Soccer seems to be the best option when you want to try sports betting for the first time. There are so many soccer matches played daily all around the globe, and so many guides, tips, and strategies for soccer wagering, that you can get involved in the action very soon. What is also convenient, you will find soccer lines on any online sportsbook: it’s hard to imagine one without at least major soccer tournaments in the betting line. Finally, bookies tend to offer very competitive odds and lucrative bonuses for soccer betting, especially when it comes to the world’s top-tier soccer leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga, etc.
So, if you want to try and see what sports betting is like, this guide will provide you with all basics you need. You will learn how to read odds and predict the outcomes, know the difference between various betting options, and get acquainted with some special soccer betting terms.
How do soccer betting odds work?
Like in every sports betting experience, you will encounter betting odds: special numbers indicated next to each team in a match coupon. They can look different: there are American, decimal, fractional, and more odds formats, but you won’t get confused if you know how to read them. In fact, the odds always look the same for all sports, but we’ll show you examples from the soccer world to explain.
How can I read soccer odds?
As we have already mentioned, there are three most widespread odds formats: decimal odds (mainly used in Europe and Russia), fractional odds (Great Britain), and American odds. Asian bookies offer more formats like Indonesian odds, etc., but we won’t focus on them here. So how to read soccer odds in various formats?
Decimal odds. The most widespread way to reflect the odds is by giving them decimal numbers. For instance, this is how it looks at the real sportsbook: these are odds for a match-winner of a game within the UEFA Champions League:
- Inter Milan (Team A): 3.45
- Draw 3.55
- Liverpool (Team B): 2.15
This is an example of a three-way Moneyline: a betting market, where you predict the match outcome. The higher odds are, the lower the chance of an outcome is. In our example, Team B is more likely to win; the draw outcome has the highest odds, and so you can suppose the game will hardly end up in a tie.
To know how much you will win if you back any of the teams, multiply your stake by the odds. The result is your total payout: your stake plus your winnings.
For instance, if you back the underdog, e.g., Inter Milan, and wager $100 on it, your overall payout will be $345, where $100 is your stake, and your net profit is $245.
This traditional British format is less straightforward, and this is why we prefer using a formula to explain it. First, let’s look at what it’s like:
- Inter Milan (Team A): 49/20
- Draw 51/20
- Liverpool (Team B): 23/20
As the name suggests, the odds come as fractions, and the best way to get what they mean is to use a simple formula:
How much you win/How much you bet.
So, when if you wager $20 on Liverpool, you will win $23; if you back Inter with a $100 stake, you will win $245. However, it may take more time for a rookie bettor to get the fraction, so you can just easily convert them into the already familiar decimal format. Here is another formula:
1+(Number 1/Number 2), where number 1 is the first number of the fraction, and number 2 is obviously the second.
In other words, you simply solve the fraction and add one: 1+49/20=3.45.
American odds. American odds might seem a bit more complicated, but as soon as you get how they work, it turns out they are very straightforward, in fact. Traditionally, the example with another game from the Champions League:
- Sporting Lissabon: +800
- Draw: +459
- Manchester City: -300
We took another match to show the American odds can be positive and negative. In fact, there can be markets where all odds will come with a plus sign (for instance, the one from our previous examples), but when you see both positive and negative odds, you can definitely tell who is the favorite and who is the underdog.
The odds with a minus sign express a favorite, a team having more chances to win. To understand your potential payout, you must remember that negative odds indicate how much you need to wager to win $100. Thus, if you bet $300 on Manchester and it wins, you take your $100 (plus your stake amount, too, of course, but US odds don’t express it). Sounds not so profitable, right? However, if you wager on draw or Lissabon, the underdog, you will deal with positive odds, and they mean how much you can win if you bet $100. Thus, your $100 stake can turn into the whopping $800 if Lissabon manages to beat the opponent.
How to use odds to predict soccer
Now that you know how to read odds, you understand they show the chance of an event to happen. The more chances the team has to win, the lower odds a bookie will offer for bettors. Otherwise, a sports betting site would risk a lot: no bookmaker wants to make enormous payouts that exceed the revenue from the whole pool of wagers. Of course, the oddsmakers mistake too. However, don’t rely on it too much: modern analytical software combined with a deep knowledge of betting trends rarely sells short.
So, basically, you can tell the match’s outcome pretty accurately when you look at the soccer betting line.
However, the odds are never fixed. Any traumas, roster changes, even the weather forecasts, and especially betting trends impact betting odds. They rarely change dramatically, but you might get more insights into upcoming soccer games if you track them carefully.
How to calculate odds in soccer betting
No matter how low or high, any betting odds include a bookmaker’s margin. In other words, you never see the pure odds 100% reflecting the team’s chances to win. The margin is a guaranteed profit of a bookmaker: it will still earn something even if you grab some money.
