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Football betting has thrived over the last decade or so, with more and more markets on each game, and more games and competitions covered.

Here are some of the basis to help you understand football betting, the markets, and the rules which determine winning and losing bets.

Outright and antepost

An ‘outright bet’ is a bet placed on the outcome of an entire league or competition rather than on an individual game. Outright bets are often placed before the football season begins ('antepost') but are also available during the course of a competition.

As well as betting on a winner of a league or competition, you can wager on many other outright markets such as a team’s finishing position, number of points gained or a player to score the most goals.

Each-way terms may vary depending on the nature of the competition and teams involved.

Both teams to score

Both teams to score - or BTTS - is a two-way market: yes or no. Punters can choose either option, with odds depending on the nature of the match and the teams involved.

For an idea on the frequency of goals scored, the most common team goals total per game in the top European domestic leagues is just a single goal. The second most common team total is no goals. The average number of goals in an English Premier League match is about 2.5.

These scoring trends create two popular football markets: Over/Under 2.5 goals and BTTS. With these averages, in most Premier League fixtures, there is approximately an even chance of there being more than two goals, or of both teams scoring. The odds therefore are often longer than the ‘better’ team’s odds to win the game, which makes these bets popular with bettors.

Over/Under Total Goals

Over/under total goals is very straightforward, as you bet on whether the number of goals scored in a match will be higher or lower than a specified total. Those specified totals can range from 0.5 to as high as 9.5, and are typically priced as such to ensure no bets are void - they either win or lose.

You bet the over when you think there’ll be more goals than the specified total and the under when you think there will be fewer goals.

Anytime goalscorer

The market involves predicting a player to score one or more goals at any stage of a match. Different bookmakers have alternate rules about substituted players and players who don’t start a match, or if there are no goals. Typically, a bet stands if the player features at any stage in the match therefore it may be important to consider who will start, or indeed await confirmed team news.

First goalscorer

The first goalscorer market is one of the more speculative football betting options. This involves betting on a specific player to score the opening goal of a match. In the event of a goalless draw all bets are lost. If the first goal is an own goal, it generally does not count, and first scorer bets are settled based on the player who scores the second goal.

If a backed player does not take any part, bets are refunded. There are also specific rules regarding substitutions - usually, if a player comes on when the game is 0-0, they are counted as a runner and can therefore either win or lose from there.

Each-way terms allow punters to bet on the first goalscorer, with 'place' payouts for scoring later in the game. Some firms pay out places for three to five goals, others for every goal in the match, and the factor of deduction varies between them.

Last goalscorer

The odds for the last scorer are the same as the odds for the first scorer. There are rules concerning substitutions and players who do not play in a match but usually any player who is on the pitch at any point counts.

Own goals do not count and if the only goal is an own goal bets are settled as losers. Some bettors prefer the last scorer market to the first scorer market as it is more likely to keep the interest going right until the end of the match. The bet runs until the end of a match and a late substitute can come on and score the last goal.

There are several other popular variations of goalscorer betting, such as betting on a player to score two or more goals, to score a hat-trick, or whether your player scores with a shot, header, direct free kick or a penalty.


A Half Time/Full Time bet, or HT/FT, involves placing a wager on both the half-time result and the full-time result of a match in a combination bet.

There are nine possible outcomes on the HT/FT market:

  • Home/Home
  • Home/Draw
  • Home/Away
  • Draw/Home
  • Draw/Draw
  • Draw/Away
  • Away/Home
  • Away/Draw
  • Away/Away


There are a variety of corner betting markets on offer. The most popular market is to wager on the total number of corners won by both sides in a match.

A bookmaker will often set a line of around 11.5 corners in an Over/Under market, and your bet will be based on whether you think there will be more or fewer corners than this number. As a team cannot be awarded half a corner, the winning result is limited to win or lose.

Corners betting works almost the same as the ‘result’ and ‘score’ markets, meaning there are many varieties of markets available, including match bets, half-by half betting and handicaps.


Traditionally bookmakers priced up over/under cards in a match, set at 4.5 for example with a two-way price of say 10/11 for each outcome. Quite simply a punter backing overs needs five cards to collect, four or fewer results in a loss. A bettor playing under in that market requires four or fewer cards for their wager to win. Yellow and red cards count the same in that bet, which isn’t the case in another football market, booking points.

