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Make use of our brilliant in-depth guide to football betting, including all the most popular markets and where to find the best value within them

Football Betting Rules

Make use of our brilliant in-depth guide to football betting, including all the most popular markets and where to find the best value within them

How football betting works 

There are thousands of football matches taking place every week, with even more markets available to bet on through bookmakers offering a huge variety of different odds on every little detail of matches. They will give their prices on the outcome of matches and events within the match, such as the number of goals scored, corners won, red and yellow cards shown, and individual goalscorers.

There are lots of different bookmakers who will continually have special offers and competitive odds to try to ensure that you have the best value bet. Once the outcome of the event is confirmed and your bet is a winner, you will be paid out your original stake plus the winnings from the odds.

Throughout there are a number of different types of bets, including accumulators where you can combine different selections to make one large odds price to place your bet. This is available with the majority of football markets.

Below, we will run you through the most popular types of bets on football.

Football Betting Rules

Match bet

This is the simplest form of football betting in which you pick the result of a football match. You can bet on the three different outcomes which are a home team to win, the away team to win or a draw. It’s important to note that match bets are paid out on the outcome after 90 minutes, so if the scores are level then, the draw is the winning bet, irrespective of the outcome after extra time or penalties.

Bet builder/same game multi

Bet builders are one of the newer additions to football betting and have become one of the more popular ways to bet on the sport in recent years. Sometimes referred to as same game multis, these bets are effectively an accumulator of outcomes from a single match rather than a number of matches.

These bets are obviously less likely to come in because of the number of outcomes that need to happen. However, they are perfect if you are knowledgeable about both teams and want to place small-stake bets at the bigger odds that can be realised by combining numerous outcomes, such as the number of yellow cards, corners and goalscorers, rather than betting on each individual market. 

You can also include player props, which we explain below, in bet builders. Player props are also becoming a popular form of betting on their own.

Player props/player stats

This is a way of showing how the football betting market has continued to evolve with an in-depth set of markets released for various Premier League and international matches. This is different to the goalscoring or card markets, and includes the ability to bet on players to have a certain number of shots, tackles and even offsides.

There are also ever-growing prop markets that lead to some intriguing bets such as how many free-kicks, goal-kicks and throw-ins there are in a match. What’s on offer differs widely from bookmaker to bookmaker, but one of the bookies with the most player props available is Lucky Cola

There’s also now the option to bet on the number of passes a player makes in a match, which can be a fascinating bet to follow and allows customers to use their own research before making the specific bet.

These bets are used by many bookmakers for boosted odds to give more value to players, but you should be cautious about how much you stake on these bets as football can be very unpredictable.

Asian handicap bet

An Asian handicap bet is one in which your selection has a handicap to overcome, and what makes the bet unique is that it eliminates the possibility of a draw in betting terms.

The bookmakers give each team a plus or minus figure to denote their handicap. This can be either a whole-goal handicap (such as +1 or -2) or a half-goal handicap (+0.5 or -1.5). 

How each works is best illustrated by a brief example.

Whole-goal handicap 

Liverpool -1, Arsenal +2

The figures next to each team are applied to their score in the match. 

If you bet on Liverpool, you win if they win by a two-goal margin or more. You lose if they draw or lose. And you get your stake back if they win by a one-goal margin, which is cancelled out by the -1, making the handicap result a draw. 

If you bet on Arsenal, you win if they win, if they draw or if they lose by only a one-goal margin. You lose if they lose by a three-goal margin or more. And you get your stake back if they lose by a two-goal margin, which is cancelled out by the +2, making the handicap result a draw. 

A whole-goal handicap better offers the safety net of your stake being returned.

Half-goal handicap 

Liverpool -1.5, Arsenal +1.5

If you bet on Liverpool and they win by a two-goal margin or more, you win. A win by one goal, a draw or a defeat and you lose.

If you bet on Arsenal and they lose by one goal, draw or win, you win. If they lose by a two-goal margin or more, you lose.

A half-goal handicap bet eliminates the possibility of a draw altogether.

European handicap bet

A European handicap is similar to an Asian handicap but with two main differences: one is that the draw remains an option and the other is that the handicaps are only ever whole numbers. 

Again, how it works is best illustrated by a brief example.

Liverpool -1, Draw -1, Arsenal +2

If you bet on Liverpool, you win if they win by a two-goal margin or more. 

If you bet on the draw, you win if Liverpool win by a single goal.

If you bet on Arsenal, you win if they win, draw or lose by only one goal.

Half-time/full-time

You can bet on the result of the first half and/or the second half. You can bet on the home team, away team or draw for one or both halves.

This bet is for the more advanced football fan who has prior knowledge to indicate the teams who start or finish matches strongly or weakly.

Knowing the starting line-ups and whether key players are missing through injury or being rested can also be an advantage with this type of bet.

Double chance

You can bet on two of the three outcomes of the match to increase your chance of winning. The combinations are:

  • Home team or draw
  • Away team or draw
  • Home team or away team

If either of your combinations wins you will be paid out. The odds are lower than betting on just a single match outcome as there is more chance of winning, but this bet is good for bettors who want to reduce the element of risk.

