A Beginner’s Guide to Football Betting

April 9, 2009

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andrew.regan.2006@googlemail.com asked:

Many football fans like to place a wager on their favourite team during the season. For many, this wager will likely be on their team to win their respective league, although for many fans of teams outside the ‘big guns’ their chances of winning are greatly reduced. In the English Premiership, for example, recent years have seen the league being fought out exclusively by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, although there is often a ‘shock’ team that punches above its weight for a good part of the season.

However, from a betting point of view, the odds that are generally offered by bookmakers on these teams are often prohibitive and are likely to put off the small-time gambler from investing in their team’s chances. That’s why bookmakers now offer a large range of bets covering many aspects of the beautiful game – many of which offer a far greater return on investment should your bet be a winning one!

Handicap betting is one of the most popular bets, whereby each team in the league is assigned a ‘points start’ depending on their expected finishing position. The team which the bookmakers deem to be the favourite to win the league doesn’t receive any extra starting points (known as starting from scratch) and at the end of the season, the team with the most points – both accumulated and starting points – is declared the winner. In handicap betting, each team starts at the same odds as theoretically all teams are seen to be ‘equal’ due to each teams’ points start.

Betting on the league’s top scorer is another popular bet which runs across the season, and gamblers can often choose from a variety of bets in this market, including top overall scorer and top team scorer. Handicap betting is also often available on the top overall scorer and follows the same pattern as league handicap betting. In both league and top scorer betting, it is also possible to bet on your team or player finishing within a certain number of positions. This is known as ‘each-way’ betting and consists of two bets – one bet on your choice to win, one bet on your choice to finish within a certain number of places behind the winner – so remember to double your stake! If your selection doesn’t win, but finishes within the ‘places’ then you’re a winner, but bear in mind your odds will be reduced to reflect the increased chances of winning.

If you’d rather bet match-to-match then there is a host of bets available that can be placed both before and during the match. These include picking the outright winner of the match, the first player to score a goal, the final match score and the total number of goals scored in the game. One of the most popular pre-match bets is the Scorecast which involves picking a player to score the first goal and also predict the final score of the match, while half-time/full-time betting involves predicting which team will be winning at both half-time and full-time in a particular match. Beware though that individual match betting is subject to some additional rules.

Football betting on individual matches is settled over the actual game-time of ninety-minutes. This means that extra-time (not to be confused with injury time) often doesn’t count in individual match betting. Generally the prices for outright match betting are less than for ninety-minute results, so be sure to check with your bookmaker whether your bet is valid for the ninety-minute result or outright result. If betting on the first player to score, remember that own-goals do not count, so if the first goal is an own-goal, then your bet is still valid on the player you pick to score the first goal.


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