A Beginner’s Guide to Soccer Betting

N’Golo Kante (2nd L) runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League final. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

The world’s most popular sport has transitioned said popularity into the sports betting markets. With multiple leagues and wagering options providing different rules and regulations, it’s imperative to understand the difference. Keep yourself informed with our short guide on the basics of betting on soccer.

Betting the Soccer Moneyline

Unlike traditional American sports such as the NFL, the NBA, or MLB, when attempting to wager on soccer, you will be presented with three options: the 3-way moneyline to some.  

The term 3-way moneyline is self-explanatory as you’re given a choice between three moneyline outcomes:

  1. Team 1 wins
  2. The game ends a draw
  3. Team 2 wins

These wagers are won by predicting the correct outcome of a 90-minute soccer match. Alternative fixtures (mainly competition games) that entail extra-time or penalty shootouts will be excluded from your moneyline bet.

When placing a moneyline wager, you are given the choice of predicting which team will win outright, but if the game ends in a draw, your ML wager will lose. Unless, of course, the bet you made was on the draw.  

Betting on the draw will provide plus money odds, as this outcome is the unlikeliest of the three moneyline possibilities. With that said, 21.84% of the 2020-21 English Premier League fixtures ended in a draw (83 games), so, with the proper research, handicappers can take advantage of these luxurious plus money odds that rarely drop below the +200 price region.

The primary moneyline option of betting on the winner does not differ from most other sports. One team will enter the game as a favorite, and the other squad will be the underdog. It’s rare, but on occasions, all three moneyline selections will offer plus money odds an excellent advantage for long-term bettors to make some significant profits.

Betting on Double Chance & Draw No Bet

Another favorable betting market amongst soccer enthusiasts is the double chance selection.

Double Chance gives bettors a choice to include the draw into their money selection. There are also three selections that you can wager on:

  1. Team 1 to win or draw
  2. Team 2 to win or draw
  3. Team 1 or Team 2 to win

Basically, Double Chance provides insurance for bettors who aren’t willing to risk it all on the moneyline, but you will notice a decline in odds in return.

The alternative option is to wager on ‘Draw No Bet’. This approach is similar to a traditional American moneyline where a drawn fixture becomes irrelevant. But in soccer games, if a bettor wagers on their team under this market and the game ends in a draw, an automatic refund is applied.

Betting on the Goal Line (Handicap)

Like point spreads or run lines, soccer’s version of these bets is known as goal lines or handicaps.

You’ll typically find the goal line set at -0.5, but with considerable favorites, the lines will rise to -1.5 or -2.5. And naturally, just like NFL or NBA spreads, you’ll find additional juice added on top.

If you’re betting on Team 1 with a goal line of -1.5, the team is required to win by 2 goals or more for your wager to cash. In reverse, if you wager on Team 2 with a goal of +2.5, they must win, draw, or lose by one or two goals for your bet to win. 

Alternatively, you can bet on the Asian handicap, where the point spread is split between two bets. E.g. -1.5 -2, if your team wins by two, you’ll break even, but if they win by three, you win both.

Due to soccer’s low-scoring affairs, it’s a rare occasion that you’ll find goal lines as whole numbers because bookmakers like to reduce the likelihood of a push.

For that reason, you’re most likely to see half-goal lines such as 1.5 or 2.5 goal margins when looking at the goal line market.

Betting on Soccer Totals (Over/Under)

A bet type that most American bettors will be familiar with is totals. And soccer totals operate in the same fashion for other sports, but on a smaller level.

Much like a goal line wager, totals are adjusted in half-goal increments and will regularly include a half-goal hook to encourage bets on both sides. Most of the time, bettors will be offered totals of 2.5 or 3.5. Totals can be set at three goals or two goals for games with defensive-based squads.

These three-goal totals are not the greatest for beginners and are often labelled as dead numbers. A quarter of this season’s Premier League fixtures ended on three goals. So, unless you’re following a clear trend on a fixture, totals with hooks included are the best approach for success.

Although it’s less familiar with American sportsbooks, bettors can sometimes stumble across totals in increments of a quarter of a goal (2.75 or 3.25, for example). Half your bet will be placed on one number and the other half placed on another. If you bet on the Under 2.75 goals, half of your stake would be on Under 2.5 goals, and the other half would be on Under 3 goals, which means that a final score of 2-1 would see the bettor lose the Under 2.5 and push the Under 3.

All bet types are graded on 90 minutes plus injury time and don’t include extra time or a penalty shootout situation. If you’re wagering on a game where these possibilities can surface, consider this before placing your wager. 

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