Simon Says Column

Greetings punters,

I’m back to bring you some more insight into my approach to sports betting. Today I’m going to be helping you to separate facts from opinion, and decide which information you should be using to inform your picks.

This might read a bit like a psychology lesson but if you want to make money betting on sport it’s crucial to get inside your own head – and the heads of those around you. Every couch potato has something to say about last night’s game. They’re also never shy to tell you what will happen in tomorrow’s match and back up their opinions with nothing but hot air.

In today’s digitally connected world, the amount of information we are fed on a daily basis is frightening. But how many opinions are based on facts and what percentage of them are distracting you from the truth?

The biggest problem punters face is that opinion and perception are both so easily disguised and interpreted as facts. It’s not as simple as information being right or wrong because it’s fairly easy to find accurate statistics on any sport in any league, etc. but we often ignore this boring and sterile information and instead rely heavily on hearsay.

Humans love drama and a cute story. It’s easy for us to get caught up in our emotions and the sports betting markets are by no means immune to this bias either. For instance, if we believe it’s written in the stars that Roger Federer wins Wimbledon again because it might well be his last opportunity, we’re far more likely to dig for “facts” to back up this opinion despite his poor tournament preparation – and everyone else will be trying to convince you all the same.

Federer might be hugely motivated to win Wimbledon one more time for the reason provided, but we shouldn’t only pay attention to information that confirms our preconceptions. This is known as confirmation bias and can be crippling to sports bettors. So what information is actually useful and how do you put your emotions aside? Well, it’s not so much which information you look at, but rather knowing an opinion when you see or hear one.

I would suggest that before placing your next bet, that you gather all of the information available before formulating an own opinion of your own. Look at the statistics which hold the most relevance in the context of the upcoming event. Do you really think (for argument’s sake) the fact that Andy Murray has never won Wimbledon after losing in the final at Queen’s, is as relevant and pertinent as his record of 18 consecutive games unbeaten on grass courts coming into the event? I don’t think so.

Of course it’s far easier letting somebody else decide where to put your money, but public perception can be very deceiving. It’s scary going against the grain in sports betting – even illogical on the surface. If everyone thinks Federer will lift the trophy, how can so many people be wrong, right? Well, you can probably work that one out for yourself: the majority of bettors were convinced for the same reason you were – because everyone else said that he would win.

On the flip side of the coin, bettors who blindly oppose public opinion play an equally dangerous game. The bandwagon opinion is often opposed by “sharps” who believe they know more than the average punters and can profit by opposing them. Rubbish. You don’t always have to go against the grain and make the difficult unpopular bet in order to beat the bookies.

Whether this article left you feeling wiser or more confused, my best piece of advice is to think carefully about all of the different factors – both internal and external – that inform your sports betting.

By acknowledging your own biases and differentiating between fact and opinion, you’re already halfway to becoming a better sports bettor!

Column #4

Welcome back to the Simon Says column, where today I will be discussing staking methods and the importance of developing a strategy around the amount of money we bet.

One of the most common mistakes made by punters new to the world of sports betting is to undervalue the importance of stake management. Knowing how much of your bankroll to stake on one particular bet is even more important than where you put your money. Sound crazy? Well, just hear me out …

When you randomly decide to bet, let’s say R100 on Arsenal to beat Manchester City at odds of 2.00 and the next week bet R500 on Arsenal to beat Middlesbrough at odds of 1.20 because you think it’s a ”sure thing”, the truth is you aren’t being as smart as you think you are. In making this decision, not only are you being reckless by betting 5 times your normal stake (you should never gamble money that you cannot afford to lose), but you are also validating your own perceptions of risk which may not necessarily reflect reality. Discipline is absolutely critical if you want to make money betting on sports, and the first place you need to apply this is to your bankroll.


In the above example, although the bookmakers have implied with their odds that it’s far more likely that Arsenal will beat Middlesborough – which for all intents and purposes might be true – than they will beat Manchester City, it does not mean that the chance is 5 times greater (as the odds imply) and therefore it may not necessarily be worth taking 5 times more risk for the same return as the first wager at odds of 2.0.  

