Soccer Betting Strategy - Spread Betting
Are you serious about making money from betting on soccer? If you answered yes to that question, then you're going to want to limit the number of mistakes you make. There's an article in our soccer betting guide that actually addresses the common mistakes made by soccer bettors. This article is designed to help people identify the errors they are making that will inevitably cost them money. One of the mistakes we mention is ignoring the many alternative betting opportunities that soccer presents.
We understand why so many people have a tendency to want to stick to the simple wagers they are comfortable with. However, understanding the different types of soccer wagers is one good way to improve your chances of identifying better opportunities. By learning how to use the right type of wager in the right situation, you'll find it much easier to find value in the betting markets.
In addition to using alternative wagers, you should also consider spread betting on soccer. This is an entirely different way to gamble on soccer, and it can be very profitable. There can be a great deal of risk involved, however, which is why it's vital to make sure you understand what you're doing. That's why we've written this article. We explain what spread betting is as it relates to soccer, provide some useful tips and advice, and discuss some recommended strategies.
Soccer Spread Betting Explained
We want to make one thing very clear before we get started. Spread betting is NOT the same as betting on the point spread. Also known as handicap betting, the point spread is a very popular way to wager on sports. Looking at the United States, in particular, people use this form of betting on American football, basketball and ice hockey. Although their names are similar, they actually have very little in common.
Let's quickly explain how a point spread works, just so you'll understand the differences. With the point spread, you're making a fixed odds wager on a game. In this type of wager, the favorite is effectively deducted points (or goals in the case of soccer) and the underdog is awarded points. These adjustments in the points/goals are referred to as the spread. Here's an example.
If you backed Hull City on this point spread, you'd win your wager as long as one of the three outcomes occurred: they won, they drew or they lost by less than 1 goal. This is because 1.5 goals are "added" to their score for the purposes of the wager. If you backed Watford, you'd need them to win by at least two goals. This is because 1.5 goals are "removed" from the score for the purposes of the wager. When you win, you're paid out based on the agreed odds (1.91 in this case). When you lose, you are giving up your initial stake.
Spread betting DOESN'T involve fixed odds, and you don't simply win or lose.
These are the key differences. With spread betting, there are no odds involved at all. There's no fixed stake or fixed payout either. Instead, wagers are settled based on how accurate (or inaccurate) your predictions were. The more right you were, the more you win. The more wrong you were, the more you lose.
In some respects, spread betting is a little like betting the over/under. The bookmaker sets a spread for a specific market, and you have to predict whether the relevant total will be higher or lower than the spread. But instead of just winning or losing your wager based on the outcome, how much you win or lose depends on how much higher or lower the relevant total is.
We realize that this probably comes across as way more complicated than it actually is. We're going to use an example to make this easier to understand. Here's how a spread betting market might look for the total number of goals scored in a soccer game.
As you can see, there are two options here. We can sell at 2.30, or we can buy at 2.50. Do not confuse these numbers with odds, as they actually just relate to the number of goals. We "sell" at 2.30 if we're expecting there to be LESS than 2.3 goals, and we "buy" at 2.50 if we're expecting there to be MORE than 2.5 goals. The difference between the two numbers is called the spread. Sound familiar? You guessed it! That's where this form of betting gets its name.
The amount of money we make or lose on our wagers is determined by a combination of three things.
- 1The number of goals we bought or sold at
- 2The stake we bought or sold for
- 3The number of goals scored in the game
Let's say that we'd chosen to buy at 2.50, for a $10 stake. If there were more than 2.5 goals in the game, we'd win. Our payout would be calculated by multiplying our stake by the difference between the number of goals scored and the number of goals we bought at. So if there were three goals, for example, we'd win $5. Three minus 2.5 is 0.5, which gives us $5 when we multiply that by our $10 stake. If there were four goals, we'd win $15. Four minus 2.5 is 1.5, which gives us $15 when we multiply that by our $10 stake.
If there were less than 2.5 goals in the game, we'd lose. Our losses would be calculated in the same way. If there were no goals scored, for example, we'd lose $25. 2.5 minus zero is 2.50, which is $25 when multiplied by our $10 stake. If there was just one goal scored, we'd lose $15. 2.5 minus one is 1.5. Multiply that by our $10 stake and we get $15.
