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Football Betting (or Soccer Betting as some bookmaker websites call it to differentiate from American Football) has been around in the betting arena for some time. Its only recently however that it has taken hold of a big slice of the punters time and money. This is almost entirely due to the internet and the advent of many new types of bet and even betting formats.

As usual there are three ways to get involved with your money when considering a bet on football. The Bookmaker, the Betting Exchange and the Spread Bet. For our purposes we are going to ignore football pools as they are self explanatory but you are quite safe playing them especially what was the old Littlewood Pools. Pools are where all the money goes into one pot which the operator takes a percentage from and the rest is divided between the winners in a predetermind way.

Footbal betting is now world wide and around the clock nearly every day of the year. The most popular games to bet on are the English Premier league games because of the big names involved and a perception that it is the most honest and straight forward of leagues. i.e Games are not rigged or corrupted by outside influences which clearly does occur in matches from around the world.
Basics   A Day Out
Football betting not long ago was essentially accumulators on results of three possibly five or more games. You had to win all to get paid. Those days are gone now and practically all aspects of a football game can be waggered on.

For the purpose of our explaination page here we are going to ignore the exotic bets which I am sure you can find when you look into the betting opportunities very closely. There are plenty of mainstream waggers for us to have a look at.

Football Betting has three main branches:

  • Result - Win, lose or draw can be backed with Bookmakers, Spread firms, Exchanges
  • Correct Score - Predicting the final score exactly at the end of play
  • Match incidents - Punters can wager on the number of corners, yellow cards, red cards or penalties etc.

And these can be played in four main ways:
.
  • Fixed Odds - Bookmakers and Exchanges
  • Spread Bet Markets -
  • In-running -
  • Asian Handicaps -
Result Betting Basics The Races
The most basic way of betting on football is to wager on the result at the end of play. Sometimes you will get different odds for the result after ninety minutes which confusingly means at the end of normal time. This often occurs in cup matches when extra time is allowed to guarantee a result and thus the draw no longer applies. So when when betting to ninety minutes the draw is always available.

Fixed Odds
Betting on the result with bookmakers and betting exchanges is simply a matter of price evaluation. A home win for example for Tottenham-Fulham may be priced at 5/4 with a tradional bookmaker or 2.25 (decimal odds) in an exchange market. Likewise the other possible results. This is just a question of your judgement against the price on offer. Many factors come into play such as; is it a cup game, are their relegation or promotion issues and manager changes etc.

Spread Betting
When it comes to betting the result with spread betting firms things are more esoteric. A common market format is to award 25 pts for a win 10 pts for a draw and no points for a loss. The price then for Tottenham may be quoted at 13.5 - 14.5 for example and if you buy at 14.5 and Tottenham go on to win then you win (25-14.5) x your stake. If your stake is £10 then you win £105. If draw then you lose (14.5-10) x stake or £45 in this case. If lose then you drop £145.

Asian Handicaping
(For a full explanantion of Asian Handicapping see below).
Put simply Asian Handicapping is a way to eliminatre the draw from the betting by giving one team a handicap in the form of a fractional goal handicap. So in the Tottenham-Fulham example the Fulham side might be given half a goal start, thus it can never result in a draw. The other benefit of this form of betting is that many people wish to bet on their team but they may well be a big odds-on favourite and this is unappealing. Thus by example if we give Tottenham a minus half a goal handicap then the price for a home win and away win will be closely matched at near Even money (remembering the draw has been eliminated).

The most common handicap is the half goal handicap which is easily understood. The two other common options are whole goal handicap and quarter goal handicap. When there is a whole goal handicap, i.e. Tottenham -1 or Fulham +1 then the result can obviously be a draw but in Asian Handicapping there is never a draw so in the case that you back Tottenham with a -1 handicap and they win 1-0 then the bet is void and your money is returned.

The quarter goal handicap is more complicated and is explained below in Asian Handicapping.
Correct Score A Day Out The Horses
Correct score betting is simply predicting the score line at the end of play. Most of the time this is a fixed odds bet and so involves bookmakers or exchange markets.

Many mathmatically minded people have tried at length to analyse the distribution of correct scores with all sorts of factors included. Very few have been able to get an advantage over experienced bookmaker odds compilers. Better prices are likely to be found on exchanges where the margins for this sort of bet is likely to be slimmer than with tradional ficed odds betting. However there are many bookmakers offering prices of all British and often European matches and so seeking best value is essential when betting on correct scores.
Match Incidents The Races The Form
Since the mid-1990s statistics on all events within matches have been accrued by stats compilers and most of these are available online. These include all the obvious events in a football match for example; the number of corners, the number of yellow or red cards, the time of the first goal or last goal etc.

