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Is AFL betting something you'd like to improve at? There are many determining factors at play in AFL betting from the random high scores to factors like the wind, injuries to key players, and that elusive X-factor, team form ...

AFL betting offers an extensive range of markets to accommodate any and all punters’ tolerance for risk. Some will enjoy chasing a big win and have little apprehension over backing one AFL team that has little real prospect of beating the better teams. Others might prefer to spread a punt across the whole league, placing the majority of their wagers on the favourites.

There are markets for many different perspectives with regard to timeframe or duration of a wager. AFL bets can range from minutes in the case of in-play betting on markets such as which team will post the next score, to months in the case of season-long propositions such as which team will win the premiership. This something-for-everyone approach certainly accounts for the popularity of AFL betting.

For the casual punter, one-off head-to-head bets on a single match might be just the thing to generate additional interest in following one’s favourite side. Professional punters can enjoy the process of examining hundreds of markets and trying to uncover hidden value or take the calculated approach that comes from accepting that no wager is certain and that the bottom line at the end of the season is the important determinant in the success or failure of a season-long wagering campaign.

We have put together a very basic guide to AFL betting in order to provide some ideas of the possibilities for developing a strategy or approach to footy wagering.

Bookmakers' Role in AFL Betting

Bookmakers enjoy a key advantage in AFL bets. They participate in every market. For a simple example of what this implies, consider a head-to-head market betwixt two good teams, such as the Dockers and Hawks.

The odds in this example are completely fictitious, that is, we pulled them out of the air. Any resemblance to actual odds is purely coincidental.

A day or two before the match, a bookmaker quotes the Hawthorn Hawks at $1.86 and the Fremantle Dockers at $2.05. Since these two teams are fairly evenly matched, the quotes are close together.

Bookmakers love this situation. They know that both teams will attract many backers.

Whichever team wins, the bookmaker can use the punts from the losers to pay the winners. They also collect a fee from their margin or percentage of any winning bets. The fact that they are participants in every wager gives them an edge in AFL betting.

AFL Betting Psychology

The first thought everyone should adopt when contemplating AFL placing a bet is this: No matter how well planned, no punt is a sure thing. Without this element of uncertainty, there would be no wagering markets whatsoever. AFL betting can be unpredictable for a variety of reasons, but a primary contributor is an oddly-shaped ball that does not always bounce as expected. The 2015 wooden spoon winners, the four-game winning Carlton Blues, got past ninth place finishers Port Adelaide in round 12, so even though backing Port might have seemed like a safe punt, if not a particularly profitable one if won, that wager would have stayed in the bookmakers bags with plenty to cover the punts of any loyal Blues backers.

A second reality of AFL betting psychology is that the odds on offer for any particular market, taken across all markets, are what they are for a sound reason: the bookmakers know what they are about. It takes an element of luck to beat them. Taking the shortest odds on any market will not beat them, for the reason described above. Taking a big plunge on long odds will not beat them, either. They pay the winning wagers with all the funds they collected from the larger majority of losing punters who backed the favourite.

Keeping these two factors in mind, that uncertainty exists and bookmakers have an advantage, there is another element that is of supreme importance: Punters must enter the proposition with a mind clear of anxiety over the outcome of any punt. It's difficult to make logical wagering decisions under the additional burden of contemplating the effects of losing money. Punting with the rent or food money, or funds otherwise destined for financial obligations of any kind is a recipe for disaster.

AFL Betting

Some Simple AFL Betting Guidelines

Most punters engage in AFL bets for fun, recreation and entertainment. Here are two simple strategies for increasing one’s chances:

Firstly, while it's probably not financially possible to participate in every market, using the bookmakers’ advantage of doing exactly that to whatever extent possible supplies more opportunities. Without even considering the odds on any particular market, spreading a $100 bet across 10 markets would provide nine more opportunities compared to a straight $100 head-to-head bet. For the punter, this simple technique very roughly approximates the advantage the bookmaker enjoys from being in on all wagers.

Secondly, this strategy better accounts for the uncertainty that is an element of AFL betting. There is an old and well-established business adage known as the 80/20 rule. Simply stated, it says that 80 percent of company revenues will come from 20 percent of the customers. This rule can be used advantageously with punting. Selecting 10 decent propositions on the AFL season, one round, or even one game offers reasonable chances of producing eight winners. The caveat in this approach is that in order to account for losses and expenses, low odds wagers can represent only a small part of the overall positions.

The reason for this is that the 80/20 rule is not perfect. Before the ball bounces, it is entirely possible that all 10 wagers might lose. It is equally possible that all 10 might win, but the reality is that on any given time period involving 10 wagers, every possible number of wins and losses is possible. We cannot tell you that you can consistently win eight out of 10 wagers. As the number of wagers increases, the 80/20 rule might be more accurate, but we could not even say that you could win 800 out of 1,000 wagers.

