Tutorial for Soccer Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 06/25/2008
The concept of betting on soccer isn't very familiar for a lot of North American sports bettors, but it doesn't need to be nearly as scary or confusing at it seems. The sport is unfamiliar to many, and occasionally boring, but the basics of betting on it are essentially the same as the 'normal' North American sports with only a few small twists. Like any sport, it can be lucrative and full of value opportunities if it's approached with care and knowledge. If you are interested in betting on the other kind of football but don't know where to start then this will help - a tutorial for soccer betting.
The most common way to bet on soccer is the same as baseball - the money line. When you bet on the money line all you have to do is pick which team is going to win the game. The odds are represented by a number greater than 100, and it can be either positive or negative. The favorite has a negative money line, and the underdog has a positive one. For example, the money line for a slight favorite might be -110. That means that you would have to bet $110 to make a profit of $100. A money line of -230 would be a much heavier favorite - you would have to bet $230 to earn the same $100 profit. To deal with the underdogs you just have to look at the number in reverse - a money line of +110 means that you would win $110 if you bet $100, and so on. If the game is perceived to be a close one then it is possible for both teams to have a positive or a negative money line, like +105 or -103.
The biggest difference between money line betting for soccer and other sports is that soccer offers a third betting option - the draw. This obviously isn't a factor in most of our more familiar sports in most cases, but regular season soccer games frequently end in a tie. The draw is a potentially lucrative bet when used properly because the payoff is often higher than either of the other potential bets on the game. On the other hand, the presence of the draw means that you are only dealing with a theoretical one-in-three chance of being right with a money line bet instead of a one-in-two chance in baseball, so you need to make sure that the odds are significant enough to make the extra risk worthwhile.
It is also possible to bet on soccer with a point spread. The most common spread is half a point, and the prices will be adjusted accordingly. You can also get a range of different alternative point spreads - half a point the other way, or one, 1 1/2, or even two points. The added or lower risk of those bets depending upon which side you are on will be reflected in the potential payout. The one advantage of a point spread for betting on soccer in some cases is that it eliminates the risk of ending up in a draw.
The last common way to bet on soccer in North America is the total. Like in any other sports, the bookmakers will set a number which represents their predicted combined total of goals scored by the two teams, and you can decide whether you think the teams will actually score more or less points. Though each game needs to be carefully examined in the case of totals like it would in any sport, it can be generalized that there are often opportunities in betting the over in games that garner more public attention like high profile finals. The public tends to assume that soccer is a more low-scoring game than it really is, and the sportsbooks are aware of this, so the line can sometimes be lower than it should really be. A low line leads to potential value on the over.