookies set odds according to that. Always think twice before trying to end a winning/losing run, as the bookies know that a lot of people will try to do so, and odds on your selection of choice could be low despite your reasoning on why the run should end making sense.
A successful bettor has to possess a perfect mix of experience, knowledge and, most importantly, discipline. Most of us know several people who are brilliant punters but end up losing heavy- and all of their stories come down to a lack of discipline and proper money management.
The fact that a serious bettor has to be disciplined at all times is a rather obvious one. When saying ‘serious bettor’ we are talking about a punter who’s betting results have a large influence on his overall income. This means that an Eastern European who stakes 50 EUR per bet and earns 500 EUR during his everyday job is considered a serious bettor(as his monthly profit/loss can easily go up to 100% or more of his salary), while a multi-millionaire who places 1000 EUR per bet definitely isn’t a serious bettor. If you are serious, you obviously cannot afford to lose a large portion of your betting bank on a single match, and punters who place large amounts on one bet in order to cover their losses obviously get shot down in the end – their betting bank is a serious bettor’s working tool, and if you lose the most of it, you are left without the tool to do your job with. If you are not able to restrain yourself from placing hasty enormous-staked bets, I kindly advise you to search for a new source of income, as betting is not for you.
If you are sure that you can keep yourself calm and disciplined at all times and are planning the right strategy for the start of your serious betting, the next thing you should be doing is to figure out which money management suits you best. There are three types of money management strategies that are widely used: typical progressive systems, the 1-10-unit system(which is often based on the Kelly criterion) and the flat staking system. We will give you our thoughts on each of these systems.
Progressive systems are a definite no-go. From the infamous Martingale to the system which sees you raising every bet by one unit when you lose and doing the opposite when you win, all of these systems have one thing in common: they are designed in order to recoup losses, and allow you to win more than you deserve. Martingale, in particular, produces devastating results on the long run – this system requires you to double up your every bet after every loss, and a mere 0-7 run would see you needing to stake 128 times what you staked on your initial bet. The supporters of this system, of course, will argue that such a run occurring is highly unlikely, but it does come – sooner or later, and once it does, you will find yourselves biting your nails three hours before the kick-off of your next bet and getting premature gray hair. While Martingale is an extreme example, the basic problem with the progressive systems is that all of them decrease the mathematical expectancy of you winning on the long run, while a losing run will almost always leave your bank in a devastated condition.
The 1-10-unit system can be fine if properly used, which is rarely the case. Many of those who use this system do the terribly wrong thing of wagering 10 units only on bets which they believe have an extremely high probability of winning. As there is a close correlation between the odds offered on an event and the realistic chances of a certain outcome, finding a 2.05 odds bet with a winning probability of 70% is highly unlikely, which effectively means that such punters, who wager their biggest bets on the ones they are most sure about, either have a very poor perception of probabilities of match outcomes, or place their maximum bets only on bets with odds 1.4-1.5, which are the kind of odds rarely taken by quality punters. What was written above had the goal of pointing out why this way of staking is ridiculous, but the main problem with it is that it by no means increases your chances of winning on the long run, and definitely certainly should not be used. The other, way more acceptable version of the 1-10 units staking, is the one based on probabilities: the more advantage you have over the bookie on a particular bet, the more you should stake. This kind of strategy has been subject of heated debates in the worlds of economy and betting alike – whether or not it actually produces better results than flat betting is therefore very much debatable, but it’s a system that has a lot of common sense in it and should not be overlooked. However, there are two problems with this system: the first one is the punters’ ability to objectively determine the value present in a single bet. Making a long-term profit and a yield of 107-108% is hard enough itself, while making a difference between the value of 7% and 14% is extremely difficult. Without any doubt, all punters make errors in estimations on countless occasions, and staking 10 units on a bet which you believe has 15% value in it but actually has only 5% will leave you badly bruised on the long run, especially as you will also definitely ending up taking some brilliant bets with two or three units. The second problem is of psychological nature. High-staked bets(9, 10 units, etc) leave the bettor under serious pressure – two consecutive 10 units bets that end up losing will can be a real mental hammer blow, while, as we explained in our previous article, one of the key thing in the business is to remain cool and confident at all times. To sum it up, this way of staking is recommended only for punters who can accurately determine the value(in ROI) present in their bets but also have a lot of patience and are not easily discouraged by losing runs – every punter who doesn’t fit into both of these criteria should consider another way of staking.
Finally, the flat staking - plain and simple: Focus on increasing my winning percentage in every possible manner instead of trying to modify my staking in order to win more than we deserve during short periods of time. The flat staking system has no major advantages over any other system, apart from not suffering from the problems other systems suffer from. The goal is for every bet placed to have the same level of risk as the others, and the profit or loss you make by this system will be determined purely by your betting skills – winning 6 out of 10 bets with odds around 2.00 will leave you in profit, while, ie. the 1-10 staking plan can leave you in minus after such a run, given that, for example, you win 6 five-unit bets and lose four 10-unit ones. Of course, unit based staking could also leave you in profit after winning only 3 bets out of 10, but my stance (as stated in my previous articles) is that they key thing in betting is to keep the frustration levels down to a minimum, and I therefore whole-heartedly embrace this system, as it will never leave you being angry at yourself for wagering too much/too little money on a certain bet. While I don’t suggest that the staking plan, I use is the only right one. I urge everyone not to use progressive systems as they simply don’t work, while everyone contemplating a unit-based system should ask themselves if they can overcome the problems aforementioned in this article. Whichever system you opt to use, the general consensus in the betting community is that the maximum size of your bet should by no means be bigger than 2.5%-3% of your overall betting bank, while the size of bets/units should be altered according to the changes in bank size (increasing/decreasing the stake after the bank increases/decreases by 20-25%).
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