Goals Betting – A Little Idea From An Unusual Source…

Lay Back & Get Rich

If there’s one thing I love about betting, it’s the ease with which you can experiment.

I test other people’s systems all the time — it’s kind of the point of the site! — but, like everyone else probably, I always like to think I could do as well if I applied myself. 🙂

So: there’s an idea that’s been playing around in my mind forever. That I never quite got round to trying out before.

I’ve no idea if it will work of course.

But I’m intrigued as it came from a very odd source.

In fact, possibly the single most unlikely source you could imagine.

Someone from Betfair rang me up and suggested it!

The point of the call was, ostensibly, a standard customer service affair.

Would I mind giving ten minutes of my time to give my views in response to a questionnaire? And did I like the new Betfair interface? (Well, it was new then).

I didn’t know Betfair did this.

I’d not had a call like it beforehand and I’ve never had one from them since.

And frankly, for the first few minutes, I found it all a bit wooden and awkward.

But then it happened.

The guy on the phone got to the end of his spiel and started ‘freewheeling’. Asking what I was betting on these days, that kind of thing.

I wondered for a bit if he’d been reading the website but he didn’t mention it.

Anyway, I couldn’t help myself. So I asked him…

“Are staff at Betfair allowed to place their own bets?”.

And, somewhat to my surprise, he said yes, they could. And, in response to my inevitable follow-up, yes, he did.

And he was making a lot of money with his own little system.

Seriously, it would have been rude not to.

So I asked him… would he tell me about it?

And, little by little, he did.

Goals Betting Experiment
Goals Betting Experiment

What he went on to describe was the world’s simplest trading system.

In a sentence: the idea is to find football teams that meet certain criteria (which I won’t go into at the moment) then trade the Over 4.5 Goals market.

So I’m going to give it a go.

How could I not!?

I’ll do ten trades to start with, assuming I can find teams that match his criteria.

And I’ll start tonight… with Swansea City v Stoke City.

I’ve just layed Over 4.5 Goals for odds of 8 with the grand sum of £2. Meaning I have a liability of precisely £14.

I will aim to make 30% on average per trade.

And I’ll record my results as comments below this article.

Let’s see if my Betfair guy was really on to something… 🙂


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  1. Hi Lucy,

    I’ve been recording and playing with some stats and I’m interested in trying something laying O3.5G or possibly O4.5G depending on liablility. Was there anything in the method you were trying here and are you able expand a little on what criteria was used to decide whether to trade or not..

    1. MArtin

      Sadly, this one fizzled out.

      Inevitably, even short losing runs proved costly and I gave up. It was such a shame as the source of the suggestion was so appealing…


  2. Did this go any further Lucy? Any success?

    I ask because I was reading about a system on Profit Ninja’s where one of the members backs the under 3.5 and lays when he’s made 10%. The liability is only the bet and if there is an early goal it is still possible to get out with a small loss or possibly even profit later in the game. This could also be applied to the under 4.5 market.

    I might have a play with this myself. I did the same thing some time ago with the under 2.5 but a goal is a killer in that instance whereas you do have a bit more wriggle room with the 3.5 or 4.5 markets.

  3. Ok I’m back now that the International break is over with a selection from the Championship.

    Preston vs Blackburn is available in the Over 4.5 Goals market at 12.5 so I’ve layed that this morning. Will back in-play as usual to lock in our profit.

  4. Paul

    I’ve completed 13 trades and am £5.50 down, needing 8 or 9 more winning trades just to break even.

    In short, not great so far but at least today’s two trades came up!

    Will upload results log soon.

    Plodding on!


  5. Dan,

    Thanks for your comments. I can understand them, really!

    I think one of the key ideas is that goals clump together, so there are long periods when the price should drift out and allow a trade to be closed.

    I’m plodding on with my test anyway!

    Two matches this weekend:

    Sunderland v Southampton
    Man United v West Bromwich


  6. I apologise in advance, I don’t mean to appear hyper critical. I love your whole site and your information is amazing, in fact it’s the love of the information that made me comment on this post in the first time.

