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In football, there are three possible outcomes to a match: win, lose or draw. The likelihood of one team beating the other is reflected in the betting odds placed by the bookmakers. For example, if a UEFA Champions League favorite were to play an English Premier League team on the verge of relegation, the odds for the Champions League favorite to win would be much shorter than those of a team in fear of relegation.

The draw market in this game would also be a bigger price, since the probability of a Champions League favorite victory would be high. However, in a game of this nature, there is little point in placing a bet on the heavy favorite to win, because the odds would be so short that the return would be very small, unless a very large wager was made.

As a result of this, punters find plenty of other football betting markets at online bookmakers that offer more than just the standard win, lose or draw outcomes. 'First scorer', 'anytime scorer', 'correct score' and 'half-time/full-time' are just some of the varied options available to a backer. When it comes to football betting, online bookmakers now offer a wide range of markets that cover just about any potential eventuality, should you fancy putting your knowledge of the game to test.

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Most Popular Football Betting Markets

  1. First Scorer

    One of the most popular football betting markets is the 'first scorer' market, where a prospective punter can place a bet on the team and player he thinks is going to score first in the match. The odds are better for the 'first scorer' market because there is a chance that any one of twenty two players (plus oncoming substitutes) could be the first to score.

  2. Half Time / Full Time

    Another popular football betting market is the 'half-time/full-time' market, where you can place money on one team being ahead at half time and the other at full time, or vice versa. Alternatively, the backer can gamble that one team will be ahead at both half and full time, or that it will be a draw at half-time and one of the teams will go on to win at full-time. Lastly, the punter can bet that the score will be a draw both midway through and at the end of the game.

  3. Accumulator

    One of the most popular methods of football betting comes in the form of the accumulator bet. Here, backers increase the potential return on their wager by betting on numerous teams to win, lose or draw, shortening their odds with every game but putting themselves in with the chance of a windfall. The number of teams you can bet on is entirely up to you, as is the stake, and your odds reflect the likelihood that all lines of the bet are successful.

  4. Both Teams to Score

    Similarly, it is now possible to bet on 'both teams to score'. This is pretty self-explanatory, in that a punter is again given a list of matches, and asked to pick games in which he thinks both teams will score. The difference is that there are now only two possible outcomes: 'will score/won’t score' as opposed to the win, lose or draw outcome in accumulator bets.

Most Popular Football Leagues to Bet On

Premier League

The most popular football league to bet on is the English Premier League, more commonly known as just the Premier League or EPL. Touting a wealth of the world's top clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, each Premier League season is chock-full of attention-grabbing match-ups. The element of quality match-ups combined with the seemingly limitless betting markets offered on the league, betting on the Premier League is not just for UK residents but for football punters all over the world.

La Liga

Spain's top professional football league, La Liga, is considered by many to be second only to the EPL when it comes to the world's top leagues. Despite struggling to create parody throughout all its clubs, La Liga touts an extremely top heavy league with some of the most quality teams out there. But, it's the players in the league pushing it to such heights of popularity. It seems the world's best players always end up on a La Liga squad at some point (and typically together on the same team).

Bundesliga

Fans of professional football in Germany might have some discrepancies with the order of this list as many experts and punters around the world view Germany's Bundesliga as the closet competition to the Premier League. Touting some of the highest quality players as well as a worldwide powerhouse in Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga has definitely been pushing to #2 on this list after quality performances by its teams in the last few major international tournaments this decade.

Serie A

Italy's Serie A has been a staple among elite football leagues around the world for sometime now but, unfortunately, its degree of popularity, especially in terms of betting, has decreased over the years. Serie A is certainly still a top league claiming some of the world's best players and teams but the league is still well behind leagues like the EPL in terms of punters' interest.

Champions League

Known as the most coveted top level football prize in Europe and renowned as a highly wagered event, this competitions garners millions of pounds in bets from its beginning in July to its end in June. The blend of continental playing styles in the Champions League makes the early stages unpredictable and the late stages truly exciting. The contest retains a massive fan following throughout each qualifying club’s season, and the final is one of the world’s most watched sporting events every year without fail.

Most Popular International Competitions to Bet On

World Cup

Perhaps the best known competition in world football, the World Cup sums up everything that fans adore about the beautiful game. With the world’s highest level international trophy on the line, the competition always produces bouts of fascinating, dramatic and heroic action, with players giving everything for their country. Naturally, due to the high stakes, the competition goes down a treat in the betting world. Millions of fans all over the world like to put a punt on every 4 years to see who will emerge victorious as World Cup champions.

UEFA European Championship (The Euros)

Second in viewership only to the World Cup, the European Championship is the top level continental competition for countries in Europe. The Euros always produce excellent quality football and continue to retain punters’ interest at the bookies. The competition takes place every 4 years, with 2 year intervals between it and the World Cup.

Copa América

South America is the home of some of the world’s most passionate football fans. The continent produces incredibly skilful and technically superb footballers and as such, the Copa América (America Cup) is immensely popular at the bookmakers. Due to the limited number of registered confederations, countries from other continents are often invited to participate (such as Japan or the USA), making up the 12 teams required.

How To Assess Team Value in Football Betting

Anyone can visit a sports bookmaker and put a bet down on their favourite football team (if that's you, here's a review on how to bet on your favourite team effectively); it does take some but not a ton of thought, analysis or strategy. Indeed, the vast majority of football bets are made on the back of an individual’s loyalty to a particular team. However, over the course of a season, it doesn’t make any financial sense to blindly back your preferred team simply because they’re playing.

Instead, before the football leagues resume, try to get to grips with the premise of ‘value’. Essentially, value is determined by assessing what you think the chances are of a team’s victory against the prices that bookmakers are offering on that result. If you think a team has value, it is because you think the rewards of betting on them to win outweigh the risks. You can work out a team’s value for any given match very easily, by following the steps laid out above.

Example of Accessing Value in Football Betting | Euro 2012: Italy vs Germany

So, if we were to take an example of this, let’s look at the Euro 2012 competition and the semi-final between Italy and Germany. Bookmakers before the match believed there could only be one winner; Paddy Power were offering Germany at 10/11 and Ladbrokes at 8/10. They had Italy to win at 7/2 and 15/4 respectively. A lot of inexperienced punters would have viewed these odds and immediately thought twice about backing Italy.

However, others will have looked at those prices and immediately seen a window of opportunity. If we take the best odds proffered for an Italy win, the 15/4 offered by Ladbrokes converts to 4.75. At that price, you only had to estimate that Italy had a 22% chance of winning the game to find value: 0.22 x 4.75 = 1.05. That’s the equivalent of Italy winning the game only once if it was played five times over. Some German fans may have agreed with this assessment.

The Germans were the only side in the competition to win all three group matches, had dismissed Greece in the quarter-final in some style and had the most in-form striker of the tournament in the form of Mario Gomez. Indeed, Germany were joint favourites with Spain to lift the trophy. However, Italian fans would have looked at their side’s well-earned point against Spain, their steady progression through the group stage and a dominant display against England in the quarters.

Despite the naysayers, Italy were unbeaten and looked dangerous in attack, particularly with Andrea Pirlo on top form. All of these things will have been assessed by seasoned punters, and the more insightful will have concluded that backing Italy had value in it every single time. In the event, Italy won 2-1 in a virtuoso performance that merited much more the long odds given by Ladbrokes and Paddy Power before the game.

Betting Tips

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