Full Guide To Football Betting

Last updated: 12 Nov 09:13

Football is the most betted-on sport in the world for a variety of reasons. First up, it is the most commonly played sport globally, with upwards of 250 million players (both professional and amateur) playing the Beautiful Game across more than 200 countries.

FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, is home to 211 member nations, each of which having their own national leagues operating under its jurisdiction. What does that mean? Well, as far as betting on football is concerned, you are served with an a la carte menu of tournaments, leagues and matches to bet on, which means you have a near interrupted footballing calendar.

What makes football even more attractive for punters is that almost everybody has an opinion on it. Yes, bookmakers are banking on their opinion being more accurate than your own, but the social element of football bringing people together makes it a much more appealing betting proposition to the general public, which ultimately results in football being the most common sport for punters to place bets. Placing bets and watching matches with friends is all part of the experience - so much so that the relationship between football and betting is like hand and glove.

In this guide, we will be taking a look at the wide range of markets, as well as looking at when are the best times to be betting on football, while also giving you our ten golden rules for betting on football. So sit back, strap yourself in, and prepare to soak everything in, in the guide to betting on football.

Odds and Markets for Betting on football

In this section, we’re going to dive into some of the most popular markets when betting on football. As you will see, the vast majority of the football betting markets are relatively straightforward, which should make your first forays into the betting on football world a stress-free experience:

Match Result: Nice and easy, who will win the match? Your options are, of course, the home team, the draw or the away team. This football betting market is often the most appealing for accumulator bets, but if the value is right, there are opportunities to cash in if you’re willing to stake big portions of your bankroll.

Correct Score: Again, a pretty straightforward one, this time where you predict the correct final score. We’d only recommend this if you’re feeling particularly lucky, as the volatility of football can often make predicting a scoreline extremely difficult.

Half-time/Full-time: Sometimes known as the Double Result market, this is where punters predict the result of the game at half-time, as well as full-time. For example, you may think that Team A is likely to comfortably beat Team B. Now, in order to enhance your odds, you would bet on Team A to be leading at half-time and at the end of the match.

An example would be for an international between Turkey and Italy. The Italians are priced up at 1/2 to win the game, which is nothing to shout about. However, if you have a particular feeling that the Blues will come out on top in a comfortable fashion, then a bet on the Italy/Italy Half-time/Full-time market would give you a much more valuable 7/5 bet.

Over and Unders markets: These bets are traditionally reserved for in-game events such as cards, goals and corners, and represent a fun way for bettors to follow a game. An example would be a bet on there to be more than 10 corners in a game. Bookmakers offer the option to bet on a binary result in that market (Over or under 10.5 corners) or they alternatively can give you odds on three outcomes (Under 10, Over 10, or Exactly 10). The latter options provides slightly more value should your bet win, but there is a risk of excruciating frustration if your over ten corners bet finishes up on exactly ten. You don’t know real pain until that happens…

First goal scorer: A fun football betting market if there is a striker bang in form. In this market, you are simply betting on the first goal scorer in the match. Usually, if an own goal is scored first, then the bet is rolled over to the next goal. Odds are usually pretty appetizing in this market, even when backing a favourite. A similar bet, but one that provides slightly less value, is the anytime goal scorer market, which is simply betting on a player to score at any point during the 90 minutes.

Double Chance: This gives you two bites of the metaphorical cherry. Let’s say you think there is a good chance that an underdog will come away from a game against a heavy favourite with a result, whether that be a victory or a draw. You can back both of these outcomes in the Double Chance market. The dangling carrot when it comes to placing this bet is that despite the loss in value from backing two outcomes in an event that has three potential results, you are still often left with a bet of decent potential returns.

Same-game accumulators: Another way for punters to enhance the match-watching experience is to combine several bets in the same match into one easy to follow accumulator. An example of this would be to combine bets in the Match Result, First goalscorer and Overs/Unders football betting markets. A combination of these bets can easily take an accumulator to upwards of 30/1 (providing on the selections, of course) and the end product is a great bet for those of you who are thinking of betting on football with friends.

Both teams to score: This is another common bet to place when putting together an accumulator bet. Here, you are simply betting on both sides to score a goal during the course of the 90 minutes (you can also bet that neither or one of the teams fail to find the back of the net). The run of the mill odds for this tend to be something in the region of between 4/5 (1.8) to 1/2 (1.5) which don’t look hugely appetizing if you were looking for a big single bet, but the odds can quickly multiply when you put together a handful of selections. If you’re looking for a simple, fun way to have an accumulator on a Saturday afternoon, then a Both Teams to Score acca is usually the way to go, as it doesn’t require a huge deal of thought or research beforehand.