    I just can’t see this working at all. You have a massive liability for what is a reasonably small profit. So far this season 13.6% of matches have resulted in >4.5 goals, 14/15 season 11.04% , 13/14 season 16.58% and the 12/13 season 15%. It is worth noting as well that the 14/15 season had a lower rate of average goals per match than the last 7 seasons (2.57 as opposed to 2.78ish) So I suspect that it is the outlier in the set and may well have contributed to something of this ilk being profitable last season.

    That was why I harped on the actual profit, which I accept varies but at a glance appears to be around 5% of your liability.

    IT seems that either you are hoping your selection criteria can remove 2/3 of the matches that end >4.5 goals scored. And if it could surely you are losing value in trading out, and should be really just straight betting it.

    Or that 2/3 of the matches that end >0.5 at some point trade at a price above your profit threshold price.

    More realistically a combination of them both. But even then, you’d need to have backed every EPL match so far this season, and removed 5 (and only those 5 matches) and had 5 of the remaining 10 matches get to a point where you could trade out merely to break even so far this season.

    As far as simple systems go it’s interesting, but I can not see any way for it to possibly work.

  7. Remarkably, today’s programme for the Premier League and the Championship produce just a single match – MK Dons versus Hull City.

    As ever, we’re trading the >4.5 Goals market: I have entered a lay bet at 11 for £2 and a back bet to go in-play at 16.5, with a stake of £1.36.

    Here’s hoping we get back on track..


  8. Hi Lucy

    The trouble with this system, as with quite a few football systems, is that historical data will only take you so far.

    You can often find two teams that score for fun every week and look like a goal fest is imminent only for them to play out a tame goalless draw and conversely two teams with brilliant defences let in 6 when they play.

    Unfortunately football is a crazy game and doesn’t always follow the script.

    As B&W is finding out in his trial, any method that exposes your bank to a loss that will take 20+ or more matches to recover is likely to have periods when games all go your way and you think you have struck gold and then 2 or 3 losses in a short space of time that totally wipes out your gains.

    Over the 30+ years I have been betting/trading I have seen very very few goal based football systems that make consistent profits.

    I do love your site but is it just me or does every system fall flat on its face after a bright start?

  9. OK so a loss, meaning I need about 40 wins to pay for the red. I’m going to have a break and think about how I can cover this because any system which requires such a strike rate is in real trouble with just the one loss. I’ll post more soon when I decide which way to take this.

  10. No Lucy, you don’t really come across as telling off………apart from that one time! 🙂

    I suppose we all have our own use of terminology and I tend to use “trade out” for both a profit and a loss but I get what you mean now though.

    The Bournemouth game was just one of those things and unlucky but I still think the basis of the idea is still a good one but it obviously depends on choosing the right games and that’s the part that takes getting right. Even in most games with an early goal you would still either expect to hit your back price at some stage if there was a long gap between goals or it goes to full time and you do not see another 4 goals in the game despite the early one.

    I’m also not trying to be wise after the event here (or maybe I am) but I wouldn’t have thought that there was too much historical data to work with in games between Bournemouth and Spurs and so maybe if a certain game was to qualify via other criteria used, then a tweak could be that the two teams have to have had a recent history of results to work from.

    One thing I have played about with but like all things has it’s pros and cons, is that I’ve used £10 stakes at times to then back at such a price to win 30% of my stake or £3 per game, but when experimenting have used £25 stakes and hit the £3 profit earlier and at a lower price. This meant I was able to get out faster when using a higher stake compared to a lower one and was also having to set a higher back price too when using a lower stake. The down side obviously being that the potential liability also becomes higher too.

    So for example if we layed over 4.5 goals in a game @ 6.6 for £10 with a liability of £56, then we could back over 4.5 goals for £6.73 once the price hits 9.8. Alternatively using the lay price of 6.6 again but staking £25 and with a liability of £140, the same £3 target can be made by backing at only 7.6 for a £22.71 stake and obviously the back price hits 7.6 before it will 9.8.

    On the subject of pros and cons though, I’m undecided where to go on holiday next year between Australia and Thailand but know Australia has its cons and Thailand……OK never mind!

    1. Sean

      Thanks for this.

      I think the idea of skipping games where there isn’t much historical data is a good one. I don’t think I’m ready to increase the lay liability however!

      As for the joke… they get worse!


