In many sports betting markets, there is a wide discrepancy between the betting lines offered for competing teams or players. This can make it tough for a layman to handicap which side will win a particular match or event. Edge helps solve this problem by applying statistical analysis to the betting world, providing a way to determine which side has the superior advantage in a particular outing.
Statistical analysis of sports has been going on for many years and was first applied to cricket in the 20th century. After a couple of false starts and a lull in the middle of the last century, the subject started making a comeback in the 2010s with the advent of modern-day sports analytics companies. These firms, which can cost several thousands of pounds a year, use sophisticated data-crunching computers and complex algorithms to help identify key performance indicators and, from there, draw meaningful conclusions about the outcome of sporting events.
The analysis typically involves examining several factors that might impact the outcome of a game. These include the quality of the teams competing, current form, and the weather conditions in which the game is being played. By taking all these factors into consideration, a sports analytics company might be able to determine a number that represents the ‘true’ or ‘just’ outcome of a particular event. This figure is known as the ‘edge’ and can be applied to any sporting event to determine which side has the advantage going into the game.
Different Types Of Edge
There are numerous types of edge that can affect the outcome of a sporting event. The three most common ones are:
- The Coin Toss Edge
- The Weather/Timing Edge
- The Field Position Edge
Each of these edges will be examined in more detail below.
The Coin Toss Edge
This edge refers to the probability that heads will come up when a coin is tossed. It can depend on a variety of factors including the type of coin and the number of tosses. If a two-spot or four-spot coin is used and there are ten flips, the edge is around 2.9%.
The reason this edge is so important is that, if you bet on the prediction that heads will come up more frequently than they would in reality, your winnings will be multiplied by the coin toss edge. Conversely, if you bet on the other side, your losses will be minimized by this same edge. For example, if you bet £10 on heads and the coin comes up heads every time, and there are 100% edges on both sides, your winnings would be £10 x 2.9% = £292.20. If you had bet £10 on tails and lost every time, your total loss would be £10 x (1-2.9%) = £97.80.
The Weather/Timing Edge
This edge refers to the probability that a game will end according to the pre-established time limits. Factors that affect the weather include wind, rain, and snow. The latter can make the ball bounce funny ways, resulting in extra points or goals being scored. If you are in the habit of betting on games scheduled to start at a certain time, then this edge can play a role in your wagering decisions. For example, if you have tickets for a football match and it starts at 7:00 pm, but it is a cold and dark day and you believe that the match will run late, then you might decide to leave early. This will minimize your risk of getting wet or cold, especially if you are a woman or a child. Another example would be tickets for a horse race. If it starts at 4:00 pm and it is still light out, you might decide to stay overnight in a hotel. This could minimize your risks of getting lost, injured, or mugged.
This edge can vary from game to game and is typically calculated using statistics from the last season or two. For instance, if it is the case that the last ten NFL games had a 65.7% ending time within the first half, but this year’s scheduled games are predicted to end within the first half with only a 58.8% probability then there is a 6.9% edge in favor of the first half time frame.
The Field Position Edge
This edge refers to the probability that a team will score more points based on their respective positions on the field. For example, if there is a 30-yard rush line and you are on the other side of it, then you will have a 5.56% chance of scoring a point when the ball is kicked. This edge can vary from game to game and will often change based on the number of scores combined with the position of each team. For example, if the two teams are evenly matched and it ends in a tie, then there is a 1-in-4 (25%) chance that the position of the ball when it is kicked will determine the winner.
Putting It All Together
To recap, the above edges will determine your winnings or losses in the following manner:
- The Coin Toss Edge – If you bet on heads and it comes up heads every time, your winnings would be increased by the coin toss edge. Conversely, if you bet on tails, your losses would be minimized by this same edge.
- The Weather/Timing Edge – If you have tickets for an event that is scheduled to begin at a certain time and it starts to rain or hail soon after the scheduled start, you might decide to leave early. This will minimize your risks of getting wet or cold, especially if you are a woman or a child.
- The Field Position Edge – If the two teams are even and it ends in a tie, then there is a 25% chance that the position of the ball when it is kicked will determine the winner.
These edges are not as easy to compute as you might think and it is usually best to consult a betting calculator that is specifically designed for sports bettors. Some statistical analysis software programs are also available as standalone applications, which might be more convenient for those who are used to crunching numbers on a regular basis. The main thing to keep in mind is that these edges can vary from game to game and are typically calculated using statistics from the last season or two. For instance, if it is the case that the last ten NFL games had a 65.7% ending time within the first half, but this year’s scheduled games are predicted to end within the first half with only a 58.8% chance then there is a 6.9% edge in favor of the first half time frame.