The principle is pretty much the same when selling, but in reverse. If we chose to sell at 2.30, we'd win if there were less than 2.3 goals scored and we'd lose if there were more. The amount we'd win or lose would be calculated using the same principle we just outlined.
As you can see, spread betting really isn't that complex at all: not once you understand the basic concept. You buy when you expect the relevant total to be higher than quoted, and you sell when you expect it to be lower. How much money you'll win or lose is calculated by multiplying your initial stake by the difference between the final total and the number you bought or sold at.
Where spread betting starts to get more complicated is with all the different markets available. Not all of the markets are as straightforward as the total goals market we just used in our example. Let's take a deeper look at the various markets that are available.
Soccer Spread Betting Markets
The bookmakers that offer sports spread betting usually have a huge range of markets available for soccer games. We'll start by listing some of the simpler markets below.
- Total corners
- Total bookings
- Total team goals
- Total first half goals
- Total second half goals
- Total offsides
Each of these markets works in the same way as the total goals market. The bookmaker sets a spread, and you have to decide whether the final total will be higher or lower. For total corners, you're wagering on how many corners there will be in a game. For total bookings, you're wagering on how many bookings there will be in a game. And so on.
In addition to these markets, there are some other over/under type markets that are a little more complex. These include the following.
- Total shirt numbers
- Total goal minutes
- Total team goal minutes
- Total player goal minutes
For total shirt numbers, you're wagering on the aggregate total of the shirt (jersey) numbers of all the players who start the match. This is what we would consider to be a novelty market, and not one we recommend getting involved with. Unless you have inside information about which players are going to start a game, it basically comes down to an educated guess. This isn't really a problem for anyone just betting for fun, but it's not a good way to make money in the long run.
For total goal minutes, you're wagering on the cumulative total number of minutes on the clock when any goals are scored. For example, let's say a game featured three goals and they were scored on the 21st, 42nd and 65th minutes. The total here would be 128 (21 + 42 + 65). Again, this is a novelty market in our opinion. Some people believe they can make informed judgements here, but we're not really sure how.
Total team goal minutes and total player goal minutes work in the same was as total goal minutes. They're just based on the goal minutes for a specific team or specific player.
There are lots of other markets for soccer games too. Most of these are even more complicated, and many of them are just simply not worth experimenting with. There are a few exceptions though. Here's a list of the ones we recommend learning about.
- Win index
- Goal supremacy
- Goals x corners
- First goal minutes
Win index markets are quoted per team. The exact rules vary from one bookmaker to another, but these are usually points based markets where teams are awarded points based on whether they win, lose or draw. For example, a bookmaker may award 25 points for a win, 10 points for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.
Here's how a win index market might look for the Newcastle United versus Leeds United game we mentioned earlier.
This market is for Newcastle's result in the game. We would buy at 19.50 if we thought Newcastle were going to win, as that would earn them 25 points. If we thought that they were going to lose or draw, we'd sell at 18.00
Goal supremacy is based on the winning margin of a game. Here's an example.
Note that this refers to Newcastle goal supremacy specifically, so this market is for how many goals Newcastle will win by. If we thought that they'd win by more than one goal, we'd buy at 1.35. If we thought that they'd win by only one goal, or that they'd lose or draw the game, we'd sell at 1.15. A negative result is possible with this market. If Leeds won by two goals, for example, then the result would be -2.
Goals x corners is one of the more unusual soccer spread betting markets. The relevant total here is the number of goals scored multiplied by the number of corners. So if there were two goals scored in a game, and ten corners, the final total would be 20. We don't generally pay too much attention to this market, but every once in awhile we will place a wager here.
First goal minutes is based on the time of the first goal scored in a game. If the first goal was scored in the 15th minute, for example, then the result would be 15. If the first goal was scored in the 67th minute, the result would be 67. At most bookmakers, no goal at all means the result is 90. Other bookmakers have different rules though, so check to make sure.
