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Football betting tips

Let’s be honest, most of you have arrived here for one reason only; and that’s to get rich quick via sports betting. You don’t really care about football betting tips or strategies, all you want to do is quickly scan the article for the bit that gives simple instructions on how to make a small fortune from the evil bookmakers that have been pocketing your money for as long as you can remember.

Well, most of you can stop reading now. Bookies haven’t become billion pound companies by fluke, there is no easy to follow ‘ABC’ list that is going to bring them to their knees. Although there are plenty of people out there that will claim to give you this for a small fee.

For continual profits you will need to learn an array of tactics that will constantly give you a small edge. And for this you will have to make a commitment in terms of time and energy.

This football betting guide will cover the main points needed to become a successful football punter, but equally important, it will also try to steer you away from the common mistakes ill-informed betting journalists / pundits / bloggers will have you believe is a mini gold mine. Most sections will only be lightly covered, with internal links to more expanded articles.

Understanding bookmakers

It never fails to amaze me how little people know about the inner workings of a sports betting firm. Of course it shouldn’t because not many people have had the opportunity to work for one. Yes, there might be a few of you reading this that have worked on the shop floor for a bookmaker, but I doubt anyone will have worked in a trading room before.

When talking to the average person about the sports betting industry they have varying opinions on how it all works. Some people envision a slimy fat cat, smoking a cigar, and laughing as the poor loss all their money. Some see a team of sports stats geeks talking about historical events and using this data to form a set of odds. Others have the mind-set that a bunch of maths nerds are sitting in a corner crunching numbers in-order to set a fair price.

None of these opinions are strictly true. Yes a company needs to make money to stay in business, but the people at the top are the same as for any other company. And it might surprise you to know that knowledge of sport isn’t really necessary to be a sports trader, it’s all done with algorithms. Although I have only met a couple of traders that didn’t have any interest in sports. And as for maths, this use to be a good skill to have, but with modern software all calculation are done for you.

For those that are interested there was a mini-series called “Britain at the Bookies” that was meant to shed some light on the workings of British bookmakers. Although it comes across as more of a publicity stunt to give a professional and human face to what is normally deemed an immoral practice, it is still worth a watch though.

So how does this information help with betting strategy? Well it doesn’t really. But it should show you that bookies aren’t the people from legends that have knowledge you don’t have access to. They are not sports betting geniuses, they just have a good set of tools, a lot of mug punters throwing them there hard earned cash and of course they have their betting margins.

Knowledge of a bookmaker’s margin is of utmost importance, it is why professional football bettors and syndicates only bet on two-way markets. Asian handicaps (of which one of the lines is more commonly known as ‘Draw no bet’ to UK punters) and over/under goal lines are the two most popular two-way bets. Two-way markets always have the lowest in-built margins, and with the two mentioned bet types being the most popular, these margins can be very small. Giving your betting strategy more chance for success.

Understanding value

One of the most important aspect to get your head around, and what will form the bases of any successful strategy, is the understanding of value in sports betting. Without this knowledge you will be basically betting blind. You could and probably will have several winners like this, but long term the bookies will come up trumps.

Value Bet

Understanding value is relatively simple, the problem comes in trying to find it. But of course it is out there; the most famous to make his money from being a professional football punter is Tony Bloom. The owner of Brighton football club made his fortune with Star Lizard, a company that takes an analytic approach to betting. Many estimate his fortune to be in the region of a billion pounds.

Here is an articles on explaining value and one on whether it’s value to only bet singles or to do multiples.


Football trading strategies are the most favourable techniques amongst risk averse gamblers and new punters alike. Here you truly don’t need to know anything about the sport or what the correct odds should be. What you do need to know, and this is often just as hard, is how the market moves.

Football markets are generally seen in four different stages,

  • Pre-event before team sheets
  • Pre-event after team sheets
  • In-play
  • Half-time

Each of these stages are to be treated differently, as each brings different amounts of risk. The most volatile time is obviously in-play; this is the only stage where the ball is not dead and big swings in odds happen.

Next, in terms of risk, is right after the team sheets have been announced. If the star player isn’t playing odds can drift quite significantly. Then it’s pre-event before team sheets, here breaking news or even social media rumours can trigger a massive price move. And lastly you have the least risky time to trade, and that’s during the halftime break. But it is also true that nothing much happens during this time and any trades made will likely only be one or two ticks.