Handicaps and Asian handicaps: These are the slightly more advanced football betting markets for the seasoned punters, but they have great value attached to them if you are able to spot an opportunity to cash in.

Now, let’s say that you reckon Team A (yes, them again) are going to hand out a bit of a thrashing to Team B (I’m starting to feel sorry for those guys). Team A, at odds of 1/4 (1.25) represent pretty poor value, however, we are able to squeeze more value out of the bet by essentially betting on them to win, even when the other side is given a theoretical goal head start.

Using the 1/4 example, which, in the next screenshot, is Brazil for their upcoming game against Venezuela…

The handicap market for Brazil vs Venezula on bet365

As you can see, a bet on Brazil to win, despite a -2 deficit (meaning Venezuela theoretically begin the game 2-0 up) gives us a much more appealing bet of 2/1 (3.0).

You also have the Asian handicaps, which eliminates the draw from your bet. Using our Latin American example, if the game was to finish 2-2, your stake would be refunded. However, this is reflected in slightly worsened odds on the win, but it does give you a layer of protection on your bets.

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Big Tournaments for betting on football

The most popular tournaments and leagues for betting on football are in Western Europe, predominantly in:

  • England

  • Spain

  • Italy

  • Germany

  • France

All of these countries have a multi-tier league system with promotion and relegation, so you are never short of football in any of these countries.

For the elite football teams, you have continental football competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League. The games in these tournaments take place from Tuesday to Thursday, serving to establish a near full seven-day schedule of football during peak season.

Aside from club competitions, we also have a range of international tournaments for punters to bet on. The most obvious example would be the World Cup, which takes place every four years, along with the European Championships, Copa America, the Asian Cup and the African Cup of Nations also featuring on a similar schedule.

In addition to the tournaments themselves, all participating countries have to qualify to get there, so all nations undergo an intensive qualification period, which takes place during multiple international breaks that take place intermittently throughout the year, usually in September, October, November and March, with additional qualification matches sometimes played at the end of the regular club season.

Betting on Women’s Football

The women’s game is rapidly growing, thus creating a new and exciting avenue for betting on football. The biggest clubs in England, France and Spain all have well-established professional teams, while international football is becoming increasingly popular. A lot of women’s football is played during the summer, which gives you even more reason to place a few bets while the regular men’s season is on hiatus.

Bear in mind that a traditionally big club in the men’s game doesn’t always correlate in the form of a successful female side. A quick look at the Women’s English Super League table shows the Liverpool ladies team at the bottom (at the time of writing) with just one victory all season, so make sure you do your research.

In regards to international football, the traditional big hitters are the USA, as well as the likes of Brazil, Germany and France, while the English national team can also make claim to being just as wobbly in the latter stages of tournaments as the male team (sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

High and low season when betting on football

As we touched on at the start, football enjoys a healthy, consistent calendar. Traditional football seasons in Western Europe span from early August through to around mid-May, with continental competition finals such as the Champions League often taking us to the start of June.

Looking further afield, Major League Soccer in the United States is a summer league, running from the end of February through to November, meaning that between January and November you are extremely likely to find plenty of football to cast your betting eye over.

As far as low season is concerned in regards to betting on football, one would be wise to focus the majority of their football bankroll on the English leagues in the month of December.

The football leagues in the below countries temporarily halt football for a short winter break over Christmas and New Year:

  • Germany

  • France

  • Italy

  • Spain

  • the Netherlands

  • Scotland

This break can leave us somewhat frustrated in the depth department when looking for appropriate games that meet our punting criteria.

However, when one door closes, another opens. In the English league system, football goes into complete overdrive over the Christmas period, with teams often playing every three or four days as the season begins to really intensify. This gives us plenty of opportunity to cash in over the festive period, but it can also organically become a downtime in your betting schedule.

While there are summer league in countries such as the USA, elite football is often quiet during the summer months, when teams put their feet up after a grueling ten months. Ever other summer, however, we have international tournaments, such as the European Championships and the World Cup. Continental competitions in South America and further afield also tend to take place during this time, so although the elite club season is often out of bounds during June and July, you are never far away from some top-class action.

Betting on Football in-play: Pros and Cons

In recent years, betting on football has grown exponentially thanks to the emergence of in-play football betting. Most of the pre-match markets are available during play, and represent a great chance for opportunistic punters to take advantage of the ever-changing scene of a football match.

Time for an example…

If you are watching a football match and you notice that one particular team is dominating proceedings and are likely to win the game, then you would be wise to place a bet on it. You would be privy to greater value on the market in-play than before the match because the game has already started, therefore the dominant team has less time to make their advantage count and score a goal or two.