So, what level of risk represents the ideal to account for the fluctuations in the results from 10 wagers? In the financial realm of stocks, bonds and currencies, where entertainment and recreation play no roles in investment decisions, many experts claim that every dollar risked should offer a minimum reward of three dollars. Seeking that high a return in AFL betting is probably not advisable. Here's where the 80/20 rule can be applied conservatively.

Eight of the 10 wagers placed on markets below a $3 level offer reasonable and realistic expectations. For fun and the sublime reward of hitting a windfall, use the remaining two wagers for something fanciful. Perhaps not as fanciful as Essendon winning the Grand Final, but something with a big reward for a low risk, such as Fremantle, which at today’s quote would make a $100 wager into a $900 win.

These two simple strategies greatly enhance the chances of having enough winning wagers to overcome the losing ones, although the elements of luck and uncertainty can never be completely eliminated.

Betting Opportunities

During the season, each game betwixt the 18 teams in the AFL will offer close to 100 markets, depending on the bookmaker. That equates to roughly 900 markets from the simple head-to-head to some incredibly exotic propositions, such as the player with the most disposals in a game, or in the league in a certain round. At the moment this is being written, with the start of the season a little more than two months distant, AFL bets will be confined to futures betting. Some bookmakers will have only a few markets, such as the winner of the 2016 Premiership or the eight teams to make it into the finals.

As the first round gets closer, additional futures markets will appear, with some popular propositions being the winner of the AFL Rising Star Award for the most promising newcomer, the Brownlow Medal winner for the best overall player in the league as determined by the field officials and the Coleman Medal for the top goal-kicker in the league.

For someone who has the patience to punt on season-long props, a great deal of entertainment can be derived from watching the odds change as the season progresses. It feels quite good to experience the sensation of closing in on the objective, or see the odds go down compared to what they were when the punt was entered with the bookmaker, a clear indication of a good choice.

Other punters might not care for this type of approach and will naturally gravitate to punts that are decided quickly. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, neuroscientists tell us the human psyche is designed to crave a series of many small rewards, with an occasional big reward and a relative fewer number of small punishments. This aspect of human nature pertains to all endeavors, so it's quite natural, logical even, to approach AFL betting from this perspective.

No matter which approach is favoured, or if some combination of many different approaches is used, AFL betting can accommodate any personality. We advocate the method of spreading any given amount of wagering funds across many markets. The individual punter can decide exactly how to do that in the way that makes the most sense to him or her. With online bookmakers commonly accepting wagers for AFL bets in the region of $1, the argument to spread any certain amount amongst many markets is compelling.

AFL Betting Tipping Services

Anyone considering using the services of an AFL betting tipping service needs to remember only one thing: no-one knows what's going to happen. This is not to say free tipping services are bad, or something to be avoided, it's simply reality. No-one new until recently that the Essendon Football Club was going to have almost half its players suspended for the 2016 season.

Prior to last season, no one knew that Nathan Fyfe would win Fremantle’s first Brownlow Medal. During the season, Fyfe’s struggle with injuries logically appeared to rule him out, yet even though he played in only 18 games during the home-and-away season, he was five votes clear of his closest competitor.

The other thing to keep in mind with AFL free betting tipping services is that any claims made regarding performance should be taken as objectively as possible.

Reverse the roles for a moment. If you knew with any certainty what the outcomes of any AFL betting market would be, would you sell that information, or would you use it on your own behalf to determine your own punts? All that said, there are legitimate AFL betting services that will supply realistic expectations. The decision over whether to use one of these services or not is one that requires careful deliberation.

A Zero Risk Approach to placing bets

Online bookmakers offer free competitions to allow anyone to test the waters and see what can be expected from any given amount of effort.

The rule of thumb with fantasy leagues of any kind is a paraphrase of the old disclaimer that will be seen under any speculative financial endeavour or any bookmakers’ terms and conditions: past results are not indicative of future outcomes.

This means that doing well at simulated punting does not ensure that the same outcome is a foregone conclusion when real money is involved. All the same, fantasy AFL betting provides an excellent learning environment, so that if and when the time comes to punt with real money, the ins and outs and all the various vagaries that are part of a season, a round, or even one half of one game gain a familiarity which is valuable from many different points of view when real money is wagered.

The logical progression to real money spread AFL bets, or one-off betting if the determination is made to follow that path, is more than adequately facilitated by simulated betting.

The final appeal of AFL betting with any online bookmaker is that the buy-in is so minimal that the all-important consideration of punting only with money that will not create a hardship if lost is easily accommodated.

Good luck AFL punters!