There have been so many different strategies of trading over the years, but one that surprisingly seems to have had staying power is ‘lay the draw’. Many people keep putting new twists on it in the hope of selling it as a new trading strategy. But basically because of the initial floored logic the results stay the same – you slowly but surely lose your money.

In-order to successfully trade you most generally stay ahead of the curve. If you are using someone else’s strategy, whether it’s free or you’ve paid for it, it’s only a matter of time before that system will become unworkable due to weight of money. Best to investigate how markets move yourself and try working-out your own system from the information you have gathered.

One strategy that has stood the test of time and is always likely to is waiting for market moves with Asian bookies and then bet accordingly on betfair or another betting exchange. Most punters, even seasoned ones, believe betfair sets the market price and then traditional bookies fall in line.

For some smaller books this might be the case. But what actually happens is the odds in Asia move first, as this is the only place big betting syndicates and shrewd punters can get their bet on, and then betfair follows suit. Bookies will also follow this move, but due to their inbuilt margin do not have to move as quickly, giving the impression they are following betfair.

Cash out

Every bookie is investing in the technology to bring you cash-out betting, and this alone should tell you something. Yes, a part of it is keeping up with the Joneses, but for the most part it’s to make more money. They are not happy with just trying to give you unfavourable odds going into your bets, they now want to do the same in coming out your bets.

In general I’d say stay well clear of this option, unless it’s an amount that will change your life. And even then there is often a better option to simply cashing out. Learning the basics of backing and laying will often be the better option. In the long run, as long as you have got your staking correct and you are getting good value going into your bets, it is best to let you bets stand till there conclusion.


An often over-looked strategy when it comes to punting on football is having a staking plan. This is usually because some people have got it into their heads that a good staking plan is like having a betting system. And if followed the staking plan alone will make them money, the Martingale staking plan comes to mine for this.

A staking plan is never going to turn bad sporting selections into good ones, and it isn’t the purpose of a staking plan. What it should do is maximise your winnings when on a winning streak and minimise your losses when hitting a bad patch.

The best types of staking plan for this is one that is progressive (the amount you bet is dependent on your betting bank) and one that is proportional to the risk the bet faces. Meaning with small odds you place larger sums of money. Kelly criterion staking plan is a good place to start for this.

Bonus betting

There are two schools of thought when it comes to bonus betting; one being it’s great free money and the other is it will cost you in the long run. I lean more to the side of it being great free money.

Year on year what was termed “free bets” have been getting worse. Many years ago when I first started signing-up, some bookies would actually give you a free bet, no deposit required. Now of course you don’t have that, in fact bookies have now “voluntarily” stopped using the terms free bet or free money after being threatened with regulatory measures if they continued to use it.

To claim your bonus you now need to turn over x-amount of money and you also have to gamble on certain sporting event at specified odds ranges. But having said that, if you plan to bet anyway, the bookie is top price, and the bet meets their conditions; only an idiot wouldn’t take the extra value being offered.

Football Tipsters

One of the most used football betting strategies is to save yourself all the hard work and just invest in a tipping service. That way you get tips sent to your email account every day and can sit back and watch the money roll in. Because they are going to win; you have seen their excel spreadsheet with the profit line going up and up.

Tipsters are one of my massive pet hates in this industry. Completely unregulated and can make any false claims they want. Very few use their real names, instead opting for a fun sports betting related name. Meaning once they hit a bad run they can simply drop the name and start again. Fewer will tell you there sports betting credentials, simply saying they have been sportsbetting for 10, 15 or 20 years. Well my mum has had a 50p each-way bet every year on the Grand National for as long as I can remember, so could equally make this claim.

Some claim to have a team working with them. One might specialise in the Premier League, one in Ligue 1 etc. But we are never told who these people are, and what makes them specialised in them fields. Most of the time we can’t even guarantee they exist.

And as for them well designed excel graphs; I could knock up a backdated great winning spreadsheet in minutes. The odds they say they have got are often only available for a few minutes as there has been a big move, and all they are really doing is tipping up arbitrage bets that will get your account restricted. You will rarely see a tipster saying only bet if above a certain odds range and the industry average is above that. It will just be one bookie that were slow in moving there odds or made a palpable error.

Even if the tipster doesn’t want to say who he is and what qualifies him to be a tipster, one easy way to put everyone’s mind at rest would be an independent person looking over their betting accounts via shared desktop. But no site would bother offer this service as 99% of tipsters are unqualified chancers and would never agree to have their bets being looked at.

