What Does +EV Mean? Expected Value Betting Explained

Last updated October 25, 2023

In the world of gambling, be it sports betting, casino games, or any form of wagering, understanding the concept of Expected Value (+EV) is important. For those serious about making a profit or even just wanting to improve their odds of success, getting to grips with +EV can make the difference between a sustainable betting approach and a fast-draining bankroll. 

Let’s dive deep into what +EV betting truly means and how you can master the art of expected value betting. 

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What is +EV Betting?

At its core, +EV betting refers to placing bets with a positive expected value. But what does that mean? In simple terms, if a bet has a positive expected value, it implies that over the long run, you're expected to make a profit on average from that bet, even if you might face losses in the short term. 

Conversely, a negative expected value (-EV), means that you're predicted to lose money over time with that bet. It's crucial to note that +EV doesn't guarantee a win every time; it merely suggests a profitable outcome over many similar bets.

Breaking Down Expected Value (+EV) in Gambling

To understand Expected Value, you must understand probability theory. The expected value of a bet is calculated by multiplying the potential outcomes by the likelihood of them occurring and then subtracting the amount wagered. In mathematical terms:

EV= (Probability of Winning × Amount Won per Bet) − (Probability of Losing × Amount Lost per Bet)

If the result is positive, you've got a +EV bet; if it is negative, it is a -EV bet.

Let's illustrate with a simple example. Imagine a fair coin toss where you bet $10 that the coin will land on heads. If it does, you win $11; if it doesn't, you lose your $10. Here, the probability of either outcome is 0.5.

EV = (0.5 \times $11) - (0.5 \times $10) = $5.50 - $5.00 = $0.50

This bet has a positive expected value of $0.50, which means for every bet of $10, you expect to profit $0.50 on average over the long run.

The Importance of Positive Expected Value in Betting

Math Formulas

Recognizing and understanding +EV is the foundation of a strategic betting approach. Here's why:

✅ Long-Term Profitability: While individual bets can result in losses over time, consistently betting with a positive expected value can lead to significant profits.

 ✅ Sustainable Betting: Instead of haphazardly placing bets based on gut feelings or biased opinions, focusing on +EV allows for a more systematic and analytical approach. This not only enhances the betting experience but also offers better bankroll management.

✅ Edge Over the Sportsbooks: Sportsbooks are experts at setting odds that are favorable to them. However, they aren't infallible. By identifying instances where their odds offer a +EV, bettors can exploit these moments to gain an edge.

✅ Emotional Balance: Betting can be an emotional rollercoaster. Knowing that you're placing +EV bets can provide confidence and calm, even when facing short-term losses.

The Science Behind +EV Betting

To fully grasp the intricacies of +EV betting, it's vital to understand the science behind it. From the basic principles of probability to the intricate mechanisms employed by betting sites, understanding these facets can drastically enhance one's betting prowess. Let's delve into these fundamental aspects and their relationship with +EV betting.

Basic Probability and Odds

At the heart of every bet lies a probability—the chance of a particular outcome happening. In betting terms, this is often presented as odds.

Probability: It’s the mathematical likelihood of a specific outcome. It's expressed as a fraction between 0 (impossible event) and 1 (certain event). For example, the probability of a fair coin landing heads is 0.5 or 50%.

Odds: These express the likelihood of an event occurring compared to it not occurring. Using the coin example, the odds for landing heads are 1:1 since there's an equal chance for both outcomes. Odds can be displayed in various formats: American (e.g., +500 or -200), fractional (e.g., 5/1) or decimal (e.g., 6.00), or 

Basic Probability and Odds

Converting Odds to Probability

This allows bettors to understand better the implied chance of an event occurring. Below is a breakdown of how to convert both positive and negative American odds into implied probabilities:

Positive Odds (e.g., +200): Positive odds show how much profit you stand to make on a $100 bet. 

To convert positive American odds to probability: Probability (%)= (100 / (American Odds + 100)) × 100 

For example, if the American odds are +200: Probability (%) = (100 / (200 + 100)) × 100 = 33.33%

So, +200 odds imply a 33.33% chance of the event occurring.

