How to Bet on Football

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How to Bet on Football

Our extensive guide offers tips for betting on football, helpful advice on how odds work, and looks at the different types of markets available for football betting…

Football Around the World

Football (or soccer as it is known in some parts) is the world’s most played sport. It is also the most viewed sport. Therefore, it will come as little surprise, that it’s also the sport on which most bets are placed.

Bookmakers have recognised this, and there are now more leagues on which bets can be placed than ever before. Whilst most bettors will know betting is available on the English Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, etc., many will not know you can also place bets on leagues such as the Brazilian Serie D or all 18 groups in the Spanish Tercera División.

That’s without even mentioning cup competitions, friendlies, international matches and tournaments involving clubs and countries alike.

Guide to Football Betting

Perhaps it’s no surprise that, when it comes to football betting, there are now many more ways to bet than just betting on who wins a match. Although a high proportion of the bets placed on football will be across a relatively small range of markets, there are many options to choose from, with well over 500 betting opportunities available on some of the bigger matches.

Our guide offers tips on how to bet on football, helpful advice on how odds work, and looks at the different types of football betting markets available with Marathonbet. There is pre-match betting on offer or, if you prefer to wait until the action starts and follow the twists and turns of a match, you can place a live (in-play) bet, where the odds are updated throughout the game.

There is also outright betting on many of the main leagues and cups, where you can bet on which team you think will be victorious at the end of the season or competition. On the big tournaments, you will also find prices offered on many side markets, such as the group winners, stage of elimination, top scorer, etc.

Football Betting Odds

The odds can be displayed in various formats, depending on your preference. Within the ‘Settings’ tab, you can set any one of the six different options, depending on how you would like the odds to be shown.

Table showing the different types of odds available with Marathonbet
Table showing the different types of odds available with Marathonbet

The most popular odds type is decimals, where the odds displayed show how much a single bet would return for a €1 stake (or whichever currency you use with your account).

Thus, if the odds were 5.00, a successful €1 bet would give a total return of €5.00. A winning bet of €10 would return €50, and so on.

If you were to use fractions, the equivalent odds would show as 4/1. This means that you will profit €4 for every €1 stake, giving the same return as the decimal equivalent of €5.00.

An Introduction to Football Betting

There’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to betting on football.

The Marathonbet sportsbook offers hundreds of football betting markets on everything from the Premier League and Champions League to the World Cup and Copa Libertadores. With Marathonbet, you can place bets in any number of ways, across a huge range of markets.

Although the vast number of options may seem daunting at first glance, we’ll guide you through the most common types of bet and give you some helpful tips for betting on football.

How to Bet on a Football Match

Here, we’ll list a few of the most commonly placed types of football bets. For beginners, these markets are some of the most straightforward ways in which to place a bet on a football game.

Football Betting—Popular Markets

Let’s start with the basics.

The most common way to bet on a football match is using a match result bet.

This is sometimes known as a 1X2 bet.

What is a 1X2 bet?

A 1X2 bet can seem confusing at first glance. However, it’s fairly self-explanatory, as it simply refers to the outcome of the match.

A match can only have three outcomes—the home team wins, the match finishes in a draw or the away team wins.

1X2 simply represents all these outcomes.

1 = Home team wins
X = The draw
2 = Away team wins

On the website, you can see that matches are listed with 1 and 2 shown against the team names, and the three columns labelled 1, X and 2 show the respective odds.

Table showing 1X2 match betting odds
Table showing 1X2 match betting odds

Handicap Betting

When a match outcome looks particularly likely to favour one side, some bettors prefer to try their luck with handicap betting.

How does handicap betting work?

Handicap betting takes goal differentials between teams into account, handing one side a theoretical advantage before the match kicks off.

Here’s an example of handicap betting:

Manchester City are playing at home to Nottingham Forest in the English Premier League.

The match betting heavily favours the home side, with Manchester City offered at odds of 1.14 to win the match. For most bettors looking to place a single bet, this is not an attractive price, as the potential winnings would be quite low in relation to the bet stake.

In a handicap bet, you can bet on Manchester City to win the game while starting the match with a -1 handicap.

For this bet, the price on Manchester City would rise to around 1.50; however, they would have to win the match by at least two clear goals for the bet to be successful.

If you were to opt to bet on Manchester City to win with a -2 handicap, the odds would increase to around 2.20. However, Manchester City would need to win by at least three clear goals for your bet to win, and so on.

You’ll find three different variants of handicap betting available.

2-way Handicaps: These do not include the draw option, and if the teams are level after the handicap is applied, your stake will be returned.

3-way Handicaps: These include a draw price after taking the handicap into consideration. The odds on each team will be higher than in a 2-way handicap, but in the event of a handicap draw, bets on either individual team are losers.

