Gambling has been around for the better part of the last few millenniums. From betting on horses and chariots racing throw hippodromes or on the winner of a fight to the death between two gladiators to e-sports winners and presidential candidates, betting has been involved in all domains or areas. Nowadays, there are lots of sports where betting has become a serious industry, but the most popular one globally is, without a doubt, football.
That being said, we’ve watched football betting become quite the international phenomenon. Brick and mortar betting agencies are found at almost every street corner all around the world, betting websites are becoming more and more popular, and we almost all know somebody who hit a big jackpot betting on their favorite team.
So, is football betting easy? Or is it really hard to win good, consistent money? To phrase this question a little differently … Can you make a steady, regular income from football betting?
1. How to bet on football matches
We think it’s possible. Betting on football is, in essence, very easy. You either go to your local bookie or open his website, find a game you think you can predict the outcome off, and check the odds the bookie gives you. If you’re satisfied with the odds, place your wager, go home, watch the game, drink a few beers, and then go and collect your winnings. Even if you know all those betting terms, we’d like to make a small dictionary:
Wager = also called stake, it’s the amount of money you bet on any given betting slip
Betting slip = can contain one or more bets. If it contains more bets, the odds can either be played as single or accumulator.
Odds = the money your bookie pays you for the event you put a wager on if the bet is won. These odds can be presented in decimal format (1,50), fraction (1/2) or American (-100). Those three numbers are all the same.
The most common presentation format is the decimal format, which has the following meaning: If you bet £10 on a 1,50 odd selection, you win 10 * 1,50 = £15. If you retract your initial wager, you earn a profit of £5.
Accumulator = If you have more than one bet on your betting slip, you have the possibility of accumulating odds, either by simple multiplication (odd of bet 1 x odd of bet 2 x odd of bet 3 … etc) or by using a system.
HT/FT = Half time / Full Time
DNB = Draw No Bet. If you placed a DNB bet and the game ends in a draw, you get your money back.
Free bet = A bonus from your betting site – if you lose this bet, you’ll get your wager back.
Cashout = The possibility of closing a bet before the end of the game. For example, you bet that Real Madrid wins against Barcelona and Real lead 2-1 in the 75th minute. If you have the option to cash out, you could withdraw from the bet, mark it as a winner and win a fraction of the total prize.
Over/Under = In football betting, “over” a certain number means “more than”, while “under” means “fewer than/less than”.
This a part of the jargon you’ll need to get used to.
2. Popular markets
Now that you understand how to place your bet, you’ll start looking for teams and games on which to bet on. Surely, you have your favorite team and league, but what if there are better possibilities out there? In the football betting world, there is a simple rule: the more popular the event, the better the odds and the more options you have.
If you want to bet on a famous game like Barcelona – Real Madrid, you’ll surely have lots of special offers, good odds and lots of possible bets to choose from. If you want to bet on a local Romanian derby like Chindia Targoviste – FC Arges or a local Maltese rivalry, you might have a hard time.
Here are the most popular football events which you should have on your radar:
World Cup, European Championship, Copa America
These events happen once every few years but are usually followed by football fans from all around the world – meaning that bookies will be looking to attract customers. Moreover, it’s a good idea to bet on national squads in general, because the difference in player’s value is a lot more visible than in the case of clubs. While these competitions offer lots of betting possibilities, they only happen every so often.
Champions League, Europa League, Copa Libertadores
Continental cups are a joy to watch, putting teams from all around the continent against each other. While these games occur fairly often over the course of the year, they are very unpredictable at times. Picking the winner of this kind of games might be hard at times, but there are many other possibilities to look into for these games.
Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1
The domestic leagues are the bread and butter of any betting enthusiast because teams have to deliver consistent results here, weekend after weekend. This is where their form will rise or drop, where surprises and good results will happen – this is where we’ll be making the most of our bets.
Moreover, aim to bet in the biggest league on the continent, like the English Premier League and Championship, the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga or the French Ligue 1. Sure, there are more options on the continent, but you can safely stick to these and make a decent sum of money each weekend.