Any bookmaker that offers soccer spread betting will provide a complete list of all the different markets on their website. Typically, we don't recommend getting involved with any of the markets not outlined on our site, but it never hurts to see what's available. Who knows? You might discover a new, attractive market that we have never come across before.
Spread Betting on Soccer vs Fixed Odds Betting
Spread betting on soccer is nowhere near as popular as fixed odds betting for several reasons. One major reason is that people aren't even aware of it. Another is that some people think it's more complicated than it actually is. That's understandable really, as it DOES appear quite complex until you understand the basic concept.
There are also some notable disadvantages to spread betting when compared with fixed odds betting. The following are especially significant.
- Stakes and payouts are not fixed
- Potential for big losses
- Fewer companies to bet with
- Bonuses and rewards are less common/valuable
Most people who place wagers on soccer are what we call recreational bettors. We referred to these people in the introduction to this article. They're the ones who are only really interested in having fun, so they like to keep things as simple as possible. With fixed odds they know exactly how much they stand to win or lose for every wager that they place. The same cannot be said with spread betting, which can make some people a little nervous.
There's also the potential for huge losses, and when we say huge, we mean HUGE. With some spread betting markets, it's possible to lose the initial stake many times over. When the unexpected happens, which is does very often; the losses can be very substantial. This means a sizeable bankroll is required, which is not an option for everyone. Even when it is an option, there are plenty of people who simply don't like being exposed to such high levels of risk.
The third disadvantage on our list won't have a huge impact on everyone, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless. There are LOTS of options when it comes to fixed odds betting, with hundreds of bookmakers and betting sites to choose from. With spread betting, however, the options are more limited. There are only a few spread betting firms that are genuinely reputable and trustworthy, and most of them only operate in specific regions. In some parts of the world, there are no decent options at all.
Now it's time to discuss our fourth and final disadvantage, which can have a significant impact on those who wager for high stakes or in high volume. Most online bookmakers and betting sites offer bonuses and rewards to their customers. This gives you the opportunity to add extra value to your bankroll just by depositing and wagering as normal. The more you wager, the more valuable the bonuses and rewards are likely to be. Spread betting firms, on the other hand, don't tend to be quite as generous with the bonuses and rewards that they offer. It can be frustrating to miss out on this much value.
Anyone who is seriously thinking about spread betting on soccer should definitely take these disadvantages into account. There are also some advantages worth considering too. Just take a look at the list below.
- Potential for big returns
- More betting options
- Value is often easier to identify
- Able to close positions early
- Winners are unlikely to have accounts limited or closed
Finally, it's time to talk about some of the positives! The flipside to the potential for big losses that we mentioned earlier is the fact that there's also the potential for big returns. As an example, let's say we bought total goals in a soccer game. Although it's rare, high scoring games are always a possibility. Six, seven or even more goals has the potential to give us a nice return on our money, perhaps five times our initial stake or higher. If we only bet on the over/under with a traditional bookmaker, then we'd have just won at the appropriate odds. That would almost certainly have meant a lower payout.
Having more betting options is ALWAYS a good thing, and spread betting definitely gives you that. There are all kinds of different markets as we discussed earlier, and this makes it much easier to find good spots for placing a wager.
Identifying value in fixed odds soccer betting markets can be extremely difficult. The bookmakers are very good at setting their odds at just the right levels, so that it's not at all clear where the value lies. While the same general principle applies to spread betting, there still seems to be more opportunities to easily spot value. This is probably because the people who set the spreads are more likely to take positions based on their own opinions, which means you'll often see spreads that are significantly different than the rest of the market. If you have a strong opinion yourself, you may be able to take advantage of these off-market spreads.
Being able to close positions early is one of the biggest advantages of all. This is actually possible with fixed odds betting these days, thanks to the "cash out" feature that most bookmakers offer, but it usually comes at a cost. The amount of any cash out offer you receive for an existing wager will typically have a big margin built in. With spread betting, closing a position early isn't nearly as expensive.
Essentially, all it means is settling a wager early. For example, let's say we bought total goals at 2.10 for a game. Just 20 minutes into the game, and two goals have already been scored. Yikes, this makes us a little nervous. The total goals spread will now move, as it's adjusted during a game based on what happens. With two goals scored after 20 minutes, it would probably be at something like 3.60 - 3.80. We could close our position and make a profit of 1.5 times our initial stake. The 1.5 is the difference between the price we bought at and the current price to sell.