Asian Handicaps: This is a more complex bet that involves splitting your stake across two different handicaps. A detailed explanation can be found here

Handicap betting is often a popular choice in matches involving a heavy favourite.

Double Chance

Here, two options from the 1X2 market are combined in a single price. You can see the odds adjacent to the prices for the main match result, as displayed in the picture below (note: if you are using the ‘Classic View’ option when viewing the odds with Marathonbet, the double chance odds are listed in a section named ‘Result’).

Table showing match result and double chance odds 
Table showing match result and double chance odds 

What is double chance?

Put simply, double chance allows you to reduce the risk when betting on the outcome of a game, by allowing you to place a bet on two different outcomes at the same time.

Double chance bets offer less generous odds, but a far higher chance of winning.

How does double chance betting work?

Here’s an example using the Tottenham Hotspur vs Sheffield United match from the above image:

Tottenham are strong favourites to win the match, but you think Sheffield United may get at least a draw from the game.

Therefore, if you bet on the ‘X2’ option, you are getting a combined price of 3.90 on Sheffield United either winning or drawing the match.

How is draw no bet different to double chance?

If you place a bet on the draw no bet market, which can also be referred to as Handicap (0), the draw option is removed from the three-way (1X2) market.

Therefore, when you place a bet on the draw no bet market, you must select either one of the teams to win the match. Your stake is returned in the event of a draw.

With double chance betting, you are betting on two of the three possible outcomes. So, if you bet on a home win or draw, you get a combined price and will win in the event of either occurring.

The odds are calculated to reflect the difference in risk attached to the two bet types.

For example, in the match below, Borussia Dortmund to win or draw is offered at 1.38, whilst Borussia Dortmund draw no bet (handicap 0) is offered at 1.666.

UEFA Champions League. Group Stage

How does draw no bet work?

The mechanics of this market are very straightforward. You simply place a bet on either of the teams to win, and if the match ends up being drawn, your stake will be returned in full.

If you include a draw no bet selection in an accumulator or multiple bet, and the match ends in a draw, that leg will be void (treated as a non-runner), and the bet you have placed will still stand on the remaining selections.

Correct Score

If you’re looking for a more adventurous bet at longer odds, you could predict what you think the final score of the match will be.

Although successfully predicting the correct score is not a simple task, you could end up with some big winnings relative to your stake if you’re lucky.

If you think the home team may win easily and don’t think their opponents will score, you could place bets on 3-0 and 4-0, for example, to cover more than one option.

Betting on under/over (total) markets

There are a multitude of different elements of a football match on which under/over bets can be placed.

The most common amongst bettors is the total goals market. Even within this section, there are numerous different options to choose from, including:

  • Match goals (2-way or 3-way)
  • Asian total goals
  • Home team goals
  • Away team goals
  • First half goals (total or by team)
  • Second half goals (total or by team)

You can also include variations on these markets to add a second element, and thus increase the odds. For example, if you think Manchester City will win a high-scoring match, you can place a bet with a combined price on ‘Manchester City to Win and Over 3.5 Match Goals’.

Under/over betting can also be offered on other elements of a match, including corners and yellow cards. Bets can be offered based on the match overall, as well as on individual halves and for individual teams.

Betting on cup matches

When placing bets on cup matches or other matches where there is the possibility of extra-time if the match is drawn or the aggregate score is level, you need to ensure you are aware of the rules for the specific market on which you have placed a bet.

The vast majority of odds offered will be based on the result at the end of 90 minutes play (including injury time but not including extra time). The exceptions will be bets on ‘Outright’ or ‘to Qualify’ markets, or on how the match will be won (i.e., after extra time, after penalties, etc.).

For example, imagine you place two pre-match bets, one on ‘1-1’ and one on a ‘2-2’ draw. At the end of 90 minutes play, the match ends in a 1-1 draw. Extra-time is then played, and the match finishes 2-2 after extra time.

Your bet on ‘1-1’ would be a winning bet, and the bet on ‘2-2’ would be a losing one.

  • Tips for betting on live (in-play) cup matches.

The live prices will re-set in the interval between the 90-minute play ending and the extra time starting. New prices will be calculated on many markets, solely based on what happens during the period of extra time.

In certain matches, where a tie is decided by a penalty shootout, prices will be offered on the eventual winner, as well as whether each individual penalty will be scored or missed.

Accumulator Betting on Football

One of the most popular ways to bet on football is to combine several teams in an accumulator bet.

In many cases, strong favourites may be offered at a price that is too short for single bets, but if you pick several teams all to win, then the odds will accumulate proportionately and make the bet more attractive.

However, bear in mind that favourites don’t always win, and the more teams you add into your accumulator bet on football, the greater the chances are that one of them will not win.

