Football Bet Types Explained – Football Betting Guide for Beginners

How to get started in Football Betting

Football Betting
Football Betting © Robert Kneschke -

Football betting has overtaken horse racing as the sport that UK punters just love to have a flutter on.

That’s due, in part at least, to the nature of the game. Every football fan has their opinions, and betting enables them to back these up with action. There are a wealth of markets to bet on, too, whereas with horse racing it’s win, place or nothing.

Basic Tools for Successful Football Betting

The tools for successful football betting are very easy to come by: all you need, on the most basic level, is an up-to-date league table(s) of the competition(s) you wish to bet on. You can find these in pretty much any newspaper, or on any number of websites such as BBC or Sky Sports.

To take things to the next level, a league table that is split into home and away form is particularly helpful, as this will give you an insight into how each team fares both on home soil and on their travels. Take a look at ESPN for starters.

Advanced punters will also consider two other factors:

  • Current form
  • Head-to-head record

Current form is important as it enables us to identify value in matches where otherwise we might not see it. For example, Team A (10th in the league) is in great form having won four of their last five matches. Team B (11th in the league), meanwhile, have lost four of their last five games. The league table suggests they are currently evenly matched, but the form table reveals otherwise.

The head-to-head record of two teams can throw up some interesting insights too. Imagine that Team C and Team D are on the same number of points in the league table, and their current form record is identical. We then investigate their head-to-head record, and find that Team C has won four of their last five games against Team D – and thus we have some sound logic with which to place our bet.

So, hopefully, you can see the importance of having both the current form guide and head-to-head record stats at your disposal.

Getting Started in Football Betting

online football betting

There is an absolute galaxy of different bet types and markets to explore with football betting, and it is impossible to cover all of them in this article! So for now, we’ll stick to the basics.

First, you will need to decide whether you want to place one bet (a single), or a number of similar bets (an accumulator).

The benefits of placing a single bet are that you only need one outcome to be successful. So imagine you had backed Manchester United to beat Newcastle United at odds of 5/4. You bet £1 and your return is £2.25 – and so your net profit is £1.25.

An accumulator multiplies the odds of each of your selections together to create greater odds. Of course, your risk is increased as you now need a number of selections to be successful for your bet to win,.

Let’s take a look at an example:

You decide to back a treble: Manchester United (5/4), Chelsea (Evens) and Arsenal (10/11).

If all three selections won, you would return £8.59 from your £1 bet – a net profit of £7.59!

So as you can see, the gains of an accumulator bet are really attractive, and these increase exponentially as you add further selections to your bet slip.

But be warned: greed is the punter’s greatest downfall! Each selection you add to your bet slip adds further risk, too. Knowing where you sit on the whole ‘risk vs reward’ spectrum is crucial in deciding whether you want to be an accumulator punter or stick to single bets!

Types of Football Bets Explained

As previously mentioned, there is veritable feast of football bet types and markets to explore with betting.

In truth, there are too many to discuss here. So instead, let’s run through the main bet types and markets, explain what they are and hopefully give you a few hints and tips on how to have some joy with your bets here.

The main markets are:

football betting
  • Match Betting
  • Correct Score
  • Double Result
  • Double Chance
  • Handicapping
  • Both Teams To Score
  • First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer

Match Betting

This is the most straightforward football betting market. You simply need to bet on whether you think Team A will win the match, Team B will win the match or it will be a draw.

Mathematically, your chances of winning stand at 33% – but we can improve our chances by doing our homework, checking out the league table, form guide, head-to-head record and the other items discussed earlier in this piece.

Correct Score

As the name suggests, this is simply guessing the correct score of the match.

Here the odds offered by the bookmakers are generally quite generous, as there are a lot of variances that can occur.

Again, doing your homework on the two teams involved will help, but this market has a lot more luck attached to it than most of the others. For this reason, it is best to bet on the Correct Score market ‘in-play’ (more on that later).

Double Result

Here we need to predict both the half-time and full-time result correctly. You will typically see the options outlined like this on a bookmakers’ website:

Team A/Team A

Team A/Draw

Team B/Team A

And so on.

The team name before the forward slash is the half-time winner, and the team name after the slash is the full-time winner. Of course, you can back the draw where you feel it is appropriate.