So just in case you are unsure of what I am saying, don’t use tipsters as your betting strategy. I’m sure there must be a few genuine tipsters out there. But they will nearly always be going by their own name and will unlikely have the positive profit graphic. They will normally quote at what odds the selection is with a reputable bookie and is industry standard price. Finding these tipping services will be the hard part, and your time and money will be better spent learning the ropes yourself.

Punters Tools

Sports Betting Calculator is itself a punters tool site, obviously giving bet calculators for many different sports.

Beyond calculators you also have websites that have dedicated software for arbitrage punters or for trading. For these two subjects you can find a host of sites giving good quality information on the subject.

Forums, it is always good to see what other people are trying, or failed at so you don’t make the same mistakes. There are several good forums out there; of course it is time consuming to separate the wheat from the chaff, but after a while you find out which contributors are worth reading.

Stats websites, good ones are hard to come by, but there are still a few that offer their hard work for free. Among them are the excellent Football Data team who have backdated odds for several years on many leagues, markets and bookies.

If you are into punting on goal scorers, then I’m sure you will find Who Scored a very useful site. Here you’ll find data on all the top clubs players, with stats such as shots per goal and pass percentage. This is by far the best site for player information of this type that you can access for free.

Soccer Base is also another good site where you can get data on recent team head to heads and a lot of other team based statistics.

Betting systems

People are forever trying to come up with a one size fits all betting system that requires little to no thinking on behalf of the punter. And if you were to do a quick google search for football betting systems, with the amount of results returned, you’d be forgiven for thinking it must be pretty easy.

There are thousands of these so called foolproof football systems. But as my mother use to say to me, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So I looked at all the systems in the top ten of google, under the assumption these must be from the most reputable sites.

Most were pages with lists of links to several other sites football systems. But there were three betting systems that show the complete lack of understanding, of basic betting principles, many authors that write about sports betting have. I have listed them below, breaking down their system into a one paragraph overview.

How To Make Massive Profits Consistently On Football Betting
This guy has written over four thousand words on his system, but if you cut out all his hype and self-promotion, the football betting strategy that he claims makes him 16 grand a year is very simple and clearly unwise. He says find 3 games with odds-on away teams (teams below 2.0), and then put the home teams in a Trixie bet. And to quote him on the hard work he put into this ridiculous system “this publication is the result of nearly four years work, research and, very often sleepless nights”. I bet he wishes he could get them four years back.

Over 0,5 goals on Football games
This football system is one of the most ridiculous strategies I’ve seen someone try and pass off as a betting system. The system is to bet there will be over 0.5 goals, only when the game is live, and only when the odds are above 1.11. And now for his bit of advice that will have you laughing all the way to the bank, “Choose your games carefully, only the one’s that are meant to get Over, are suitable for this system”. Well if you’re betting selection was that good, surely that little tip would be a winner for every bet type there has ever been.

What are the most successful Football Betting Systems?
Here we have another clown with an over 0.5 goals football betting system. But at least this time the guy has offered a means of match selection. Here you find a match where neither team has kept a clean sheet in their last five games, then back over 0.5 goals. In the real life example he gives he doesn’t even care at what odds you then place the bet, saying the 1.02 odds on offer gives a small profit, but any profit is good. Yes any profit is good, but you will not be in profit for long if the real odds for that bet were 1.05

Now I can’t say why bloggers and sports betting writers would write such rubbish. I am sure some truly believe there system works. Some don’t want to put the effort into researching a system, so just steal ideas that are already out there. And after a while people start to believe it, as so many writers have written about it.

These are the mistakes of the lazy and stupid. There is a worse reason for people publicising error ridden betting tip, strategies and systems. The root of all evil; money. The site publishing the article will have an agreement with the bookmaker that they get a cut of all money lost by people they send to their bookie.

So the page with this great get rich quick scheme will be loaded with trackable links to bookmakers in the hope you sign up, follow their betting strategy and lose your money. Don’t let me scare you off of all articles on betting systems, some people are genuine , just be sure to engage your brain and ask questions of anything written on the subject.

Avoid getting limited by bookmakers

The more bookies you have available to bet with the better. Getting that little bit extra from shopping around seems like nothing on a single bet, but over the course of many bets these little bits can make or break you.

So often I look at people’s comments on social media to a bookies post or tweet and see moans about not being able to get a decent bet on. Giving bookies like bet365 nicknames such as ‘bet £3.65’ due to the limits on their accounts. The outrage is sometimes pretty venomous; they can’t believe someone’s not willing to just keep giving them money.

