What is Positive Expected Value in Sports Betting? 

 May 19, 2023

By  Matt Finnigan

Imagine being able to consistently make money while watching your favorite sports teams play. Explanation: Well, with positive expected value in sports betting, that dream can become a reality. Thesis: In this article, we will explore what positive expected value is in sports betting and how it can be used to increase your chances of winning.

The Elusive Dream of Consistent Winnings

Sports betting has been around for as long as there have been sports. Fans who are passionate about their favorite teams often place bets hoping to make some extra cash while supporting their team. Unfortunately, most bettors end up losing more money than they win.

This can be discouraging and lead many to give up on the idea of achieving consistent winnings through sports betting. This is where positive expected value comes into play as a solution to this problem.

Positive expected value involves finding bets where the potential payout outweighs the probability of losing. This means that over time, if you consistently place bets with positive expected value, you will come out ahead and achieve the dream of making money while enjoying watching your favorite teams play.

The Definition and Importance of Expected Value”Expected value is the probability of an event multiplied by the potential payout or loss.”

This definition might sound confusing at first but understanding it is crucial for making informed bets and managing risk. Essentially, it means that when placing a bet, you need to consider not only the potential payout but also the likelihood of winning or losing.

Let’s say you bet $10 on a coin flip that has 50/50 odds of landing on heads or tails. The potential payout for correctly guessing heads might be $20 dollars.

So what’s your expected value for this bet? It’s $5 ($10 x 0.5).

This means that over time, if you were to place this bet many times, you would expect to win $5 on average for each $10 bet. The importance of expected value is that it allows you to make informed bets with a positive expected value.

By analyzing the probability and potential payout of a particular bet, you can determine whether or not it has positive expected value. Rather than relying on gut feelings or emotions, you use logic and math to make better decisions about which bets to place.

Understanding Expected Value

What is expected value? It is simply the probability of an event multiplied by the potential payout or loss. In other words, it’s a way to determine whether a bet is worth making based on the likelihood of success and what you stand to gain or lose.

Let’s take a simple example: flipping a coin. If you bet $10 on heads with a potential payout of $20 and there’s an equal chance (50/50) of getting either heads or tails, then your expected value is $5 ($10 x 0.5).

That means, on average, you can expect to profit $5 for every coin flip if you make this bet repeatedly. Now let’s apply this concept to sports betting.

Say you want to bet on the outcome of a basketball game between Team A and Team B. The odds are in favor of Team A with -120 (meaning you would need to bet $120 to win $100), while Team B has +150 odds (meaning you would win $150 for every $100 bet). The implied probability for Team A winning is 54.55%, while it’s 40% for Team B. By using expected value calculations, we can determine which bet has positive expected value.

The Importance of Understanding Expected Value

If you want to make informed bets that have long-term profitability, then understanding expected value should be at the top of your list. It helps prevent impulsive betting decisions based solely on emotions or fandom and instead encourages logical thinking based on data-driven analysis. Expected value also plays a crucial role in managing risk when making multiple bets simultaneously or over an extended period.

By calculating the expected value for each individual bet and evaluating their overall impact on your bankroll, you can make adjustments as needed to ensure that your bets have positive expected value and minimize potential losses. Expected value is a fundamental concept that every sports bettor should understand.

It’s not a guarantee for winning every bet, but it does provide a solid foundation for making informed decisions and achieving long-term profitability. So before you make any bets, remember to calculate the expected value and evaluate the risk-reward ratio carefully.

Positive Expected Value

The Key to Successful Sports Betting

Now that you understand the basics of expected value, let’s dive into positive expected value. This is the holy grail of sports betting, and it’s what separates the amateurs from the pros.

You see, most bettors focus solely on picking winners. They don’t take into account the odds or potential payouts.

But if you want to make money in sports betting, you need to think like a mathematician. Positive expected value occurs when the potential payout outweighs the probability of losing.

In other words, if you place enough bets with positive expected value, you will make money in the long run – regardless of whether or not any individual bet wins or loses. Let that sink in for a moment.

You don’t need to win every bet to be profitable in sports betting. All you need is a consistent edge over the bookmakers.

So how do we find positive expected value bets? The answer lies in finding inefficiencies in the market.

Bookmakers are not perfect – they make mistakes just like everyone else. If we can identify these mistakes and capitalize on them, we can turn a profit over time.

Risk Management Is Still Important

Before we get too carried away with our new-found knowledge of positive expected value, it’s important to remember that risk management still plays a crucial role in successful sports betting. Just because a bet has positive expected value doesn’t mean it’s automatically a good bet for your bankroll.

You should never risk more than 1-2% of your bankroll on any single bet – even if it has positive expected value. Why?

Because even with positive expected value bets, there is still variance and chance involved. You might go through stretches where everything seems to go wrong, and your bankroll takes a hit.

By sticking to proper bankroll management, you can weather these storms and come out ahead in the long run. Remember, sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint.


Positive expected value is the key to successful sports betting. By identifying inefficiencies in the market and placing bets with positive expected value, you can make money over time regardless of whether or not any individual bet wins or loses.

However, it’s important to remember that proper risk management is still crucial for long-term success. So go forth and conquer the world of sports betting!

Armed with your new knowledge of expected value and positive expected value, you’re ready to take on the bookmakers and come out on top. Just remember to be patient, stick to your bankroll management plan, and above all else – have fun!

About the author 

Matt Finnigan

A full time professional sports trader since 2002 and I expanded my investment portfolio during the 2020 pandemic to include crytpocurrency and forex trading when the sporting world ground to a halt.

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