  11. Well, that was a bit of a disaster.

    I checked the Bournemouth fixture again and it was a valid selection, in spite of the fact they conceded five goals last week. It’s a bit galling that they conceded five more this week!

    The other two matches came up OK, so, using my £2 stakes, I have now lost £7.33 in total. That’s from 10 games, winning £0.61 in 9 matches (giving profits of £5.47) and then managing to lose £12.80 in today’s Bournemouth v Spurs game.

    It would have been been worse but the market had factored Bournemouth’s last performance in so, like Mike, I got odds of 7.4 for my lay.

    I’m ten games in and 3.5 points in arrears, which doesn’t sound too bad, except that I can only win 0.3 of a point each time! meaning I now need 12 winners to break even!

    Still, onward and upward…

  12. Sorry Lucy, I have to admit here that I’m a little confused too about whether you are or are not actually trading out these bets.

    Unless you mean that you are in real time as you place the bets but for the trial results purposes you will act as if you have not.

    It’s just that from saying:

    “By running each trade to its natural conclusion – a full win or a full loss – it should be possible to tell whether an underlying edge exists.”

    You later followed up with:

    “Blackburn v Burnley: I’ve not done as well as Mike above. I got lay odds of 10 and am backing at 16 to trade out.”

    I await your telling off by way of explanation. 🙂

    1. Sean

      I hope I don’t come across as telling anybody off. 🙂

      OK – I close the trade when we’ve made 30% of the stake. This is done by means of a back bet at a higher price, but with a smaller stake than the lay. I do not consider this ‘trading out’ but simply completing the trade. Otherwise known as greening up.

      By ‘trading out’, I took the phrase to mean – exiting with a loss but without incurring the same scale of losses as if I had a losing lay. Thus – trading out is simply a way of trying to minimise the cost of a bad result.

      Well, I am not doing that. If things go wrong, I will incur the same loss as someone who’d just placed a losing lay bet and never attempted a matching back bet.

      Hopefully that clearly it all up at last!


  13. I had similar issues to Lucy although they affected me slightly differently. In the Blackburn v Burnley game my back bet was matched before Betfair crashed so I was safe. In the Bolton v Leeds game I had to wait till around half time when the site came back up to replace my back bet. If I was concerned about the bet and Betfair was down I could have used Betdaq/Smarkets/Matchbook but these weren’t required. So 2 winners in the end.

    For Sunday I have 3 games. One of these have a lowish liquidity at the moment so I’ll leave it to build before placing the bet but it’s a decent game so should have enough in it.

    Levante v Real Sociedad lay @ 13.5, £5.00 waiting to be matched, back bet will be £3.25 @ 21.0
    Bournemouth v Tottenham lay @ 7.4, £5.00 waiting to be matched, back bet will be £3.25 @ 11.5
    Atletico Madrid v Valencia – waiting for market to form before placing bet.

    Check the spreadsheet at some point tomorrow to see what odds I have gone for in the last game.


    Regarding stop losses and trading out, I have thought about this. However, the point of trading the 4.5 market is that we get many attempts at getting our bet matched.. If we’re going to trade out after 2 or 3 goals we may as well trade the 2.5 or 3.5 market. I would like to think of a way to include some sort of cover but at the moment I will leave it as it is.


  14. Well Betfair seem to have thoroughly messed things up.

    There are 40 minutes gone in the Blackburn v Burnley game and the score remains 0-0. So that looks like a winning trade to me.

    However, our wonderful exchange has crashed, leaving me none the wiser about my account.

    The market froze up for about ten minutes first — with my back bet still not matched — then we got a charming little message to the effect that, ” it looks like we’re having problems with parts of the site”. You don’t say!

    Am not amused!!

    1. Well, all’s well that ends well I suppose.

      Betfair is now (finally) back following one of the most embarrassing days in its already chequered history. And so inevitably, you wonder.. which of my bets, if any, did it honour?

      Well, the three lays bets were all settled and the three unmatched back bets voided.

      Fortunately, all three games ended with fewer than five goals — in fact, there were only three in total — so I ended up winning all three lays. Phew. 🙂

      For the purposes of record-keeping, I will enter all three as winning trades and record only what I would have won if Betfair hadn’t had a bad day.

