A Guide to Online Sports Betting

Sports Betting
Sports Betting © pogonici - Fotolia.com

History tells us that the two most popular sports to bet on are horse racing and football, and this is a trend that continues by and large today.

A host of other sports are now competing for punters’ attention and the best bit is that these offer vast potential in both the markets that are available and the profits that can be made.

So let’s take a look at a few in turn:

Horse Racing

online horse betting

Horse racing is where most of the money is bet in the UK.

Having a flutter on the nags dates back to the 16th century; although its boom period came in the 1900s when high street bookmakers were legalised, and punters were now able to place their bets locally rather than having to travel to the race meet in person.

There are a number of different bet types to choose from in horse racing, but each has the same basic tenet: pick a horse that will win!

Types of Horse Racing Bet

Fundamentally, the idea is to pick out a horse that you think will win a specific race outright. Whether you have studied their form, their suitability for the conditions, their jockey/trainer team or you simply just like the name, the basic premise is the same. This is called a single.

If you pick out a couple of horses that you think will win in a number of races, then you can add these to your bet slip too to form a multiple bet. This is known as an accumulator, and can take the form of a double, treble, four-fold, five-fold etc.

And then there are a whole host of more complex combinations that are great for enhancing your success rate whilst managing risk. In the following bet types, you only need two selections to win to ensure a profit:

Trixie – Three selections in three races (A,B,C), with four winning combinations (A & B; A & C; B & C; A, B & C) – that is three doubles and a treble. Here you are placing four bets.

Patent – The same as a Trixie but with seven winning combinations (the same as above plus the three singles). Here you are placing seven bets.

Yankee – Four selections with 11 possible outcomes (six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold). Here you are placing 11 bets.

Lucky 15 – Four selections with 15 possible outcomes (the same as a Yankee plus the four singles). Here you are placing 15 bets.

Canadian – Five selections with 26 possible outcomes (ten doubles, ten trebles, five four-folds and a single five-fold). Here you are placing 26 bets.

There are many more types of multiple betting, but this should give you a flavour for now.

If you like to minimise risk then you can always bet each way too. This offers you a fraction of your odds for a horse to finish in the top three, four or five, depending on the size of the field. For example, a bookmaker might offer you 1/4 odds for your selection to finish within the first four of a race.


football betting

Betting on the football is still one of the most loved weekend pastimes in this country; largely because the beautiful game is still the national sport of the UK.

There is an element of predictability to football; e.g. Chelsea will beat Sunderland at home nine times out of ten, and that also helps to add to its popularity. This security in the match winner markets enables the earnest punter to make regular profits by betting on sensible outcomes.

But a lot of bettors like to take things to the next level and leverage their returns further. This has given rise to a whole host of new weird and wonderful bet types to explore.

Types of Football Bet

The most basic type of football betting is the outright match market, i.e. betting on a team to win, draw or lose. Often the prices of favourites or the home team can be prohibitive, hence the advent of ‘accumulators’ – betting on two or more teams to win on the same bet slip, as this multiplies odds in the punters’ favour.

Newer markets such as double chance (betting on two outcomes e.g. Team A to win or draw) and draw no bet enable more frugal punters to hedge their bets yet further.

There has always been an appetite to dig deeper within individual football matches, which is why the correct score and over/under goals markets are so popular.

And to take this one step further is handicap betting. This gives one team an imaginary headstart or obstacle to overcome. So you could back Team A with a -1 handicap to increase your odds without necessarily enhancing your risk. This would mean that they need to win by two clear goals for your bet to be successful.

Alternatively, if you think Team B can upset the applecart and put in a strong performance, then you could back them with a +1 handicap to hedge your bets further. This, in essence, grants them a goal headstart.

Don’t forget spread betting either. Spread odds can usually be unfavourable when betting on the outcome of a match, so instead punters look for markets and conditions within individual games.

Cards and corners are widely-used because these are factors that can be predicted with some accuracy, for example, if the match is a local derby or there is bad blood between the two teams then you’d expect there to be a flurry of yellow and red cards – we can use this wisely in our spread.

To learn more about football betting read our “How to get started in Football Betting Guide”.


cricket betting

Cricket is becoming increasingly more popular with sports bettors thanks to the sheer number of markets and bet types on offer.

Gone are the days when you could only back a particular team to win a match – now you can bet on hundreds of markets within a single game.

Types of Cricket Bet

There are still the old favourites, the outright markets, to bet on too; whether that is individual matches, series’ or tournaments. For example, you could back England to win a single match against Australia, to win the Ashes series or to win the World Cup.

And then there are the specific markets available within tournaments. You might fancy a specific player to be the top bowler or batsman within that competition, or you might have had a good tip for the man of the series/tournament market.

A lot of these apply to single matches too. So imagine England are playing Australia: you could bet on the man of the match market, top England/Australia batsman or bowler, highest opening partnership, most sixes, century to be scored in the match….the list is almost endless. You can even bet on the outcome of the toss, which gives you a one in two chance of winning.

