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How to Bet on Football for Beginners

How to Bet on Football for Beginners

It’s thought that sports betting accounts for around 37.1% of the online GGY in the UK, and there’s no doubt that football wagering is a key driver of this.

According to stats produced by the Gambling Commission, football betting was worth in excess of £1.4 billion to the industry in 2017, while this number is continuing to increase incrementally with every passing year.

At the heart of this is the increasingly social nature of sports betting, with more than 75% of football fans now placing wagers in order to enhance their enjoyment of specific games. However, football betting can be extremely challenging if you want to achieve a profit and beat the bookies, so we’ve prepared a brief guide to help get you started!

Understand the Lingo


Whenever you first visit a gambling operator online, you may well find yourself overwhelmed by the terms used to describe different types of wager, market and individual betting elements.

We’ve listed some of these below, while addressing why they’re important and the role that they play in your sports betting experience.

  • Bankroll: The term ‘bankroll’ is used to describe the amount of money that you have to wager with, and it’s usually influenced by numerous factors. These include your appetite for risk and the amount of cash that you can afford to lose during a predetermined period of time, along with the range of markets that you’re active in.
  • Stake: Quite simply, this is the amount of money that you wager on each individual bet, while it determines your total loss in the event of selecting the wrong betting outcome.
  • Betting: In-play betting is the fastest growing betting medium in the UK, and one that enables punters to place wagers after events have started. In-play betting is home to numerous markets, while it also helps you to react to events as they happen in a bid to make a profit.
  • Banker: A ‘banker’ essentially refers to a bet selection that has a high probability of being successful, and it’s usually recommended by an onsite tipster. These recommendations can help to inform your bet selections and identify wagers that offer genuine value.
  • Half-time and Full-time Wagers: This type of bet is split into two separate parts, which require you to predict the winner of the first-half and then the entire game. This enables you to forecast alternative outcomes at different stages of the match, improving your range of options and the odds on offer in the process.
  • Scorecast and Wincast Wagers: This is a similar type of bet, and one where you back a particular player to score the first goal and predict the correct score. With a Wincast wager, you also back a single player to score before selecting who you think will win the match.
  • DNB: This term stands for ‘Draw No Bet’, which essentially means that if a match ends in a draw you’ll receive your initial stake back. While this can minimise the risk of loss, it also shortens the odds and reduces your potential returns.

Identify the Different Types of Bet

Once you’ve begun to understand the terminology that will shape your football betting experience, you can start to comprehend the different types of wager that are available to you.

This is extremely important, as it will ensure that make the most of the odds on offer and achieve the highest possible returns.

So, here’s a breakdown of four of the most popular bets and an insight into how they work:

  • The Win Bet: This is the simplest and most popular wager available to punters, as it requires bettors to speculate on the winner of a specific game or competition. In football betting terms, this usually means backing one of two potential outcomes in a single match (excluding the draw), with your stake and the available odds determining your potential returns. It’s also important that you make an informed rather than an emotional selection, and we’ll cover this in a little more detail below.
  • The Single Bet: Similarly, a single bet is a straightforward wager on a single game or event. The only difference from the win bet is that you can back a wider range of outcomes with this type of wager, including the draw. With a single wager, you can also explore more diverse markets like correct score betting and the exact winning margin, which in turn helps you to improve the odds provided by bookmakers.
  • The Accumulator Bet: Next up is the popular accumulator bet, which is essentially a series of single wagers grouped together. In the UK market, operators will calculate the final price by translating fractional odds into decimals and multiplying these by one another. In the case of five or six game accumulators, this method can increase the available odds considerably, and while this will enhance your potential return in relation to your stake you’ll also need all bets to come in to be successful.
  • The Handicap Bet: In the case of handicap betting, you’ll have the opportunity to afford one selection a virtual deficit (in this instance goals) to overcome from the start of the match. This type of wager is typically applied to matches where there’s a clear and demonstrable favourite, in order to improve the odds on offer without overly compromising your chances of winning. Just remember, if you apply a handicap of a single goal to the favourites they’ll need to win by two clear goals for the bet to come in.

While these are among the most popular and commonplace wagers, there’s a host of other football betting markets for you to explore as a punter. So, keep an open mind from the outset and try to leverage these markets to help improve your returns!

Best Football Betting Practice and Tips

At this stage, you should have a clear understanding of the broader football betting market and the most commonplace wagers.

While this creates a solid foundation for you to place successful wagers, however, it means little unless you can make informed betting selections and identify the value in specific odds. Here are some steps to help you achieve this:

  1. Analyse your Bets and Avoid Emotional Wagers

Football is renowned for its tribal nature and partisan support, and it’s only natural that fans should look to back their favourite team when betting.

This can be counterproductive if you’re serious about making money from sports betting, however, as your selections are based on blind faith and often fail to take the odds and their value proposition into consideration.

This is a type of emotional wagering, and in some respects it’s similar to chasing losses by increasing your betting stake irrespective of the odds on offer and the probability of winning.

It’s crucial that you avoid this type of mindset, and instead focus on analysing each selection in detail and considering each bet on its own individual merits.

This should involve studying the form and the impact of home advantage, as well as reviewing the information and team news provided by trusted local journalists and pundits.

  1. Understand the Importance of Odds

We’ve spoken at length about the odds associated with your betting selection, and it’s crucial that you consider these and determine whether or not they offer tangible value.

After all, backing an odds-on favourite with a £5 stake at 1/10 may optimise your chances of winning, but it’s not a sure thing and will only deliver a £0.50 return if it does come in.

Ultimately, you need to remember that bookmakers provide odds that have been slightly manipulated to offset their potential losses, meaning that they don’t always offer value or reflect the true probability of a particular outcome.

This is where detailed analysis can come into play, as this helps you to identify the value in specific odds and make more informed selections.

Handicap betting and niche wagering markets can also come into play here, as these can be leveraged to improve the odds of a particular selection and tip the value proposition in your favour.

  1. Set a Bankroll and Never Exceed This

We mentioned the importance of your bankroll earlier, and this arguably underpins any successful football betting strategy.

The reason for this is simple; as a defined and well-managed bankroll helps you to spread your capital across multiple wagers and adjust your stake to match the value proposition of each individual bet.

Additionally, setting a bankroll ensures that you never wager more than you can afford to lose, while you can alter this on a monthly basis to suit fluctuations in your earnings or outgoings.

On a final note, we’d recommend establishing a standard betting unit that’s as low as possible as part of your bankroll. While you can alter this when backing teams at shorter odds, a minimal betting unit helps you to make the most of your bankroll over time.

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