Negative American Odds (e.g., -150): Negative odds show how much you need to bet to make a profit of $100.

To convert negative American odds to probability: Probability (%) = (American Odds / (American Odds + 100)) × 100

For example, if the American odds are -150: Probability (%) = (150 / (150 + 100)) × 100 = 60%

So, -150 odds imply a 60% chance of the event occurring.

Understanding the relationship between odds and probabilities allows bettors to evaluate better the value of different bets and assess their potential return.

How Betting Sites Set Their Odds

Sportsbooks play a central role in the betting ecosystem. Their primary job? Setting the odds. But how do they determine these figures?

Data Analysis: Sportsbooks utilize vast amounts of data, from team/player stats to weather conditions. Advanced algorithms and software aid this process.

Margin Addition: After calculating the basic odds, bookmakers add a margin. This ensures they profit over the long run, regardless of the outcome.

Public Opinion: Odds can be influenced by where the public places the majority of the money. If a lot of money is placed on one team, the odds for that team may decrease.

Continuous Adjustment: As events draw nearer and as new information becomes available (e.g., player injuries), odds are frequently updated.

Recognizing Value in Betting Lines

Recognizing value is the essence of +EV betting. But what does "value" mean in this context?

Defining Betting Value: You find value when you believe an outcome's probability is greater than the bookmaker's odds suggest. If you estimate a 60% chance (or 0.60 in probability terms) of an outcome happening, but the bookmaker's odds suggest a 50% chance, there's potential value.

Calculating Implied Probability: The likelihood that the bookmaker assigns an outcome based on their odds. For decimal odds of 2.00, the implied probability is 50%.

Spotting Value: If your assessed probability exceeds the implied probability, there's value in the bet. Using the earlier example, if you believe there’s a 60% chance, but the odds suggest 50%, you’ve identified a potential +EV bet.

Experience and Analysis: Over time, and with meticulous analysis, bettors refine their skills in spotting value, often using tools and software, or even developing personal strategies based on experience.

Leveraging Bonuses and Promos for Better Expected Value

In the competitive betting world, bookmakers and casinos frequently offer bonuses and promotions to attract and retain customers. While these offers can be enticing, understanding how to leverage them to enhance the expected value of your bets is crucial. This section will guide you through the intricacies of various bonuses and promotions, highlighting how they can be used to your advantage in +EV betting.

Understanding Betting and Casino Bonuses

Bonuses come in various shapes and sizes, each with terms and conditions. Grasping the nuances of these offers can set you on the path to maximizing your betting returns.


Welcome Bonuses - A Head Start in Betting

❓ What Are They? Welcome bonuses are offered to new users when they sign up and often make their first deposit. They might match your deposit up to a certain amount or provide bonus bets.

✅ Enhancing EV: A welcome bonus can give you additional funds to play with. This means you can potentially place more or larger bets, increasing your chances of a significant win without increasing your initial stake. An example of this bonus type is the bet-and-get bonuses

❗ Watch Out For: Always read the terms and conditions. Some bonuses have wagering requirements, meaning you must bet the bonus amount multiple times before withdrawing any winnings.

Reload Bonuses - Keeping the Momentum Going

❓ What Are They? Unlike the one-time welcome bonuses, reload bonuses are offered to existing players when they deposit additional funds.

✅ Enhancing EV: These bonuses can boost your bankroll, providing extra capital to bet and the opportunity to diversify your betting strategies.

❗ Watch Out For: Always check for wagering requirements or time limits on using the bonus funds.

Capitalizing on Promotions for Maximum Value

Promotions come in a wide variety, from cashback offers to risk-free bets. Knowing how to harness these can amplify your betting returns.

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Strategies to Find +EV Betting Opportunities

Successfully navigating the betting landscape requires more than understanding the basic principles of odds and probability. To consistently find +EV betting opportunities, one must employ analytical techniques, utilize modern tools, and sometimes even trust their gut instincts. Let's explore the multi-faceted approach to uncovering these lucrative betting opportunities.