There are plenty of really exotic bets that compilers have dreamt up to either encourage punters to part with their money. For instance the total of shirt numbers of all the scorers or even the number of corners in the first half multiplied by the number of corners in the second half. These are in general best left alone but if you like a big price gamble for small stakes you can easily find these available at the main bookmakers and spread betting firms.

Players should always have in mind that odds setters have done their homework but if you think you have an angle then its fun to pit your wits against theirs. Research will probably give you a headache but one thing to know is that away teams are much more likely to receive yellow and red cards and younger referees tend to favour home sides because of the pressure from home crowds. The older the referee the lower the chances of the Ref being biased towards the home team. Good luck.

The most interesting markets to have an interest for the whole match is either the time of the last goal or more especially the scorer of the last goal. With this bet you are alive until the final whistle.

Bookings
All the main places to have a bet (fixed odds, spread and exchange) now run markets in Bookings. Points are allocated for a card being given to a player. For the exchanges it is Yellow = 2pts and Red = 5pts. For the other betting avenues its Yellow = 10pts, Red = 25pts (same ratio). An extra condition to this bet market is that one player can only ever get two cards, so the maximum is 1 Yellow and One Red for any individual player.

The point of the market is to judge how much conflict there will be in a particular game. So an edgy class between rivals could net a big number.

Number of Corners
Bets are settled on the total number of corners within 90 minutes. The typical starting values are: Under 10, Between 10 and 12, Over 12. (Info provided by Opta Sportsdata)


Number of offsides
Becomming more popular now. (Info provided by Opta Sportsdata)

Substitutes Used
The typical starting values are: 0-3, 4-5, or 6.
Fixed Odds Betting The Horses Betting
Result
This is the simplest form of betting on football. It involves a price like Evens for Manchester City to beat Everton at home. Bookmakers and Exchanges are the place to look for these and as there are many different firms offering prices it is essential to look across as many outlets as possible to get the best price. Many people chose three, four or five team accumulators because of the short prices available on many matches, expecially home wins.

It is fair to say that this market is well understood by all the big players and the prices available are more or less correst, that is they indicate the true odds of a result occuring and thus it is very difficult to obtain any sort of advantage, i.e. getting a price to high for a particular result to occur. There is nothing wrong however with taking a view about a particular game because of some new factor that you know and you get an afternoon of fun for your wager.

More fixed odds are available on different aspects of a game like the half-time/full-time result. This means that you must predict who is winning at half-time (or drawing) and the winner at the end of the game. [Always know if this is a 90 minutes result of after extra time when cup games are involved] This is obviously harder to do and thus the prices reflect that by being much higher than for the simple result at the end of play.

Others
The are a whole range of prices available on aspects of the game such as first goal scorer, last goal scorer and predicting the exact score. Prices might be as low as 4-1 for a home win of 1-0 or 100-1 for a 3-3 result. Curiously enough prices to draw for two teams that score heavily and concede heavily are the same for two teams that have really dull stats where there are a lot of 0-0 or 1-1 draws. There is a lot to consider with this type of bet and the odds compilers and as usual pretty close to the mark. You may have some close knowledge about a team that will suggest an unusual score line and then you can back a 0-2 result for instance at a big price. In general it is fair to say that it is very difficult to find an edge here.

Having a small wager on last goal scorer will afford you a match long engagement with your bet as opposed to first goal scorer which can obviously lose in the first few seconds of a game.
Spread Betting The Form The Tracks
Spread betting the result on a football game is probably more complicated than it should be and the spread in the prices is likely to be a bigger edge for the spread firm than a normal fixed odds bet. Where spread betting comes into its own is when you are contemplating betting on some of the more exotic aspects of the game.

Now there are any number of weird bets that spread firms have dreamt up to entice you in. For instance the total number of shirt numbers of the players who score goals. They know what they are doing and this is just a punt at high risk unless you have inside information that a low number player will likely be substituted at an early stage and a high numbered striker is his replacement.

The more intersting markets involve things like corners or cards. You can take a view with your knowledge that a long ball type of game will render a lot of corners, or the opposite for turgid play. With cards you can look at the history of two teams and believe that strong rivalry or bad blood will lead to lots of confrontations.

