How to Bet on Football
Step by Step Points on Football Betting
- If you don’t have much experience please read all of our football betting guide in full. It explains how the most popular types of wager work and gives you all the information you need to place your first bet.
- Decide which bookmaker you want to open an account with. There are always introductory offers to check out and we have our own top ten list of UK Betting Sites where you can find them.
- There a mix of traditional bookmaker’s online and purely online bookmakers. For example William Hill and Ladbrokes have betting shops on the high street whist 888.com don’t.
- The most popular games to bet on are those being shown live on TV. This way you can follow the action and, in some cases, cash out a winning bet before the game's finished.
- You need to be over 18 to open and operate an online gambling account and you must have a bank account.
- Football is, by it's very nature, unpredictable. There is never such thing as certain bet. Always budget for a loss.
- See the below “Further Reading” section for gambleaware and Responsible Gambling Trust website links.
- The football pools were the traditional way to bet on football matches. We have a separate guide on the subject if you want to know more.
Seven of the Most Popular Bets on Football Matches
The beautiful game is even more eye catching when you have money riding on the outcome. Unsurprisingly, with football being the world’s most popular sport, there are a huge variety of ways you can go about laying down a stake. In this guide we’ll talk you through the various different bets you can make and how they work.
This is a straightforward bet. You can back one of the two competing teams to win, or you can bet that it’ll be a draw. These are sometimes referred to as ‘WLD’ bets, which stands for ‘win, lose, draw’.
Draw No Bet
This is the same as a full time result bet, the only real difference being that in the result of a draw the bet is effectively cancelled and you get your stake back. This means you only need to choose from two outcomes, making it easier to get a win. As a result, the odds offered will be shorter.
Again, this kind of bet entails predicting the outcome of the game, however, rather than simply wagering whether a team will win, lose or draw, you actually have to name the correct full time score. With a ‘WLD’ bet there only three possible outcomes, but with a correct score bet there are a huge variety of possibilities. This means you’ll get much longer odds. That said, correct score bets do have a reputation for poor value as the odds offered by bookies are sometimes a fair way off the ‘true’ odds of a particular score.
This is like making two ‘WLD’ bets on the same match, one predicting how things will stand at halftime and one concerning the end of play. You have to get both right in order to be successful, so rather than betting on one of three outcomes as you would with a full time result bet, you are betting on one of nine outcomes. This is reflected in the odds you’ll be offered.
You could think of this kind of bet like a sort of mini-accumulator. If you don’t know what an accumulator is read on…
Thanks to their long odds, this type of bet can bring big rewards. As you’d expect, they’re difficult to get right. You need to accurately predict the result of not just one match, but a whole number of matches. If your accumulator is laid down on eight matches, even if you get seven right, you still lose. Only perfection is good enough.
Some frequent betters like to steer clear of accumulators, seeing them as simply too difficult to be worth their time. However, it should be remembered that, depending on what other bets you might have intended to place, and how sure you are of your hunches, an accumulator could offer you considerably better value.
To give a basic example, if you wanted to bet on two different matches and in both you were backing your preferred team to win at 1/1 with a £10 stake each, if both won, including the stake you’d get back, you’d get £40 (£20 if you only count the winnings on top of your original stake.)
If you bet on both teams to win as an accumulator you could put down a combined stake of £20 and you’ll be offered much longer odds. (To figure out the odds of both events happening you need to multiply them together. 1/1 is equal to 0.5 and 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25. Expressed as fractional odds this would be 3/1.)
If you put down £20 at 3/1 you’d get back £80 (£60 if you don’t include the stake). As you can see, placing the same amount of money on the same set of results has brought a higher reward, and this is just with high probabilities in a small chain. If you have longer shots and more links in the chain the effect is greatly exaggerated, (but bear in mind bookies will offer less than the ‘true’ odds).
Obviously, the downside is that it’s all or nothing. With individual bets, if you get some right and some wrong you could still make a profit. With an accumulator if you lose, you lose.
First Goals Scorer
As the name suggests, you simply wager on which player you think will score first. You need to bear in mind that own goals are normally ignored and it can pay to consider things such as who is the designated penalty taker for each side, and who is on the bench.
There is a popular ‘each way’ variation on this bet where your stake goes both toward your named player scoring first at the stated odds, but also towards your player scoring either the second or third goal for a return of about one quarter of the stated odds. So you could place a £10 pound bet where you stand to win £100 if your man scores first, but could still win £25 if they score second or third.
In Play Markets
Some bookies allow you to make various sorts of bet whilst play is under way. For example, you could watch a game up until half time, see how things are going and then make a bet on the next goal scorer on the basis of the action you’ve seen so far. Other’s let you make a bet and then cash it out before fulltime. For example, you could bet on Aston Villa to win then, if they were leading but under a lot of pressure with twenty minutes to go, you could cash it out and avoid disappointment if they got pegged back and end up drawing the match.
Games on TV
There are now more live games than ever on your pay for TV services, with 116 premiership matches on Sky and 38 on BT Sport before the Champions League, Capital Cup and the FA Cup are counted. So, sitting at home watching the action, having a live bet and being able to cash out at any time is now easier than ever before. If you're a fan of the European leagues, BT and Sky also have games from Spain, Italy and Germany on their sports channels regularly.
If you have an iPad or another tablet device then you can download an app from of our top betting sites, sit at home, watch the match on TV and see if you're bet is going to come in.
Football the Beautiful, Unpredictable Game
These days we have a lot more freedom when it comes to how we gamble on our side's fortunes. Of course, with that freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely.
Remember, anything can happen and the best team don’t always win. Let’s just look at some Premiership results this season; in August Aston Villa went to Arsenal and won 3-1, Arsenal then went on to be top of the table for the rest of 2013. In December 2013 for the first time in 41 years Newcastle United beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and Hull City claimed their first ever win over Liverpool after 16 previous meetings. The point is, you can never bank on winning your bets. It's a fun way to add a bit of extra tension, but you should always budget as if you expect to lose.
- You need an online account with a bookmaker can our Top Ten Football Betting Sites so go open an account now and get some free introductory money to test the bets we have highlighted.
- For some useful links for help with any questions and addictions relating to gambling please see Gambleaware and the Responsible Gambling Trust. If you need advice they should be able to provide it.
- Keep up-to-date with the upcoming fixtures and use our live feed of premier league odds to assess the best value bets for the weekend.
- If you'd like to have fun and maybe win some money but you don't want to risk losing any, why not try your hand at fantasy football instead?