Increasingly, sports betting is emerging as a lifestyle choice in the UK. This is thanks largely to the growing influence of Millennial gamblers, who are motivated by experiences rather than simply the accumulation of cash and prizes.
Make no mistake; punters are increasingly inclined to wager as a way of enhancing the typical sports viewing experience, particularly in relation to disciplines such as horse racing, boxing and football. In fact, a staggering 97.4% of horse racing fans also bet on the sport, while 86.4% and 76.1% wager on boxing and football respectively.
As any seasoned sports bettor will testify, however, there’s a huge number of wagers available across an array of markets. While it can be hard to keep track of these, choosing the right type of bet is crucial if you’re to realise the value of specific odds and achieve the best possible return.
So, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular sports betting wagers and why they’re so widely used:
We’ll start with the simplest and most popular wager on the market, which is commonly referred to as the win bet.
It may also be referred to as the moneyline wager in the U.S., but regardless it requires punters to back an individual or team that they think will win a specific match, race or competition.
This is also considered to be the most traditional iteration of sports betting, and one that can be applied to almost every single athletic discipline imaginable.
Take football, for example, and the upcoming clash between Premier League leaders Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield. Those interested in placing a win bet simply need to select which of these two sides will prevail, before appraising the odds to determine the potential return on their stake.
In this instance, Liverpool are odds-on favourites at 2/9, so backing the reds to win with a stake of £10 will deliver a return scarcely over £2. In contrast, the Foxes are priced at 14/1 to win by some bookies, meaning that a single £10 stake will deliver a £140 return if successful.
Clearly, the odds and the probability of your selection have a dramatic impact on your return, but this should not distract from the simplicity of a win bet. Ultimately, you need to analyse your bet selections in order to prioritise value, so that you can realise the benefits of a win bet wherever this is applicable.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at a closer game between Brighton and Watford. These teams will do battle at the weekend, with the Seagulls priced at 13/8 and the Hornets backable at around 8/5.
Clearly, the bookies are expecting a close game, with each set of odds offering reasonable returns in a two-team contest.
However, we’d argue that Brighton’s home form makes them the favourites here, so a win bet on the Seagulls with a stake of £10 could see you bank in excess of £15.
OK, we hear you ask, what if I really want to back Liverpool to beat Leicester but would like to improve the available odds?
There could be multiple reasons for this, but whether you’re a Red’s fan or simply to leverage the high probability of a home win to your advantage, you could use handicap betting to help you achieve your goal.
Handicap betting is used in many parts of the world, while it’s particularly popular in sports such as football. It works by awarding or deducting goals (or points) to selected participants specifically for the purpose of sports betting, although its purpose is often misunderstood by punters.
While some believe that the purpose of handicap betting is to make both participants equal favourites, it’s actually designed to present different options and create value in matches where there’s perceived to be a big difference between the sides.
As a result, handicap betting creates a scenario where you can dramatically improve the odds on offer while only marginally impacting on your chances of winning.
For example, let’s say that you apply a -2 handicap to Liverpool before their match with Leicester. In this instance, the Reds would need to win by three clear goals to ensure that your bet was successful, with this outcome offering far more favourable odds and a considerably higher return.
Similarly, you could apply a -1 handicap to the Reds, as while this will only improve the odds incrementally the outcome of a two-goal Liverpool win is a little higher.
The principle here is clear, as is the purpose of sports betting and its ability to introduce value to the significant number of mismatches that take place each year in the Premier League and similar sporting competitions throughout the world.
As a result, handicap betting not only improves your potential returns on individual wagers, but it also enables you to bet on a wider range of games and contests during the year.
Arguably, the accumulator (or parlay) bet has become one of the most popular types of wager in the UK, particularly in sports like football and horse racing.
Also known as multiples, accumulator bets involve more than one betting selections as part of a single wager, with punters required to get everyone correct if they’re to achieve a return.
So, rather than backing five football teams to win on the same weekend with individual bets, you’d combine them as part of an accumulator in the hope of increasing your potential returns considerably.
This is definitely a wager that suits bettors with an appetite for risk, as while the chances of winning are often slim (depending on the number of selections included in the accumulator), the potential returns are huge.
In the UK, accumulator bets are calculated using a relatively simple formula. This contrasts sharply with the American gambling market, where payouts are usually fixed and determined in accordance with the number of selections made.
In this respect, the British methodology delivers far better value and potentially higher returns. To understand this further, let’s say that you create a three-team accumulator where there are two ‘evens’ selections and one priced at 6/4.
If we break these odds down into decimals (which makes it easier to calculate your return), you’ll see that your selections are priced at 2.5 (6/4) and 2.0 (evens). You then multiply these values together to determine the accumulator odds, which in this instance would be 10.0 or 9/1.
If you bet £5 on this accumulator and it comes in, you’ll receive a £45 return plus your additional £5 stake. If you compare this to the potential returns available when spreading this stake across these three individual selections, it’s apparent that you’ll improve the risk and reward scenario significantly as a punter.
Of course, the key with accumulators is to prioritise relatively mismatched contests with short odds, as these can be multiplied to increase the price on offer. This is particularly true in the case of five and six-game accumulators, where it’s possible to chase lavish returns while also retaining a high probability of success.
The Last Word
These three types of wager just so happen to be amongst the most popular, and the most interesting in terms of potential returns and the value on offer.
However, there are many more iterations of sports bet available in the current market, and understanding these will help you to make the most of your experience as a punter!