How to Use ELO Ratings for Successful Football Betting

If you are looking for a ratings system that can find value in the football betting markets then Elo is one you should look at!

ELO ratings are a system for ranking teams’ skill level based on their performance strength. Arpad Elo was the creator of the ELO rating system (Hence the name ELO.)

This system uses a comparative analysis and requires several games to be played before it can used effectively. Arpad Elo the inventor of the system initially used it for chess matches as a way to rank players outside of just wins and losses.

“ELO ratings incorporate the strength of each opponent with a win against a stronger opponent counting for more than a win against a lesser opponent.”

Top 10 European teams according to ELO rankings

Above is an example of ranking teams using ELO for the 2023/2024 season.

For example, in football, a win will gain you 3 points in the league. It does not take into consideration whether this win was against Man City (the best team in the league) or Sheff Utd (worst team in the league). Using an ELO ranking system a win against Man City is worth much more than beating Sheff Utd.

A team’s Elo rating is a number which may change depending on the outcome of games played. After every game, the winning team takes points from the losing one. The difference between the ratings of the winner and loser determines the total number of points gained or lost after a game.

How ELO Ratings Work:

There are a few different variations of applying the ELO rating to football. In this article, we are going to use a version from the World Football’s Elo ratings which ranks international teams. ELO ratings do require you to understand some algebra, if you struggle with this do not worry as there are multiple websites which collect ELO ratings which we will note towards the end of this article.

The ratings are based on the following formulas:

Rn = Ro + K × (W – We)

Rn is the new rating, Ro is the old (pre-match) rating.

K is the weight constant for the tournament played:

  • 60 for World Cup finals;
  • 50 for continental championship finals and major intercontinental tournaments;
  • 40 for World Cup and continental qualifiers and major tournaments;
  • 30 for all other tournaments;
  • 20 for friendly matches.

K is then adjusted for the goal difference in the game. It is increased by half if a game is won by two goals, by 3/4 if three goals win a game, and by 3/4 + (N-3)/8 if the game is won by four or more goals, where N is the goal difference.

W is the result of the game (1 for a win, 0.5 for a draw, and 0 for a loss).

We are the expected result (win expectancy), either from the chart or the following formula:

We = 1 / (10(-dr/400) + 1)

dr equals the difference in ratings plus 100 points for a team playing at home.

Above are the world football Elo ratings for the European championship.

According to these ratings, France are the strongest team going into Euro 2024. They are followed by Spain, Portugal, England and Belgium come in as the fifth best ranked team.

How to Use ELO Ratings for Football Betting…

Let’s take a look then at how we could use Elo ratings to improve our football betting systems and trading. Given that Euro 2024 is coming up soon and we have a set of Elo rankings for the competition, we will delve into the outright market on Betfair.

There are two standout odds in the outright betting market for Euro 2024 currently. If we compare the world football Elo ratings to the Betfair outright markets, we can see there is a disagreement on the rankings of England and Belgium. This could be particularly helpful for corners betting and other ancillary markets.

The World Elo rankings have France, Spain and Portugal as stronger sides then England yet they are the favourites. Betfair has England as the shortest price for the tournament. Indicating that they are the strongest team in the market priced at odds of 4.3 to back.

Belgium a side ranked 5th in the Elo rankings are at big odds of 22.00, they are ranked 8th in terms of teams most likely to win the competition according to Betfair.

Now there are other factors to consider in this tournament. The home advantage for Germany for example is huge, which makes it understandable to see them higher than their Elo ranking indicates they should be. We also need to consider team injuries, groups, potential matchups leading to the final etc.

It also depends on how you bet, if you’re using a pre-match football trading strategy or just betting straight up…

However, even given all these factors England and Belgium odds do stand out and are worth further investigation!

 Outright Betting Euro 2024

Let’s look at how the odds of England and Belgium have moved in the weeks leading up to Euro 2024.

Interestingly England had been backed into odds as short as 4.0 about 3 weeks out from Euro 2024. However, as we approach the tournament lay money has pushed these odds out. The Elo rankings suggest England’s odds are too short and the market is agreeing with them.

What about Belgium?

Belgium were priced at odds of 25.00 one week ago. 11 days out from the tournament they have been backed into odds of 22.00. Again this correlates to what the Elo world football rankings are telling us, that Belgium should be shorter in the market.

These two selections are a good example of how you can find value in the football betting markets using ELO ratings.

Where Can You Find ELO Ratings for Football Betting?

If you don’t want to create your own Elo ratings and ranking system, there are plenty available online.

It’s worth checking out the following…

  • World Football Elo Ratings
  • Club Elo
  • Elo football

Are free websites which offer excellent Elo ratings that you can use or football betting or trading. There are also some paid websites which will offer Elo ratings. However in out opinion these free websites are a great option to start with.

How to Use ELO Ratings for Successful Football Betting

Elo ratings should not be used as a standalone factor for football betting or trading. Putting your hard-earned money down on a selection based purely on their Elo ranking is probably not the best idea. However, when combined with other factors and variables it can point you in the right direction.

Alongside factors such as injury news, managerial changes, over-reactions to positive form, weather conditions etc. Elo ratings can be used for successful football betting. It can certainly help you find value in the football markets. Football fans are fickle and week to week to results can change opinions wildly. Elo ratings can often give you a much better indication of the strength of a team based on a bigger sample size.

Related: 4 Simple Betfair Football Trading Strategies That Work

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