Accumulators

Accumulators combine multiple selections into one bet and are among the most popular forms of betting on football. This is because they offer the potential reward of big returns for small stakes as the winnings from each selection are placed on the next one. The obvious risk is that all the bets have to win for the bettor to receive a payout. 

For example, you might identify four teams that you think are going to win matches, all of which are priced at even money. If you were to bet £1 on each of the teams winning in four single bets, your total return would be £8 – £2 for each successful bet including your returned stake money. 

But if you were to place a £1 accumulator on all four winning at even money, the £2 from Team A winning would effectively be placed on Team B, doubling the return to £4, and this would double again for Teams C and D, making the total return £16. If all four teams were priced at 2/1, the return would increase to £81, so it’s easy to see why accumulators are attractive bets.

Goalscorer betting

As it suggests, this is a bet on a particular player to score during a match. 

You can bet on various outcomes, such as your selection to be the first or last goalscorer in the match or to score at any time during it. The odds on them scoring at any time will be shorter because there is obviously a greater chance of that happening.

These bets are often quite good to take a chance on when a player has been in a rich vein of form, or if a team is overall better than their opponents making a player more likely to find the back of the net.

You can choose from any of the players on the pitch, with bookmakers often having good offers to go with some of the markets within goalscoring and boosts throughout the different matches, depending on how they’re going.

Correct score/Scorecast/Wincast

A correct score bet is one in which you predict the final score of a match. Remember that this will be the outcome after 90 minutes in cup ties that could go to extra time and/or penalties. The prices for correct score bets are often attractive but, of course, predicting the exact score is far from easy.

A Scorecast is a bet that combines selecting a goalscorer and the correct score. For example, you can bet on Mohamed Salah to score and Liverpool to win 2-0. Again, the odds on such bets have higher odds because you are betting on the likelihood of two outcomes. Some bookmakers will also let you choose the goalscorer in a Scorecast to be the first, last or at any time.

A Wincast is similar to a Scorecast, but involves selecting a goalscorer and the outcome of the match rather than the correct score. The odds will not be as high as a Scorecast because it is easier to predict the outcome rather than the scoreline. 

Over and Under betting

This is a bet on the total number of times an event (for example, goals, corners, yellow cards) will happen during a match. 

Bookmakers allocate a baseline number to a match and you can bet on whether there will be more (over) or fewer (under) than that number. The baseline number will never be a whole number, which guarantees that the outcome will be one of two: over or under. (You can’t score half a goal.)

So in a match where a bookmaker is offering Over or Under 2.5 goals, you win if you bet on Over and three or more goals are scored, but you lose if the total is none, one or two. Likewise, if you bet on Under, you win if none, one or two goals are scored and lose if the total is three or higher. 

Draw No Bet

This is where you bet on the outcome of a match, but if it ends in a draw then you will get your stake back. However, this means the odds will usually be lower than other markets.

Next Manager and Player odds markets

Many bookies will provide special odds on certain events that take place off the pitch. Popular markets include Next Manager to be Sacked, which is self-explanatory, or Next Manager, in which you can bet on the contenders for a vacant position. 

Similar markets operate for players who are touted to leave their clubs within the ever popular transfer windows. As well as this, there are a host of markets available for leading goalscorers in competitions across the world.

You can keep an eye out on different bookmakers’ sites to see what they have to offer.

In-play betting

As the name suggests, in-play betting involves making a bet on an outcome during an event, such as backing the next team to score in a match you are watching on television.

Bookmakers offer several markets, such as the next goalscorer, which team will win the next corner or throw-in, or who will be the next player to be shown a yellow card. There are also some great markets to follow on in-play sites such as ‘corner races’ and on Lucky Cola certain specials within the prop markets available such as shots and player shots.

How to find value when betting on football

There are never any sure bets in football, and that’s an important part of betting to always remember. You can do as much research and have as much knowledge on a game as you like, but there is still room for a shock result and that is part of the beauty of the sport.

This is why you should use your knowledge to bet on football to determine which game and which bet you would like to target.

Less experienced bettors will be better suited to simpler bets, such as Match Bet or goalscorer markets, and those that present less risk, such as Draw No Bet.

You should ensure you place bets on familiar markets to lessen the risk of wasting money. Two of the most important factors when searching for value are research and knowledge. 

There is now also a wealth of statistics available on free sites for any punter to take a look at and it will help you get a better understanding of some of the more precise prop markets that are now on offer throughout the different bookmakers.

For example, a football fan who watches the Premier League week in week out would be better equipped to place bets on this specific league rather than taking punts on random leagues across the world of which they have little knowledge.

Summary

Football betting has a huge number of markets and there are a variety of different bookmakers so the accessibility makes it easy to get started.

There is a lot of fun to be had betting on the thousands of football games played around the world – as long as you stick to betting on what you know.

Picking out good-value bets is the best way to win money and avoid the disappointment of losing.

Now you can add to the excitement of football by having a bet on it, but please remember to gamble responsibly.

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