For instance, you want to bet on some soccer match and open the Premier League odds. You decide to wager on a two-way bet and try to guess where the total number of goals will go over or stay under 2,5. The bookie offers the following betting odds for this market:
- Over 2,5: 1.86
- Under 2,5: 1.91
Suppose each outcome has a 50% chance to happen. Thus, in a perfect scenario, the odds are 2.00 for each outcome. Suppose 50% of all sports bettors will wager on Over, and the rest 50% — on Under. Obviously, a sportsbook won’t gain anything.
Offline and online sports betting companies add an extra fee called margin to avoid losing profit. Thus, when you know the margin, you can get a more accurate prediction, and, what is more, you can decide where the odds are lucrative enough to use them.
How to calculate margin? Here we come with the formula again:
(1/1,86 + 1/1.91 – 1) x 100 ≈ 6%.
If a betting market has three possible outcomes, just add them to your calculation; the formula will work precisely the same.
What does this knowledge give you? At least, you can estimate how profitable the sportsbook is. Just for your information: top popular soccer events include approximately 5% on average.
Thus, if you see the margin of 4%-6% in pre-match mode or 5%-8% in the live betting mode, you can safely make your bets; it is a pretty acceptable commission fee.
However, a higher margin is not so competitive. Besides, many British and European sportsbooks often include a 2%-3% margin for soccer, especially if the event is very significant.
Sharp bettors always know the margin, but most go further and make their predictions and calculations. In fact, we are getting close to some pro-betting strategies here: you may not use it as a rookie gambler, but it might be helpful when you become more experienced.
The point is to estimate the odds yourself. For instance, you found some soccer betting markets with two outcomes, and the odds for each of them are 1.80 and 2.20 relatively. If we look at the percentage, we’ll find out that the first outcome has a 55% to happen, so the second is 45%. Here comes your soccer knowledge: it may give you a hint that a bookmaker didn’t consider some essential things, and the second outcome is more likely to happen. For instance, you think that the second team has, in fact, a 65% chance to win, and must come at odds 1.5. So how to use these new odds, existing, in fact, exclusively in your head?
Here comes a special formula: S =(P*K-1)/(K-1).
- P is the odds suggested by a bettor;
- K is the odds suggested by a bookie.
In our example, S equals 21%, but what does S mean? In this strategy, you must wager 21% from your overall bankroll on the second outcome (the one you think will work out). Such a system doesn’t eliminate any risks, of course, and even makes them higher, but if you are sure in your prediction, you can dare to try it and get a better payout.
Still, if you don’t know all ins and outs of special teams, their historical scores, statistics, and other things, we recommend sticking to betting trends and following some experts’ picks — at least for the very beginning.
Soccer betting lines explained
Now that you know some insights into soccer betting odds, it’s time to look at the lines you might typically meet at various sportsbooks. To start, what is a betting line? It is a set of betting markets where you wager one of the teams to wager on. There are favorites and underdogs. Besides the line, you can find the other betting options in a match coupon: they usually have lower odds (but not always) and offer you to wager on particular events during the game.
Let’s speak about the top popular betting options. We’ll start with the simplest, and thus the most widespread soccer markets and will touch more exotic ones then.
Soccer Three-way Money line
The most straightforward soccer betting option is the three-way Moneyline. First, what is a money line? It is the sports betting market where you need to determine who will win the game outright; that’s it. It usually has two outcomes in such sports as American football or tennis — the games not implying a tie. The draw result is pretty typical for soccer, though — at least, the game rules imply it, so here comes the three-way money line, where you can wager on one of the teams or the tie.
Here is an example of a three-way Moneyline for a random La Liga game:
- Barcelona 2.36
- Draw 3.45
- Atletico Madrid 3.05
Handicap or Point Spread soccer betting.
Spread betting is a bit more complicated but still easy enough. In this soccer bet, you wager on the winning margin, suggested by a bookmaker.
If you bet on a favorite, you bet on if they win with more than a certain number of points. If you back an underdog, you bet on if they win or lose with less than a certain number of points. Here is an example:
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
- Barcelona -1.5: 4,50
- Atletico Madrid +1.5: 1,20
A negative point spread indicates a favorite, but if you back Barcelona, this team will need to meet two conditions to make your wager bring you money:
- Barcelona must win;
- Barcelona must win at two or more points.
So, the score of 1:0 will make Barcelona the match-winner, but your bet will lose then. However, if you wager on Madrid, this score will bring you some cash because the betting on the underdog point spread suggests you two alternative outcomes:
- The underdog wins
- The underdog loses with a margin of less than 1.5.
Finally, Totals, the third most popular soccer bet. Here you don’t care about the winner and who will perform better: your aim is to predict the total number of goals. A bookmaker suggests a total number of goals scored by both teams, and a bettor tries to guess if the score will go over or stay under this number. This is why this bet is also called Over/Under.
