Soccer Lines and Odds
For many sports fans in North America, the four major professional leagues tend to dominate not only the media networks but also the way we think about betting on sports. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL are all very accessible because they take place right in our backyard, and each one of those leagues is a multi billion-dollar operation. However, the truth of the matter is this: not of them even come close to the one sport that is considered the richest and most popular sport worldwide – soccer.
The "Beautiful Game", as it's known, boasts over 4 billion fans worldwide, with the majority of them calling Europe home. Not only does soccer have several "professional" leagues/divisions in every major country, but it also hosts the most iconic sporting event in the world – The World Cup. The 2014 World Cup tournament saw more than 3.9-billion people tune in at some point, while the finals itself had more than 700-million people watching from around the globe. Compared to last year's Super Bowl, which saw an average audience of 111.3 million people, it's safe to say that the World Cup's place among the greatest sporting event on planet earth is safely intact.
However, in North America soccer gets a bad reputation. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say "soccer is boring" or "they run around for 90 minutes and nobody scores" or "they are all a bunch of diving idiots" or "how can they not score on a net that big", I would be sipping fancy drinks out of coconuts on some beach in the middle of paradise.
Soccer is a complex sport to play. There are 11 players on each team (including the goalie) fighting over the ball in order to score a goal and capture three points. The intricacies of soccer are so subtle that it can only be seen by someone who understands the sport and knows what to look for.
The same can be said when it comes to betting on soccer. It may seem easy enough – bet on the team who's going to win – but it's far from. Because soccer's format is unique – you play every team once – (38 games in the English Premier League season) and the team with the most points is declared Champion, each game may seem like it's worth the same amount of points -three for a win, one for a tie, none for a loss, but it's not always quite like that (hypothetically speaking).
Soccer odds and betting options can be broken down into to generic categories; Basic and Advanced. The basic betting options are easy to understand concepts like money line, goal line or totals.
If you are looking for the break down of the more advanced soccer wagering options, jump to our Advanced Soccer Betting Options. Or you can jump to our Tournament Futures/Props section for all your World Cup/Champions League explanations
Basic Soccer Wagering
Betting on the Three-Way Money Line
This is essentially the bread and butter of betting on soccer. The three-way money line bet is a wagering option which allows you to bet on which team is going to win the game – with the added inclusion of the "tie" option to make it more difficult.
For example, if Manchester United were playing Manchester City in an English Premier League regular season matchup, your options would look as follows:
Manchester United: Win +270
Manchester City: Win +260
For every single soccer game played, the three-way money line option is final after 90 minutes of play (including injury time – which is time added on to the end of the match for unnatural stoppages or injuries).
In some instances, such as a World Cup elimination game where a winner is required to advance to the next round, the three-way money line option still does not allow its final decision to go beyond 90 minutes.
For example, if France is playing Italy in the World Cup semi final, you may still choose the "draw" option despite the fact that the game will go to overtime and then possibly penalty kicks to determine a winner.
France: Win +110
Italy: Win +220
Betting on the Two-Way Money Line
This betting option is very similar to the option above with the exception of one thing. The two-way money line bet eliminates the "draw". This is also known as a "Draw, No Bet" option.
With this option, there are two possible outcomes to wager on:
France: Win -230
Italy: Win +140
As you can see, the odds on the favorite get inflated, while the odds on the underdog are deflated to reflect the double chance you have of not losing your bet. Should you bet on France to win at -230, you would win your wager if they won inside of regulation time (90 minutes). If the game ends in a "draw" you would simply get your money back. Same rules apply for wagers on Italy.
Betting on the Goal Lines (Also known as "Asian Handicap")
Betting on the Goal Lines in soccer is the equivalent of betting on the point spread in the NFL or NBA. Goal lines in soccer generally start at -0.5, and can get upwards of -4.5 or -5 when we are talking about a massive mismatch. Take a game like Germany versus San Marino in a World Cup qualifier for example. The Germans would be heavily favored on the money line (upwards of -6600) to win the game outright. No value there. Instead, you could look to the "goal line" option and get them at -4.5 goals for around -125.
The example would look like this:
Germany -4.5 (-125)
San Marino +4.5 (+105)
Should you decide to forgo laying the -6600 and take Germany -4.5, you would need Germany to win by at least five goals in order to cash your ticket. On the off chance the miraculous happens and San Marino wins the game, draws, or loses by four or less goals, your Germany -4.5 ticket would be a loser.
For much tighter games, say Arsenal vs. Liverpool, the goal line could be as follows:
Arsenal -0.5 -110
Liverpool +0.5 -110
Should you take Arsenal to cover the -0.5-goal line, you are trusting that Arsenal will win the game outright. Whether that be 1-0 or 8-2 it doesn't matter. If you take Liverpool +0.5, you have two ways of winning. The first being Liverpool winning the game outright. The second being a draw. If the game ends 1-1, 2-2 or 10-10, any Liverpool +0.5 ticket will be graded as a winner.
When it comes to betting totals, soccer is a weird sport. In a sport that is littered with 0-0 games, the opening total is typically 2.5 goals, which means you will need three goals in order to cash your bet on the "over".
It's not uncommon to see a total of 2, which means should there be exactly two goals scored, your bet will be graded as a push. In some cases, sportsbooks offer up alternative goal lines that look like this:
Manchester United/Manchester City: Total Goals 2.25 (or 2.75).
In this instance, if you bet on the Over 2.25 goals, half your bet is placed on "Over 2" and the other half of the bet is placed on "Over 2.5". If the game finishes with exactly two goals scored, you would lose half your bet (Over 2.5) and be refunded the other half ("over" 2). If the game finishes with three goals, you win both bets (Over 2 and Over 2.5).
