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How to Bet on Football

Football betting has grown over recent years to become one of the biggest sports betting markets, second only to horseracing. It has become a global market, with literally hundreds of football matches being played every week worldwide. No longer is football betting a seasonal activity; you can enjoy it year round so it’s worth spending some time on perfecting your football betting skills,

In this short guide, we aim to help you improve your chances of making a profit by betting on football. Even if this is an entirely new enterprise for you, by following these basic guidelines you will soon become an expert football better and make consistent profits. There is one important caveat though, and we will emphasise this later in the guide. That is, you must bet with your head and never with your heart. Don’t be tempted to bet on the football club you support unless it makes complete sense to do so.

Football betting odds

Football betting odds are usually presented as fractional odds. For instance, you might be offered 3/1, 5/2, 2/3 and so on. Alternatively, they may be expressed as fractional odds such as 3.0, 1.5, and 3.5. In another article, we explain exactly how these work so we won’t go into too much detail here. Just be aware that fractional odds indicate your potential profit should you win your bet, and in addition to that your stake is returned. Decimal odds show what the bookmaker will pay you, and this includes your stake.


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Discovering value bets

The key to successful football betting is to find opportunities for making value bets. Value bets are bets where the chances of any particular outcome, say a side winning, losing, or a tie, are greater than the odds offered by the bookmaker on that outcome. Of course, an objective assessment of the probability of any specific outcome isn’t easy, and will always involve an element of subjectivity.

Football CelebrationAlso don’t expect to be right all the time; nobody is. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful football better is that in the long run the former can rely on making a profit as they get it right more often than they get it wrong.

The only way to discover value bets is to truly understand the sport. This means developing a deep knowledge of the teams, the individual players, the attitude of managers to the importance of wining specific matches, and so forth.

Improving your football knowledge

All we football fans like to believe that we really understand the game. However, the one thing we all have in common is that we tend to overestimate how much we think we know. The key to successful football betting is to always be prepared to learn, even if that means abandoning some of the things we once were certain of. Understanding football is the prelude to understanding football betting.

It is best to start from what you already know and build on that rather than venturing into new territories. At first bet on the leagues you know, though spend some time studying the leagues you wish to bet on in the future. It is better to have a deep understanding of just a few leagues rather than a superficial understanding of many. In football betting your depth of knowledge is always more important  than your spread of knowledge. Ultimately you must outsmart the bookmakers; and, given their range of tools and insight, bookmakers are usually very smart.

Alternative football betting markets

While traditional football betting involves betting on the outcome of a match, for instance which side will win, on a tie, on the final score, the first goal scorer, half time scores and so forth, because of the internet, in-play betting has become a highly popular and potentially lucrative.

While in-play betting is great entertainment and can be an adrenaline fed ride, it also requires the right temperament, a cool head, and an instinctive understanding of the sport. If you are relative novice, then you might be best advised to stick to bets placed prior to kick-off and getting the best odds.

Evaluation of team and individual performance

Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Manchester UtdWe mentioned in the introduction that it is important to bet with your head rather than your heart. When you evaluate team in individual performance it is essential to maintain objectivity and not be swayed by sentiment. There are many elements to consider in this evaluation; here we will mention some of the fundamental ones, but there are many more that could be considered. You might care to create a spreadsheet for storing and comparing the results of your evaluation.


Key factors include:

  • Home side advantage – while all clubs benefit overall from a home-side advantage, some clubs seem to benefit more than others.
  • Perceived important of the match – for instance while one club might consider the specific match crucial, the opponents might consider it less so and not worth fielding their best squad, preferring to rest some of their key players. Although this practice might be frowned on in some quarters, it certainly happens frequently, though some managers tend to be adept at fielding excuses for doing so.
  • Individual players – every player tends to have periods when they are in-form and others when they are not in-form. This is affected by many factors both personal and fitness related. Following individual player form is vital.
  • Relationships within the club – has there recently been a falling out between a players, has their manager attacked a player with a football beet? What has gone on in the dressing room can impact what goes on in the field.
  • Motivation to win – is the club happy with a draw? Will it go defensive in the second half after taking a first half lead?

There are many more; come with them yourself as you develop your predictive model.

Choose the best bookmakers

Don’t stick to a single bookmaker but set up accounts with several. This way you can easily choose the best odds for a particular game. There can be significant differences, which is what arbitrage betters take advantage of. Always betting at the best odds increases the overall value of your betting strategy.

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Football betting

Football betting is highly entertaining and when done properly can be highly lucrative. It is something at which you can improve if you are willing to put in the effort. This brief guide should put you on the right patch.





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