How to Bet on Tennis
Tennis Betting - What You Need to Know
- If you're new to tennis betting, try sticking with players you know and only putting down a very small amount to start with.
- Odds are usually expressed as fractions, though sometimes a player's odds might be given in decimals or even in the American system. Always change the system to the one you are most comfortable using.
- If you're serious about betting, you should always do your own research: don't rely on the bookmakers' form guides alone
- Betting on the number of sets or the number of games in a set can be an attractive option if the two players are either very evenly-matched or very unevenly-matched.
- Doubles, trebles and accumulators are excellent ways of boosting your returns. The more bets you place the higher your potential returns, though the more risk you expose yourself.
- You should play online, hence cashing out on a bet can be a good way of cutting your losses or, if things are going your way, easing your worries and making at least a little profit!
- Remember, you should only bet what you can afford to lose and you should always bet on the assumption the bookie will eventually beat you.
Betting on Tennis
Whether you're a fan who just wants to make the big matches that little bit more interesting or a serious sports gambler keen to take advantage of the complexities of the game, tennis can offer rich gambling pickings.
Like most sports betting, betting on tennis can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Plus, you can expose yourself to a high level of risk or play it (relatively) safe. Either way, you need to know what you're doing if you're going to stand a chance of taking money off the bookies. Here are some of the key things you need to know:
Working out the Odds
The odds (also known as the price) indicate how the bookmakers think an event will happen. The odds also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. On most sports betting sites, the odds will be expressed as fractions. Or they could be expressed as decimal points or even in the American style. In all cases, however, you should be able to change the settings to suit you.
Here's what each of these mean:
1) Fractional Odds
On UK-based sports betting sites, the default setting for displaying the odds will be as fractions. Odds displayed this way show you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. The first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.
So, if the odds for Player A beating Player B are 2/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £2 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this).
This works on a ratio basis. So, if you place £10 at odds of 2/1, you will receive £20 in winnings. Or, if you place £7 at odds of 2/1, your winnings will be £14, plus your initial stake.
Sometimes you will see that the second number of the fraction is larger than the first. This is an 'odds on' bet and signifies that the bookies believe that the chances of a particular prediction coming true are greater than 50/50. The principle remains the same, however: the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction
For example, if you put £2 down on odds of 1/2, your winnings will be £1. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £60 at the same odds, you will win £30, plus your initial stake.
2) Decimal Odds
Given most people are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry, this system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.
The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned stake.
So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.
A Further Note About Odds
Some online bookmakers will also display odds in the 'American' style. While some US sports betting fans prefer this system, to avoid any unnecessary confusion, you should switch the odds to either the fractional or decimal system.
If you're still confused about the odds on offer, then click on the bet you want to make and type in the amount you want to bet. With most online bookmakers, you will then be shown how much your stake will return and, using this information, you can decide whether or not you want to go ahead with the bet.
Where to Bet
The best way of betting on tennis is to sign up for online betting. A number of online firms allow you to bet on tennis, and not just on the major tournaments. Most will offer odds on nearly all ranking tournaments, usually offering a wide variety of bets and letting you bet while the action is taking place. Check out our top 10 Sports Betting Sites and get some introductory free money to start betting with.
* Betting Shop
If you don't want to bet online, then you will easily be able to find a high street betting shop taking bets on the tennis. Unless it's for major events such as Wimbledon, you may need to ask for the latest odds.
In many cases, a betting shop will offer a lot fewer options than an online sports betting provider. You may only be able to place a bet on the final outcome of a match or on the eventual winner of a tournament. So, if you want to bet while a game is in-play, it's best to go online and open up an account.
Different Types of Bet
To explore the different types of bets available for a single tennis match, let's pretend Andy Murray is playing Roger Federer in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. For this example, we will use fractional odds, since these are the most common.
1) Match Winner
This is by far the most common type of bet placed on a tennis match. Here, you simply bet on one player beating another, regardless of the margin of victory.
Both players are among the best in the world, so there will never be much to choose between them. However, in front of a home crowd and being quite a bit younger than Federer, Murray is the bookmakers' favourite.
So, let's say, the odds are: Murray 2/5; Federer 3/1.