How do you work out the odds for an accumulator bet?

Let’s say, on a given weekend round of fixtures, many of the big teams are at home. You have picked five teams you think will all win, but their odds are quite short. In this example, the odds for the teams are 1.14, 1.20, 1.50, 1.60 and 1.80.

You have a stake of €5 to bet with, but decide that splitting the stake between the teams is not the best option at those prices.

So, if you want to place one accumulator bet on all five teams to win, how do you know what odds you’ll receive?

To calculate this, simply multiply all the prices together:

1.14 x 1.20 x 1.50 x 1.60 x 1.80

This equals 5.91, which is the combined price for all five teams to win.

Therefore, a successful €5 winning accumulator bet on these teams would result in a payout of €29.55.

Live (in-play) Football Betting

No guide to football betting would be complete without including live (in-play) markets.

Marathonbet offers live (in-play) betting on hundreds of football games virtually every day of the year, with many popular markets to choose from on each match.

In-play betting is one of the most popular ways to follow a football match, as it places the bettor at the heart of the action from the moment a match kicks-off until the final whistle.

How does in-play betting work?

Most football fans have a team or league they follow, and with all the live action readily available nowadays, whether in the form of live streams or data, following your favourite teams whilst betting in-play has never been so popular.

Here are a few pointers and tips for betting on live, in-play football.

A smart bettor will follow the action closely and assess where the best value odds are at any given moment. For example, imagine a team has started well, but their opponents are now getting a foothold in the match. Maybe a team scores lots of goals from set pieces and is winning a succession of corners and free kicks. Alternatively, a team known for scoring plenty of late goals may be  entering into the final 10 minutes of a match that is all square.

Has a team has spurned several chances but is looking like they can score at any time? Have the underdogs taken an early lead, but you think the favourites will recover and win the match?

There is a lot to consider when deciding which in-play bet to place.

Then, once you’ve placed your bet, you can watch the action unfold whilst potentially using the cash out option at an opportune moment to close your bet and lock-in a profit.

In-play betting is one of the most exciting ways to follow the action during a football match, can you pick the right moment to place a bet in the heat of battle?

Ante-Post Betting/Outright Betting

Football is a sport that’s all about opinions—and that’s particularly true at the outset of every season, when excitement about the new season is reaching fever pitch.

Similarly, in the build-up to a major tournament, most football fans will have an opinion about who will win the trophy, which of the fancied teams will disappoint, and which of the underdogs could perform better than expected.

That’s where ante-post betting often proves extremely popular, as bettors decide which sides are stepping in the right direction and which ones could be in for a struggle.

What is ante-post betting?

Ante-post betting simply involves betting on an event before it officially begins or as it progresses towards its conclusion.

With football, the most common ante-post betting options are league or tournament outrights.

Here, you will need to nominate which team you think will win a league or tournament. On some selections, you have the opportunity to bet on ‘no’. For example, if you that if you think a team may not win a league, but you don’t have a strong feeling for who will, you can simply bet on a team ‘not to win the league’.

There is also an option for each-way betting (EW) on some outright markets. Here, you place two bets, with one bet going on the team to win and the other on the team to be placed (i.e., to finish in the top two, top three, etc.), depending on the place odds offered at the time the bet was placed.

The example below shows betting on the Serie A winner. At the time this example was taken, it was a close call between the top four teams in the market, with a large gap in the odds to the next teams. The place odds are 1/4 of the win odds, and are based on the first three places (as shown in the top right-hand corner of the market).

Outright betting on Serie A
Outright betting on Serie A

If you think Lazio could finish in the top three, but are unlikely to win the league, you could place a €1 each-way bet for example. This would cost you €2.

The first €1 would go on Lazio to win the league at 25.00, so if they do exceed expectations and take the title, you will have a winning bet. However, if they finish second or third, even though the win part of the bet is a losing one, you’ll still receive a €7 payout for the place part.

The place returns are calculated in this manner:

€1 x ((25.0-1)/4) = €6 + €1 stake back = €7.00 return.

In major tournaments, such as the World Cup or the Euros, the range of markets available will increase massively.

Ante-post betting can often provide competitive odds, particularly in a league or tournament without any outstanding favourites at the outset of the competition.

General Football Betting Advice: Betting Tips

  • Bet with your head, not your heart.

Take time to study the teams’ form and explore where the value lies in a particular market. Don’t bet on a team just because you like them, or bet against them because you don’t!

  • Consider the implications of the result.

Is there much riding on the game? Will teams set up to defend or attack to get their desired result? Consider just how much pressure could impact a team’s performance.

  • Check for injuries or suspensions for key players.

Though this will likely be factored into the pricing of a match, if a team is missing their top goalscorer, then statistics for previous matches will have less bearing on the current game.

