The Insider’s Guide to Successful Football Betting

Until recently, John was a senior football odds compiler working for a major high street bookmaker. Having left his position to follow his dream of betting on football and racing full-time, John continues to work in the betting industry on a consultancy basis. As a long-time friend of, John believes that what separates the organised professional bettor from the doughty amateur is a bit of inside knowledge and a lot of discipline and application.

Gambling is a mugs game, you can’t beat the bookies, right? Wrong. There is good money to be made from football betting if you stick to some simple basic rules.

Rule 1, and this is a golden rule, you must shop around for the best value. Open accounts with as many online bookmakers as possible, they nearly all offer free bets to entice you to open accounts with them.

You should have no loyalty to any bookmaker and the sole reason you should be placing a bet with one is because you are getting the best price. People who just use the nearest high street shop haven’t got a chance. Bookmakers have a profit margin of around 10% for most football matches but because different bookmakers offer different prices it is still possible to swing the odds in your favour.

Rule 2, work out a staking plan. Once you have identified a value bet the next question is “how much should I bet?”. The answer to this question is determined firstly, by how confident you are about the bet, and secondly, by how much value you think you are getting. For example, if you toss a coin in the air you have a 50% chance it will be heads and a 50% chance it will be tales. The correct price for each outcome should therefore be evens. But what if somebody offered you 3/1 that the coin would land on heads, you are obviously being offered huge value and if you repeated this bet ten times you would have to be incredibly unlucky not to be in profit at the end.

The answer to the question “how much should I bet?”, in this scenario is “as much as you can afford to lose”. Whatever staking plan you have worked out this would obviously be a maximum bet scenario, you could still lose but you have secured huge value and if you consistently bet when the odds are in your favour you theoretically will make money in the long run.

Rule 3, Never, EVER, chase. We’ve all been there, you’ve had a terrible day and lost a lot of money, the live Spanish game is about to come on and it’s the last game of the day. “Time to get my money back”, you say to yourself and you have a silly bet on Real Madrid at terrible odds. To make things even worse Madrid concede a last minute goal to level the game. They then go and miss a penalty deep in injury time, what a disaster! To make money betting on football it is crucial that you have discipline. Just because a game is on TV doesn’t mean you have to bet on it. If you didn’t identify a value bet in the game at the start of the day then don’t bet on it. We all have bad days and there will be plenty of good value opportunities to get your money back in the next set of fixtures.

You must be selective with your bets.

Rule 4, stick to singles or doubles. It is hard enough predicting the outcome of one match let alone five.

Bookmakers love to promote accumulator bets because they know the more selections you choose the less likely you are to win. No matter how many teams you pick there will always be one result that lets you down. Many people are attracted to these bets by the possibilities of winning a lot of money from relatively small stakes. You will find that if you increase your stakes a little and stick to singles and doubles your profits will increase long term.

Rule 5, pay close attention to team news. An injury to a key striker or a suspended captain can sometimes greatly swing the odds in your favour. As a general rule the higher the level of football the less affect team news will have as the top clubs have large squads full of quality players. The lower league teams however, operate with much smaller squads and can have their chances of winning badly affected by key players being injured or suspended. Be warned however, team news can be misleading. Some clubs actively give out false information in order to gain an advantage over their opponents so it is dangerous to base your bet on team news alone.

Rule 6, choose which markets you bet on carefully. The best markets to bet on are generally the match odds and some of the goals markets. Halftime/fulltime, correct score, first goalscorer and other similar markets have a higher profit margin built in by bookmakers and therefore generally offer poor value. This is not always the case though and occasionally you will find the odd juicy price in these markets.

For example, injuries may result in a midfield player starting up front making him much better value to be first goalscorer. Asian Handicaps are another market which you should make yourself familiar with. The bookmakers profit margin on these markets is a lot lower and so straight away you have more chance of finding value. On Betfair you only pay 1% commission on these markets whereas you pay 5% on most other football markets.

Rule 7, bend the rules in your favour. There are a number of things you can do to achieve this. Firstly make sure you pick up a coupon from your local shops at the start of the week. The prices printed on these coupons are compiled up to a week ahead of the game and are often cut online or on the phone. However the big two on the high street will hold the prices printed on these coupons so you can often find a bigger price on a shop coupon than you will be able to get online or even with the exchanges. If there is a big move for a certain game then they might impose restrictions of between £50-200 per customer, but you should still be able to get on. Likewise, when there is a move online and the match odds are cut you will sometimes find that a bookmaker has forgotten to cut the “draw no bet” or maybe the “halftime/fulltime” price.

It is also worth keeping an eye on long term markets when games are being played as you wouldn’t believe how sloppy some bookmakers can be at suspending markets. This can be especially useful near the end of the season when it is clearer which teams might win the league or be relegated. Bookmakers cannot claim palpable error in these cases either so your bet will be allowed to stand.

Rule 8, keep records of all your bets. It is important to do this so that you know exactly how much money you are making or losing. It will help you decide on your staking plan and make it clear that you should stop if you aren’t making money in the long run.

These rules should help you to tip the odds in your favour. It is possible to make money from betting on football but you will need to invest time and effort.

You will go through good periods and bad, last minute goals will go for and against you but in the long run you can prosper.

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