If you then place a £10 bet on Murray and he does indeed win the match, you will win £14, including your initial stake. If Murray loses, then you lose your £10.
Similarly, if you bet £10 on Federer to win at these odds and he goes on to beat Murray, you will win £40, including your initial stake. It really is that straightforward.
Below is a screenshot from a well-known online betting company. Here you can see the odds on offer for each player to win the match, displayed in the fractional form.
A note about Match Winner bets
Before you place a Match Winner bet, you need to check the bookmaker's rules. While some bookies will pay out on a Match Winner bet if the match is not completed (for example, if Murray goes off injured) others will void all bets if the match is not completed in full. At the same time, some bookies will pay out if player retires so long as one whole set has been completed and others still will pay out so long as one ball was hit in the match. So, it's worth doing your homework before you put down any money.
2) Set Betting
In matches between evenly-matched players, the returns on offer for Match Winner bets can be quite low. A good way of boosting your profits is to put some money down on the Set Betting markets. This will let you not only pick the winner but bet on the exact outcome of the match in sets.
Going back to the Murray versus Federer example, then, a bookmaker may offer the following odds:
Murray to win 3-0: 4/1
Murray to win 3-2: 9/4
Federer to win 3-0: 5/1
Doing your research is a good way of increasing your chances of beating the bookie. Look at a player's past form. Do they have a habit of taking matches to the wire, often needing to win a deciding set? Or do they tend to dominate weaker opponents and cruise to straight-sets victories?
For even better odds, you may be able to bet on a player winning the first set but losing the match or on a player needing a tie-break to take a set.
Below is an example of set betting markets. Here, you are given the choice of betting on two relatively-unknown players and putting your money on whether one will win in straight sets or will need a deciding set.
3) Match Totals
Another way of enjoying better returns than you would expect to get through a simple Match Winner bet is to bet on the Match Totals markets. Here you can bet on the number of games or sets you expect to be played or, in the case of major tournaments, you may even be able to bet on the number of double faults the players make or the number of aces they serve. This type of bet can often allow you to make money from a game regardless of who wins.
So, let's imagine you want to bet on the total number of games Murray and Federer will play in their Wimbledon semi-final. Here, the bookies will give you a simple under/over choice. So, you might see the following odds offered:
Under 32.5 games: 11/12
Over 32.5 games: 4/5
If then Murray goes on to win the match 6-4, 7-6, 1-6, 6-2, that would mean the match lasted 38 games. So, if you put money on there being more than 32.5 games, you will win at the stated odds. If your money was on fewer games being played, however, you will lose.
Generally speaking, Match Totals are offered for games played. Again, however, you may sometimes be able to bet on the number of sets played in a match, as well as on other totals, such as aces and double-faults. Betting on the number of games that will be played in a set is also common, and can be an attractive bet if two players are very evenly-matched or if one if clearly much better than the other.
Again, below you can see an example from a bookie offering odds on the total number of games that will be played in a set, giving you the option to go over or under a total. From these figures, we can assume that the bookmakers predict the set will be close, perhaps around 10 games long:
4) 'Point Winner'
Most online bookmakers offer in-play betting. This means, rather than simply putting down your money at the start and then sitting back and waiting, you can place bets as the action unfolds. In some cases, you may even be able to watch a live stream of the action, allowing you to get a feel for how the match will unfold.
In some games, you will be able to put money on the winner of the next point. So, if Murray and Federer are all-square at 15-15 in the eighth game of the first set, you may be offered the following bet:
Point Winner – Point 3, Game 8
Murray 4/7 Federer 5/4
Note, however, that such bets will only be available for a very small amount of time, so you will have to make a snap decision on who you think will win the next point. If one player clearly has the ascendancy, this type of bet can be an easy way to make money (though if this is the case, the odds will be very small). If it is genuinely neck-and-neck, however, this is effectively a 50/50 gamble.
5) 'Race To'
With a 'Race To' bet, you simply bet on which player you think will get to a certain score first. For instance, if you feel Murray always gets off to good starts only to tire, you may away to back him to get to have two games in the first set before Federer does. Again, these bets are usually offered in-play, with odds fluctuating almost constantly.
