Can AI Help You Win at Sports Betting?


Artificial Intelligence and Sports Betting


2023 witnessed huge growth in the area of AI, with the explosion of Chat GPT shaving hours off kids' homework time up and down the land. The theory that this development is related to the dramatic drop-off in students achieving the highest A-level grades remains unproven. Moving swiftly on from the strange world of teenage bedrooms, AI has proven useful in a wide range of disciplines, with the speed and accuracy with which it can collate data proving a welcome addition to the online scene.

An ability to translate languages, write code, and provide an existential threat to human content creators is all well and good, but can AI pick winning bets? As it turns out, it very well might be able to do just that. Here, we look at the emerging force of AI in sports betting, the pros and cons, and a selection of the currently available AI-based sports betting tools.

What is AI Sports Betting Software?

When picking out a bet for the latest football or horse racing action, most semi-serious punters will at least look at the recent form of the sides or runners, take account of any injuries or the prevailing ground conditions, etc., I.e., we analyse data to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the punter.

We humans have many talents, but in the area of data analysis, the machines we have created have now left us trailing in their wake. What AI does in the world of sports betting is analyse all relevant data, be that related to the current form of the sides, historical head-to-head record, injuries, weather conditions, etc. Some AI Bots even assess the prevailing sentiment on social media and include the “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon in their analysis. That’s a lot of work, even for one football game, but AI can complete the task for every match on the fixture list in only a minimal amount of time.

Having collated the information, AI software is then able to correlate thousands of data points and millions of interrelationships, to unearth predictive trends. By cross-referencing all factors with previous results, the AI can weigh the importance of each factor, and create a model to predict future outcomes. And it doesn’t stop there, as each new set of results is added to the AI software, whose machine learning capabilities enable it to continually update and tweak its model, in theory becoming ever more accurate over time.

AI Identifying Value

Of course, in the world of betting, we have to consider not only who we think will win, but whether the odds represent a good value bet. AI is again up to this task. Most sports betting AI models will assign a percentage chance to each possible outcome. By comparing this figure with the percentage chance implied by the odds available with the bookmakers or betting exchanges, value bets can be identified.

And it still doesn’t end there. Thanks to automated betting bots, it is possible to take the picks identified by the AI and have your ever-willing bot place the bets for you whilst you go about your day. Terminator had it right, the robots really are taking over.

Disadvantages of AI in Betting

So far, so good for the AI machines stepping onto the betting scene, but surely relying on these data-crunching monsters comes with some disadvantages? Possible negatives against a purely AI-driven strategy include:

  • A lack of intuition - In terms of pure number crunching, AI can't be beaten. However, there is often more to a bet than just the bare stats. For example, when analysing a racehorse performance, AI may simply record that a horse was beaten by seven lengths. However, a human watching the race may pick up additional information, such as the runner being repeatedly blocked off in the home straight or being given a poor ride by the jockey. Difficult to quantify emotional or psychological factors across a range of sports may be instinctively picked up by humans, whilst being tough to represent in data form.
  • Overreliance on past data - An analysis of historical data is undoubtedly useful when assessing any sporting event, but is AI able to spot changing trends in advance? E.g., the gap between the top six and the bottom half of the Premier League table - which appears to be widening year on year. Does a reliance on past information always accurately reflect the future?
  • Facilitating the end of the world - OK, so this one isn’t entirely serious. Nevertheless, a world in which computers endlessly regurgitate information produced by other computers, and the war between bookmakers and punters comes down to who has the best bot, is surely also a world in which sports betting ceases to be the enjoyable pursuit it is today.

Overall, in its present state, AI is an excellent tool for anyone interested in data analysis as part of their betting strategy. AI will also always come with the advantage of removing the human element of bias. However, the areas of intuition, and information not fully reflected in the numbers, perhaps shouldn’t be neglected entirely when making those betting decisions.

AI Sports Betting Options

ChatGPT may be the most famous AI machine on the market, but it is not yet proficient at making sporting picks – at least not very easily. Ask ChatGPT to pick out a good value bet for the big Sunday Afternoon Premier League fixture or identify the likely winner of the 3:30 at Newmarket, and the AI will kindly inform you that it is incapable of this task, and follow up with a brief treatise on responsible gambling. The main reason for this is that in its current form, ChatGPT is unable to access any information published after January 2022. Not ideal when attempting to analyse the latest team news, or even access the list of runners for that Newmarket contest.

There are possible ways around this limitation, as ChatGPT does allow you to feed it with information and input relevant queries, whilst those of a coding persuasion may wish to ask ChatGPT to compose a prediction model. All of which sounds very time-consuming and negates one of the main benefits of using AI in the first place, i.e., the speed at which it can work. Perhaps ChatGPT will evolve in the coming years to access real-time information, but, until such a time, many punters are instead turning to specialised AI prediction services, such as:

  • Predictology - Enables users to follow the recommended plays or devise their own systems via the site's extensive database
  • Sports AI - AI produced selections for Football, Tennis, Basketball, Hockey, Handball, and Volleyball
  • NerdyTips - Free AI-driven software which uses mathematical analysis and machine learning to predict football matches
  • Accuscore - Utilises a data-driven model which simulates matches 10,000 times to create predictions
  • Zcode System - One of the forerunners of the industry, having successfully used AI-style techniques since 1999

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