In deciding to bet more money on a result which you feel is more likely to happen, you are assuming that you know exactly how much risk you’re taking – and if that were actually true you would be picking winners every single week and be stinking rich from gambling. But you’re not, are you?

For this reason, coming up with a staking method and sticking with it’s very important for punters because it allows us authority over the one thing we have the power to control, and that is how much money we risk losing when we bet. I don’t know about you, but I can’t control the results…


There are many different staking plans and strategies which punters can use. One of the most common is unit betting, where punters decide how much they like a bet before allocating an amount of units to that wager. The major problem with this method is that by assuming that one bet has a bigger chance of winning than another – and is therefore worthy of risking more money – the punter is once again playing God and assuming they know more than the bookmaker.

The method I prefer which is very simple and worked for me for many years now, is the Fixed Wager method. All you need to do is decide on an amount you can afford to bet and invest that fixed amount each time without changing it no matter how much you might win. We’ve all been on a winning streak only to lose everything after getting cocky and putting all our winnings down on a bet we feel very confident about.

The Fixed Wager method may sound boring but it’s a long-term staking plan that actually works. If like me, you mostly back odds at around 1.80 or bigger, your bankroll will only get smaller if you lose more bets than you win, which if you’re not taking hundreds each week isn’t too difficult to get right.

For more info on staking methods check out this article.

Please comment on this post and tell us what staking plan you’re using. If you aren’t using one yet we suggest you do – and please let us know how it goes!

For more information on Bankroll Management check out our Bankroll management post.

Column 3

Good day punters,

It’s good to have you back with us for my third Simon Says column. I hope you’ve been tuning into the weekly BSB podcast and following our Super Rugby and English Premier League football tips which have been pretty solid over the last three weeks. With our best bets, so far combined we’ve gone 5 from 6, which has led to some decent profit for both of us, and hopefully for you guys too!

Today I’m going to be talking about Asian Handicaps in football. Many of you will know how European Handicaps work and you’ve probably had a punt on them. Put quite simply, European handicaps give either team in a matchup a head-start of one or more goals to ‘level the playing field’ and give the punter more favourable odds on which to bet, by taking more risk.

For instance, in European handicaps if you feel that Chelsea will beat Hull City by at least two goals, then you might want to back Chelsea -1 at odds of 2.20 instead of taking them in the straight win market at odds of 1.4. Similarly, if you feel that Hull City is capable of at least drawing the match, then you might want to back Hull City +1 (identical to the Double Chance market), which means that if Hull City draws the match then your bet still wins. You might prefer to back Hull +2 (at much smaller odds) which means that even if they lose the game by a single goal your bet still wins.

Asian handicaps work on the same principle as European handicaps, but they are a little more complicated because the goals are split into halves and quarters. Why this is useful for punters is that it offers more value dependent on the level of risk we are willing to take.

For instance, you might get Manchester United (0;-0.5) at odds of 1.8. If you take this bet, you are putting half of your stake on Manchester United to win the match and the other half on them to win/draw the match (Draw No Bet market). What this means is that if Manchester United wins the match, then your bet wins; if they draw the match then you’ll lose only half of your stake; and if they lose the match, then you’ll lose your full stake.

Basically what you‘re doing when placing an Asian Handicap bet is making two wagers at the same time and diversifying your risk. The two components of the Asian handicap bet of course have their own consequences for your bankroll depending on the match result, but betting on this market allows you to make predictions on the result which can yield bigger returns for more risk.

So next time you’re thinking about betting on a football match, think carefully about your position on the game and what the bookmaker’s odds imply. If you can find the best value in the odds of the Asian handicaps, bet these markets and your winning bets will be rewarded with the kind of return you actually want from your bookmaker!

