Live In-Play Tennis Betting Strategy
In-play tennis betting has exploded in popularity with tennis punters in recent times, as this is a sport which lends itself extremely well to live betting. As momentum swings back and forth during a match, bettors look to exploit gaps in the live betting odds and gain an edge.
The best tennis betting sites all offer in-play markets and their odds compilers are kept busy - especially during big events like Grand Slam tournaments. In this guide we'll discuss how to get the most out of your in-play tennis betting strategy.
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How to Bet on Tennis Live
Prices move very quickly in-play in tennis, so you sometimes need to make decisions on the spot. Be aware that these live tennis odds are likely to move while you're in the process of placing a bet.
Navigate to the tennis match you want to bet on and if you want to back a player to win the match at that point, simply click the button next to either his/her name or the odds next to the name of your selected player.
This will place your bet in the bet basket, but it won't be confirmed until you've added a stake and then hit the 'confirm bet' button.
At this stage you may get a notification that asks you to confirm that you want to accept an odds change, as the price may have altered in the seconds that you were adding the bet to the basket.
You may wish to cancel the bet if the odds are prohibitive, but if not, go ahead and hit the confirm button and your bet is on. This is usually a seamless process when you're using top tennis betting sites or betting apps online.
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In-Play Tennis Betting Markets Explained
Depending on the status of the match (Grand Slams etc will have many more markets) and how many other matches are live at the same time, you'll have a variety of in-play markets to choose from. As well as match odds, there's generally the following bet options to pick from:
- Set Betting: With set betting you choose not only the match winner, but what the final set score will be. This can be a useful one when you fancy a favourite to win in a Slam match, but not convincingly. The 3-1 set score regularly occurs in that situation.
- Current Set Betting: Who will win the set being played at that moment? This is a good betting market if you fancy the player that's winning to fail to close out a set.
- Game Betting: Who will win the current game being played? Again, this is handy if you fancy a player to falter serving out a game or if you reckon a great returner will blunt a big server. On clay in particular we see a lot more breaks of serve (average holds on clay are around 75%) so watch out for an in-play market like this when looking at French Open odds.
- Game Handicap: The underdog (player B in this example) is given a head start of a certain number of games and you have to decide whether or not player B will cover that handicap mark. If player B is evens to win the match +3.5 games, and you take that bet, and the match ends 7-6, 6-4 to player A, then you win because player A has only won by 3 games (13 to 10 in total) and player B had a 3.5 games start. You can also place this bet the other way around by backing player A to win -3.5 games if you fancy a comfortable victory. To win that bet, player A must win the match by at least a total of 4 games (i.e. 6-4, 6-4 or better).
- Total Games Over/Under: A total games tennis bet is placed on how many games overall will have been played by the end of the match. For example, a 7-6, 6-2 match result would give you 21 total games. If you backed under 21.5 games, your bet would be a winner.
- Correct Score Betting: The most common correct score tennis bet when betting live is on the score of a certain set. This could be the set currently in-play at the time you place the bet, while some bookmakers also allow you to predict the final score of the upcoming set. So, if you fancied a big server like Nick Kyrgios to hold serve all set and win the tie break, your best bet would be to back a score of 7-6 to Kyrgios in that set.
- Point Betting: You need to be quick for this bet! This is simply a wager on the player who will win the next point. These are clearly labelled, for example - 'Set 3, Game 3, Point 4'.
- Tie Break in Match/Set: Do you reckon there will be a tie break in the current set, or in the match as a whole? Both of these markets are offered in-play and are useful if you spot two players in a great serving groove early on in a set.
- Race to Three/Four/Five Games: This is a useful market if you fancy either a serve-dominated or return-oriented encounter. The bettor is simply picking which player they fancy to hit a number of games first. For example, if you picked Novak Djokovic against Andy Murray in a race to four games, and Djokovic secured a 4-3 lead in that set, your bet would be a winner.
Five Keys to Live Tennis Betting
- Use the stats to your advantage
- Don't be swayed too much by recent form
- Don't lose faith in your player too early
- There's no substitute for knowledge of individual players and their tendencies
- Watch matches with a live streaming bookie like bet365 and be aware of early signs of fatigue/injury/changing weather conditions
In-Play Tennis Betting Tips
You are generally better off betting in-play rather than taking pre-match odds because you'll often find that the price on the player you fancy will be bigger at some point in-play.
A player dropping his/her opening service game, or going down 0-40 or 15-40, is common. This usually means little to the outcome of a match, especially on the slower surfaces such as clay or slow hard courts. If you wait a few minutes and bet in-play you can sometimes get the price you wanted the pre-match odds to be.
Similarly, don't lose faith in your player too early. Many professional bettors adopt a strategy of sticking with their player until the end, allowing them to get superb prices in-play. This strategy is obviously highly risky, but can pay huge dividends, if your nerves can stand it.
Be aware of the different playing surfaces and weather conditions. If your player is 15-40 down on grass (at Wimbledon for example) and possesses a big serve they can often serve their way out of the game and make you a nice profit on in-play game betting.
For bets like those, stats are your friend and there are loads of freely available statistics on the ATP Tour website or sites like Tennis Abstract, such as 'service games won', 'break points saved' and 'break points converted'. These stats are broken down season-by-season and surface-by-surface, so you'll have the latest information at your fingertips to use in your in-play betting.
While stats are really helpful, there's no substitute for player knowledge. This can help you enormously when it comes to in-play betting. Much of top-level pro tennis is played in the mind and knowing when a player is likely to 'choke' when serving for a set or match is extremely valuable.
You'll find that on a quick surface most players would be around 1/5 (1.20) or so (depending on the circumstances) to serve a set or match out if they have a decent serve, but knowing which players are likely to falter in that situation is key.
The majority of players are better when playing from behind, as there's no pressure on them at that stage, but when the pressure reverses and they're expected to serve out a set/match they can become passive and just hope for mistakes rather than continuing to go after the win - inadvertently abandoning the tactics that got them to the verge of the victory.
Following sharp betting minds on social media is valuable in that case, as listening to the right people can help your knowledge for future (or current) matches and betting opportunities.
Weather conditions are also important in outdoor tennis. On clay they still play in the rain (unless it becomes heavy) so the court will slow down and balls will become heavier. Relying on having a good serve becomes less important and break opportunities will increase.
Similarly, rain delays (or any significant delay in a match) often change the outcome, with players often losing any momentum they've gained when sent back to the locker room. A player can look down and out, but the rest and a chat with their coach can work wonders. The player leading may well get edgy, so turnarounds after delays are common.
Recent form can be helpful when it comes to getting a good price on a player. Bookmakers tend to value recent form highly and are often guilty of 'recency bias' where perhaps one player has struggled a bit recently (maybe due to a niggling injury or illness) and another has had a great run.
That doesn't mean that the outcome is a foregone conclusion and if your player (the one that's been struggling lately) goes down an early break, the bookies are likely to overreact. You might well get a great price on this bet.
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In-Play Tennis Betting Verdict
There's so much choice with in-play markets these days that there's a live wager for every type of punter in the sport of tennis. Some bookmakers have a wider range of in-play markets than others, so it's worth checking out the best new betting sites as well as the established favourites and comparing the markets on offer.
Using the strategies and tips in this article will hopefully aid your choices and perhaps above all else a bet should only be placed in-play when you're thinking clearly. Patience and calmness are key to in-play tennis betting.
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