Each country has at least one domestic cup, which runs each year. We usually avoid picking winners in these cup games, because it’s very hard to predict if teams treat this competition with the respect it deserves or view it as just another place to rotate their squad. Even if we can’t pick winners, there are things to be played in cup games.
3. How to choose a bookie
After understanding how to place bets and knowing what you want to bet on, you will now face the hard task of selecting a partner which will provide you with games, odds and possible winnings. Choosing the best betting site to place your bets on is no easy task, but there are some things you should consider.
First off, try opening your first account with a big, reputable betting site, not a local bookie. These sites usually have millions of customers who both win and lose money on a regular basis. They surely have good customer support, good offers and are also beginner-friendly.
Next, you should carefully look at what kind of bonuses these websites offer you. Most betting agencies offer bonuses like sign-up bonuses or deposit bonuses, of up to 200% on your initial deposit. It’s something to start your betting career with twice the money you’d be willing to invest, isn’t it? Also, look at what free bets they have the habit of offering or what other exclusive betting offers they have, like bigger odds or cash back prizes.
Last but not least, there are a couple or more things you should look at. Compare the odds they offer against the competition, and see how they stack. Are their odds in line with the competition? Are they significantly smaller? You surely want the best odds for your money, and your betting site should help you here. Also, if you want to use cash outs on your bets, look for a betting site which offers this possibility – not a lot of them do.
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4. Betting types
Finally, now that you’re settled and have your account and money ready, it’s time to start placing some bets. There are lots of kinds of bets you can look into, but the most important ones you need to know are the following:
Final result/halftime result
This is the easiest and most common bets. You are simply putting money on either the final (FT) result of the game or the halftime (HT) result of the game. For these bets, the home team is always marked with the number 1, the away team is marked with the number 2, and the draw is marked with X. Say you want to bet on a game between Manchester United and Manchester City, played at Old Trafford (United’s home ground). You will see something like:
1 – 1,90 ; X – 3,20; 2 -5,50. This means that United’s odds to win the game are 1,90, making them favorites, while City’s win will bring you 5,50 times your initial investment.
These bets are called outright bets – because you’re only betting on the fulltime result. You can make the same kind of bets on the halftime result, or combine both HT and FT predictions for better odds.
For example, a bet like “HT/FT 1/1” means that you believe United will lead both at half-time and at the end of the game. Some of these selections like “HT/FT 2/1” have huge odds – around 30 – but they’re very hard to predict.
Furthermore, if you think United are in poor form and City should at least avoid defeat, there are a couple of ways to bet on this. First, we have the “Double Chance” type of bet, which has three options:
1X – Either the home team wins or the game ends in a draw
X2 – Either the away team wins or the game ends in a draw
12 – Either team wins, no draw
If you believe Manchester City avoid defeat in the previous example, X2 is the way to go. Also, you have the opportunity of going for a “DNB” bet explained in the glossary above. “DNB” here means that if City wins, your bet is a winner, but if the game ends in a draw, you get your money back.
Number of goals
Sometimes, you don’t want to bet on the final result of the game, because it can easily be influenced by factors which are out of control. For example, Chelsea might play a minnow in the FA Cup, and has the odds to win of 1,20 – a sure-fire bet, right? In the 10th minute, a Chelsea defender commits a professional foul, he gets sent off, the opponents receive a penalty and score. Things suddenly are much harder for the Blues – and for you, if you went for an outright bet.
One of the other options is to bet on the number of goals scored in a game. In this case, most betting websites have the “over/under” system, built around .5 numbers. For example, an “over 0,5” goal bet means that you believe at least one goal will be scored in the game, regardless of the team. 2,5 is the most famous number here – most bets are placed whether we’ll see over 2,5 goals in a game or under this number.
Of course, you can also bet on a certain team to score over a certain number of goals or under it. For example, Barcelona to score over 1,5 goals is a winning bet if they win 5-0 or lose 2-3 – making it a flexible investment. Some bookies also give the opportunity of betting on scoring intervals. You can bet that you’ll see between 1 and 4 goals in a given game. The narrower the interval, the bigger the odds, in that case.