Doing this would protect us against no more goals being scored. We're basically taking a safe option to ensure a profit. We can use similar tactics to cut our losses. Let's say we had sold total goals in this game rather than bought them, at 1.90. The two early goals would mean that we're already guaranteed to lose, but we could lose A LOT if several more goals were to be scored. We could instead close our position and take a loss of 2.9 times our initial stake. The 2.9 is the difference between the price we sold at and the current price to buy.
It's not always right to close a position early of course, but it's nice to have the option. If our outlook changes after watching part of a game, we can close our initial position and then enter another one if we want. The scenario we just went over is a prime example of when taking this approach would be beneficial. If it's relatively early on in the game and the odds have already moved substantially, then it makes sense to cut our losses to avoid a devastating loss. It can also make sense to take some guaranteed profit when it's available, rather than risk that profit for the chance of making even more.
The final advantage on our list is very enticing for soccer bettors who win money consistently. Bookmakers and betting sites don't like customers who win, for obvious reasons, so they'll often limit the amounts that these customers can stake. In some instances, their accounts may be closed permanently. This means it can be difficult for winning bettors to place their wagers. They can always move on to a new bookmaker of course, but there are only so many trustworthy bookmakers to go to.
Those who choose spread betting will very rarely run into a situation where their accounts will be limited or closed. The bookmakers who offer spread betting make their profits based on the size of the spread, and providing they get reasonably balanced action they're almost always going to make a profit. They therefore don't have to worry so much about winning customers, as winners are unlikely to affect overall profit margins too much.
The advantages of spread betting far outweigh the disadvantages in our opinion. We'd never advise anyone to favor it over fixed odds betting though. It shouldn't be viewed as a replacement, but rather as an alternative to use in the appropriate circumstances. Just please make sure you know how to wager on the spread effectively. That's exactly what we help you with for the remainder of this article.
Tips & Advice for Soccer Spread Betting
We strongly believe that the spreads are a great option for any soccer bettor who is serious about making money. We believe they're a great option for recreational bettors too, as wagering this way can be very exciting. There's one vital piece of advice that you MUST follow though, regardless of whether you bet for fun or for profit.
Spread betting is high risk. That's not up for debate. These risks are worth taking, in our opinion, because of the potential for high rewards. That doesn't mean you should just ignore the risks involved though. It's very easy to lose a lot of money very quickly when spread betting, especially when you're new to it. So PLEASE be careful, and be sure to keep your stakes small to start with.
In addition to this advice, we have a few other tips for you too.
- Ensure you know the rules
- Always compare with fixed odds markets
- Bet on games involving teams you're familiar with
- Compare potential losses with potential payouts
- Be prepared to close your positions early
Take the extra time to make sure you fully understand the rules of any spread betting wager you place. While some rules will be straightforward and easy to follow, others won't be. Take the win index markets that we discussed earlier for example. Teams earn points based on different outcomes, and the number of points they earn for each outcome can vary from one bookmaker to another. If you're not familiar with the exact rules, you could easily make a wrong decision.
As we mentioned earlier, we don't consider spread betting to be a replacement for fixed odds betting. In an ideal situation, you will be using both forms of betting. Which ones you use will depend on the situation at hand. Sometimes it will be better to place a fixed odds wager, and other times it will be right to wager on a spread.
This brings us to our third tip, which will apply to any form of soccer betting. Your goal when betting is, of course, to make informed predictions about what's likely to happen. Your predictions won't be very informed when betting on games between teams you know nothing about though, so it's much better to focus on teams that you do know. Your predictions WILL be informed, and therefore far more likely to accurate.
Comparing the potential losses with the potential payout is an essential step before placing any wager on the spreads. If you are able to identify the risk versus reward ratio of the spread, then you'll be able to effectively determine value in spread betting. We don't really see a point in risking a potential big loss for a small potential payout, whereas risking a small loss for a big potential payout has obvious appeal. The risk verses reward ratio wouldn't usually be as clear-cut, but it's still something that's worth looking into.