      We’ve only had nine goals in the seven games traded, which might be good fortune or (hopefully) may indicate we’re picking the right games.


  15. All good so far

    What do you do if there is a goal in first few minutes

    Do you cut it, or ride it out…after all what is the percentage of games over 4.5?

    Even if there is another goal in the next few minutes that doesn’t mean goals consistantly

    1. Steve,

      After an early goal you just have to wait it out.

      I applied this method on the Molde-Celtic game last thursday, where 4 successive goals were scored (3-1). The first goal was scored in the 11th minute. The back odds were matched in the 90th minute or so.. Close call

      1. I’ve no plans at all to trade out.

        There’s certainly a case for doing so but not during the trial.

        I want to see if there’s an edge in the criteria I’ve got. So I’m running them to their conclusion, one way or another.

        1. This post has got me confused

          “I’ve no plans at all to trade out.

          There’s certain a case for doing so but not in my trial.

          I want to see if there’s an edge in the criteria I’ve got. So I’m running them to their conclusion, one way or another.”


          1. Sorry, probably not very clear.

            In my experience of testing, trade-outs can confuse the picture. They make sense when using a system but are a complicating factor when trialling one.

            By running each trade to its natural conclusion – a full win or a full loss – it should be possible to tell whether an underlying edge exists.

  16. OK so we’ve started off with a win. I’ve got two bets for tomorrow and they are two which Lucy has picked;

    Blackburn v Burnley ( Matched lay of £5 @ 9.6, back bet of £3.25 in @ 15 waiting for kick off)
    Bolton v Leeds (Lay of £5 @ 9.6 waiting to be matched, with a back of £3.25 to og in @ 15)

    I’ve started a spreadsheet where I have added my bets. If anyone wants to view it it can be found below


  17. Hi guys, Lucy has kindly agreed to let me trial this for her. I’ll be attempting at least 200 bets although I think a trial like this should go to over 500 personally.

    Although Lucy has started with the Premier league and Championship I think there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere so I’m going to do it worldwide, but as we are trading the 4.5 market I will make sure liquidity is very high to cover this.

    My first game is tonight in the French league, Caen v Nantes. I’ve placed a £5 lay at @ 13 and once this is matched I’ll put a back bet in of £3.25 @ 20. Let’s see how we go.


    1. Well done Mike, a promising start!

      it’s a really interesting trade. The >4.5 Goals market seems to move very quickly in the first ten minutes in particular.

      If you just entered your lay of £2, or £5 or whatever, and let it run all game, all you could make, after 90 minutes’ exposure, is your £2/£5, less commission. Yet here we are making 30% of that in just a few minutes.

      Given that the first 15 minutes produce relatively few goals, it’s a promising idea. 🙂

      Here’s to the rest of the weekend!

  18. There are four matches this weekend, one in the Premier League and three in the Championship.

    Bournemouth v Spurs
    Blackburn v Burnley
    Bolton v Leeds
    Brighton v Preston

    Will place lay bets on Friday evening or Saturday morning once markets settle.

  19. Sean

    Will do.

    The only game where this was relevant so far was the first one, Swansea v Stoke, where the early penalty caused the odds to drop to around 4 – which was around half of where we’d started (8).

    This weekend’s selections later today.


  20. Have you or can you from now on note the back price once the first goal is scored Lucy, compared to what it was before kick-off?

    Presumably if there’s an early goal then it will be lower than at kick-off but if it stays 0-0 for quite a while and then a goal is scored, might the new back price still be higher than at kick-off, as well as higher than the layed price despite the goal?

  21. Lucy,

    I’d be very wary of laying at such high odds. One losing trade with these liabilities would take you approximate 30 winning trades to make back. That doesn’t seem like a sensible long term trade system to me, unless you consider insurance and then your very small profit margins would likely be wiped out.

  22. Interesting strategy, I do something similar myself if there are two early goals in a match with average goal expectancy lower 2.5 then and stay in till half time. Looks promising will follow with interest

    1. Paul

      I’ve no plans at all for it at the moment. We need to see if it works first!