Unfortunately, this brings us on to a potential pitfall when betting on football in-play. Football is often a game that can turn on its head very quickly, so a team could be on top, only to fall behind against the run of play, so it’s wise to exercise caution and avoid the gung-ho approach. Limit your in-play football betting singles to a fixed percentage of your bankroll to avoid any nasty losses.

Trading on football

While a vast proportion of betting on football continues to take place on traditional bookmaker sites, the last decade has seen the rapid emergence of betting exchanges, such as Betfair and Smarkets.

Betting exchanges are where punters place bets against each other, with one party acting as the bettor, and the other playing the role of bookmaker.

A quick explanation would in a match between Fenerbahce and Kayserispor in the Turkish top flight.

Focus on the blue and pink strips of odds for the timebeing. As you can see, while there is the possibility of backing Fenerbahce to win at odds of 1.31, there is also the option to “lay” the bet, or in other words, to bet on Fenerbahce not winning the game.

fenerbahce vs kayserispor markets on betfair exchange

fenerbahce vs kayserispor lay betting on betfair exchange

When you lay a bet, you need to be able to cover the potential loss that would incur, should the selection – in this case Fenerbahce – defy your bet and go on to win the game. In the “backer’s stake” box I have placed a stake of £10, meaning I require £3.50 worth of funds to be able to pay out up to £10 of successful bets from other punters on Fenerbahce to win the game. If I am successful and Fener fail to win, then I make £10 of profit from the losing bets on the other side.

As you can appreciate, the betting exchange prices are heavily influenced by the amount of money flowing through them. Using the previous example, if there are a wave of bets coming in for Fenerbahce to win, then naturally their price will start to get lower and lower.

However, we are able to take advantage of these scenarios if we are able to spot value. Let’s take an ante-post market for the winner of the Premier League title. You backed Liverpool on the Betfair Exchange at odds of 3/1, and following a great start to the season; they are now even-money favourites to take the crown.

Using exchanges, we are able to “trade out” our bet to guarantee a large proportion of the profit right away, rather than waiting for the league to complete, which could take months, depending on when you decide to trade out.

The technicalities of this involve the exchange automatically placing a bet to the stake of your choosing (depending on how much profit you want to secure) on the opposite bet you originally placed, in order to lock in profit, regardless of the outcome. However, this variation of betting on football should be reserved for when you have gotten to grips with the betting arena, whilst also ensuring you are fully at ease with the ins and outs of the betting exchanges, because, believe me, they can often be volatile and unforgiving places for newbies.

Accumulator betting on football

Finding value when betting on football can often be tricky, so a way in which you can work around that is by combining single selections to create an accumulator. An acca is arguably the most common route to entry for your average Joe to step into the betting world and hope to make a pretty penny.

When backing a favourite, you are more than likely to come across odds that are way below even-money. For example, don’t be too surprised to see the likes of Liverpool being priced as low as 1/15 for a home tie against inferior opposition in the Premier League. Now, while we wouldn’t recommend you placing a bet on Liverpool at 1/15 in almost any scenario, you are able to give yourself more value with this bet by placing it alongside other bets in the football markets to give you a bet that relies on all selections within the bet winning.

Let’s go for an example from a list of upcoming international football fixtures…

Betting accumulator example on bet365

As you can see, none of the odds in this list are hugely appealing to somebody who has jumped onto a bookmaker site with a tenner in their account. However, by combining multiple similar selections into one bet, we are left with a four-fold accumulator that would return £54.17 if all selections were successful.

In order to extract £44 worth of profit from any one of the teams in this accumulator, you would require a much greater initial outlay, which could put off the casual bettor, but by combining what look like relatively safe selections, we give ourselves a great chance of boosting our bankroll, at a relatively modest cost.

The obvious caveat is that as you increase the amount of selections on your accumulator, the probability of a team letting you down gradually increases, so make sure you are researching each leg of your accumulator to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance of winning.

Find out more about the ins and outs of accumulator betting here.

10 Golden Rules to Follow When Betting on Football

We end the guide to betting on football with our ten commandments for all new punters to abide by when making their first steps into the market. These are a combination of technical, emotional and analytical tidbits that should set you on the right path to a bulging betting bankroll.

1) Don’t bet on the team you support: Now, this is an absolute cardinal sin in the world of betting on football, and is a classic example of emotional betting, which is something that we stress that you try to avoid as much as possible. Subconsciously, in the vast majority of games, your bias towards your favourite team will shine through, and you are often left with the prospect of placing a bet that is uninformed and fuelled by hope rather than expectation. As a rule of thumb, completely separate your team from your betting activity. Not only will it potentially save you a lot of money, but it also ensures that you don’t feel any grinding resentment towards your beloved club, should they let you down.

