Applying Elo ratings to soccer betting

What every bettor should consider when planning to place a bet in soccer are the Elo ratings and how to make great use of this method in order to increase profits. Blow you may read more regarding this method.


Elo ratings is a method developed by Hungarian-born American Arpad Elo. As a master level chess player, he invented this method as a chess rating system to serve as a comparing tool of the skill levers of players in which two teams compete against each other. However, after a while, this method found its use in many other sports to assess the performance of teams.

How it works?

The essence of the Elo ratings lies in the fact that the winner takes points from the loser. The number of points at steak depends on the rating difference between the opposing teams. When a team which has high ratings wins again a low-rated team, the losing team loses only a few rating points. On the contrary, when a low-rated teams wins against a high-rated one, larger number of rating points will be transferred. When it is draw, points are shared equally.


Let’s take, for example, Real Madrid vs. Manchester City. In a match for the second leg of Champion league’s semi-final. They both are high on the list and according to ClubElo rankings, Real Madrid is with 2074 points and Manchester City with 1861 points.

If we calculate 5 % of their respective ranking, Real Madrid will risk 104 points and Manchester City 93 and the tota pot will contain 197 points. Taking into account the three possible outcomes of the match, it will look as follows:

  • If Real Madrid wins (1.518*). Their ratings increases by 93 to 2167 and City rating decreases to 1768.
  • If Manchester City wins (6.86*). Their rating increases by 104 to 1965 and Real Madrid’s rating decreases to 1790.
  • In case of a draw (4.64*). The pot (197) shall be divided equally between the two teams 98.5:98.5 in a slight increase to 1866.5 for City and a slight decrease to 2068.5 for Real Madrid.

Other factors

The above example shows that a draw of 1-1 between the two teams is a better result for City than it is for Real, taking into account that the first match ended in a goalless draw. Thus Real Madrid cannot walk away slightly penalized for not being able to progress to the Champions League final when playing at home.

This is one of the flaws of this Elo method. Namely, what we saw above is a basic mathematics. The reality is slightly different because this method does not take into account other factors which affect the game to greater extent. Everyone knows that many other factors are important for the game, and among these is the home advantage factor.

Thus, these calculations with the Elo method are usually adjusted to take into account other major circumstances, such as home advantage, goal difference, two-leg matches etc. the Elo ratings of the top 10 teams according to EloClub are as follows:

Team Elo value
 Real Madrid 2081
FC  Barcelona 2020
 Bayern 1997
 Atlético 1950
Juventus 1941
 Chelsea 1906
 Tottenham 1885
 Paris SG 1874
 Monaco 1872
 Man City 1864

*Last accessed on 24.07.2017

How to use Elo ratings when placing a bet in soccer?

As Elo ratings method does not take into account individual players’ conditions, it is very hard to say for sure that its predictive power is on a high level, especially when new circumstances, such as injuries, new managers/players, tactics etc. occur. Thus, bettor should always be aware of these factors when using this method as a reference, as it is always based on past performances.

However, it provides good statistical data for calculation of probabilities of the outcomes with great accuracy. Therefore, when searching for value bets, or bets with positive expected value, it can be used as a reliable tool. Thus, it can be especially useful in competitions such as the Champion League round of 16 because the weaker teams have already been eliminated and the final stages are always harder to predict as the competition is nearing towards completion.