      I do think there’s a market for what you might call smartphone trading methods. I love the idea of taking a coffee break, quickly switching into Betfair and swiftly scalping the market on my mobile. And I’m pretty sure it’s an idea that would appeal to many…


  23. I will divulge at some point if it works.

    Can’t see there being any games until the weekend. But as far as I can see, there will be several then.


    1. Vincent

      The Betfair guy suggested it, though we had exactly one phone call so I don’t really know what the underlying logic was.

      He was very keen on the idea of ‘trading lite’, so maybe it was just a rule of thumb to ensure you dip in and out of the market quickly. And as we saw last night, you can be finished up in minutes.

      I like the idea of methods that just aim to bank a little profit then get out. So I stuck with the 30%.


  24. Given your liability on a $2 stake has been £14 to £20, I fail to see a profit of approximately 30%. As you are greening up at approximately £0.66, surely your profit is around the 5% mark?

    1. Dan

      I’m not sure it’s even 5% when expressed as a percentage of the liability. I meant 30% of my stake.

      It would be impossible to make 30% of the liability on a single trade. So I clearly need a heroic strike rate to be successful. But my belief – subject to testing – is that one is very much achievable.

      The three things that appeal to me about this method are:

      – I was told about it by someone working at Betfair (I mean, if that doesn’t pique your interest, what will!?)
      – It’s so simple I can do it on a smartphone.
      – It potentially offers an ultra-high strike rate.

      This is coffee time trading for people who don’t want to buy software tools.

      Incidentally, I find a lot of readers are interested in DIY systems. As am I. So this is a first step in exploring that theme too. I hope to say a lot more about it in the weeks and months to come. 🙂


  25. Vince (Vince2??) 🙂

    I think the idea of the method is to give you several bites of the cherry.

    All I need is a long gap between any two goals and I should be able to bank my profit. This should happen fairly often even on games with 5 goals, provided they don’t come in a big rush at the start.

    The nightmare match would be something like Newcastle v Norwich at the weekend, where the score was 3-2 by half-time. That said, the first goal didn’t come until the 14th minute, so maybe even that one would have matched up in time.

    Ultimately, this is a test and I want to see if the selection criteria deliver an edge. So I have no plans to trade out. I’m using using very modest stakes too so I don’t think it’s necessary at the moment.


  26. Great stuff… Is the plan with this to let it ride if it doesn’t reach the 30% profit and just take the full stake loss and move on to the next one or trade out for a lower loss at some point?

  27. And after 13 minutes, the Cardiff game is matched up too. 🙂

    So that’s 3 successful trades out of 3.

    When there isn’t an early goal, this is a very quick way to lock in profits!

    Obviously way too early to get excited of course. But it’s been a nice start.

  28. My back bet was matched on the Forest v Burnley game after 12 minutes. 🙂

    Cardiff v Middlesborough remains goalless and is almost matched too….

  29. OK, experiment day 2 !

    I’m trading two games this evening, again for the dizzying stakes of £2 a time:

    Cardiff v Middlesbrough – lay Over 4.5 Goals @ 11
    Nottingham Forest v Burnley – lay Over 4.5 Goals @ 8.6

    To achieve my target of a 30% profit irrespective of the result, I have also entered two back bets with the ‘Keep’ option set to send them in-play:

    Cardiff v Middlesbrough – back Over 4.5 Goals @ 16.5 with £1.36.
    Nottingham Forest v Burnley – back Over 4.5 Goals @ 13 with £1.36


  30. I’m back online now at long last so can you notify me please Lucy. Sorry for going AWOL-ish too.

    I have an idea of my own on how this often works if you would like me to share it?

    1. Sean

      Nice to have you back!

      Since when did you ask for permission!?! And what have you done with the real Sean’s body??

      Please… feel free. 🙂


  31. Hi Lucy,

    Looks a very exciting prospect! I have done a fair bit of trading on the Over 4.5 Goals markets myself and found them excellent, will be watching with intent!

  32. OK I’ve traded out for a 30% profit after about 43 minutes.

    Stoke scored a penalty near the start but, as I write, it’s still 0-1 after 47 minutes.

    So: I’m ahead after round 1!

    I will add more trades to this thread as I find them. Please click the ‘Notify’ box if you’d like to be kept informed.


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