2) Shop around for the best odds: It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and to bet in the same familiar place that you always have. Here at we have made it easier than ever for you to cross-reference odds between tonnes of different bookmakers, ensuring you have the best possible odds for your selections. These differences can often seem small and insignificant, but when you are placing hundreds of bets over the course of the year, these additional bits of profit can make a huge difference to your balance sheet when your end-of-season review comes around.

3) Be the bookie: This is a fail-safe way of helping you identify matches and bets that offer greater value. Let’s take the next set of Premier League fixtures as an example. You may think that Burnley should be odds of around 4/5 (1.8) to win their home game against Bournemouth. However, when you compare this with the actual odds on the bookmaker site, you notice that their odds are actually 6/4 (2.5), which represents quite a substantial swing between your theoretical odds and the prices of the bookie. Experiment with this method and see if you are able to extract the hidden value from the huge selection of matches on offer on an given weekend.

4) Do your homework: Because football is such a global game, there is quite literally tonnes of content out there for you to build up your bank of knowledge ahead of matches. You may feel indifferent about following a tipster because you want to bet on your opinion, but there’s no harm at all in taking tipsters’ theories and reasonings into account when putting together your selections. A lot of these guys do the hard work for you – they study the form, injuries and other playing conditions that go a long way to determining the final result, so use these guys to keep yourself in the know before you place your bets.

5) Track your bets: This one may seem obvious, but still, in the year 2020, the majority of punters do NOT track their betting history. What does this mean? Well, first and foremost it is almost impossible to keep track of the markets that deliver the greatest return on your investment, and the issue of bankroll management also comes into play. How can you keep track of your cash if you don’t know where it is funneling? Even if it is just a simple Excel spreadsheet, make sure you are keeping your own personal log.

6) Not-so Friendlies: International breaks are often looked at with dismay by punters, because the value is generally poorer than in club games due to the often-large quality disparity between the two sides, but also because international friendlies cause us huge betting headaches in the games themselves. Why is that? The main problem with friendly (games that are not competitive league or cup games where points/cups are being played for) matches is they tend to lack intensity. There is less motivation for either side to go the extra mile to win the game, and managers often use friendly games to experiment with different systems and personnel, which can often lead to sketchiness in regards to quality on the pitch. All of these factors combine to create a betting minefield, so stay well away from these games.

7) Motivational talk: Often at the “business end” of the season you are given match ups that feature a side with nothing to play for (because they are in the middle of the table with no prospect of finishing in the top positions) and a team with a lot to play for (championships, promotion, and survival.) To ensure you aren’t stung by this potential pitfall, keep an eye on league tables, as well as keeping yourself in the loop with ever-changing situations in those divisions. This can also help you determine hidden value in games, as a team fighting for relegation is much more likely to do that little bit extra to win on the last game of the season against a side sitting comfortably in mid-table and thinking about their summer holiday on the beach.

8) Check home and away tables: The overall league standings give you the big picture, but the devil is in the detail when it comes to betting on football. Even data as mundane as home and away tables can tell a huge story about a team’s chances ahead of an upcoming game.

Premier League standings

The screenshot here shows the home and away standings in English football’s second tier, most commonly known as The Championship. Let’s take the example of Derby County. In the overall standings they sit 12th, but take a look at where they are placed in the two tables. In matches played in their home stadium they are ranked second, but in the away table they are hovering just above the relegation zone. Just using this easily accessible piece of data gives us a huge edge in deciphering how Derby County are going to perform in their upcoming matches.

9) Head-to-head history: It can often be discounted, but sometimes a look at the recent head-to-head history between two clubs can give us a bit of insight into how teams perform against the contrasting style of their opponent. Perhaps a team that plays patient possession football struggles against a more direct, aggressive opponent, and this can be reflected in the results of previous games over the past couple of seasons. Spend some time researching the playing styles of the teams in the leagues you want to focus on, and then combine this knowledge with head-to-head records to give a glimpse of how well you can expect sides to perform against varying types of opponent.

10) Have fun: Advancements in technology and market availability has made betting on football so incredibly accessible, and above all, fun. Take your time in getting to know the various markets, and using the tracking software , find the bets that work for you. When experimenting with new markets, limit your stakes to 1-2% of your bankroll, and see which markets deliver the bets combination of returns and overall enjoyment. In my personal experience, I love betting on the corners and cards markets as you are always in with a chance of winning your bet for the whole 90 minutes, while some other bets can be dead in the water within ten minutes of them starting. This can be down to an early game-changing event, such as a red card or an injury, so always bear those potential hazards in mind before betting on football, and good luck!


Janne Kouva

Esports Specialist


Janne has over 10 years of experience with sports betting, especially esports and football. A life long passion for CS:GO and Dota 2, and all things football makes his ultimate goal to share knowledge with other betting enthusiasts through written content.
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