Soccer Bets Explained
THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT sports outside of racing are, if you ask most bookmakers, football, football and football. Inside many football fanatics there has always been a punter waiting to come out. It was only when around-the-clock live football was brought to our TV screens that he emerged.
Now, football is such big business that new betting concerns - the spread betting exchange Spreadfair comes to mind - are not even covering racing.
And the jewel in the football crown as far as the betting industry is concerned is the Premiership, the most bet-on league in the world. From Calgary to Calcutta, Hornchurch to Hong King, astronomical sums are bet on every game in the top tier of English football. The players, not just the Henrys and Keanes but the Dodds and Radzinskis, are world famous.
Punters love Premiership football because they know so much about the teams, coaches and players.
Bookmakers love it because it is a reliable, trustworthy medium which they know they have under control in the long run even if short sequences of results go against them and certain shrewd punters have an edge over them. It is also cheaper to bet on football than horseracing, whose authorities demand a larger slice of their turnover.
Gone are the days when betting on football meant the pools or nothing. There is a rapidly expanding menu from which football punters can select. The basic elements are these:
THE RESULT A simple bet on whether team A will win, team B will win or a match will be drawn.
THE DOUBLE RESULT Otherwise known as half-time/full-time betting. Nine different outcomes are quoted: home side leading at half-time-home side leading at full-time, home-draw, home-away, draw-home, draw-away, draw-draw, away-away, away-draw and away-home. Worse value than straight match result betting and little, if any, more scientific.
THE CORRECT SCORE Self-explanatory. Great for bookmakers when there is a freak result. Who bets on a 6-2 victory? Just remember to back no goalscorer instead of 0-0. Own-goals do not count for first-scorer purposes so if it is 1-0 and the goal was an own-goal, you still win.
FIRST SCORER Also self-explanatory. The first-scorer prices also act as last-scorer prices, which some punters prefer as they feel they are getting a better run for their money.
It is galling, though, to back a player to score the last goal and he nets the first, only for someone else to complete the scoring. Totesport have recently introduced each-way first scorer betting, which pays a third the odds the first three scorers. This sounds like a far better deal than most each-way punters are offered, but it must be borne in mind that in many matches fewer than three goals are scored.
ASIAN HANDICAPS Another fast-growing market. As the name implies, they originated in Asia, where the punting culture is for bets to be as close to even money as possible. This system of handicapping football teams can seem complicated at first but is not. The table shows what each handicap mark represents, and if you place Asian handicap bets online, the site should provide final clarification of what your bet entails just before you press the confirm button.
It is in every punter's interest to get their head around Asian handicaps. Because they are two-runner contests (normal match betting has three possible outcomes with the draw) they are priced up far more competitively and are invariably the best value method of supporting a football team.
HANDICAPS A far less appealing sibling of the Asian handicap. The favourites are asked to give up a start, usually one goal, which still makes a handicap draw possible. Far better to take the Asian route.
HALF-TIME BETTING Some punters like to bet on who will be ahead at the interval, although unless you have a convincing stat-based argument it is hard to know why.
THE SCORECAST Favoured by those who want a big return for a small outlay. A combination of a certain player to score the first first goal and a particular scoreline. For instance, Alan Shearer to score the first goal in a 2-0 Newcastle win might be 20-1. Seldom do these represent good value.
DRAW NO BET A couple of firms offer these prices. Each team is shorter than on the normal match betting but the punter gets his money back if it is a stalemate.
OVER/UNDER An increasingly popular bet, having established itself as one of Betfair's key football markets. Punters must guess whether a match will produce fewer or more than 2.5 goals.