Booking points is the yellow and red cards in the stated match, with 10 points awarded for each yellow card and 25 for a red (a player receiving both a yellow and a red card adds 35 points to the total). Some bookmakers create bands to wager on, for example under 30pts, 30-50 inclusive and over 50pts, while a two-way price of say under 45 and 45+ is also often chalked up by the layers, too.

Referee appointments and the nature of the match often determine prices and selections in this market.

Draw no bet

A Draw No Bet market provides the opportunity to bet on a selected team to win a match with the knowledge that you will receive your full stake back if the game ends in a draw.

Although this market lowers the odds of your selection, a Draw No Bet wager offers a safer bet for punters.

However, it is important to remember that if the team you didn’t back wins the match, you will still lose.

Double chance

This market gives punters two of the three possible outcomes in any given match, with odds reflecting that. Typically, this means backing Team A plus the draw, i.e. Team A not to lose. Providing they do not lose the match, bets are paid out in full.

Often, punters looking to back the underdog will choose this option, knowing that they simply need their side to avoid defeat.

However, it's also possible to back both teams, in other words opposing the draw. This is in some ways a peculiar bet but can appeal when punters are expecting a high-scoring game which will not end level, perhaps in circumstances such as a relegation battle where both sides need to win at all costs.

Correct score

Correct score betting is one of the most popular and self-explanatory markets. To win a correct score bet, the punter must accurately predict the final score of the match they are betting on.

Correct score prediction is limited to the normal length of a match (90 minutes + stoppage time). However, in separate markets, you can also place a bet on the correct score of a game at half-time and the end of extra-time.


An ‘acca’ (short for accumulator) is the most popular type of bet placed on football. 

To build an acca you need a minimum of four matches to bet on (two = double, three = treble), but you can bet on many more than that to build a much bigger accumulator, which is what many people do on a weekend ahead of the many games played throughout the world.

Accumulators provide bettors with the opportunity of a big return for a small stake. All selections must win for bets to be paid as winners.

The name ‘accumulator’ comes from the fact that the prices of all your selections accumulate as you add more selections to the bet, so for every leg you add, the probability of your acca winning decreases, so the price increases. 

One way to think of it is that for each winning bet your return is then staked on the next match. This continues through each leg of your acca with your stakes getting higher for each bet until it either wins or loses.  

As a simple example, imagine six selections, all evens, with a £10 starting stake:

  • Selection 1 wins = £20 rolling onto Selection 2
  • Selection 2 wins = £40 rolling onto Selection 3
  • Selection 3 wins = £80 rolling onto Selection 4
  • Selection 4 wins = £160 rolling onto Selection 5
  • Selection 5 wins = £320 rolling onto Selection 6
  • Selection 6 wins = £640 returned for an outlay of £10

In this scenario, the odds of the acca winning are 63/1. All six must win for the bet to be paid out.

Handicap betting

Handicap betting, which can include line betting, Asian handicap, the spread, and points betting, is available across a wide range of sports and is sometimes more popular than typical match betting as it offers the punter a more competitive market to place a bet on. Bookmakers will give one of the selections a head start before the match has even begun. This means that the winner of the handicap market can sometimes produce a different result to the actual outcome.

It is very important to consider what you feel the exact result is going to be in a match or race before deciding which side of the handicap you want to back. For example, if Team A are the strong favourites to win a football match, their opponents, Team B, may receive a two-goal start. If you feel the contest is going to be close, you may want to take Team B at +2. With this selection, you will have a number of outcomes in your favour: Team B winning outright, the draw and Team A winning by just one goal. All other results will result in a losing bet unless you have played the Asian handicap.

Asian handicap

As the name suggests, this form of handicap betting gets its name from its popularity in Asia. Just like with a no-draw handicap market, the Asian handicap is just a two-way market, which is what makes it so appealing to many people.

In the Asian handicap, there are sometimes two numbers quoted. Team A may be -1 and -1.5. If Team A win by two goals or more, you will win on this selection. If Team A only wins by one goal though, you receive half of your stake back as your whole stake is split over the two bets. This form of handicap betting offers you an insurance as you are effectively betting on Team A -1.5 but if you fall short with the team winning by just one goal, you at least get half your stake back rather than losing all of it.

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