Soccer is considered to be the global game and is played by more than 250 million people around the world. Soccer is also the world’s most watched game, never more than so than when the World Cup comes around, when the eyes of the planet are glued to the action. This growth in soccer is now manifesting itself in the US and the sportsbooks are playing their part, offering more and more markets on an almost annual basis. Gambling on soccer offers something a little different, this due in part to the low scoring in relation to every other sport and to the fact that the games aren’t straight 2 way markets due to the draw possibility.
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Betting Options on Soccer
The most popular wager on any match is the final result market. Each and every match will see three options listed – the home team, the away team and the draw. Some games, such as cup matches, will see the game decided on the day with an eventual winner, but if the game does to go extra time, this market will be settled as a draw, based upon the result after 90 minutes. Here is an example market from the English Premier League:
Chelsea +110, Manchester United +225, Draw +275
As you can see, all three options pay over even money, making soccer one of the only sports where you can back a favorite at over evens – although on many occasions the favorite will still be lower than even money.
For gamblers who enjoy two way action, there are two popular bets available on each and every game. The first is the spread (as it is named in the US) or the Asian Handicap (as it is named globally). Here you’ll usually see the favored team deducted a certain number of goals to make the game more even – in soccer this number can be much smaller than at other sports, starting at just 0.5, while very close matches will see the games being a simple pick, where a draw will result in a push. Here is an example from Major League Soccer:
Vancouver Whitecaps -0.5 Evens, Seattle Sounders FC +0.5 -120
The above market sees Vancouver backers winning on the spread when they simply win the game, any other result seeing the Seattle Sounders backers being paid out.
The other most popular wager with two-way action is the over/under market based upon the number goals. The majority of these wagers is based upon whether or not there will be over or under 2.5 goals in the game (this by both teams), although this number might vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, while some sites will offer various lines on this market. Here is an example:
Over 2.5 goals -140, Under 2.5 goals +120
Of course, with so many games going on worldwide on any given day or weekend, Parlays are always a popular option, where you can make a number of selections. Parlays can be tricky and the more selections you make, the higher the edge a sportsbook has, so these are not recommended for the serious sports bettor.
Alternate Bets on Soccer
You’ll find a large number of alternative bets on a wide range of games. Correct Score betting appeals to many as you’ll find much larger odds available. Similarly, half time-full time betting offers longer odds than the match result market, but you’ll have to predict the half time result as well as the match result. A number of sportsbooks will actually offer wagers based solely on the half time result, or just on the second half action.
You’ll also find many player based markets, with the ‘First Player to Score’ bet being the most popular of all. Alongside this you’ll find the ‘Last Player to Score’ and ‘To Score Anytime’ markets, which will both ensure that your bet stands a chance to the very end of the game.
The longest priced market of all is the ‘scorecast’. This bet requires you to name both the first goal scorer and the correct score. An example from the UEFA Champions League might see Cristiano Ronaldo to score first and Real Madrid to win 4-1 at odds of +7000.
Betting on Soccer with an Edge
When evaluating any game you should start by asking a number of questions. These might include ‘What is the form of the two teams?’, ‘Are there any key injuries?’, ‘Will either team be resting players due to another upcoming big game?’, ‘How will any suspension affect either team?’ or ‘How will the teams approach the game tactically? Will one be happy to play for the draw?’
Having asked all of these questions and more, you’ll have a good feel for the game and be in a good position to spot when the sportsbooks have got it wrong.
One good betting strategy is to look at home advantage and how it applies to specific teams. Look at any league table at the end of a season and it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of teams have a better record at home than on the road, but for some teams this is more marked than others. Identify the teams who perform better on the road than others and also those teams for whom home advantage isn’t such an advantage after all.
One of the least exciting bets of all is on the draw, as you’ll not really be rooting for either side but this bet can certainly pay. Look for those games where the weaker of the two teams is the away side who will happily come away with a point, while the home side are struggling for goals. At any time the scores are level, the away team will be happy to shut up shop with a very defensive formation. For more of a gamble at longer odds you can go for the ‘0-0’ specifically (when backing a 0-0 score, check to see if the sportsbook has a first goal scorer market, as you’re better served by backing ‘No Goal Scorer’ as own goals do not generally count, meaning you can still be paid out even if there is a goal).
Best Sportsbooks for Soccer Betting
For sheer range of markets offered, both Betway and 5Dimes have to be recommended. You’ll find almost every professional game on the planet priced up, with a large number of betting options on all of these games. Bovada and BetOnline come into their own when the major action comes around, especially the big season ending games, or international tournaments such as the World Cup, offering strong lines and a good range of props.