I'm new to betting and want to know what type of mathematics are used in sports betting. I found something with Google about systems for betting but it didn't help me a lot.

I also tried to find books about this, but Google didn't show me what I wanted. All I could find is a book called Getting the Best of It by David Sklansky.

That's all I could find on the Internet and to be honest I expected a lot more than 1 one book and a few systems. Is that all you need to succeed in sports betting or do you need more?

  • Do you mean in making book, or simply in making bets?
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 10, 2020 at 18:23
  • @Chenmunka It's about making bets using mathematics(statistics,algebra)
    – wolly
    Feb 10, 2020 at 18:35
  • This is probably not exactly what you're looking for but you can find some resources in the Wikipedia articles Mathematics of bookmaking and Arbitrage betting. (There is also a post on arbitrage betting on this site.)
    – Martin
    Feb 11, 2020 at 6:28
  • In fixed-odds betting, determining whether an arbitrage opportunity exists reduces to deciding whether a given polytope defined by half-spaces is empty or not, which can be done via linear programming. If you are interested in prediction, or parimutuel betting, other mathematics would be of use. Feb 11, 2020 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


Mathematical sports betting is already a huge thing

There is a lot of literature and research in the field of professional gambling and modelling of sporting fixtures. There are several dedicated firms, such as ATASS, Starlizard, and Sporting advantage are three examples. Also, several big hedge funds now recruit for sports researchers and traders. With all that being said, I think you were either googling the wrong things, or didn't know how to filter out the relevant results. As the field is highly mathematical and statistical, don't be surprised if you see things which seem highly scientific or numeric. Furthermore, all the low-hanging fruit has already been picked, and making money with a mathematical approach will require a high level of expertise and competence with statistics and likely programming too.

An example introductory paper

A nice paper to introduce someone to the ideas behind a mathematical approach to modelling sports is:

Modelling association football scores and inefficiencies in the football betting market
--- Dixon and Coles (1997)

This models a football team's performance by a Poisson process and produces a strategy for placing bets and proved highly profitable in their tests. Although, don't expect the bookmaker's odd

  • Hello and thanks for your answer! Is there such a mathematical approach for bating in UFC/MMA? I've been following UFC for years now, and also I'm familiar with probability and stats, but have zero idea about where I should apply the math/stats to have a winning strategy. If you know of a similar paper for UFC/MMA, please let me know - thank you! Sep 10, 2020 at 20:46
  • 1
    @LearningMath I'm sure there are models for UFC/MMA, although without currently working in a sports gambling firm or reading anything in that field I can't think of anything of the top of my head. It's also worth bearing in mind that fighting sports are not as data rich as others. Compare golf where a player plays 36 holes each day to a boxer who does 1 fight every couple of months. In fact, coming up with the models is the fairly easy part. It's finding the data for calibrating and back testing them which is the hard bit.
    – oliver
    Sep 11, 2020 at 14:43
  • @ooliver - thanks for your comment - you do have a point about the lack of data. I'l search online regardless to see if a good model exists for UFC/MMA. Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19

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