Football is a prime sport for betting: it’s unpredictable, fun and offers great returns on a vast number of bets. In-play betting sites and live streaming bookmakers also mean the football betting action doesn't stop at kick off.
From 'full-time result' to 'correct score', 'first goal scorer' to 'Asian handicap', 'both teams to score' to the 'number of total goals', there’s a huge variety of match markets and in-play options to bet on.
Bookmakers are focused on giving the punter as many opportunities to bet as possible, and we see that in evidence with such diverse football betting markets as ‘first goal to be an own goal’, ‘who will register a clean sheet’ and ‘who will concede a penalty’.
If you try to navigate yourself around football betting markets it is difficult to know where to start. However, the markets themselves are pretty self-explanatory.
If you want to place a bet on, let’s say, Chelsea to beat West Ham but without there being the chance of a draw, then you can use the ‘draw no bet’ market. If you think that Chelsea will either win or draw at full-time then you can bet on the ‘double chance’ market, which gives you both options, although at a diminished price.
If you feel that Chelsea are going to win without their opposition scoring, then the best market to use is the ‘win to nil’ market, which allows you to bet on Chelsea not conceding a goal.
Predicting the correct score is a very popular market among punters, too; as its name suggests, you are required to guess the correct score at the end of the match. The odds for this market are usually very good, because predicting the outcome is almost pure guesswork.
Predicting the first goal scorer can be equally difficult, seeing as there will be a chance of any one of eight or nine players likely to get on the score sheet. Of course, theoretically, any one of twenty-two players can score, but there is less chance of a defender scoring than a forward, for example.
This, along with ‘anytime scorer’, ‘first to score for their team’, ‘last goal scorer’, and ‘first to score two or more goals’ each follow the same pattern: odds are offered by bookmakers for each respective outcome and you simply bet on whichever development you think will happen.
Other popular football markets offered by the best football betting sites include ‘scorecasts’, where you are required to guess the first goal scorer coupled with the correct score of the game – a market that can result in a huge profit if you are able to predict correctly.
These days, bookmakers even give you the option of the 'corners' markets - guessing how many corners you think one team will win - or the 'cards' markets - how many red or yellow cards a team may incur - though these markets don’t always offer very good odds.
So where can the best value be found? Accumulators are highly favoured in football betting – by combining three or four teams on a bet to win, odds of around 50/1 can be achieved. Even teams that are expected to win the match will sometimes have an off day, though, so picking seven teams and backing the bet as a 5/6-fold can provide a healthy cushion.
Accumulators are popular for 'full-time results', 'both teams to score', as well as 'under/over' markets. For the latter pair, previous meetings and form are often the best indicator as to whether matches will produce goals or not.
In terms of backing a full-time result, if you wish to plump for a winner, odds on away wins are typically better than home wins. If an accumulator of 3-5 away wins comes good, a healthy profit is inevitable. Backing big clubs away from home is often worthwhile, with odds of around evens usually available; although away wins are rarer, big clubs will win games regardless of the venue.
For example, Arsenal were 4/5 to win at West Brom in November 2014 with Winner Sports, while Manchester City were 6/5 with Coral Sports to beat Southampton at St Mary’s. Odds for draws are always reasonable, mainly because punters like backing winners, not draws. Generally, a draw double will give odds of around 10/1.
When backing a team to win, specify how to they might clinch it to add a bit of extra value to the market. Backing a team to either 'win to nil', or 'to win with both teams to score' brings significantly better odds than a simple 'full-time result' outcome.
Despite both teams’ recent defensive frailties, Crystal Palace to beat Liverpool in November 2014 with a 'both teams to score' bet was a lengthy 7/1 with Bet365 Sports. Chelsea were also widely available at 2/5 to win away at Sunderland, but placed at 6/5 to 'win to nil'. This represented good value considering the huge gulf in class between two teams at opposite ends of the table.
Football betting, particularly in the top UK divisions, can be very unpredictable; anyone can beat anyone. Burnley’s win at Stoke or West Ham’s victory against Manchester City are recent examples. Leagues like La Liga or the Bundesliga are generally more foreseeable, particularly where the big clubs are concerned. Teams like Bayern and Real Madrid can often be counted on to win the majority of their games.
"I have wealth of experience covering a multitude of sports across some of the world's leading outlets, specialising in betting across football, NFL and golf."
Reviewer since April 2019