Analyzing Sports Data and Statistics

The significance of data in sports betting can't be overstated. With many statistics available, bettors are better equipped to make informed decisions.

Historical Performance: Looking at how teams or players have performed in the past can provide insights into potential future outcomes. This includes win/loss records, head-to-head matchups, and specifics like goal averages or points scored.

Current Form and Momentum: A team or athlete's recent performances can be more indicative of their potential than their long-term record. A football team on a five-match winning streak might have a psychological edge over its competition.

External Factors: Conditions like weather, match location (home vs. away), and the time since the last game can influence performance. For instance, teams might perform differently on rainy days or after only a two-day break between matches.

Advanced Metrics: The sports world has seen a surge in using advanced metrics and analytics. Concepts like Expected Goals (xG) in soccer or Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in basketball offer deeper insights than traditional stats.

Using Betting Calculators and Tools

The digital age has ushered in tools designed to aid bettors in their quest for +EV opportunities.

Betting Calculators: These tools help bettors determine potential payouts, convert between different odds formats, or even calculate the implied probability based on given odds.

Odds Comparison Sites: By comparing odds across different sportsbooks, bettors often find discrepancies, leading to potential arbitrage opportunities or a better value.

Predictive Software: Some tools, backed by complex algorithms, aim to predict match outcomes based on vast datasets. While they aren't foolproof, they can be a valuable asset in a bettor's toolkit.

Bankroll Management Apps: Ensuring sustainability in betting isn't just about finding +EV bets and managing funds effectively. These tools can help set betting limits, track profit/loss, and suggest stake amounts.

The Role of Intuition in Identifying +EV Bets

While data and tools are invaluable, there's an intangible aspect to betting that can't be overlooked: intuition.

Experience-Based Intuition: Seasoned bettors develop a sixth sense of certain bets over time. They might spot patterns that aren't immediately evident in statistics or recognize subtle shifts in a team's dynamics, suggesting an upset is on the horizon.

Emotional Balance: Intuition isn't about being impulsive. It's essential to distinguish between a genuine gut feeling based on experience and an emotional, rash decision. Maintaining emotional balance ensures that intuition is an asset rather than a liability.

Blending Intuition with Analysis: The most successful bettors often strike a balance. They'll lean on hard data and tools but won't shy away from following their instincts when they sense a unique opportunity.

Common Pitfalls in +EV Betting

While the allure of +EV betting promises sustained profitability and an edge over betting sites, the journey is littered with potential pitfalls. Recognizing and sidestepping these common missteps can be as crucial as identifying the +EV opportunities. Let’s delve into some of the bettors' frequent mistakes and the best strategies to avoid them.

The Gambler's Fallacy and How to Avoid It

The Gambler's Fallacy, often termed the Monte Carlo Fallacy, is a common psychological trap many fall into. It's the mistaken belief that if an event has occurred more frequently than normal in the past, it's less likely to happen in the future (or vice versa).

Classic Example: If a coin has landed on heads five times in a row, the fallacy leads one to believe tails is "due" on the next flip. In reality, the coin has no memory; the odds remain 50/50.

In Sports Betting: After a team has lost multiple games in a row, bettors might believe a win is imminent, even if all data and conditions suggest otherwise.

Avoidance Strategy: Always base decisions on objective data and current circumstances rather than past sequences. Understand that most events in gambling are independent of one another.

Overconfidence in Betting Selections

Confidence can be an asset, but overconfidence often leads to downfall.

Misplaced Trust in Data: Access to data loads can sometimes create a false sense of security. It's crucial to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant data.

Ignoring Bookmaker Expertise: While finding +EV opportunities is possible, it’s essential to remember that gambling sites have vast resources. Always be vigilant and double-check your conclusions.

Avoidance Strategy: Continually educate yourself, seek out diverse opinions, and be ready to adjust your strategies. Open to the idea that a chosen bet might not be as solid as initially thought.

