Betting Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Football Betting Strategy

By Dean Smith

Football betting strategy

Published: 10:09, 31 May 2023 | Updated: 11:42, 18 December 2023

Football stands alone when it comes to popularity with bettors. Professional gamblers will have a football betting strategy that allows them to profit long-term from the sport. Although many modern-day punters know very little about the sport they bet on, they have computers running algorithms that tell them what prices are too high.

A football betting strategy is a plan or outline that guides a punter to make a profit on football betting. Some of these require no knowledge, some an in-depth understanding of the sport, so something for everyone.

In this piece, we’ll introduce you to eight strategies and how to utilise them. Unfortunately, there is no best football betting strategy – betting is about finding what works for an individual. However, if you are looking for how to win football bets, then read on.

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Eight Proven Football Betting Strategies to Maximize Your Winnings

Below, we take a closer look at eight popular football betting strategies.

1 – Arbitrage

Most bettors will have heard of arbing, even if they are unsure what it means. Simply put, it is being able to back a selection at a higher price than you are able to lay it at, at an exchange.

For example, bet365 offers 6/4 (2.50) that Manchester United beat Arsenal at Old Trafford. However, on the Betfair Exchange, the price to lay Manchester United is currently 2.3, which is shorter than 6/4. So you place a bet with bet365 and lay the same selection on Betfair and guarantee yourself a profit.

These occur more often than you would think, especially in the early stages of a market. You need to be quick and on the ball to take advantage of them, as there are a lot of bettors looking for the same things.

Naturally, bookmakers don’t like arbers as they are taking profit by simply spotting prices with a differential. It is a way to see your accounts restricted, but profit can be made while the going is good.

2 – Pareto

Pareto is a principle often used in business that says that 80% of outcomes are derived from 20% of the causes. In football, this can mean that 80% of trophies will be won by just 20% of the clubs. A quick look down the list of Premier League winners will show you that this is pretty much the case.

So how do we apply this principle when finding the best football betting strategy? It is all about finding your specialities. Take the main football leagues to bet on in the UK – there’s the Premier League, Championship, Leagues 1 & 2, plus the National League.

The Pareto principle says you pick one and don’t consider looking at the others. Furthermore, find the right markets to bet on. Many bookmakers will offer odds on so many different variables, so find a small percentage of what you know and stick to it.
It is all about being able to stay disciplined.

Profits will be bigger when you have a narrower field of vision. Of course, picking those markets, to begin with, can be hit and miss but keep a complete list of your bets, and it will quickly become apparent what 20% of the markets you should be concentrating on.

3 – Lay the Draw

A popular system on the betting exchanges is to lay the draw before a match starts. An early goal, either way, will allow you to back the draw at a much higher price than you layed it at, which guarantees you a profit no matter what happens for the remainder of the match.

Picking a suitable game for this is essential. It would be hoped that a strong favourite against an underdog (Manchester City at home to West Ham, for example) could get themselves in front early enough to make this a quick and easy lay-to-back scenario.

Unfortunately, this has become such a popular strategy in recent years that it is hard to get started in some markets as punters are all looking to place the same bets. That can make it difficult to trade out of your position during the match if a draw is more likely as the full-time result.

4 – Singles Only

This ties in with a couple on here, but the best way to win long-term on football betting is to stick to betting on singles. We all hear the siren call of the crazy acca to win a million pounds on a Saturday, but that’s not the way to play.

Many people may see singles betting as dull, and admittedly it is a slower way of building up your balance than betting multiples. However, the most significant advantage is that sensible stake management makes any losses easier to handle. Stick to the same stake on one selection, and things will trend in the right direction – you must stay patient.

5 – Value Betting

This is a little different as it relies on prior knowledge. Value Betting is a subjective opinion-based strategy founded on a personal grasp of the sport and mathematics.

If your study shows that Liverpool should be 4/5 at home to Chelsea and the bookmakers have 5/4 on offer, then this is value. However, there will be others out there who believe Liverpool should be 11/8 in this situation, so they are not value – this can be the issue with value betting – it is subjective.

For those looking for a little more reassurance, the true price of an outcome can often be found on the exchanges. The current true price is the midpoint between the current back and lay prices. If there is a higher price on offer at a bookmaker, then it is a value price.

Most money goes on the top leagues, and odds compilers for bookmakers have plenty of knowledge to price these up accurately. So the most value will come for those looking further down the pyramid for bets in a league where the trader’s knowledge is not as good as the punter’s.

6 – Matched Betting

When it comes to one of the best ways to beat the bookies, we have matched betting. This is certainly not a system for those looking to make a lot of profit from football betting, but it is an excellent way to chip away with a little bit of profit here and there.

The premise of matched betting is to take advantage of the free bets on offer when you sign up with a bookmaker. Backing with a bookie and laying off on the exchange will give you a slight loss on your first bet, which is known as a qualifying bet. When you use your free bet, however, it is all profit.

Profit ticks up very slowly with matched betting, which is not ideal for some but provided it is done correctly, it is an almost foolproof way of making a profit on football – it just takes some commitment to keep going.

7 – Find Proven Tipsters

One for those with less knowledge of the sport at first is to find someone whose job is to provide tips for betting on football. Unfortunately, a lot out there are not trustworthy, so it is advised that you look for a tipster with a full profit and loss record stretching back, as well as one who clearly knows what they are doing.

This is an easy way to learn more about football and how others come up with their tips. You can read their reasoning, understand how they pick out their bets and start doing it yourself. The downside is finding one who is reliable enough, to begin with.

8 – Court Siding

An interesting strategy that works in niche markets and generally at the lower levels of a sport. It is called court siding, as it was used in tennis – someone would sit in the crowd at a match and send information back to betting syndicates in real time through a couple of buttons to show who had won the last point. This relayed what had just happened quicker than tv cameras and those who supply the information to bookmakers,

It can be used at the football for those in the crowd. We have all sat in the stands and seen a penalty given or a challenge that will eventually result in a red card. Betting there and then on a goalscorer or a card gets you ahead of the curve. The biggest negative is that phones can respond slowly in a big crowd, so matches with a smaller attendance are required to make this work.

It is legal, although frowned upon in some quarters, so it is undoubtedly something to tread carefully with. However, some horse racing tracks have private boxes set up expressly for people to do this to get ahead of the exchange markets, so it is not frowned upon everywhere.