A spread firm will likely offer something like 5 points for a yellow card and 10 points for a red card and then offer a sell/buy quote of 12-14. So if you buy at 14 and there are three yellow cards then the result for you is [(3x5) - 14] multiplied by your bet, you win one point. No cards at all and you lose the maximum which is 14 x your stake. Have in mind that two yellows for one player also gets a red card and so one man alone can score 20 points.

Likewise for corners it is a simple matter of quoting a price for the total number which is quite boring so they also offer multiples of corners in the first and second halves.
In Running The Betting The Tracks
With the advent of fast internet acces for nearly all customers the bookmakers, spread firms and exchanges operate in-running markets on all of the big games. That is to say that as soon as the match starts prices will be available, and ever changing, for most of the markets that were available before the start of the game.

These are volatile markets in the most part and are not for the faint of heart. They do however throw up the possibility of trading in-running positions. For instance if you place a win bet before the match starts then as soon as play begins and time is eaten away without any goals then the price must fall or rise (depending of which result you have bet on) and present you with a chance to liquidate your open position at a profit.

There are many people out there who spend lots of time compiling stats on the scoring rates during matches, for instance there are more goals scored in the last five minutes of both halves than any other five minute period during a match (because they are tired). There are many angles into this type of bet and the markets are very liquid, meaning lots of punters and lots of money. When that is true the prices generally reflect true odds but if you have a particular notion about some aspect of the game, like a teams fitness, then that could be your way to play. But it is volatile and you must be in control of your bets.

Normal market forces do come into play nearing the end of play. When a team is leading by only one goal then backers of the win will naturally start to get jittery and tend to try and lay the team they backed to ensure a profit. This lay money will push up the price for victory by the leading team and thus potentially offer you value but at a very short price. Its a regular market with regular market vagaries.
Asian Handicaps The Betting  
Asian Handicaps are designed to eliminate the draw from the result as football is the only major sport where the draw plays a significant part of the likely result. This is achieved by giving a goal handicap to both teams and in the event of a 1 goal handicap still producing a draw then the bet is void and your money is returned. Asian Handicap betting is offered by bookmakers and exchanges and to lessor degree and in a more complicated format by spread firms.

The Half Goal Handicap
The easiest bet to understand and the more likely to be seen is the half goal handicap where a match like Everton/Birmingham can be quoted as Everton (-½) Evens, Birmingham (+½) 10/11. This means if you back Everton at Evens you only win your bet if Everton win by one or more goals. A draw or a loss for Everton and you lose your bet. Likewise if you back Birmingham at 10/11 and the game is drawn 1-1 then you win your bet.

The Whole Goal Handicap
It is important to understand that there is no draw result available. Here in the Everton/Birmingham example the prices can be quoted as Everton (-1) 5/4, Birmingham (+1) 8/11. So if you back Everton and they win by more than one goal you win your bet. If they win by exactly one goal you get your money back.

The Quarter Goal Handicap
Often odds compilers will take the view that there isn't much between teams and therefore a half goal handicap is too much and the price would be far away from Even money which is the general aim of Asian Handicapping. So in this instance a ¼ or ¾ goal handicap will be quoted. This bet is more complicated.

Using the Everton/Birmingham example the prices can be quoted as Everton (-¼) 5/6, Birmingham (+¼) 11/10. What the ¼ goal handicap means is two seperate bets for half your stake, one at zero goal handicap and the other at ½ goal handicap. So if you place a bet of £20 on Everton (-¼) at 5/6 you have in fact placed two bets. The first bet is £10 on Everton (0 goals) at 5/6 and the second bet is £10 on Everton (-½ goals) at 5/6.

With two seperate bets being employed the ¼ goal handicap will often be displayed as Everton (-0,-½) or Birmingham (+0, +½) which looks a bit confusing and it is. SO the score starts Everton -¼, Birmingham 0.

Possible Results for Everton -¼ goal Asian Handicap at 5/6
Everton Result £10 (0) bet £10 (-½) bet Total
0 - 0 Void - £10 - £10
1 - 0 + £8.33 + £8.33 + £16.66
2 - 0 + £8.33 + £8.33 + £16.66
0 - 1 - £10 - £10 - £20
1 - 1 Void - £10 - £10
2 - 2 Void - £10 - £10
 
Remember that with the ¼ goal handicap whenever there is a draw, one half of your bet is always voided and your stake money is returned.

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