  • Look at upcoming fixtures.

If a team has an important Champions League match on a Tuesday night, take into consideration that they may rest some key players for their league match the weekend beforehand.

  • Be wary of early round cup matches.

Nowadays, more so than ever, teams will often rest some of their main players in the early rounds of cup competitions.  So, make sure you check for team news before placing your bet, and don’t just bet on a team and expect all the regular players to take part.

If you see odds that look surprising offered on a match, maybe this has been factored into the prices already.

  • Watch for unusual end-of-season match prices.

As seasons draw to a close, there will be many matches where only one of the teams has anything other than pride to play for.

On the last matchday, a team safely in mid-table may be at home to a side fighting in a relegation battle.

Normally the mid-table side would be a strong favourite, but with the possibility that their players are on cruise control, and the side near the bottom scrapping for every ball, the prices offered on this match would be very different to a match between the same sides earlier in the season.

  • Keep stakes at a comfortable level.

Finally, and most importantly, bet within your limits.

Betting on football should be a fun pastime and you should never bet more than you can afford to lose.

If you feel your football betting is becoming a problem, please check the Responsible Gambing section of our site for advice and the contact details of organisations that can help you.

Football Betting FAQs

Have a question about football betting? Check our FAQs for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about football betting.

What is over/under 2.5 goals?

How can any team score half a goal? This is a question often asked by bettors seeing this market for the first time.

The ‘.5’ figure is simply used so that a two-way market will have a definitive winner (i.e., if two goals or less are scored, ‘under’ is the winning selection). With three or more goals in the match, bets on ‘over’ are winners.

Are added time and extra time the same thing?

No, they refer to different parts of a football match.

Added time, which may also be referred to as stoppage time or injury time, is the amount of additional time that the referee adds on at the end of each half of play.

This is time accumulated from breaks in play due to injuries, delays to restarts after a goal, VAR checks, other stoppages, etc. Referees will also add additional time for any perceived time wasting which has occurred during regular time. The fourth official will hold up a board indicating the minimum amount of added time that will be played.

When looking at goal times, you may see, for example, a goal scored at 90+6. This indicates that the goal was scored in the sixth minute of added time.

Extra time is an additional set period of time that will be played after the regular 90 minutes of play and any added time have been completed if the match requires a definitive winner.

This may occur in a cup match that has ended in a draw, or a knockout match where the aggregate scores are level at the conclusion of a two-legged tie.

Extra time is generally played over two 15 minutes halves and can also include periods of added time.

Matches that are still level after extra time will often be decided by a penalty shootout to determine the winner.

When your bets are being settled, normal time and added time will be considered for determining the results for most of them.

Extra time will not be considered for betting purposes in all regular markets, unless this is specifically mentioned.

Which yellow or red cards do not count for betting purposes?

There are some instances where yellow or red cards that are awarded do not count towards the cards market for betting purposes.

These include:

  • Cards shown for a foul or incident during the half-time interval or after the final whistle has been blown.
  • Cards shown to non-players (e.g., managers, coaching staff, players after they have been substituted, or substitutes who have not yet been used).
  • A second yellow card awarded to the same player counts only as a Red (i.e., in a Total Yellow Cards market, a second yellow card issued to the same player will not count).

Does a corner that was awarded but not taken count?

No. Corners awarded but not taken will not count for settlement purposes (e.g., a corner that is awarded but not taken before the final whistle blows will not count). If a referee orders a corner to be retaken, the corner will only be counted once.

Do own goals count in goalscorer markets?

Own goals do not count. If the first goal is an own goal, then bets on first goalscorer markets will count for the next goal.

If the only goals in the match are own goals, then the winning selection will be ‘No Goalscorer’.

Can I cash out my football bet?

The cash out option is available on football, as it is with many other sports.

However, bear in mind that the cash out option may not always be available on a match, and may not be available at all on some matches. Depending on what happens during the course of a particular match, the cash out option may be suspended or removed during that match.

Additionally, only selected types of bets, selections or markets are available for the cash out option.

A cash out banner
A cash out banner

You can also use the Auto Cash Out or Partial Cash Out functions when available.

Can I use my Free Bet on a football match?

If you have a Free Bet, it can be placed as a win only single on any Sportsbook event of your choice. The Free Bet can be placed on any pre-match or live in-play event.

If your selection is a winning one, winnings from bets placed using your Free Bet will be paid as withdrawable funds; however, your Free Bet stake will not be paid with any winnings.

Virtual Sports Football

If you enjoy betting on football, you may want to take a look at the Virtual Sports section on our website. Here, you’ll find a range of high-quality football match simulations available throughout the day and evening.

You can find more information in our blog article Virtual Sports Football Betting Guide, as well as our supplementary piece on Virtual Sports Football – New Games