Smart punters know when to cash out and take their profits, here's how you can do the same.
You've nailed the first eight of your nine-leg multi but your final pick starts off poorly and heads into the sheds down by three goals, what do you do? Show some guts and pray for a comeback or cash out and take your hard-earned winnings to the bank?
Well thanks to The Arc, the statistics are in.
On average, your footy team wins just 25% of the time if they're down by three goals at the first break, while they should go on to win three out of every four matches if they're leading by 18 points after a single quarter has been played.
Interestingly, a three-goal difference at half-time means a team has a 15% chance of a comeback, while your side will win only 10% of the time if they're down by three goals at the three-quarter mark.
So if you're down at half-time and thinking of cashing out, there's really no difference giving it another quarter to see if the boys can turn things around.
These figures are based on every AFL/VFL game from 1897 to 2016, which leaves us wondering whether the likelihood of a comeback has changed over time?
Not really, though from 1897 to 1919 an early lead counted for more. Sides that were down by three goals at half time went on to win only about 7.5% of matches, while from 1919 onwards the average is just over 15%.
Of course, smart punters will also need to consider the difference between home and away teams.
The statistics show if two sides are drawn at half time, the home team has a 55.4% chance of winning, giving them roughly a 5% edge due to home ground advantage. That means home teams are more likely to come back from a deficit and more likely to defend a lead.
On average, an away team needs to be up by about a goal at three-quarter time just to have a 50% likelihood of winning the game.
But what about playing in September? For finals where only one team is playing out of their home state, the host team is much more likely to win from a given margin at any of the breaks.
In particular, a team with home state advantage will have about a 50% chance of winning even if they are down by two goals at halftime, and vice versa.
The home side has a much greater edge in finals footy if scores are all tied, estimated to be about 20% at half-time and falling to 10% if it's still all locked up at three-quarter time. Again, it pays to wait up until the final quarter before cashing out.
Keep in mind that these figures don't take into account a teams’ quality, this year you would have felt much more comfortable backing the Hawks to finish a game off strongly than the Bombers.
However, it's good to know how likely your chances are of winning, given a particular margin, and that waiting up until three-quarter time gives your side every chance to get back into the contest.
Written by Tim Alexander