If a traditional bookie doesn’t like your betting pattern they will limit you or close your account. Many have terms and conditions saying they are for recreational purposes only, not for professional gamblers. The only way to avoid being limited is to follow normal betting patterns.

You can read our article on how to avoid being limited, but this is never guaranteed. The only way to guarantee this is to bet with firms that don’t mind arbers or winning customers.

Odds compiling

I have saved the best for last. You knew it was coming. The betting strategy that separates the men from the boys – odds compiling.

Where do I start?” Is the first question on 99% of people’s lips when they first decide to compile their own football odds. “There are so many different market“, comes next. The answer to this question is to start with goal expectancy; from here nearly all bet types can be calculated. Bookmakers call these related contingencies.

Once you make the decision to compile your own odds you should ask what do I need and how am I going to use this to bet. The following list and explanations are an overview of what you’ll need to do and the options this opens up to you.

  • Goal expectancy
  • Ratings
  • Match result
  • Over/under betting
  • Outrights

Goal expectancy

One of the two major strategies used as a foundation for compiling all your odds. Goal expectancy should be self-explanatory, but just in case it isn’t obvious, it’s how many goals you expect each team to score in any given match.

With this information it then becomes rather easy to calculate match result odds and over under prices. Many different aspects can go into working out goal expectancy, the most obvious being the amount of goals previously scored and conceded. But it’s the extra twists you add to deriving goal expectancy that will prove it’s real worth.

Using this football betting strategy will open up the widest sections of options in terms of betting markets. From the two easily calculated markets mentioned above you can then use this information to make Asian Handicaps and virtually all related markets bookmakers offer.

Ratings systems

The other main strategy for compiling odds is that of a rating system. Here you will give a numerical value (rating) for all teams in a league based on previous form. With these rating and some maths trickery you will then be able to derive a set of odds.

This betting strategy has one major disadvantage over calculating goal expectancy and that is it doesn’t calculate how many goals each team will score. This means many of the related markets will become unavailable to you.

Rating systems are most often used for calculating outright markets, Premier league winner, top four finish or relegation bets for example. Although outright markets are ratings major strength they can be used solely as a match result strategy also, in fact calculating a series of match results is how the outright prices are formed.

Match result

The most favoured bet type to the European betting public. Targeting a strategy that will take on the match result market has several benefits. The bookies margin is the most important, in-order to compete with betting exchanges most bookies have become super aggressive on this bet type. They know it’s the one that draws in new punter, and once they have their claws into you the hope is they will be able to lure you onto their more profitable bet types.

Another benefit is liquidity; this is sometimes seen as a double edged sword, as although a benefit, more money also brings with it a more efficient market. But as all other markets are derived at by an algorithm using the match result and over/under markets you will have to compete with this efficiency regardless of what market you take on.

Asian Handicap betting

The domain of the professional punter, Asian bookies are more than happy to take shrewd money and don’t limit accounts because they win. As this bet type offers only two options the margins are generally even more competitive than that of match result. For guaranteed longevity as a sports bettor an Asian handicap betting strategy will be your best option.

Related betting markets

The main reason you should be taking on related markets is because you are looking for inefficiencies in bookies algorithms. If the algorithm is spot on, and you are still finding value, the odds are you will most likely be able to find value in the bigger markets using the same strategy.

Of course the above paragraph is assuming you have arrived at your odds yourself. Sometimes this will not be that case. Many people start out by using bookmakers own match result odds and trying to formulate a better algorithm. Although you can make a decent bit of money doing this, it should only ever be seen as a short term strategy. It’s only a matter of time before the bookmaker clocks on and alters their algorithm. Leaving you back at square one.

Over / Under betting

An extension of goal expectancy, as there isn’t a betting market called goal expectancy, over / under bets is the closest market you can bet on. The safest of markets you can invest you time; it is a very liquid market where you will always be able to get your bet on at exchanges, traditional bookmakers and Asian bookies. If you can crack this market, you will be able to beat any football bet type.


A different type of betting experience, outright bets. These bets are often overlooked due to not having the fast-cash fun of other football bets. Having a football outright strategy will normally return better dividends; you will often see on odds comparison sites that bookies don’t have the same sort of consensus as match related bet types.

Please feel free to leave your own football strategies, advice or experiences in the comments section.


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