Below is an example of 'race to' markets. Here, in a game between two women players, you are given the choice of putting money on which will be first to win 2, 3, 4 or 5 games.
6) 'Tournament Winner'
As well as betting on the outcome of individual matches, most bookmakers will also allow you to put money on the player you think will win the whole competition. While major tournaments such as Wimbledon, the US Open and the French Open will always get the most attention, most online bookmakers take bets on smaller competitions, including all WTA and ATP ranking tournaments.
Just like with horseracing, you will be able to back your played 'each way'. This means that you can bet on a player to either win or to finish as runner-up, though your return will be lower if they come second. If they come third, you will lose your stake completely.
As a rule, with 'each way' bets, the odds are half what they are for outright winner bets. So, for our fictional Wimbledon, the bookies might offer you odds of 6/1 for Murray to win the tournament outright or offer you an 'each way' bet at 3/1.
Once again, tennis is often not the best sport to bet on if you want to win big. The best players often come with the shortest odds, and while there may be long shots out there, you will be counting on shock results if you make any money from them.
One great way of boosting your winnings is to look beyond one match and place a double, treble or even an accumulator bet.
So, remember, the bookmaker offered you odds of 2/5 for Murray to win his Wimbledon match against Federer. This means, if you placed £10 down, you would walk away with £14.
If, however, you backed Murray and another player to win, the odds will be longer. Plus, if you back Murray and two more players to win, they will be longer still. Theoretically, there is no limit on the number of bets you can place in your accumulator and the players don't even have to be competing in the same tournament. However, since you only result to go against you to lose, the larger the accumulator, the bigger the risk.
If you're betting in-play, then you will often be given the chance to 'cash out' on your bet. This means that the bookmaker will make you an offer to cancel your bet.
For instance, if you were backing Murray at 2/5 with £10 and expected £14 back, but the player lost the first set, you may be offered the chance to 'cash out' at £8.50. This way, if you feel that the match is unlikely to go your way, you can cut your losses and run, though you will lose out if Murray does recover and fight back.
Similarly, if your bet is looking good, you may be offered the chance to cash out for more than your original stake. So, if Murray is looking good, having won the first two sets, then you may be offered the chance to cash out at £12. Here, you need to decide whether you should take the offer or hold your nerve and trust your original instinct.
Making a Good Decision
Unless you have money to burn and just fancy a fun flutter on your favourite player to add a little excitement to a match, you will want to do at least a little research.
Above all, before you put down any money, it's a good idea to have at least a little knowledge of the players and their form going into the match. Most betting sites will give you a list of each player's past few matches, plus they may even give details of past head-to-heads between them.
However, if you're serious about betting to make money, this is just a fraction of the information you will need to make an informed bet. If you haven't seen a player in action, then you need to have a good appreciation of their playing style, as well as any mitigating factors. Does a player perform badly on a particular surface, for example? Do they struggle to win against h2 servers? All of this knowledge can help you see if a bookmaker is missing a trick and offering too-favourable odds. Doing your homework can also help you avoid making any rash calls and losing your money.
A good way of checking on form is to check out the player profile pages on the ATP (http://www.atpworldtour.com/), WTA (http://www.wtatennis.com/) and ITF (http://www.itftennis.com/procircuit/home.aspx)websites.
While it may be more predictable than other sports, there's no such thing as a certainty in tennis. Given this, you should always bet on the assumption that you will lose, and certainly you should never bet any money you can't afford to lose.
Betting on sports can also be potentially addictive, so you should always bet responsibly and never be tempted to try and make up for any losses with a swift bet or bet under the influence of alcohol. Uninformed, rash decisions are often the wrong ones, so approach every bet with sound judgement.
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- To keep up-to-speed with all the latest tennis news, including top-level results, follow the ATP World Tour: http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/News-Landing.aspx
- The website Tennis.com is also a great place to read about the latest developments in the professional game: http://www.tennis.com/
- The main UK tennis event every year in June is of course Wimbledon, every year it brings excitement and joy to millions of us.
- Want to learn the rules of tennis then check out guide on this.
- Keep on top of all things tennis with our pick of the best 10 tennis websites on the net.
- If you liked this guide and also fancy knowing how to bet on horses then see our guide on that see what different types of bets there are.