FOOTBALL: Boycie the Bookie; SEAN BOYCE'S Inside Track on Sports Betting

Article excerpt

PHILOSOPHERS down the ages have pondered many of life's great puzzles.

How many angels can be balanced on the head of a pin? How do we fill the God-shaped hole in our sole and how long is a piece of string?

All tricky questions it is true but none are as taxing as the great imponderable that every punter faces every time they place a bet. What is value?

In a nutshell, value in betting is found when the odds on offer are greater than an event actually occurring.

If I toss a coin there is a 50 per cent chance it will land heads up, so the odds on it landing heads are evens.

If you offered me odds of 2/1 against it landing heads up I would bite your arm off because those odds are bigger than the real probability.

Sporting events are slightly more complex affairs than coin tosses - unless your chosen sport is cricket during the wettest April on record!

Since none of us can state categorically what the percentage chance of any given outcome of a sporting event is, value becomes a matter of opinion.

On more than one occasion this season I have bet against Leeds United on the grounds of value.

My logic has been that Leeds have often been overrated by punters and bookmakers alike, meaning the odds on offer were shorter than they should be.

A desperate run of recent form has gone some way to proving my point.

This weekend, however, the odds have swung so far against Leeds United in their match with Peter Shreeves' Sheffield Wednesday side that I reckon the real value is now to be found in backing Leeds rather than opposing them. …