A Guide To Betting On Cards and What Points Mean

Is A Profit on the Cards? How to Bet on Bookings

What does it take to be a successful football punter? Is it enough to be passionate about the game, to have an in-depth knowledge of its history and to know all the players? Well, that isn’t a bad place to start, but if you’re going to make a long term profit, you have to have an edge over the competition.

When you bet in the traditional Match Winner’s market, it’s harder to find an edge because you’re competing with the bulk of football bettors, and you’re taking on bookmakers who put all of their resources into getting their odds in this market spot on.

That’s why many successful football punters prefer to focus their efforts on less popular markets, where bookmakers devote fewer resources in framing their prices, and where your rival punters are less informed.

One area favoured by some punters who like to specialise is the various markets associated with cards. Read on to find out more about this niche approach to football betting and how it can help you to turn a profit.

How Does Betting on Cards Work?

As you will see in the next section, there are a number of different markets available for cards betting, but all of them operate on the same basic scoring system. To understand these markets, you have to know how they are scored, with what is called the card index.

calculating scores through cards

Instead of adding up the total number of cards, a yellow card is deemed to be worth 1 point and a red card is worth 2 points. Two yellow cards for the same player, resulting in a red card, is marked up as 3 points. So, for example, if there are five yellow cards and a straight red card during a game, the total cards points for that match would be (5 x 1) + (1 x 2) = 7.

Card Market Variety

The most popular market for cards betting is Total Cards. For this market, the bookmaker will set an estimated points total for the number of cards in the game and punters have to bet whether the final total will be Over or Under. For example, let’s say Chelsea are playing against Bournemouth.

The bookmaker might decide that there will be comparatively few cards handed out in this game and set the total at 4.5, with Over 4.5 and Under 4.5 both priced up at 10/11. If there are five yellow cards during the game, bets on Over 4.5 would be winners.

Handicap cards betting is a variation on the regular handicap markets. In this case, the bookmaker will put a handicap against one of the teams in the form of a – figure and balance it with a + figure for their opponents. In the example of the game above, they might make Chelsea -1 and Bournemouth +1. If you bet on Chelsea, you would need them to accumulate at least two points more than Bournemouth in the card index for your bet to be a winner.

If they receive one more point than Bournemouth, that would be a handicap draw, the bet would be void and your stake returned. In handicaps with .5 quotes, the draw outcome is removed.

Bookmakers will also offer a range of more obscure card-related markets. You can usually bet on the Total Cards points for each team, whether or not there will be a sending off for either team or in either half, and even the time of the first booking.

When Should You Bet on Cards?

Although cards betting can at first glance appear to be a volatile undertaking, it is possible to weigh up card-related markets effectively if you do your research.

Before you decide whether to get involved in the cards markets for a particular game, it is vital to analyse some key stats for both of the teams involved.

when to make the best bet

Different punters have different preferences and give more weight to some figures over others, but stats such as Tackles Per Game (TPG) Fouls Per Game (FPG) and the average number of Cards Conceded Per Game (CPG) are all useful in helping you to get a handle on a team’s disciplinary profile.

Some of the results you find may be counter-intuitive. It can often be the case that teams that focus on retaining possession actually give away a relatively high number of fouls per game, either because they are not accustomed to losing possession and so risk giving away fouls in their desperation to get the ball back when they lose it, or because they are pushing hard to establish their dominance.

By contrast, teams that sit back and defend often pick up comparatively few cards because they are focused on dropping back and covering space when they lose the ball, rather than pressing to get the ball back.

This situation changes somewhat if you have an underdog team that is trying to compete against better opponents, rather than holding on for a draw, as they will end up doing a lot of chasing and will inevitably commit more fouls as they attempt to get into the game.

The likely intensity of the competition in any game also has to be borne in mind when analysing the cards markets. Teams that have one eye on a more important upcoming game may play with less intensity than usual, make fewer risky challenges and concede fewer cards.

By contrast, local derbies or matches between teams with a history of rivalry can often lead to a higher than usual card count as passions boil over.

The final factor to consider when deciding whether to bet in the cards market is the identity of the referee. While in theory the same rules are applied in every match, in practice, we know that referees can differ in their interpretation of the rules, as well as their ability to take the heat out of a potentially fractious game.

It is vital to have an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of all referees in the league you are studying, or at the very least, to keep a record of the average number of card points their games produce.

If you have a good handle on the disciplinary records of both teams, an understanding of how they will approach the game, and how this will affect the likely card count, and you know the referee’s style, you may well have identified a good game in which to bet on cards.

learning the disciplinary records


The card betting markets may appear obscure to punters who are used to betting only in the Match Winners markets, but they offer an opportunity to specialise and develop an expertise in an area where bookmakers are less focused and your fellow punters are less experienced. For the shrewd punter, a detailed knowledge of how card markets work and a little analysis of the disciplinary records of teams and referees can pay handsome dividends.

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