The suggested number to make Over/Under bets may vary from 0.50 to 7.50, but the most popular option is 2.5.
More Popular Types of the Soccer Bets
You are ready to make your first bet as a beginner: we told you everything you need to know about soccer betting basics. However, if you want to go further and try out something even more exciting, we prepared alternative options that you are likely to find in most online sportsbooks.
Asian handicap betting is a great way to win more money for those well-versed in classical handicaps. It is a wager on the two next common handicaps, so you have more chances to win as you wager on more outcomes.
It looks like a decimal number: 0.75, 1.25, etc. Your stake on the Asian handicap is divided into two equal parts between the next handicaps. For instance, if you wager $100 on Team A with a +3,25 handicap, you will, in fact, distribute your stake between +3 and +3,5 handicaps. If there is a draw, a bookmaker refunds the stake amount. So, here are the possible outcomes for a better:
- Both halves of the bet will win;
- One half will win, and the second one will lose;
- One half will win, and the second one will be refunded
- Both halves will lose.
Thus, you secure one possible outcome and have a chance to win even more if the second outcome also happens.
Props are the proposition bets, and there are plenty of them in soccer. Proposition bet is a wager on some event that may happen (or not happen) during the game. Props are offered for events unrelated to the overall game outcome and related to players and the team’s stats. Here are the examples of soccer prop bets:
- The First Team to Score;
The First Player To Score;
- The Team to score First and Lose;
- The Team to Score First and Win;
- The Most Scoring Half;
- The Most Scoring Quarter;
- Number of Red/Yellow Cards in the Game;
- Will There be a Penalty, etc.
Props are fascinating, especially when you make live bets while watching the game. However, they are mainly designed for fun, not making money, so sharp soccer bettors usually avoid them. After all, it’s pretty hard to predict most events offered for props betting, and the odds are often not worth the risk.
Derivative bets are the bets you make on various game parts. In soccer, they are the first/second half and quarters.
Besides, a bookie might suggest you wager on the outcomes of the next ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes — usually, when the match goes live.
Unlike props, derivatives are related to the final game result and are usually an excellent way to make more accurate forecasts. It’s obviously easier to predict what will happen in half or a quarter of the game than to guess what the overall outcome will be, right? Such bets can include money lines, number of goals scored by each team, exact score, totals, etc.
Soccer Odds Terms
Before you rush to make your first bet, let’s revise the most complicated terms. You can consider this part a self-test: do you understand all the ins and outs of soccer betting now or need to study some points again? Let’s start!
What is a .25 spread in soccer?
You will most likely come across this number when you wager on Asian handicaps. As you must remember from our guide, Asian handicap distributes your bet 50/50 between the next traditional handicaps. So, when you see 0.25, 1.25, 2.25 in your handicap options, note that you will wager on 0.5/1, 1/1.5, and 2/2.5, respectively.
What does it mean to have +500 odds?
A single look at odds with a plus or a minus sign gives you a hint that you are dealing with the American format. The minus sign indicates a favorite, and the odds value shows how much you need to wager to win $100. Of course, you don’t need to bet precisely $100: the proportion will be the same with any stake.
The positive odds, like +500, are given to an underdog, and they are much more profitable (if the bet wins, of course). In this example, you can wager only $100 and get a $500 payout, not counting the $100 stake refund.
Note: most sportsbooks don’t actually put ‘+’ with positive odds, so they will most likely look like just ‘500’.
Of course, knowing the betting rules is not enough: it’s actually more important to be keen on soccer and some analytics. However, if you are already a soccer fan, you are now fully equipped to go and place your first bet!
Remember to gamble at trusted and reliable sportsbooks (you can select one from our best soccer betting sites ratings) and mind the gambling problem. If you feel you need help, immediately contact Responsible Gambling crisis counseling centers.
Three-way odds mean that a bookmaker offers a bet with three possible outcomes. For instance, if you want to bet on soccer match results, a sportsbook gives you three wagering options: Team A to win, Team B to win, or Draw.
The historical betting trends might be helpful for you, so luckily, various Internet portals are keeping the past scores, odds, and other valuable data. If you want to know what a current line used to look like when it was just released, google for the starting line: this is how exactly you call the very first odds for a game. Many bettors suppose it is the most accurate and fair line but note the other factors that impact odds fluctuation.
Half point is a special betting option offered by some soccer betting sites. It implies that a soccer bettor buys extra spread points to alter the betting market and improve the chances of winning a point spread bet. For instance, when a bookie offers a 2,5 points spread, and you suppose that a 2,0 spread is more real, you buy these 0.5 points but wager at lower odds. It is more widespread in American football, where bookies offer a single-point spread variant.