Chasing Losses: The Negative EV Approach

One of the most dangerous behaviors in betting is trying to recoup losses by placing hasty, ill-considered bets.

The Emotional Spiral: After a string of losses, feeling frustrated is natural. However, letting those emotions dictate betting choices leads to even greater losses.

Compounding Negative EV: Chasing losses typically involves placing bets with a negative expected value in the hopes of a quick win. Over time, this approach exacerbates losses.

Avoidance Strategy: Set clear betting limits and adhere to them. If you find yourself on a losing streak, take a break. Reflect on your strategies and decisions rather than making impulsive bets.

Practical Steps to Start with +EV Betting

Building a Solid Bankroll Management Strategy

Bankroll management is the backbone of successful betting. It determines how much money you should stake on each bet and ensures you can withstand the inevitable downturns without going broke.

  1. Setting a Budget: Determine how much money you will dedicate to betting. This is your bankroll.
  2. Deciding on Unit Size: A common strategy is to bet a fixed percentage of your bankroll, often between 1-5%, on any single wager. This ensures you're not risking too much at once and can weather a string of losses.
  3. Adjusting with Growth or Decline: Adjust your stakes accordingly as your bankroll increases or decreases.

Finding Reliable Betting Resources and Communities

Information is power in the world of betting. Seeking out reputable sources and joining knowledgeable communities can enhance your betting prowess.

  • Sports Analytics Websites: These provide detailed stats and data, which can be vital for making informed bets.
  • Betting Forums and Communities: Engaging with other bettors can provide new perspectives, insights, and strategies. Just be cautious of those pushing surefire tips or schemes.
  • Reputable Tipsters: Some professionals offer advice or picks, often for a fee. Ensure they have a proven track record and transparent results.

How-to Guide: Using +EV Betting Calculators

Betting calculators can simplify determining if a bet has a positive expected value.

  1. Input Data: Enter the probability of each outcome (win, lose, draw) and the corresponding odds.
  2. Calculate: The calculator will compute the expected value based on the inputs.
  3. Interpreting Results: A positive figure indicates a +EV bet, while a negative figure indicates a -EV bet.

The Long-term Impact of +EV Betting

Understanding Variance in Betting

Even with +EV bets, you won't always win. This short-term fluctuation is called variance.

  • Short-term vs. Long-term: While variance can impact your short-term results, results should converge toward the expected value over a larger sample size.
  • Staying the Course: It's crucial to continue making +EV bets even during downturns, trusting that the math will work in your favor over the long run.

Keeping Emotions in Check

The emotional rollercoaster of betting can be challenging.

  • Avoiding Tilt: You might feel compelled to chase losses or make rash decisions after a bad run. Recognize this emotion and take a break if needed.
  • Celebrate, But Stay Grounded: Wins are great, but don't let them make you overconfident. Every bet should be assessed on its merit.

The Sustainable Betting Mindset

Consistent, rational decision-making is the cornerstone of long-term betting success.

  • Continuous Learning: The betting landscape is constantly evolving. Regularly update your knowledge and strategies.
  • Patience is Key: Building profit through +EV betting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between +EV and -EV?

 +EV indicates a bet has a positive expected value, meaning you can expect to make a profit over the long run. -EV indicates a negative expected value, suggesting a loss over the long run.

How can I consistently find +EV bets?

Consistent research, using statistical tools, engaging with knowledgeable communities, and constantly refining your strategies can help find +EV bets.

Does a +EV guarantee profit?

No, +EV indicates a positive return over a large number of bets. There's still the possibility of losing individual bets due to variance.

How does variance impact my betting results?

Variance refers to the short-term fluctuations in results. Even with +EV bets, you might experience losses in the short run, but results should converge to the expected value over a larger sample size.

Are all professional bettors focusing on +EV?

Most successful professional bettors prioritize finding +EV opportunities as it's a foundational principle for long-term profitability.

Gus Anderson
Gus Anderson is a gambling wizard. As a kid he dreamt about becoming a Tennis, Hockey and Golf professional but ended up as a gambling professional with focus on both sports & casino.