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18/05/2007 No.17
Kevin Pullein
Friday May 18, 2007
  A profitable strategy for the play-offs

In big games, bet on a small number of bookings. It is a policy that has proved successful over the years and may do so again in the FA Cup final and the Champions League final. It is also a policy that most punters think is daft, which is why it has proved so profitable - the opinions of other people influence the odds.

In important games yellow and red cards tend to be more plentiful than in low-profi le games. But betting on a low number of bookings in such fixtures is a good strategy because cards do not become as plentiful as the bookmakers' prices would have us believe.

In most bookings markets, 10 points are awarded for each yellow card and 25 for each red. In Premiership games over the past 10 seasons, the average points total was 36. In games involving two of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United the average make-up was 47. In FA Cup ties between the big four the average make-up was also 47.

Yet on such occasions the spreads and over/under lines tend to be around the middle 50s, as they are for tomorrow's FA Cup fi nal between Chelsea and Manchester United. The best value bet currently available on a low number of cards at Wembley is Betfred's 4-5 about a total below 55. It has occurred in more than 60% of games between Chelsea and Manchester United during the Jose Mourinho era and in nearly 70% of all big-four games in the past 10 seasons.

The Champions League final has produced no more cautions and dismissals than earlier knockout rounds or during the group stage. The average bookings make-up in the past 15 fi nals has been only 38. A low total may represent a good bet when Liverpool play Milan next Wednesday, as it did two years ago.


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