If you’re new to football betting and keen to get involved then you’ve just come to exactly the right place. On this page, we will teach you all the basics of betting on football and make sure that you are on the right track from the moment you place your first wager.
In our opinion this is one of the most useful beginner’s guides to football betting you’ll find anywhere on the internet. It covers everything you need to get started, and yet you don’t need to worry about getting overwhelmed with detail as we keep our explanations as simple as possible.
A beginner’s guide to betting on football
Football is the most popular sport in the world for betting on, with a staggering 40 percent of the money spent by bettors wagered on the beautiful game. This is why it is vital that you, the punter, knows all the key features of the football markets.
The huge volume of matches has helped the industry to grow and to allow bettors to place a wager on a whole host of markets, with many betting sites offering special deals and competitive odds.
Here, we run you through what you need to know about football betting so you can cut through the confusion surrounding the markets.
A brief introduction to how betting works
Odds are set by a bookmaker and represent the ratio between the stake and winnings on a given outcome, should you wish to place a bet on it. They are usually shown as fractions (eg, 2/1), but can sometimes be shown as decimals (2.00) and you can decide which you prefer to use. For example, if the outcome of an event has odds of 2/1 (or 2.00), it means you will win £2 for every £1 you bet.
How football betting works
There are thousands of football matches and markets to bet on every week. Bookmakers will provide odds on the probability of the outcome of matches and events within the match, such as the number of goals scored, corners won, red and yellow cards shown, and individual goalscorers.
There are a number of bookmakers who will have special offers and competitive odds to try to give you the best-value bet. Once the outcome of the event is confirmed and your bet is a winner, you will be paid out your original stake plus the winnings from the odds.
Below, we will run you through the most popular types of bets on football.
The match bet is the simplest form of football betting in which you pick the result of a football match. You can bet on the home team to win, the away team to win or a draw. It’s important to note that match bets are paid out on the outcome after 90 minutes, so if the scores are level then, the draw is the winning bet, irrespective of the outcome after extra time or penalties.
Bet builder/same game multi
Bet builders are a relatively new addition to football betting but their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. Sometimes referred to as same game multis, these bets are effectively an accumulator of outcomes from a single match rather than a number of matches.
These bets are obviously less likely to come in because of the number of outcomes that need to happen. However, they are perfect if you are knowledgeable about both teams and want to place small-stake bets at the bigger odds that can be realized by combining numerous outcomes, such as the number of yellow cards, corners, and goalscorers, rather than betting on each individual market.
You can also include player props, which we explain below, in bet builders. Player props are also becoming a popular form of betting on their own.
Player props/player stats
This is a way of showing how the football betting market has continued to evolve with an in-depth set of markets released for various Premier League and international matches. This is different to the goalscoring or card markets, and includes the ability to bet on players to have a certain number of shots, tackles and even offsides.
Some bookmakers also offer you prop markets for certain teams including free kicks, goal kicks and throw-ins in the specific matches.
What’s on offer differs widely from bookmaker to bookmaker, but one of the bookies with the most player props available is bet365.
These bets are used by many bookmakers for boosted odds to give more value to players, but you should be cautious about how much you stake on these bets as football can be very unpredictable.
Asian handicap bet
An Asian handicap bet is one in which your selection has a “handicap” to overcome, and what makes the bet unique is that it eliminates the possibility of a draw in betting terms.
The bookmakers give each team a plus or minus figure to denote their handicap. This can be either a whole-goal handicap (such as +1 or -2) or a half-goal handicap (+0.5 or -1.5).
How each works is best illustrated by a brief example.
Liverpool -1, Arsenal +2
The figures next to each team are applied to their score in the match.
If you bet on Liverpool, you win if they win by a two-goal margin or more. You lose if they draw or lose. And you get your stake back if they win by a one-goal margin, which is cancelled out by the -1, making the handicap result a draw.
If you bet on Arsenal, you win if they win, if they draw or if they lose by only a one-goal margin. You lose if they lose by a three-goal margin or more. And you get your stake back if they lose by a two-goal margin, which is cancelled out by the +2, making the handicap result a draw.
A whole-goal handicap better offers the safety net of your stake being returned.
Liverpool -1.5, Arsenal +1.5
If you bet on Liverpool and they win by a two-goal margin or more, you win. A win by one goal, a draw or a defeat and you lose.
If you bet on Arsenal and they lose by one goal, draw or win, you win. If they lose by a two-goal margin or more, you lose.
A half-goal handicap bet eliminates the possibility of a draw altogether.
European handicap bet
A European handicap is similar to an Asian handicap but with two main differences: one is that the draw remains an option and the other is that the handicaps are only ever whole numbers.
Again, how it works is best illustrated by a brief example.
Liverpool -1, Draw -1, Arsenal +2
If you bet on Liverpool, you win if they win by a two-goal margin or more.
If you bet on the draw, you win if Liverpool win by a single goal.
If you bet on Arsenal, you win if they win, draw or lose by only one goal.