We've already discussed closing positions early, explaining that it's one of the big advantages of spread betting. Please take full advantage of this. Closing a position early is frequently the correct thing to do. By consistently closing your positions at the right times, you'll be able to see major improvements to your overall results. Plus, this is a great way to manage risk exposure.
With that, we have reached the end of our tips. Just because they're not overly complicated doesn't mean they aren't important and valuable. While these tips aren't set in place to guarantee you success, they will certainly improve your chances. Following our tips, in addition to our recommended strategies, will increase those chances even more.
Our Preferred Soccer Spread Betting Strategies
Once you've been spread betting on soccer for a while, you'll almost certainly start finding plenty of opportunities to make good wagers. As we mentioned earlier, though, it will take some time before you instinctively know when to bet on the spreads and when to use fixed odds. In the meantime, you might like to consider our preferred strategies for soccer spread betting.
Below we've described five specific wagers that we like to make, and when exactly we like to make them.
Buying total goals
There are lots of occasions when we like to buy total goals. In theory, it's the right thing to do whenever a high scoring game is likely. This does, of course, depend on where the spread is set though. If the spread is too high, then buying total goals won't represent much value.
We prefer to buy total goals for games between two teams that are stronger in attack than they are in defense. We know that in these types of situations that both teams tend to focus on scoring goals rather than trying to prevent them. This means a low scoring game is unlikely. The risk of buying goals is relatively small, but the potential rewards are significant.
While we don't necessarily have definitive rules for where the spread needs to be, we usually won't place a wager if it's three goals or more.
Buying total corners
We know it's extremely difficult to accurately predict the number of corners in a soccer game, so we don't place this wager too often. In certain situations, it can offer good value. Games involving teams that like to get wide and cross the ball, for example, are likely to feature a lot of corners. If the spread is below 15 in the above scenario, then we'll usually buy corners.
We also like buying corners in games where one team is notably stronger than the other, but the weaker team has a solid defense. The weaker team is likely to have to defend a lot of attacking plays, and chances are that they'll prevent several of the opposition's goal scoring opportunities by conceding corners. Again, if the spread is below 15, then we're likely to place a buy wager.
Buying total bookings
Buying total bookings can be very profitable in the right situations. Games between two teams that both have several "feisty" players are obviously worth considering, but realize that the spreads are typically set quite high for such games. The bookmakers know that a lot of bookings are likely, so they take that into account when setting the spreads. This reduces the potential value.
A better approach is to look for games where lots of bookings are likely, but not so likely that the spread will be too high. A good example is games between two teams who are both fighting relegation and under extreme pressure. Derby games are often worth considering too.
Selling goal supremacy
Selling goal supremacy can be very risky, so this isn't something we do very often. We avoid this at all cost when there's a good chance of the favored team winning by a significant margin. The potential for big losses is just too great.
So then when do we sell goal supremacy? We sell goal supremacy when one team is only slightly favored to win, and we believe the underdog could possibly pull off a draw or even a win. We need to be pretty confident in our view, and the spread needs to be somewhere between one and two. Although there's still an element of risk here, in the right circumstances we do believe the potential advantages outweigh the potential disadvantages.
Selling first goal minutes
This is a strategy we use frequently. The spreads for first goal minutes are consistent across virtually all soccer games, and they're usually somewhere between 30-33 and 36-39. This is because the average time for the first goal in a game is within those ranges. However, it's not that difficult to spot games where an earlier goal is likely.
We like using this strategy on games where both teams are desperate for a win. Soccer teams like to score as quickly as possible when they really need a victory, as establishing a lead is very important to them. If both teams employ the same approach, there's a very good chance that we'll see an early goal.
The strategies we've just discussed here are all fairly simple to apply. You just need to highlight the right kind of games and then make the appropriate wager. This makes them ideal to use while you're getting used to soccer spread betting. They can be profitable in the long run too, providing you're good at identifying the best times to use them.
Ultimately, though, you should look to also develop your own strategies. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. Not everything you try will work out immediately, and of lot of things won't work out at all. With a little perseverance and the willingness to adjust your strategies over time, finding a winning formula becomes a real possibility.