A beginner’s guide to betting on football

A man using a smart phone to place a bet
The number of football betting markets means you can bet on almost any outcome Credit: Shutterstock

All you need to know about football betting, the many football markets and the often confusing range of odds and bets on offer

Football has been the most popular form of sports betting in recent years in the UK. The industry has grown to allow players to place a wager on a whole host of markets, with many bookmakers offering special deals and competitive odds.

The huge volume of matches means thousands of players bet on a huge number of different outcomes to try and beat the bookies.

Here, we run you through what you need to know about football betting so you can cut through the confusion surrounding the markets.

A brief introduction to how betting works

Odds help the bettor determine how likely an event is going to happen and what their potential winnings will be. Bookmakers provide the odds and you decide whether you want to bet on that market. They are usually shown as fractions (e.g. 2/1), but can sometimes be shown as decimals (2.00) and you can decide which you prefer to use. If the outcome of an event is 2/1 and it wins you will win £2 for every £1 bet.

How football betting works

Thousands of football matches and markets are available to bet on every week. Bookmakers will provide odds on the probability of the outcome of a match, including the result, the number of corners and cards, individual goalscorers and more.

There a number of providers who will have special offers and competitive odds to try and give you the best value bet.

Once the outcome of the event is confirmed and your bet is a winner, you will be paid out your original stake plus the winnings from the odds.

Below we will run you through the most popular types of bets on football.

Match Bet

The Match Bet is the simplest form of football betting where you will pick the result of the football match. You can bet on the Home Team, Away Team or Draw. Remember, the bet is placed for the 90- minute match. If they game ends in a draw after 90 minutes then Draw is the winning bet. Match Bets do not count in extra -time or penalties.

Asian Handicap bet

An Asian Handicap bet is where your bet has a “handicap” to overcome.

Each team is given either a + or a - on their scoreline. There are only two results and if the game ends in a draw the bettor gets back their stake.

This is popular as the chance of a draw is likely, and so bettors have the chance of winning their stake back. Here is an example:

If you bet on Arsenal at +1, you win if they win by two goals. You lose if they draw or lose. If Arsenal win by one goal then you get your stake back.

If you bet on Standard Liege at +2, you will lose your bet if Liege lose by three or more goals. If they lose by two goals you’ll get your money back and if they lose by one goal, you will also win.

European Handicap bet

European Handicap is different from an Asian Handicap. For example, you may bet on one team to win but give the other team a one goal advantage to increase the odds.

You must take away or add a goal to whichever Handicap Bet you placed. Here is an example:

  1. Arsenal (-1)
  2. Handicap Draw (-1)
  3. Standard Liege (+1)

You must take away one goal from whatever Arsenal score. If you bet on Arsenal and the result is 2-0 then your bet is a winner.

If you bet on Arsenal and it is 1-0 then your bet is a loser as once the -1 handicap is taken into account the result is 0-0.

You must take away one goal from whatever the draw result is. If you bet on Draw and the result is 1-1 or higher then you will win your bet. If you bet on Draw and the result is 0-0 then your bet is a loser due to the handicap.

You need to add one goal to whatever Standard Liege score. If the game ends 2-2 then you still win as Liege had a one goal advantage. If the result is 1-0 to Arsenal your bet is a loser as the result would only be 1-1 with the +1 handicap.

Half Time/Full Time

You can bet on the result of the first half and/or the second half. You can bet on the Home Team, Away Team or Draw for one or both halves.

This means you can reduce the time needed to win your bet to 45 minutes.

This bet is for the more advanced football fan who has prior knowledge to indicate the teams who start strong or weak or finish a game strong or weak.

Knowing the starting line-ups and whether key players are rested or out injured can also help with deciding this bet.

Double Chance

You can bet on two of the three outcomes of the match to increase your chance of winning. The combinations are:

  1. Home Team or Draw
  2. Away Team or Draw
  3. Home Team or Away Team

If either of your combinations wins you will be paid out. The odds are often lower than betting on just a match outcome as there is more chance of winning but are good for bettors who may want a higher chance of winning.