This is a good market to enhance our value when one team is much stronger than the other. So, for example, if Team A are a far superior side to Team B, then we could bet Team A/Team A in the Double Result market. This will increase our odds as opposed to betting on Team A in the Match Betting market.

Double Chance

This is a market that is designed to minimise the punter’s risk. Here you are betting on two out of three possible outcomes, so for example Team A/Draw is a Double Chance where you think that Team B stand no chance of winning.

By covering your back – and giving yourself a 66% chance of your bet being successful, as opposed to 33% in the Match Betting market – you are enhancing your chances of winning.

The bookmakers odds in this particular market can be low – especially where you bet on a hot favourite plus the draw.


The Handicap markets place a theoretical impediment on one of the teams, usually + or – a goal or more.

The aim of this market from the bookmakers’ perspective is to essentially even up games where one team is better than the other, and we as punters can use this to our advantage.

Here are two examples based on Team A being a better side than Team B:

We think Team A will win easily, and so we place a -2 handicap on them. This means they now have to win by three clear goals for our bet to be successful. If they were to win by two then this would result in a theoretical draw, and our bet would lose.

Alternatively, we think Team B will perform better than expected. We might think they will still lose, but we will back them with a +2 handicap which gives them, in theory at least, a two-goal headstart on their opponents.

Both Teams To Score

The clue is in the title, and this has become one of the most popular football betting markets available.

Most punters place a Both Teams To Score (BTTS) accumulator, which can range from a treble (three selections) right through to six or even seven-folds. How you sit on the ‘risk versus reward’ argument will dictate how you bet on this market.

BTTS is much loved because we can use a bit of logic and common sense to predict the outcome; a quick glance at the goals for and goals against tallies of the two teams in question can often be enough of an insight.

If the two teams are embroiled in a relegation scrap or promotion dogfight then they will both want to win the game – and thus be hungry for goals. It is little bits of logic like that which will help us.

First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer

The First and Last Goalscorer can be down to luck and these are very unpredictable football betting markets.

Obviously, the more likely the player is to score the lower their odds – and vice versa, so in this market you’re looking for a good value outsider to really reap the rewards. Good examples include John Terry, who as a defender can be backed from 20/1 and greater, but who scored eight goals in all competitions last season.

If there is a midfielder who takes a mean free kick and penalty and is often handed the ball when these opportunities arise, he could pique interest.

Betting In-Play and Cashing Out

These are two modern innovations in football betting which have been facilitated by the continued rise of smartphone and tablet technology.

With punters having access to newer and faster technologies, bookmakers have tapped into this by offering two revolutionary ways to conduct betting: In-Play and Cash Out.


As the name suggests, this is betting on a football match that has already kicked off. This gives punters the opportunity to study the ebbs and flows of the game, and see if they can spot a likely winner.

The good thing with In-Play betting is that if you place a bet after, say, 30 minutes of the match have gone, then again you are maximising your chances of winning.

And it gives us a chance to take advantage of unforeseen circumstances too. What if Team A have a player sent off, or their best player is substituted off with an injury? Of course, we might suddenly fancy Team B’s chances a whole lot more.

Remember the basics of football betting, and the tips for success, as these are still very much valid whether betting before the match starts or in-play.

Cash Out

An incredible function that has changed the way we bet on football forever, we can now cash out on our bets at any time (usually up to the 85th minute of a match).

Why would we want to do that? Firstly, it might be damage limitation. If the team we have backed are losing 2-0 at half-time, then sometimes it is better to simply cut your losses and walk away. Of course, your cash out value will be much less than the amount you have staked, but take the money anyway and live to fight another day.

The second reason is profit consolidation. You’ve backed Team A to win, and they’re 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go. But oh no: they’ve just had a player sent off! Will they hold on for the win?

In the ‘old days’, you’d have had to bite your fingernails and toenails and just pray that they could seal the win. But with Cash Out you don’t need to as you can settle the bet when you want.

Both the In-Play markets and the Cash Out option are available on most bookmakers’ websites and mobile apps, and they are both well worth exploring.

In Conclusion

You should hopefully now have the knowledge and insight to go ahead and make a good go of betting on the football.

Just remember:

  • Do your homework
  • Use logic and common sense – not emotions or pre-conceptions
  • Decide where you sit on the ‘risk vs reward’ theory
  • Find the right market for you
  • Only bet what you can afford
  • Have fun

All that is left to say is good luck with your betting!