Is Betting On Underdogs a Good Strategy?

A gambler in October 2015 placed a £100 bet with Betfair on Leicester City to win the Premier League.  Almost a year later, the punter cashed a huge £200,000 payout after Leicester’s shock triumph. Luck?


Well, in recent times, the underdogs have continued upsetting the formbook, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal the latest to shock the football world, with a Euro 2016 triumph over giants like: Germany, Spain and France.


The term underdog has its origins in the dog fighting of the late 19th century. Back then it simply meant the dog that lost the fight. These days it simply means a team that is more likely to lose a match.


The ability of underdogs to upset the football script over the years poses the question: Is it worth it placing your money only on underdogs?


Before betting, you always ask yourself; Should I bet on the underdog or the favourite? The payout you get from betting on the favorites is always smaller whereas betting on the underdogs, while riskier, will earn you much larger returns. But less frequently!


Psychologically, most bettors do not wish to lose and always believe they can win. They more often than not place their money on favorites, even when they shouldn't. No bettor likes to lose and the fear of losing drives them to go with the crowd almost every other time. This in turn causes the bookmakers to reduce the price on favourites and offer increased prices on the ‘dogs.


This ‘herd behaviour’ thus creates a price disparity that you can exploit. Whoever bets on the underdog wins bigger by taking the risk, because the payout is higher than it should be - based on pure probability.  


When should you bet on the underdog?


Before you stake your money, do proper research on both teams.


It is also advisable that you should place your money on the underdog only when there is a discrepancy between public opinion and the actual reality of the team’s winning chance.


For example, where you think the underdog has a 33% or better chance of winning over the favorite and the payout is more than 3x the initial stake. Or if you think the underdog should actually be the favourite!


Then, it is important to be on the lookout for what is termed as ‘home dogs.’ These are ‘weaker’ teams that have a good home records. The theory with ‘home dogs’ is that they have greater chance of defying the odds.


To successfully bet on the underdog, you need to avoid moving with the crowd. Also, do not make blind picks on the underdogs but ensure you consider adequate facts and statistics.


Betting on underdogs is always a great way to play. Besides the big payout that comes with it, there is the thrill and excitement of following a match where almost everyone expects the underdog to come second but the formbook is upset and you win!

Remember, always bet responsibly