Accumulators are amongsome of the most popular forms of betting on football as you can win huge pay-outs for small stakes.

An accumulator is more than four selections, while two selections is a two-fold and three selections is a three-fold.

When you bet on an accumulator, you are betting on the outcome of more than one event. 

So, for example, you will be betting on more than one football match and this can be as many games as you want, with the odds increasing the more teams and higher odds you add.

The stake multiplies for different accumulators. An example of this is picking five football matches for an accumulator and selecting singles would mean your stake would increase x5.

Goalscorer betting

You can bet on a variety of outcomes to do with goalscorers. You can bet on a player to be the first and last scorer or to score anytime.

The odds for betting on first and last are more than scoring any time as it is less likely to happen.

These bets can be good for if a particular player is on good form or if a team is much better than the other and it becomes likely a player will score.


A Scorecast is where you are able to guess a goalscorer and the result. For example, you can bet on Mohamed Salah to score and Liverpool to win, or guess the correct score Liverpool will win by.

This increases your odds as there is no more than one outcome to be determined. Some bookmakers will let you choose the goalscorer in a Scorecast being first, last or any time.

You can also just bet on the score of a match. You will pick the result you think will happen and if correct you will win your bet.

Over and Under betting

Bookmakers will give the bettor a number and they can predict the result to be either over that number or under it.

Most providers will use 2.5 as a base, which means you are basically betting on whether there will be over three goals or less than three goals.

The reason why there is a .5 is that there is no way for a team to score .5 of a goal. This means that there will always be either one of two outcomes on the bet.

The outcomes can include goals, cards, corners and more on some providers.

Draw No Bet

This is where you bet on the outcome of a match, but if it ends in a draw then you will get your stake back. However, this means the odds will usually be lower than other markets.

Next Manager and Player odds markets

Many bookies will provide special odds on certain events that do not take place on the pitch.

The most popular is usually the first manager to be sacked, where you bet on which coach will have their contract terminated during the course of the season.

There is then Next Manager Odds, where you guess which manager will take over a club.

There are also player markets such as next club for a player or top goalscorer where you select a player to deliver on an outcome.

You can keep an eye out on different bookmakers’ sites to see what they have to offer.

How to find value when betting on football/In-Play betting

The first thing to remember is that there is no sure bet in football. You can do as much research and have as much knowledge on a game but there is still room for shock results.

This is why you should use your knowledge to bet on football to determine which game and which bet you would like to make.

It is also why In-Play markets are one of the best ways to see value in a bet. An example is that a team have been attacking for the past five minutes of a game and look close to scoring, so you can bet on Next Team To Score. There are similar markets for next goalscorer, card, corner and throw-ins.

The simplest bets such as Match Bet and goalscorer markets will suit less experienced bettors as will using the bets with less risk such as Draw No Bet.

You should only ever bet on the markets you know and on the leagues and teams you know or you risk wasting money as you do not know if the bet has value.

For example, a football fan who watches the Premier League every week would be more suited to betting on the league he knows rather than taking a punt on a random league somewhere else in the world that they do not know.


Football betting has huge accessibility and the range of markets on offer mean that it is easy to get started.

The market can seem daunting to begin with but once started you will see there is not as much confusion as first thought.

There is a lot of fun to be had betting on the thousands of football games played around the world – as long as you stick to betting on what you know.

Picking out good value bets is the best way to win money and avoid the disappointment of losing.

Now you can add to the excitement of football by having a bet on it, but remember to gamble responsibly.

If you are looking to calculator your odds - you can use this handy online betting calculator

bettingexpert is committed to responsible gambling. Underage gambling is an offence. Please gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford. For gambling addiction help and support, please contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or via the NetLine. If you’re worried about your gambling or a friend’s please visit BeGambleAware.org