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Football Bet Types Explained
You can bet on just about anything happening in football these days.
Goals, corners, bookings, correct score, first scorer, players to score hat tricks, to be subbed, to be playing for a different club in six months time.....etc.
However, many of these markets have large profit margins built in by bookmakers making it extremely difficult to make money from them. In this article, I will try and explain some of the main ones I tend to bet on myself and advise my clients to bet on over the course of the season.
Many of you will be fully aware of how these markets work, but I have had plenty of e-mails over the course of the season asking me to explain how Asian handicaps work, what draw no bet means, etc. Even if you do think you know your stuff, the article is probably worth a read as there is bound to be something that you were not previously aware of.
The most straight forward market and the one I will generally recommend most bets from. You simply select "Home win", "Draw", or "Away win". When filling out a coupon in a betting shop you would mark "1" for a home win, "2" for a away win and "x" for a draw. Most major bookmakers have a profit margin of between 5-12% built in. The equivalent market on Betfair is available with no profit margin but you will have to pay between 2-5% commission on your winnings.
There are several different markets relating to goals that we will be interested in over the course of the season. The main goals market we will be using will be Over/Under 2.5 goals. This sometimes confuses people who are new to football betting as there is obviously no such thing as half a goal. Basically, if you back over, then you need three goals to win, if you back under, then you want no more than two goals. The profit margin on these bets, as well as most other markets with just two outcomes, is usually between 6-8%. Some bookmakers, as well as Betfair, offer over/under 1.5 goals and over/under 3.5 goals and these markets work exactly the same way. "Total goals", is another goals market which I sometimes bet on. Usually there will be three choices, 0-1, 2-3 and 4 or more. These are pretty self explanatory. This market can sometimes throw up value if the bookmaker offering the market goes too high or low on his goals quote. For example, in La Liga last year, some bookmakers were not factoring in how many goals Sevilla and Atletico Madrid were scoring in home games. This resulted in "4 or more" offering value on several occasions.
Again, pretty self explanatory. It is important to remember that this is a 90 minutes market only. If you back a team to win 1-0 in a cup game and it's 0-0 after 90 minutes then your bet has lost, even if they go on to win 1-0 in extra time. This is a market I generally avoid as the bookies enjoy a hefty profit margin. However, occasionally, correct score markets do throw up value. Last year for example, the 0-0 draw was too big in France with Paddypower for a period and therefore represented value. Unfortunately this period also coincided with the number of goals in French games suddenly spiking, and we were unable to take advantage. Many bookmakers also offer scorecast markets, in which you have to pick out the correct score and the first goalscorer. This is very difficult to do and consequently large prices are often available. However, the prices are nowhere near large enough and it is a terrible bet from a value point of view.
HALF TIME RESULT - HALF TIME / FULL TIME:
The Half time result is a market I very rarely get involved in. It's not that it represents particularly bad value, it's just that it is quite tricky to predict. Trends do emerge from time to time that might make a bet worthwhile, for example, a team that doesn't concede or score many goals might be drawing a lot of games at half time. If bookies aren't manually compiling this market, as many don't (instead preferring to use computer programs) then a small bit of value might emerge. Half time / Full time is another market I very rarely bet on. The odds are heavily in the bookies favour and prices have to be quite a way out of line to become value. The following is an example of William Hills halftime / fulltime prices from Peterborough's pre season friendly against West Ham:
Peterborough / Peterborough 15/2 (12%)
As you can see, Hills have built in a 23% profit margin to this market making it very poor value. There are occasions when value arises, such as two seasons ago when a number of Chelsea home games were resulting in Draw / Chelsea results. Another example of when value arises is when there is a big move for a team in the match odds market. Sometimes bookies can be slow to cut their half time/full time price for a team making it slight value.