You can bet on the result of the first half and/or the second half. You can bet on the home team, away team or draw for one or both halves.
This bet is for the more advanced football fan who has prior knowledge to indicate the teams who start or finish matches strongly or weakly.
Knowing the starting line-ups and whether key players are missing through injury or being rested can also be an advantage with this type of bet.
You can bet on two of the three outcomes of the match to increase your chance of winning. The combinations are:
- Home team or draw
- Away team or draw
- Home team or away team
If either of your combinations wins you will be paid out. The odds are lower than betting on just a single match outcome as there is more chance of winning, but this bet is good for bettors who want to reduce the element of risk.
Accumulators combine multiple selections into one bet and are among the most popular forms of betting on football. This is because they offer the potential reward of big returns for small stakes as the winnings from each selection are placed on the next one. The obvious risk is that all the bets have to win for the bettor to receive a payout.
For example, you might identify four teams that you think are going to win matches, all of which are priced at even money. If you were to bet £1 on each of the teams winning in four single bets, your total return would be £8 – £2 for each successful bet including your returned stake money.
But if you were to place a £1 accumulator on all four winning at even money, the £2 from Team A winning would effectively be placed on Team B, doubling the return to £4, and this would double again for Teams C and D, making the total return £16. If all four teams were priced at 2/1, the return would increase to £81, so it’s easy to see why accumulators are attractive bets.
Check out our comprehensive list of the best accumulator betting sites.
As it suggests, this is a bet on a particular player to score during a match.
You can bet on various outcomes, such as your selection to be the first or last goalscorer in the match or to score at any time during it. The odds on them scoring at any time will be shorter because there is obviously a greater chance of that happening.
These bets can be good if a particular player is in good form or if one team is much better than the other and it becomes likely a player will score.
A correct score bet is one in which you predict the final score of a match. Remember that this will be the outcome after 90 minutes in cup ties that could go to extra time and/or penalties. The prices for correct score bets are often attractive but, of course, predicting the exact score is far from easy.
A Scorecast is a bet that combines selecting a goalscorer and the correct score. For example, you can bet on Mo Salah to score and Liverpool to win 1-0. Again, the odds on such bets are higher because you are betting on the likelihood of two outcomes. Some bookmakers will also let you choose the goalscorer in a Scorecast to be the first, last or at any time.
A Wincast is similar to a Scorecast, but involves selecting a goalscorer and the outcome of the match rather than the correct score. The odds will not be as high as a Scorecast because it is easier to predict the outcome rather than the scoreline.
Over and Under betting
This is a bet on the total number of times an event (for example, goals, corners, yellow cards) will happen during a match.
Bookmakers allocate a baseline number to a match and you can bet on whether there will be more (over) or fewer (under) than that number. The baseline number will never be a whole number, which guarantees that the outcome will be one of two: over or under. (You can’t score half a goal.)
So in a match where a bookmaker is offering Over or Under 2.5 goals, you win if you bet on Over and three or more goals are scored, but you lose if the total is none, one or two. Likewise, if you bet on Under, you win if none, one or two goals are scored and lose if the total is three or higher.
Draw No Bet
This is where you bet on the outcome of a match, but if it ends in a draw then you will get your stake back. However, this means the odds will usually be lower than other markets.
Next Manager and Player odds markets
Many bookies will provide special odds on certain events that take place off the pitch. Popular markets include Next Manager to be Sacked, which is self-explanatory, or Next Manager, in which you can bet on the contenders for a vacant position.
Similar markets operate for which club big-name players will move to next or for the leading goalscorer in a competition or division, for example the Premier League Golden Boot.
You can keep an eye out on different bookmakers’ sites to see what they have to offer.
As the name suggests, in-play betting involves making a bet on an outcome during an event, such as backing the next team to score in a match you are watching on television. Bookmakers offer several markets, such as the next goalscorer, which team will win the next corner or throw-in, or who will be the next player to be shown a yellow card. This is a way to enhance your enjoyment of a live match.
How to find value when betting on football
The first thing to remember is there are no sure bets in football. You can do as much research and have as much knowledge on a game as you like but there is still room for a shock result.
This is why you should use your knowledge to bet on football to determine which game and which bet you would like to target.
Less experienced bettors will be better suited to simpler bets, such as Match Bet or goalscorer markets, and those that present less risk, such as Draw No Bet.
You should only ever bet on the markets you know and on the leagues and teams you know or you risk wasting money because you can’t be certain if the bet has value.
For example, a football fan who watches the Premier League every week would be more suited to betting on the league they know rather than taking a punt on a random league somewhere else in the world that they do not know.
Football betting has huge accessibility and the range of markets on offer means that it is easy to get started. That range can also seem daunting at first but will quickly become clear.
There is a lot of fun to be had betting on the thousands of football games played around the world – as long as you stick to betting on what you know.
Picking out good-value bets is the best way to win money and avoid the disappointment of losing.
Now you can add to the excitement of football by having a bet on it, but please remember to gamble responsibly.