AFL Round 1, topsport podcast episode 3

AFL Round 1 isn’t far away now.

When it comes to betting, Round 1 is obviously a little different – there’s no form to go on. You can rely on last year, team changes and pre-season form to an extent. But with six months since the last game for each club, it’s hard to pick.

It’s important to remember, however, that everybody is in the same boat… including the bookmakers. So while different participants in the market have different resources, there are levels of uncertainty everywhere.

AFL Round 1: Previous Years

While we need to know how teams might perform, the edge really comes in identifying how the market performs. That’s where the money is made!

We can use some history for that. So we’ve taken the past five seasons and looked at Round 1 for each: 45 matches in total.

Is there an edge to be had?

AFL Round 1: Head-to-Head

Of the 45 matches, favourites won 27 and the underdogs won 18. Backing all favourites or underdogs across the board is a silly approach at the best of times, and it’s no different here… both approaches would result in a decent loss on turnover. Play on.

AFL Round 1: Line Betting

That’s ok. We’re punters and it’s not all about the head-to-head.

Good teams win, great teams cover the line.

This is where things get interesting. Check out the table below which shows the 45 match sample. While 27 of the favourites may have won their games, it shows that only 18 of them covered their closing line.

So 27 of the 45 outsiders covered the line. Have $100 on the outsider at the line in each of them… at, we’ll say, $1.91. Collect of $5,157 on your stake of $4,500… profit of $657 at 14.6 per cent! Very nice…

So we know that over the past five years, Round 1 underdogs have been undervalued at the line. They do better than the market expects.

Year Favourite Underdog Line Margin Cover?
2019 North Freo -4.5 -82 No
2019 GWS Ess -2.5 72 Yes
2019 St K GC -27.5 1 No
2019 WC Bris -6.5 -44 No
2019 Syd WB -10.5 -17 No
2019 Adel Haw -22.5 -32 No
2019 Melb Port -32.5 -26 No
2019 Coll Geel -12.5 -7 No
2019 Rich Carl -39.5 33 No
2018 Syd WC -20.5 29 Yes
2018 Melb Geel -5.5 -3 No
2018 GWS WB -20.5 82 Yes
2018 North GC -2.5 -16 No
2018 Haw Coll -3.5 34 Yes
2018 Port Freo -33.5 50 Yes
2018 St K Bris -22.5 25 Yes
2018 Ess Adel -2.5 12 Yes
2018 Rich Carl -28.5 26 No
2017 Geel Freo -7.5 42 Yes
2017 GWS Adel -6.5 -56 No
2017 WC North -22.5 43 Yes
2017 GC Bris -25.5 -2 No
2017 Haw Ess -22.5 -25 No
2017 St K Melb -7.5 -30 No
2017 Syd Port -21.5 -28 No
2017 WB Coll -15.5 14 No
2017 Rich Carl -13.5 43 Yes
2016 Haw Geel -5.5 -30 No
2016 WC Bris -58.5 64 Yes
2016 Port St K -38.5 33 No
2016 WB Freo -9.5 65 Yes
2016 North Adel -14.5 10 No
2016 Syd Coll -9.5 80 Yes
2016 GC Ess -43.5 61 Yes
2016 GWS Melb -9.5 -2 No
2016 Rich Carl -26.5 9 No
2015 Haw Geel -22.5 62 Yes
2015 Adel North -5.5 77 Yes
2015 GWS St K -19.5 9 No
2015 Freo Port -5.0 7 Yes
2015 Bris Coll -14.5 -12 No
2015 WC WB -12.5 -10 No
2015 Syd Ess -23.5 12 No
2015 GC Melb -16.5 -26 No
2015 Rich Carl -10.5 27 Yes

AFL Round 1: Total Points

Regular readers might remember that last year, we had a look at longer-term trends and found that total points in the AFL actually went under on 55% of matches. For what’s supposedly a 50/50 proposition, that’s significant.

The strange thing with Round 1 is that we actually see the opposite.

It’s actually 24-21 in favour of the overs – or 53% to 47%.

2018 in general was an even bigger year for unders overall, as the market didn’t respond to changes in rules and games styles. The unders went 1-9 in Round 1 last year… so for the previous four years, the overs trend in Round 1 was an enormous 23-13 – or 64% to 36%.

AFL Round 1: Summary

So just in this very simple analysis, we’ve learned a couple of potentially valuable things about Round 1:

  • Underdogs don’t win much, but they cover the line often
  • Total scores go over far more than they usually do.

Is this a betting edge? Perhaps. It is, of course, a small sample of data (only 45 games), so may well be just variance at work.

But as always… approach Round 1 with extreme caution!

Don't spend this season making donations to the bookies. AFL Tips is back for 2020: get on board now and start betting with an edge.

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