With the spotlight ever-focused on the English Premier League, lower leagues often find themselves lost in the background.
We all know how it is – the big fish get all the spoils, leaving the little guys fighting for scraps.
This is exactly how the world of football works: lacking resources and star-power, lower leagues have almost become the forgotten bunch, unless you’re a local fan.
However, this same fact leads to no powerhouses in lower leagues that dominate for many consecutive seasons.
Whether we like it or not, sportsbooks dedicate most of their time and energy to the EPL and the Champions League. Luckily for us, this leads to a tendency of mistakenly valued lower league games.
Continue reading to find out how you can exploit the lack of attention lower leagues receive in order to win more bets than your ever dreamed possible.
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Choosing the Right Types of Bet
Growth of online betting has led to lower leagues enjoying the same types of markets and betting options as those offered for EPL.
The first step to successfully betting is to manipulate as many factors in our favour as we can.
To do that we have to learn the basic components behind the different types of bets and figure out which features could be exploited for our benefit.
Without further ado here are the most popular types of bets:
This three-option market is fairly self-explanatory – one option for each team to win within 90 minutes and a possibility of wagering on a draw.
Bookmakers will set a value for the total number of goals scored between the two clubs, and bettors will then have to place wagers on if the total will be above or below this value.
This value is typically set at 2.5, however the range could be as low as 2.0 or as high as 3.5.
If three-way betting isn’t your cup of tea, a popular alternative option is the handicap market.
The handicap is commonly set at -1.5 for the favourite and +1.5 for the underdog.
This leads to bettors forking over a bit more juice for the underdog, but winning the bet if the underdog wins or if the match ends in a draw. It also means you win your bet on the favourite when they win by a 2 goal margin or more.
If you really want to get your heart pumping for a full day of football, then an accumulator bet – or an ‘acca’ – is just what the doctor ordered.
Place bets on multiple games, and receive a greater payout if you win all of your bets. This type of bet isn’t for the feint of heart, but it can provide the most enjoyment.
Be careful, however, as accumulators are typically poor value in the long-term.
You can bet on the exact final score, the team to score first, or even the first player to score a goal in the match.
There are probably more betting markets in football than in any other sport. This is emphasised greatly when looking to bet in-play, where you’ll often find 30+ in-play markets to bet on such as the next team to score, the number of corners in the match and more.
Remember to try not to let personal bias sway your decisions.
It may be hard to find live broadcasts of many lower league games, with focus around the world on mainstream leagues like the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and most recently the MLS, but it’s crucial you watch as many as you can.
Highlights only show so much, and you’ll miss the feel for how the match truly went. Watching matches builds instincts that you can use when football betting.
If live broadcasts aren’t an option for you, at least read every article you come across. Use journalists and fan blogs for more important team-specific information.
You’ll learn useful tidbits about injuries, recent performances, and transfers.
Every bit of information is valuable when placing a bet.
If you like money, and who doesn’t, betting on reigning champions such as Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City playing on their home pitch is a no go.
Don’t for a second think that the same holds true for lower leagues. Home-away statistics greatly vary depending on the team…
Keep in mind: there are some big teams in the lower leagues with large stadiums and fan-bases.
Players lacking experience may find it intimidating to play at these locations, giving the home team a sizeable advantage.
Consider the average age and experience of the away team players when they’re travelling away to large grounds.
Lacking resources and star-power, often a single injury to a key player could change the fortune of lower league teams.
As they say, desperate times calls for desperate measures. Without having a surplus of talent, lower league teams with injuries are often forced to start subpar athletes.
Keep an eye out for injuries to key players as these teams seldom have adequate replacement options.
For the most part – the lower down the leagues you go, the worse the pitches are.
Teams play a ton of games every year with various cup competitions coinciding with the league, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Unfortunately, teams in League One, League Two and the Conference are unlikely to be able to afford high quality ground staff.
What are the consequences of all of this?
Some pretty dreadful long-ball football.
As much as you and I may dislike the school of thought behind such tactics, it often leads to higher scoring games.
Charles Reep popularised the long-ball theory and suggested the ‘3-pass optimisation rule’, stating that a higher percentage of goals are scored in 3 or fewer passes.
What does this mean for you? Long-ball tactics are most effective in lower leagues where players lack tactical knowledge and the ability to pass the ball accurately.
This often leads to teams lining up with big, bulky, slow centre backs, as they’re most effective at dealing with long balls.
With this in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye out for teams that possess a lightning-quick striker when playing on a pitch that is actually good quality – particularly if they’re coming up against a defensive partnership primed to deal with a long-ball game rather than pace in-behind.
Poor quality pitches also fatigue players more quickly than a good quality pitch. Look towards teams that have physically fit players to stand a greater chance in these conditions.
Lower League Betting Strategies
That which others may overlook is your window into value betting. Parity among teams opens a door to exploiting this overlooked niche.
Sportsbooks may overlook certain teams, but their mistake is your opportunity.
Low-profile teams, heavy underdogs, pitch conditions, and specialising in a league could all be used to increase your winnings.
No-one is perfect and that holds true for bookmakers as well.
To be a successful bettor, your job is to find markets where value is offered.
Bookies cover too many leagues and it is impossible for them to gather all the information on every league out there.
Pick a league and specialise in it, whether it is the Championship, League One, Two or even a more obscure league.
Become the authority on it, learn everything there is to know. Once you know more than the bookmarkers on a niche market, the world is your oyster.
Remember: you don’t have to bet on every match, but sportsbooks have to offer odds on every match.
This is where you have an advantage – pick a low-profile match, dig up as much information as you can and then place your bet.
Reliable resources are the backbone to this approach: you must find primary sources such as newspapers that cover low-profile teams.
Don’t forget: knowledge is power, power is money.
Lower league teams are much more evenly matched than their top tier counterparts.
Even when a team at the top of the table faces one near the bottom, it isn’t as great of a mismatch as you may first think – especially if the pitch is poor quality.
Remember: underdogs are the underdogs for a reason most of the time. It’s about finding value where you can – you aren’t one the world’s best betting tipsters…yet.
Top tier football may get all of the attention, but the true value of betting lies within the depths of the lower leagues.
You can use this oversight to find value on markets that is seldom found elsewhere.
Injury statuses and pitch conditions are a great starting resource to gauge the likely outcome of a match.
Once you use advanced betting strategies such as specialising in a league, value betting, and challenge betting, you could sit back and watch the cash flow in.
It will definitely take some patience, dedication, and persistence.
However, as someone who loves football as much as the air you breathe, it will seem more like play than work.
Seeing your bank account grow will be the cherry on top.