It’s easy to bet on football, the problem is being one of the better than average punters who end up in the green rather than the red. Here are some top tips and tricks to consider when deciding how you want to bet.
Keep your free bet bonuses
Bookies usually offer free sports bets as part of an introductory promotional package, and existing players are also often gifted small free sports bets. Obviously, you can’t lose with a free bet as the only options are winning or losing nothing, but there is a way to transform these into guaranteed wins.
One option is to have an account with a betting exchange and simply back the opposite of the free bet you make (ensuring the odds and stake line up so you’re ahead whatever happens). If you should have multiple free bets at different bookmakers then you can also pull this trick with various bookmakers. Just be aware that if you try all this on a single site then the bookmaker will likely call shenanigans and void your bets (and bonus). Most online sports betting sites offer a sign-up bonus and such offers enable you to keep what you win after you complete the deposit or no deposit bonus terms and conditions, which is the most prudent way to wager.
Value versus predictive betting
There are two broad approaches to betting on sport, including football, and these are value and predictive betting. Making predictions can be tricky but is the most straightforward method as you simply bet on what you think will happen (obviously finding the best odds you can). Value betting is slightly different. Value betting involves identifying a divergence between the odds on offer and the actual chance of something happening. If two teams are evenly matched but one is 5 (4/1 in old money) to win then backing that team is value even though the draw (at much shorter odds) may be the likeliest outcome. Value betting can also lead to making bets you don’t think will come off because over the long term they’ll come good. For example, if you back multiple 60 shots because you think the odds are really 10 then (if your assessment is correct) you’ll end up ahead even though most of your bets fail because the odds are so long.
Which is better depends on the bettor. Mathematically, value betting is the way to go but it can also involve the peculiar situation of deliberately betting on things that you think (on an individual basis) won’t happen. This can be difficult to assess objectively, whereas if you’re betting on a predictive model then it’s pretty clear when your bets are misjudged.
The golden rule – Only bet what you can afford to lose
This applies across the board, whether betting on football or other sports, with stakes large or small, and whether you’re an old hand or a newcomer, but it cannot be repeated enough: only bet what you can afford to lose.
It can be easy to get carried away with the fun of betting, but that’s a serious mistake. Sometimes people lose and try to chase their tail by doubling their stakes. Avoid this as the upside is small and the downside is turning a little loss into a financial black hole. On the other side, winning can lead to complacency/arrogance and swiftly transform a profit into a loss. Keep a cool head, and if that means avoiding betting on matches featuring the team you support, that’s absolutely fine.
Twitter can actually be useful
In a shocking twist, social media, particularly Twitter, can actually be useful for betting. The reason is that bookmakers, while having sharp eyes (especially on football), are not superhuman. It often takes around 5 to 10 minutes for a site to react to breaking news, and, if you’re quick and lucky, this can be a perfect opportunity to make a bet before the bookmaker can respond and amend the odds. Note: avoid bets in markets that will end up being voided. If a critical player like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is out and you bet on them to score no goals that will likely be voided. But if you bet on his team to score no goals, that will stand.
It can be a good idea to create a specific list of sports sites or Twitter accounts you can trust (this could be TV networks like Sky Sports, football commentators, or even Twitter accounts of EPL clubs) that you can handily check just to see if any news has broken.
Having multiple accounts confers multiple advantages
Because the EPL is such massive business in the UK (and around the world) most bookmakers will have literally hundreds of markets on every single match, as well as offering specific multi-contingency bets (player x to have y headers on target and score z goals, for example) at the request of bettors. This can make it tempting to just have a single account, but there are multiple reasons why registering with more than one bookmaker is advantageous for betting on football.
Although bookies will have hundreds of markets per match and there will be substantial overlap between what you can bet on at one site and another, the more niche markets might only be available at one or two places. Having multiple accounts means that you can always take advantage of these (if they take your fancy).
On a similar note, bookies usually offer more or less the same odds on given markets, but there can be differences and over time these stack up. If you’re consistently getting just 0.1 (to use the increasingly popular decimal approach to odds) better then that’s 10% of your stake. Nobody would turn down a 10% pay rise at work, so why limit yourself to a single account and lose out on extra winnings when things go your way? The perfect example of divergent odds, which happens rarely, is when two bookies have different teams as the favorite in a win-only (no draw option) market, enabling you to back both and finish ahead either way (stakes returned with no profits if a draw occurs).
There’s also the problem of winning. That does not sound like a problem but, alas, if you end up winning a lot at one bookie then pretty soon you may find your stakes limited (how much this affects you depends on how much you bet. If you’re laying down a grand a bet and keep winning you may be restricted to a few pounds pretty soon, if you’re betting bottle tops then you may not be affected at all). For an average bettor with stakes between £5 and £100, this can still prove restrictive. Multiple accounts mean that you can bet at different bookies. If you’ve been winning a lot at one site and have a great idea for a bet then you can try elsewhere, or back a value long shot at the same site as it’ll probably lose and be helpful in staving off stake limits (a value long shot is something unlikely to happen but that has a better chance than the odds imply. A basic example would be 11 on a coin toss showing three heads in a row. The chances are 1 in 8, so backing at 10/1 is value even though it probably won’t come off).
Another benefit of having accounts with more than bookie is that you’ll be able to take advantage of more free bet bonuses (see above).
There are lots of things to consider when betting on football, so do your best to keep a clear head and be objective. Also, check Twitter for breaking news.