Football Betting

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United Kingdom

In football, there are three possible outcomes: win, lose or draw. The likelihood of one team beating the other is reflected in the odds. For example, if a UEFA Champions League favorite were to play an English Premier League (EPL) team on the verge of relegation, the odds for the Champions League favorite to win would be much shorter (i.e. you would get less return on your wager) 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, you’ll find plenty of other markets on online bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Bet365 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.

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Betting Markets

First Scorer

One of the most popular of these 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. The odds are better here, because there is a chance that any one of twenty two players (plus oncoming substitutes) could be the first to score.

Half Time / Full Time

Other popular football betting markets offered by online bookmakers include half-time/full-time, 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.


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.

Both Teams 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 to each match: ‘will score/won’t score’ as opposed to the win, lose or draw outcome in accumulator bets.

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 beautiful game to the test.

Assessing Team Value

Anyone can visit a sports bookmaker and put a bet down on their favourite football team; it takes very little 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 English football leagues resume in August, try to get to grips with the premise of ‘value’.

Essentially, value is determined by assessing what you think are the chances 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 this method:

Example: Euro 2012 - Italy Versus 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.

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