*Currently Betx are the only South African bookmaker to offer Asian handicaps on football matches

Below is a table to guide you through Asian Handicaps and what they mean:

Column 2

Good day punters,

Welcome to the second edition of the Simon Says column. You’ve probably got to know a little bit about me over the last couple weeks. I hope you’ve been tuning into our weekly podcast, where you can hear Rob and myself rant and rave about everything betting related, discuss past and upcoming sporting events, and also get some of our best betting tips for the English Premier League football and Super Rugby matches ahead. Find the BSB podcast here: bit.ly/2pb3KjY

It’s been a streaky couple weeks in terms of finding winning bets, but there’s a little story I want to share with you which highlights one of the most important things that us punters need to get right if we are to catch the bookmakers with their pants down and make some profit.

Last week, I fancied the Chiefs and Sharks to get the job done in their respective games against the Stormers and Jaguares. Well we all know what a spectacle the Cape Town match proved to be and although I was on the wrong side of that one from a betting perspective, it was absolutely fantastic to see the Stormers put on such a great performance for the Newlands faithful.

I was lucky enough to be at the game and witnessed two of the best tries of the Super Rugby tournament so far. The Chiefs try included almost every player in their team as they took the ball right from behind their own 22-metre line to dot it down for the 5 points. And then we witnessed a very different try by the Stormers involving an incredible pass and some great running – pure brilliance in its own right.

But it’s the Sharks vs Jaguares game which I really want to talk about. When the odds and points spreads came out that Monday (Betx is usually the first South African book to post them) I fancied the Sharks to cover the 4.5 point spread. They seemed to be finding some form and were strong – albeit losing the game – against the Lions the weekend before. Typically, if I expect the majority of money will come for the team that I’m also looking to back, I will place my bet early so that I get the best points spread possible, either on the + or – defending if I like the favourite or underdog.

The mistake I made in this game was deciding to wait a day or two before placing my bet. Although team news can make all the difference in whether a bet is good value, it’s also important to remember betting the game before it is released can also work in your favour. As I correctly predicted, the majority of money came for the Sharks and so the line of -4.5 points moved to -6.5 by Thursday afternoon. When I eventually decided to fire on the Sharks, I was forced to bet a line that was 2 points worse off than the line I would have got if I had bet them on the Monday. Instead of the Sharks having to win by 5 points at odds of 1.9, they now had to win by 7 points for me to get the same odds and return.

As I watched the closing minutes of the game at a pub just outside Newlands Stadium, the reality of my mistake dawned upon me. The game was going to fall right on the number which I should have bet earlier. The final score was 22-17 to the Sharks which meant that they covered the original spread of -4.5 points but didn’t cover the spread that I ended up betting of -6.5 points. I had a losing bet which should have been a winner.

So, the moral of story here folks, is that you need to always try to get ‘the best of the number’. If you can predict which way the money will come, and hence the market will move, then shop for the best odds/points spread possible across all the books and take the bet before you lose the value. I lost because I hesitated.

Simon Say Column 1

It’s a great pleasure to be invited as a guest writer for Best Sports Betting and I sincerely hope this column will become something which followers look forward to reading every two weeks. Here I’ll share sports news, betting previews, rantings and general punditry around upcoming sporting events. I hope not only to keep you updated about the sports which I enjoy watching, but also to share my own views and provide you with some betting tips and strategies to make you profit in the long term.

As a matter of introduction, it would be rude not to first tell you a little bit about myself…

Simon Says Column

I’m a journalism graduate and by trade a freelance writer, editor and content producer. I have an unhealthy obsession with sports and sports betting which goes far as back as I can remember, well in fact to one day in particular, which we’ll revisit in more detail shortly.

My favourite sports to watch are tennis, football, rugby, golf and more recently NFL. I’m a firm believer in betting to my strengths, so although I watch almost all the sport I possibly can, I limit my wagers to just a select few where I feel I can more easily find an edge over the bookmaker.