There is another special mention here: the “both teams to score bet”. This bet is one if each team manages to put the ball in the back of the net. 1-1, 3-2, 5-4, 6-1 are all winners here. A very nice way to abuse of this bet is to play it when a very big team meets a small one. The favorites are likely to score 3 or 4 times, but they’ll lose their focus and concede a goal.
There’s not a lot to explain here. The odds betting websites offer for correct score bets are usually big, but these are very hard to predict and rely a lot on luck. One way to abuse of these correct scores is to combine them. Let’s say a solid defensive team meets a much weaker team at home. They will likely win the game and avoid conceding, but won’t score much. Placing three bets on correct scores like 1-0, 1-1 and 2-0 will give you better odds than going for an “under 2,5 goal” bet.
Most people believe Handicap betting is a complicated thing to understand. They’re very far from the truth. Simply put, the number you see near a team’s name is the number of goals (or cards, or anything else) they have as “bonus”. Let us explain.
In the game described above between Manchester United and Manchester City, in the Asian Handicap section of your betting website’s list of bets, you will see something like Manchester United +1.
This means that United start the game with a one-goal advantage. If the final score is 0-0, United are the winners because of their initial +1 bonus. If the final score is 0-1, the bet is drawn (1-1, with the initial bonus), the you get your money back. A +0,5 Asian Handicap is the same as a 1X bet, while a -1,5 Asian Handicap would mean that you expect United to win by at least 2 goals. If you betted United -1,5 and the game would end 1:0, you would lose the bet, even though United won.
A +0,75 bet is nothing more than a halfway bet between +0,5 and +1. Your bet is divided between a +0,5 bet and a +1 bet. If the final score is 0:1, you’d lose the +0,5 bet, but get your money back on the +1 bet, limiting the amount of money you lose.
Asian Handicap bets are also available for number of goals scored, cards, corners, possession, etc.
Speaking of cards and possession, you have the opportunity of betting on these things as well. You can bet that one team will be booked more than their adversaries, that they’ll have more possession, you can bet on the player who will score one goal, more than one goal, the first goal – the opportunities are endless. Remember though, the more complicated the scenario, the less likely it is to happen.
On paper, a bet like United to win by 2 goals, Zlatan to score once and Pogba to be booked while City has more overall yellow cards sounds rather easy. Seeing it, in reality, is a lot harder.
Acca – Accumulator bets
The last thing you need to know here is about accumulator betting. We recommend that you stick to one, two or maybe three events on your betting slip. We’ve seen in practice that the chances of winning when you bet on more events drop dramatically. Even if you bet on favorites, just look across Europe’s main leagues for two or three weekends, and see how many of these favorites lose points against weaker clubs.
Of course, you will see on an almost daily basis that some guy won £50,000 with a £5 wager, after placing 22 selections on a betting slip and miraculously winning them all. Nobody tells us how many people lose £5 bets every single day, and how many times that guy played a £5 selection before he won that great prize. If you dream of hitting it big without having to work, you might be better off playing the lotto.
In the end, we hope we’ve managed to cover the basics of football betting and sent you well on your way to earning money from this activity. There are a couple of things we want to state before closing off:
– Only bet what you can afford to lose. Never bet hard-earned money that you need for something else. Treat betting as a side income at best, if not just a hobby.
– Always document your bets. This will help you understand where you win, where you lose and how you can improve your overall percentages.
– There will always be bad days. There will be weekends when you’ll win every single bet you make, and weekends when you’ll lose a bet which had a 1,04 odd.
– Be consistent. Develop your betting system from the beginning, and stick to it for at least 6 months so that you can test it in real, live conditions.
– Avoid betting at the start of each season, on early cup stages and on friendlies. Outright bets are to be avoided here – look for better ideas.
In the end, we want to thank you for reading this article and wish you good luck in your betting career. Stop by to read our weekly game analysis and feel free to pitch up any ideas you might have – we love nothing more than making money and winning bets.