Soccer Betting: How To Predict Draws



Unlike most other professional sports, a soccer match can end up in a draw – no team wins. As a result, the betting options in soccer are often threefold – team A to win, team B to win, or draw. The draw option tends to shake things up due to the fact that if a game ends up tied at the end of 90 minutes and had you picked one of the two teams to win, you’d lose your bet. In the English Premier League, approximately 26% of matches finished in a draw. The most likely result was 1-1 (42% of all draws) followed by 0-0 (32%) and 2-2 (22%). In this article, we’ll take a look at how to predict draws in soccer, with a focus on the English Premier League.

Draw Likelihood Based On Intuition

Based on intuition alone, you’d expect that a match consisting of two teams of relatively equal strength and ability will end up in a draw after adjusting for the venue advantage/disadvantage. When a juggernaut team is hosting a bottom-ranked team, the implied probability of the match ending up in a draw will usually hover around 14%. On the other hand, two mid-table teams will typically see implied odds at 30%.

How To Predict Matches That Are More Likely To End In A Draw

First off, in order to predict matches that are more likely to end in a draw, it’s important to be aware of which teams tend to exhibit extremes in their performances. Additionally, some teams are more likely than others to end up with matches resulting in draws, typically by playing in low scoring matches. Between 2006 to 2016, Premier League teams most involved in draws were Stoke, West Brom, and Aston Villa. As a group, these three teams averaged almost 16 draws per season compared to the league average of just below 10.

Calculating The Chances Of Draws

Calculating the chances of draws can be performed using the Poisson Distribution to two nominally chosen equal sides. While a pure Poisson approach slightly underestimates the likelihood of a draw, which requires a slight adjustment, the methodology is relatively straightforward.

Since Premier League games tend to see an average of 2.5 goals between two equally matched teams, the Poisson distribution estimates that both teams have a 29% chance of failing to score when looking at each team individually. 0-0 scores, based on the Poisson distribution, have an 8% chance of occurring; 1-1 scores have a 13% chance of occurring. Once these figures are calculated for all possible scores resulting in a draw, the probabilities can be added together to calculate the overall chance of a draw between two teams. In this example, a draw is predicted to occur 27% of the time.

Additionally, matches with fewer predicted goals inevitably leads to an increased likelihood that each team will have lower individual scores, increasing the chances of the match resulting in a draw.

From the analysis above, we’re able to sift out three general trends for matches that tend to result in draws. First, draws tend to occur more often when both teams are of similar quality. Second, teams (especially both teams in a match) that are strong defensively tend to see more draws. Third, teams (especially both teams in a match) that lack the offensive firepower also tend to see more draws.