Football is easily the biggest sport in the United Kingdom, with the English Premier League the most watched domestic league anywhere in the world. Not just British fans but football fans the world over tuning in to see the best teams in England play on a regular basis.
As you would expect this sort of level of support leads to numerous business industries running alongside, from merchandising to burger vans at stadiums. One of the major industries to tap into the success of football in the United Kingdom is the betting industry.
Sports betting is nothing new, indeed it can be traced back throughout human history – the Ancient Greeks, founders of the Olympics, were partial to betting on all sorts of sporting events. In the United Kingdom the ‘bookies’ has been a part of many local villages, towns and cities for a long time.
The rise of the Internet has seen things change, and what was something you had to go out of your way to seek is now very different. Sports betting in general, and football betting in particular is (if you’ll pardon the expression) a whole new ball game now.
Online sports gambling has opened up a whole new way of betting. New styles, new concepts and new methods. Importantly it has also opened up new customers.
New Bets – More Money?
This change in style has meant that those who perhaps didn’t want to bet seriously before can still bet a few pound as simply a bit of fun, a couple of quid on the result of a game is something most people can afford and creates a lot more personal interest in a game – giving it a certain frisson that wouldn’t otherwise have existed.
Whilst this sort of betting appeals to the casual gambler, for those who are looking to make more money online betting has a huge amount more to offer than at any point in the history of sports betting.
With more people betting, and so more money coming into the bookies, more bets are being offered to keep tempting people to ‘take a punt’. And this wide range of bets available on almost any football match in the United Kingdom (at least at national league levels) means that there are more ways to make money.
Anyone who has looked into gambling at even an amateur level will know that it is not just about guessing who will win, or calling a bet right, it is about seeing when a bookie has under or over priced a bet, and taking those that are worthwhile.
So with such a large amounts of different bets available, anything from the amount of corners in a game to how many red or yellow cards the ref will issue, there will likely be a large number of bets that you feel the bookie has miss-called with the odds.
It is these odds that are all important when it comes to betting on football. As we said you are not so much looking to call the outcome of the game, or the first scorer, right – but looking to see what the bookie has made a mistake on and taking advantage of that. And the way you know is via odds.
Odds are a mathematical representation of how likely the bookies feel something will happen on a football pitch. The most common way of representing odds in the United Kingdom is done via a fraction. The bookie will give odds how likely something is to happen by giving a fraction, for example 4/7 or 12/1.
This fraction displays both the potential winnings and the amount you would need to ‘stake’ (bet) for this to be won. The first number (the above number) in the fraction is the amount you will win if you bet the 2nd number (below number) in the fraction. For example 12/1 means you will win £12 for every £1 bet if the result you bet on happens.
In the other example 4/7 is what is known as ‘odds on’. The bookies consider this outcome very likely so you actually win back less than the amount you bet to begin with (in this case £4 back for every £7 bet). This doesn’t mean you lose money as with all betting if you win you also get the amount that you staked back.
At the most basic is the result of the game. You might see odds saying that the home team is 4/7 to win, the draw is 12/5 and an away win is 11/2. This means that the home team is heavily tipped to win (odds on favourite).
For those who like to bet only every now and again they may be happy to simply bet on the result they think will happen – nothing wrong with that and, as noted, it can add to the thrill of the game for many people. But if you are looking to be making a bit more money from gambling then you need to be assessing those odds and coming up with something approaching a system.
Research and Systems
In gambling it is an old truism that you can never have too much data. What you are looking for (and what bookies base their odds on) is data that follows patterns across numerous sectors. Since we are looking at English Football let us look at an example.
One of the many bets that can be done in English football betting is ‘first goalscorer’. So what we do is look at all the data about goalscorers for the two teams playing. Say that Manchester United are playing Tottenham Hotspur in the Premiership. The bookies will offer odds based on previous meetings, runs of form etc. For you to form an opinion on whether a bet is worth taking it is best that you also look at such data.
In this instance a number of factors need to be considered. Firstly which potential goal scorers are in a run of form when it comes to scoring goals. If Wayne Rooney, for example, is knocking them in regularly over the past 6 games then it could well be he is more likely to score again.
Other data looked at should include how often that person is the first scorer, how well they tend to do vs certain clubs, how tight defences have been recently, who is playing and more. Real in depth information might be how good a striker, say Harry Kane for Tottenham, is vs fast defenders rather than slower ones.
All this data should paint a picture in your head of how likely a player is to score a goal. You then compare that to the odds being offered by the bookie and you make a decision whether a bet is worthwhile. That way you are betting from knowledge, not just simply guessing based on gut feeling – and so often the bookies make their money off people who go with gut feeling.
The Handicap System
One of the most popular recent rises in English football betting is that of the handicap system. This has come to the fore because of the sheer number of people who find a draw result to be an undesirable one – a win or a loss is preferred by many who prefer to bet.
So rather than have people become increasingly frustrated the handicap system (sometimes known as the Asian Handicap) has been introduced, to great success.
The handicap system works much like a golf handicap in that it gives a team a certain amount of goals head start, and it is then about who wins with this head start taken into account.
The most common way of betting involves giving a team a 0.5 goal head start. The reason for this is it takes out the possibility of a draw. To go back to our Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur example we could say that Spurs (Tottenham) had been given a 0.5 head-start. This means that if the game finished 1-1 then the extra half a goal would mean anyone betting on Spurs with the handicap would win the bet.
There are all sorts of handicap bets available, and much like other betting it is your job to see which offer real value for money and which are simply there to try get money off people with no real hope of winning, or making a decent amount of money.
How seriously you take betting is up to you, there is a niche for everyone when it comes to football betting in England. Just make sure you can afford to lose what you bet and you won’t go too far wrong, and may well find it heightens the enjoyment of the game and wins you a bit of spending money at the same time.