With so many markets to explore, including a number of 50/50 outcomes such as highest opening partnership, it’s no wonder that sportsbook and spread bettors alike are getting involved with cricket.


golf betting

Golf is a great sport to bet on simply because of the outstanding prices you can get in the outright winner market – even on the tournament favourite. So if you can find a winner in the field then you could return some big money.

For example, the US Open has a field in excess of 150 players, and so winning the event is a huge achievement. The odds reflect this: tournament favourite Rory McIlroy can be backed from 7/1. There are players priced at 50/1 and over – and we’re talking former Major winners and players in the top 20 in the world – that could legitimately win the tournament. So doing your homework when betting on golf is essential!

Types of Golf Bet

In addition to traditional outright winner betting, don’t forget you can bet each way too. Many bookmakers will offer you 1/4 odds for your chosen player to finish in the top five. Your return is based on their finishing position, e.g. if your pick is runner up your return will be greater than if your player finishes fifth, but betting each way is a great way to cover your stake and hopefully make some profit.

Most of the big golf tournaments, which take place across Europe and the USA on a weekly basis, use the same format. Four rounds are played each day from Thursday to Sunday. After two rounds a whole bunch of players are cut, leaving the very best remaining for the last two days. This usually sets up an exciting finale.

In those first two rounds, three players accompany each other around the course in a ‘three ball’. Punters can bet on which of these players they think will have a better round compared to the other two. In the last two rounds the players play in pairs or ‘two balls’ as they are known, and likewise we can back the player we think will come out on top in that personal duel.

As you’d expect spread betting is available on all of the above plus a host of other markets too, including the winning margin, score ranges and final position of a player.



The beauty of tennis betting is that you can bet on almost any outcome: from tournament winner to who wins a specific point in a match – and everything in-between.

At the Grand Slams and other major tournaments the field is made up of 128 players – pitting the very best in the world alongside qualifiers and unheralded newcomers. This gulf in class can yield some exciting results for punters; especially in the early rounds.

Types of Tennis Bet

We have all of the outright markets you’d expect; tournament and match winner, plus a whole host of possibilities for betting within specific matches.

Imagine Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were locking horns at Wimbledon. We could bet on the set winner, how many sets there are in the match, the correct score within a specific set etc. We can bet on the number of games in a set and even the total number of games in the match.

A selection of handicap markets is available too, from total games in the match to handicapping within a set.

The possibilities of tennis betting are almost endless – and that is why it is so popular! If you know your stuff, and understand the ebbs and flows of the sport, you can make good money with sensible betting.


f1 betting

Punters who have a flutter on Formula One generally know their stuff, and also know how to take advantage of their knowledge base to make profit.

For example, certain drivers favour particular tracks or drive well in specific weather conditions. This information can be leveraged in the individual race market to find value where otherwise it might not exist.

Types of F1 Bet

In F1 there are three main outright markets to bet on: the Drivers’ Championship, the Constructors’ Championship and individual race winners.

The outcome of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships are generally quite easy to predict after a few races of the season have unfolded, so many punters use F1 as a way to make low risk income to re-invest elsewhere.

Spread betting is also available, with the Championships betting up for grabs as well as the total amount of points scored by each team and driver.


snooker betting

Like many sports played by individuals, there tends to be a whole host of common and slightly more obscure markets from which bettors can leverage profit.

There are tournaments throughout the year on which to bet, including the majors and lesser Players’ Championships events, and the outright odds are great value as there are currently five or six players who are genuine contenders for each.

Types of Snooker Betting

The tournament and match winner markets are as popular as ever, but it’s the ‘in match’ bet types that are the fastest growing.

You can bet on the total number of frames in a match, as well as any handicap as you see fit – whether that’s frames or points. You can bet on the outcome of individual frames too.

As you might expect, snooker spread betting is hugely popular due to the volatile nature of the sport. Incredible comebacks from the brink of defeat are famous in snooker, and this is reflected in the spread markets.

So if you are a fan of the action on the green baize, snooker betting can be a profitable past time; particularly with so many good players on the circuit. The longer matches in the big tournaments offer the most consistent returns due to their more predictable nature.


darts betting

Darts has enjoyed an absolute boom in popularity in the last decade, with the sport no longer the preserve of portly players in smoky working mens clubs. As a consequence, it has become a hugely entertaining and often profitable sport to bet on too.

It may look like a simple sport on telly or when you’re standing on the oche at the local pub, but don’t be confused: there are plenty of changeable conditions and variants which can take place within a darts match. As such, there is a wide variety of markets to bet on.

Types of Darts Betting

There are the two outright markets to consider – match and tournament winner – as well as a catalogue of bet types occurring within individual matches.

We can bet on the total number of legs in the match, the total number of sets (in the case of the World Championships) and the total number of 180s.

We can predict who will hit the highest finish, and what that outshot will be, as well as which of the two competitors will check out the highest finish and throw the most maximums.

Handicap markets help to add value where Player A has a distinct advantage over Player B – so rather than betting on him to win outright you could try a -3 handicap in a best of 19 leg match to increase your odds at a slightly higher risk factor.

Of course, spread betting is available on the vast majority of these markets.