The other example is the 2.75 goal line. If you bet the "under", half your bet is placed on the "under" 2.5 goals and the other half is bet on the "under" three goals. If the game lands on three, you'd lose half your bet ("under" 2.5) and refunded the other half ("under" three).
Much like the four major North American sports, soccer lends itself to being a sport with ample betting options. You can bet on things such as the number of corner kicks taken by one or both teams in the match, the number of cards a referee will show, the number of goals a team will score, which team will score first, the exact score of the game, will a team get a shutout, the highest-scoring half, and everything in between.
The one option I tend to gravitate to is the Anytime Goal Scorer. This option allows you to place a wager on any player you think will get their name on the scoresheet in that particular game. Typically, strikers and attacking players are among the favorites to bag a goal, but if you are feeling lucky, picking a defender who has a good aerial presence from corner kicks/free kicks can be a very lucrative proposition.
Let's break down each wagering option for you so you are well prepared when you go to make your bets.
Number of Corner Kicks Taken
This bet allows you to predict the amount of corner kicks taken in the 90 minutes of regulation time. This bet does not include extra-time and it is typically broken down by each team or by both teams as a whole. It is also always listed as a half-number in order for there to be a winning and losing side.
Total Corners Taken: "Over" 10.5 -110, "Under" 10.5 -110
Total Corners Taken by Chelsea: "Over" 6.5 -110, "Under" 6.5 -110
Total Corners Taken by Southampton: "Over" 4.5 -110, "Under" 4.5 -110
Number of Cards Shown by Referee
This is another advanced betting option that is self explanatory. You can wager on how many times the referee will brandish a yellow or red card. Each card shown counts as one, and the line is always listed as a half-number.
Total Cards Shown: "Over" 3.5 -110, "Under" 3.5 -110
Some books also allow you to wager on if a player will be sent off via a red card. This option is really tough to hit, but it always offers odds no worse than +250.
Number of Goals Team X Will Score
Soccer is a game where goals are considered mini-miracles when they actually occur. So bookmakers have taken it upon themselves to give you the chance to try and predict how many goals a team will score. Lines can range anywhere from 0.5 to 3.5 depending on the matchup.
You have your standard option that looks like this:
Liverpool Total Goals "Over" 2.5 -110, "Under" 2.5 -110
Or you have the harder version that looks like this:
Liverpool Exact Goals:
In order for your bet to be graded as a winner, Liverpool must score the exact number of goals you select.
First Team to Score
This is self explanatory. You are wagering on the team you believe is going to score first. The one caveat is this is a three-way line with the "No Goal" option included just to make it more difficult.
Example: Tottenham -120, West Ham United +300, No Goal +650.
This is another option that is self explanatory yet extremely difficult to predict. As a bettor, you must correctly predict the exact outcome of the game.
Draws: 0-0 (+1100), 1-1 (+575), 2-2 (+1300) etc.
Chelsea Win: 1-0 (+475), 2-0 (+225), 2-1 (+1100), 3-2 (+5000) etc.
Burnley Win: 1-0 (+1100), 2-0 (+10000) etc.
To Keep a Clean Sheet
This betting option allows you to wager on the team you believe will keep a clean sheet. For this unfamiliar with the term "clean sheet" it means allow zero goals – a shutout essentially.
Example: Manchester City to Keep a Clean Sheet: Yes -160, No +110
The Highest Scoring Half
This is exactly how it sounds. Which half will see the most amount of goals scored in. It is broken down into three categories to make it a little trickier for bettors.
Example: 1st Half +110, 2nd Half +150, Tie +200.
These are the wagering options you should play if you are feeling extremely lucky.
For starters, the Scorecast is an option in which you must select a player you believe will score the first goal of the game and also predict the final score of the game.
For example: Wayne Rooney to score first and Everton to win 2-0 +2500
The "Timecast" option drops the need for the final score prediction. Instead it takes into account the actual time Wayne Rooney needs to score.
That bet would look something like: Wayne Rooney to score first between minutes 1-20 +3000
For this part of the article, I will be focusing on the upcoming 2018 World Cup from Russia. Wagering on the world's greatest tournament can be profitable if you know where to look for value.
To kick things off, let's take a look at Futures bets for the World Cup.
A futures bet is a wager placed in the time leading up to the start of the event on a team or player that you believe is going to win their respective competition. Heading into Russia 2018, the futures odds on the major contending teams are as follows:
Outright Winner: Germany +450, Brazil +500, France +550, Spain +700, Argentina +800, Belgium +1000, England +1600 and Portugal +2500
In order for you to successfully cash your ticket, you must correctly choose the team that will hoist the trophy after the final game of the tournament.
The World Cup format features eight groups of four teams. Every team plays each other once, and the top two teams that accumulate the most points advance to the round of 16. Group wagering allows you to predict which team you believe will "win" the group (finish first).
Example: Group F Winner: Germany -325, Mexico +550, Sweden +650, South Korea +1600.
There is an abundance of talent heading to Russia 2018 this year, and this might be one of tightest goal scoring races in World Cup history.
This option is self explanatory. You are simply selecting one player from any team who you think will score the most goals from the very first game through to the finals. The winner also doesn't need to play the most games. If he scores five or six goals (somehow) in the group stage and his team gets eliminated in the quarterfinals, he is still eligible to be crowned Top Scorer.
Most Goals: Neymar (+200), Mueller (+230), Ronaldo (+250), Messi (+260), Kane (+300) etc.
Typically, you want your chosen player to play on a team that will go deep into the tournament – when it's all said in done the winner will have played in seven games.