I’m a born-and-bred South African sports fanatic who first found a passion for placing a cheeky wager during the Premier League season of 2010-2011. I remember that bet – and the beginning of my sports betting career – like it was yesterday…

I opened a Sportingbet account after seeing an advert for the bookmaker online. I knew very little about how sports betting worked, what odds meant, and how to place a bet – and I had not even a sniff of an idea about the meaning of ‘value’ in laying odds with a bookmaker.

Here’s why:  At the time I mainly only watched English Premier League Football and so after opening my betting account, I duly found the markets for the upcoming weekend’s games and looked for a “sure-thing” bet I could lump a reasonably big sum of money onto and laugh in the face of the bookies. Of course at the time, like many of us still do, I believed there was in fact such a thing as a sure thing. Hah… yeah right…!

The skinniest odds I could find on the weekend’s coupon were for Queens Park Rangers to win, who were scheduled to play at home against Manchester City. The sky blues had been on an incredibly impressive run, but if you know anything about football, when I tell you that I backed them at odds of 1/3 (1.33) to win AWAY from home in London you might laugh at me (and you definitely should)… But my logic was simple: I was betting on the very best team in the league to beat arguably the worst. R1500 to return R500. What could go wrong, right!?

Although there’s no doubt whatsoever that I got zero value on the wager itself considering I was betting such ridiculously short odds in a football match (the bookies must have thought I was smoking my gran’s socks), I certainly got value for my money as far as entertainment that afternoon was concerned:

So it’s me and some mates down the pub that Saturday and I’m buzzing with excitement for the game. It’s an early kick-off and there’s excitement around the match, being the only one televised at the time – that and Manchester City had been unbeaten in all 12 of their games so far that season and were just an absolute pleasure to watch, for both fans and neutrals alike.

When QPR drew the first blood to go 1-0 up I felt my stomach ball up into a knot. But then Dzeko from City equalised just before the half-time whistle and my emotions somewhat settled. That said, I was still anxious as surely the citizens should have been at least one goal ahead already!? I consoled myself with the fact that were was still another 45 minutes remaining for them to put the recently promoted Londoners to the sword.

When the David ‘the magician’ Silva scored City’s second goal to go 2-1 up, I ordered shots of Jagermeister for everyone… I was already celebrating my first winning sports bet. But to my absolute horror, soon after I had digested that and bathed in my premature glory, Heidar Helguson put one away for the Hoops and it was all-square again at Loftus Road.

No… shit… surely this couldn’t really be happening!?… My bet was a sure winner, and now if City don’t find the net in the next 21 minutes then I’m toast. R1500 gone. Kaput. Finito.

THIS WAS QUITE SOME INTRODUCTION TO SPORTS BETTING. And as much as I didn’t enjoy biting my fingernails and sweating for the 16 minutes that preceded Yaya Toure putting City ahead again, it was also the most human I had ever felt in my life. What a fuck*ng rush!

When the final whistle went and the score remained 3-2 to City, my wager was a winning one – I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I had survived the consequences of making a really bad decision. But only by a ball hair…

Well, to this day I don’t think I’ve seen an away team with odds as short as 1/3 (1.33) to beat any other team away from home in the Premier League. And for good reason, because they shouldn’t be. I was lucky to have a winner that day and risked way more than I should have for a measly return. Just remember folks, anything can happen in a game of sport. So my first piece of betting advice to you is never bet money you cannot afford to lose.

So that’s it for me until next time, where I hope to actually share some betting tips and banter with you guys as opposed to silly stories of my squandered youth…

5 comments

  1. kudos to you for advising a level stakes approach
    the method of betting 1-10 units depending on how sure you are of a win, has never made sense to me
    first you guess the winner and then you guess how many units ?- fraught with danger

    1. Best Sports Betting says:

      I’m a unit man but guys throw around units like candy. 10 units, please, that’s 12-15% of your bankroll. A smart punter never gets close to that, even on a sure thing. But Simon does raise some interesting points!

  2. We’ll written article. Looking forward to the next edition, when are they coming out?

    1. Best Sports Betting says:

      One every 2 weeks kind sir.

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