FIRST / ANYTIME GOALSCORER:
Two quite different markets in terms of value. First goalscorer is generally one best avoided as the margin is again very big. Forwards are nearly always artificially short and it is difficult enough predicting which player will score in a game let alone who will score first. The introduction of each way betting with first goalscorers by several bookmakers in the last couple of years has improved things to some extent. With each way terms covering the first three scorers it is fairly similar to an anytime goalscorer bet. With Anytime scorer bets there often seems to be value with certain firms, especially William Hills. It is a relatively new bet and Hills do not seem to be getting their prices right. I suspect they are using a computer program and a glance at bestbetting.com usually shows them to be best price by quite a way on most players. Anytime scorer bets should only be considered when there is a high goals quote as obviously, the more goals there are in a game the more chance your player has of scoring. One note of caution however, different firms have different rules when it comes to anytime goalscorer markets. The majority class a player as a runner if he takes part in any part of the game and therefore it is very important that your player is starting. If he comes on for the last five minutes and fails to score then your bet will stand and have very little chance of winning. William Hills rules on the other hand, state that if a player does not start the game then he is a non runner and you get your money back.
TO WIN TO NIL:
This is a variation on the correct score market and only a few bookmakers tend to offer it. Basically, you are backing a team to win by any score to nil. It is best used when you want to back a short priced team who are solid defensively, or maybe playing a team who don't score many goals or who have injury problems up front. Chelsea are a good example from last year, they were solid defensively and ended up winning eighteen league matches "to nil". This is another market that is often computer generated and value prices do occasionally appear.
DRAW NO BET:
Does exactly what it says on the tin. You are backing a team and taking away the risk of a draw. If the game finishes level then you simply get your money back. This market is best used when you fancy a side to win but they tend to draw a lot of games, or maybe you are betting in a league where there are a lot of draws such as the French league. You are sacrificing the bigger price you would get backing the team to win in the match odds, for the insurance of getting your money back in the event of a draw. Exactly the same bet is available on the Asian handicaps.
A market that causes a great deal of confusion but often offers very good value. It got the name "Asian handicap" because it is the preferred form of betting in the far east. Profit margins are far lower than most other markets, often just a couple of percent. I will try to explain how they work as simply as I can. Don't worry if you don't understand it straight away, many people don't, take your time and read over what I have written a couple of times. You can play around with it on Betfair too, just pick a game, click on Asian handicaps and click the "back" box. A bet slip will appear on the right hand side explaining what you win or lose from each outcome.
The simplest type of Asian handicap is exactly the same bet as draw no bet. Both teams will appear with a +0 next to them, the bet is void in the event of a draw.
Another type of Asian handicap is to back a team +1 or -1. You might back an outsider +1 or back a strong favourite -1. Backing a strong favourite -1 is basically backing them to win by more than one goal. If they win by exactly one goal then you lose nothing and your stake is returned as the one goal margin they have won by is cancelled out by the -1 handicap. If they win by two or more then your bet is a winner.
A slightly more complicated Asian handicap is backing a team to win +1.5 or -1.5. This should be thought of in exactly the same way as over/under 2.5 goals. If the team you are backing -1.5 wins by two goals then your bet is a winner, if they win by only one goal then your bet is a loser.
It is the same as backing a team -1 only you have no insurance if the team wins by one goal. Remember if you back a team -1 and they win by one, then you get your money back, but if you back them -1.5 and they win by one then the bet is a loser. The most complicated Asian handicap is when the previous two bets are combined and you are given the option of backing a team -1 & -1.5. Although it looks very complicated it is actually quite simple. All you have to do to understand it is split the bet in two. Half of your bet is for "team A" to win -1 and the other half of your stake is for "team A" to win -1.5. If we back team A at evens to win -1 & -1.5 for a £100 stake, then the following will happen:
Team A wins by 2 goals or more = win £100 (Both parts of the bet have won)
Team A wins by 1 goal = lose £50 (you get your money back for the first part of the bet but lose £50 on the second part)
Team A does not win = lose £100 (both parts of your bet have lost)
Asian handicaps are most useful if you want to back a short priced favourite to win by a big margin or for an outsider to only lose by a small margin or to draw. For example, if you back a team +1 then you have both the draw and them winning as positive results. To conclude, the above bet types are the main ones you should be familiar with. The vast majority of bets that I recommend will be in the match odds or from one of the goals markets. There are many other weird and wonderful markets out there but they are generally poor value and best avoided.
If you would like me to clarify anything I have written above then please do not hesitate to contact me
The Oracle is a professional football odds compiler with many years experience working
for major uk bookmakers. He provides a football betting advisory service for clients.
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