A Poker Player’s Complete Guide to Value Betting in Sports

By Robbie Strazynski
April 11, 2022

It’s well known that poker players enjoy sports, in particular betting on them. Hardly a day goes by where you don’t see well-known members of the professional poker playing community on Twitter publicly discussing how much they’ve bet on certain sports teams, athletes, or parlays. But the tendency to enjoy a good bet on sports goes far further than poker playing professionals. Recreational poker players, and quite frankly pretty much anyone and everyone these days enjoys a rooting interest in sports, where beyond the thrill of watching they might also win a few bucks.

What’s common to all sports bettors, however casual or professional they might be, is that they want to place good bets that are likely to give them the highest return. In other words, we’re all looking for good value bets.


Value betting

If you’ve been looking for a way to bet on sports but a big payout doesn’t seem worth the risk, it’s time to think about value bets. In sports betting, as in poker, the smartest players have the best strategies.

As a general concept, value betting is betting in a way where you’re unlikely to lose big. With generally low margins, you are also unlikely to win big. However, as a consistent strategy, you will have a positive long-term expectation (positive expected value, or +EV).

Those of you already employing this strategy in your poker games will recognize the (pardon the pun) value of playing in this way.

For those players who may need a little refresher on what value betting in poker is, we’ve broken it down here. If you are hoping for a way to build this into your sports betting strategy, read on, as we get into that later.

Value betting in poker

You bet as though you have a better hand than you actually do — for example, let’s say your opponent has two pairs, and you have a full house. A value bet would be one that makes your opponent think your hand is worse than theirs, leading them to call, thus increasing the size of the pot for you to eventually take.

On one hand, it’s not a huge gain. However, when you can regularly use this technique throughout the course of one session — or many —, the increased sizes of the pots that you encouraged your opponents to make will add up over time.

Value betting example

For example, let’s say you flop four to a flush in Texas Hold’em, as well as top pair with a strong kicker. You’ve got an exceptionally strong hand and are likely to end up the winner, but in such a situation it’s critical to not bet too much so as to drive your opponents away. Rather, you want to increase the size of the pot to a degree, thus giving you more money to (most probably) win.

In such a situation, you’d want to size your bet so as to bet for value. In other words, you’re laying a very sweet price to your opponent to continue on to the turn in the hand, even though in all likelihood you’ll end up winning. So, when you are value betting, your opponents will be more likely to call your bets and raises with weaker hands than they might otherwise play against you. That serves to grow pots that will eventually be yours.

Usually. Sometimes the outcome is unexpected, and your opponent will defy the odds to win. That’s OK! Losing a hand now and again happens. But at the end of the day, value betting when appropriate will give you a significant extra margin of wins; slightly more profit than you would’ve eked out by slow-playing.

You can see how this is a strategy that can only be evaluated over the long term, by looking at the positive long-term benefit. Keep that in mind for when we discuss sports betting, and how RebelBetting can help you.

The pros of value betting

  1. The winning strategy — It’s the cornerstone of winning at poker because you can make money even when you don’t have the best hand. It can increase your winnings in the long run and prevent you from losing out on more money than you should.
  2. A profitable move always — Value betting can be one of the most profitable poker strategies to master. When you value bet, you are betting because you believe that the pot could be worth more than its current size.

The cons of value betting

Some players don’t feel confident value betting and instead prefer to slow play their hands. This can lead to two major problems if you go this route:

  1. You may not win any extra money if your opponents fold, as you did not bet enough for them to call, or
  2. You give your opponents a chance to draw out on you and beat (what you thought was) your strong hand.

How does value betting work in sports betting?

Now you can see the obvious benefit of a long-term value betting strategy at the card table. Let’s apply the logic to sports gambling.

Ultimately, betting comes down to odds. If the outcome is predictable, the odds are very easy to beat. Wagering on these outcomes simply isn’t exciting. It’s also not profitable for the bookmaker.

That said, when you can calculate the odds or likelihood of a given event, you can almost always bet on a winning outcome. For sports betting, any tipster will give you the odds. You use that information to place your wager.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

But what if, as there is in poker, there was a way where you could win a little bit on each event over time?

Minimum profitable odds

With sports, the simplest way to value bet is to always bet on odds greater than the minimum profitable. In the same way that in poker, you’re increasing your payout over the minimum of blinds and calls, sports betting allows you to find small margins of profit in each bet.

value betting sports

How? Let’s say the estimated result of the Packers beating the Vikings is 50%. This means that a bookie can set the odds of them winning at $2.00 (1/0.5 = $2.00). In order to break even on this bet, you would need to place bets only with bookies who are offering these odds. The term for these is ‘Minimum Profitable Odds’. To win a profit, you look for bookies offering over these odds. This is value betting. Usually, bookies build a margin into the odds for themselves, which means you need to shop around and find the best option for you.

Ok, now we’ve found a bookie offering $2.10 odds on the Packers to win, which means that our bet here will have a profit over and above the minimum — by $0.10 on the dollar. Bet $100, win $110. It may not seem like much, but this is where variance comes into play.


Another important factor in making many small bets is the concept of variance. This is the spread of possible outcomes. For example, let’s look at coin flips. There are only two possible results. We have a 50% chance of seeing heads, and a 50% chance of seeing tails. Over four flips, it’s possible you still won’t have seen the coin landing heads-side up. But over 4,000 flips, your average will be roughly 2,000 and 2,000. The increased number of events decreases the variance, resulting in an expected outcome that becomes more regulated and predictable.

Where value bets really become profitable in sports gambling is over the long term. Many small wins over an extended time equal big gains.

Although the theory is simple, in practice, value betting on sports events is a lot of work. In order to reduce variance and end up with a consistent profit, you need to make a lot of bets. For this type of betting, you need to calculate many minimum profitable odds for many different events, and this can take a lot of time.

Value bets in the sports market — made easy

RebelBetting can help you with this. RebelBetting offers a value bet service that helps you make money by calculating minimum profitable odds on events. It also finds bookmakers offering above those odds, and takes the work out of value betting. In fact, it automates it!

Their special program uses mathematics analysis together with betting bias and market efficiency to determine which bets that have value and will produce profit for their users. It then uses this information to automatically send these bets for its users based on what will give them the best chance at profit. RebelBetting’s proprietary algorithm has become extremely refined; so refined, in fact, that they are even confident offering a profit guarantee.

Where nothing is truly predictable, RebelBetting’s profit guarantee is a bold claim, and one that holds up: the average Return On Investment (ROI) with RebelBetting’s value betting service is 32%, per month. This is an extremely attractive return, particularly in the volatile sports gambling world.

Try it free

One bet with a modest stake won’t get you anywhere near a big payout. Nor will two bets.

But RebelBetting knows that if you can consistently stake several bets, you will eventually be glad you did. That’s why, on top of their profit guarantee, they are offering two weeks of RebelBetting’s value betting service absolutely free. Simply head over to their value betting page to sign up today.

If you wish there was a way to bet on all potential outcomes of a match, RebelBetting has you covered as well. Using their sure betting service, you can place bets on multiple bookmakers for a variety of outcomes, meaning you win, no matter what happens in the match/event you’re betting on.


In sports, as in poker, building in small profit on multiple events leads to a positive expected value. Over a period of weeks, months, and even years, this can significantly bolster your betting portfolio. So if you’re looking to take your value betting expertise from the green felt to the bookmaker’s tip sheet, check out RebelBetting. Their betting products help take the risk out of gambling, while still offering significant ROI over time.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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