Beginners Guide : How To Bet On Football

Written By: Mike Lovatt
Last Updated: October 27, 2022

It is no surprise that football generates the biggest gambling revenue.

Billions are placed on football matches each year, but most people are losing money in the long term.

This sports betting guide answers the question – can you actually be successful by betting on football?

bet365 winning accumulator
Success can sometimes be had with football accumulators. Real value is in single bets.

The simple answer is yes, as there are plenty of people doing it on a regular basis. However, the harsh reality is that it’s difficult and requires a dedicated approach.

Most people believe that they will easily transform the years of watching football in betting winnings, but that’s not the case. In this article, we will try to pinpoint the main reasons most players are long-term losers and give you some tips how to succeed.


Top Football Betting Mistakes

It all starts with the attitude. Most people see football betting as some kind of an easy way to make money. They just try to guess the winner in a certain game (or some other event like who’s going to score a goal) based on their gut feeling. In reality, being successful requires much more. The correct evaluation of football games, the deep knowledge of how the industry works, the constant digging for more information are a must, if you want to be successful.

We recommend you use a good bookmaker, such as this website, this industry leader, or this one with the best Premier League odds. Using a bookie with the biggest range of betting markets, competitions and fixtures is key to improve your chances of success. If the bookie doesn’t cover a match or offer what you want, you can’t place the bets that you want. Simple. Make an account with all three of those that were just listed – you’ll need them in the long run.

Look at Odds as Probabilities, Not Just Some Random Numbers

This is probably the number one mistake most people do. They take a look at a certain game and most of the time, have already decided where their money is going. It’s some kind of a guessing game where they just pick the outcome they believe is most likely to happen.

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We advise you to look at football odds in decimal format. It’s much quicker to scan some betting markets and see the difference in numerical value than looking at fractions and doing a few calculations in your head.

The simple truth is, that’s not enough. Even if your assumptions are correct most of the time, you will still end up losing, if you don’t base your wagers on probabilities. That’s actually what the odds for a certain match represent. The price for each outcome can easily be converted into a probability that shows you how often does it need to come true, in order to be at least break even.

Here’s a simple example of how to make the conversion.

  • Let’s take a price of 2.00 and try to transform it into a percentage.
  • Just divide 100 by the odds, in this case, 2, and voila.
  • The result is 50, which means you will have to win such a wager 50% of the time to break even.

Of course, even more, if you want to make a success in the long run.

So, next time before you decide to bet on a team priced at 1.40, for example, a simple calculation shows it has to be close to 71% favourite to win the game.

Is it really worth it?

Betting Emotionally

Most people bet on football leagues they know well and most of the times they have a favorite team in the competition. This leads to lots of biased wagers that are not based on common sense, but on emotions. It’s only natural for us to actually have a skewed view of events that we care for, so we recommend you to skip such matches.

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The occasional little punt on a longshot accumulator is great, but don’t let emotions cloud your judgement. Too many poor gamblers waste hundreds by betting stakes of £10 and £20 on these longshots. The in-play bets are often based on greed and stupidity and rarely come in.

Another case where emotions can harm your results is when you are on a bad streak and try to make up for it quickly.

How many times have you seen people get angry after losing a couple of bets in a row and then trying to bet big on the next game?

It’s one of the oldest mistakes, and you should avoid it at all costs. Even if you get lucky once in a while, most of the time, the hole will just get deeper. It’s known as chasing losses, and you can read how to avoid it here.

How To Be Successful Betting On Football

Ok, after we discussed what you shouldn’t do, it’s time to move to the things you should do, if you want to win from football betting. Good preparation is the key to success; there are some steps you shouldn’t avoid.

View our glossary of football betting markets to get a firm understanding on some of the terminology used in soccer betting.

Gain as much information on a football match

Nowadays there is so much information on the Internet, that it’s criminal not to take advantage of it. You can find plenty of websites with previous results, all kinds of stats both for teams, individual players and much more. Do your homework and gather all the relevant data.

Start with the long-term stats of each team. How have they been performing in the past couple of months? How many goals on average do they score, how many do they concede? What are the styles of the two teams, how have they performed in games against similar opposition? All of these questions and much more should be answered.

Beginners Guide : How To Bet On Football -

Soccerway provides you with an incredible amount of data about a team, what time they score, home and away form and previous head to heads dating back for years

The next step is to research the form of both teams in the last couple of weeks. Recognizing some short-term trends might give you an extra edge. We’re not just talking about results, stuff like average goals scored and conceded, players on form, the fatigue factor could also affect a certain game, so you should consider them in your analysis.

Another thing that could be very helpful is to check the historical results between the two particular teams. This is important as it could change the whole context of a certain game. We know the cliché that in fierce rivalries, the form doesn’t matter and sometimes this is true. In the English Premier League, for example, certain games like the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham are often hard to predict, whatever the current condition of the two teams is.

Websites To Help You Find Team News, Form and Head To Head

  • – soccerway covers hundreds of leagues across almost every country in the world. For the bigger leagues, you can see the team sheet and lineup before the game. There’s some great head-to-head history in there, along with league tables, injuries, top scorers and recent form.
  • Futbol24 – In addition to their great app and live score service, you can use their quick stats page to check head-to-head and the time of goals in their recent games. This is perfect for this who like betting on first-half goals.
  • – WhoScored is great for finding a lineup and interesting stats and facts before a match. If you’re superstitious, you’ll love WhoScored. It’ll tell you when a team hasn’t beaten another team in 20 years, allowing you to dodge that potential upset.
  • – for the main English leagues, BBC has some great info. Potential line ups, stats, key injury news and expert analysis, will certainly help you in your decision-making.
  • Twitter & Facebook – Even the smaller clubs now run a Twitter and Facebook account. They’ll often post their team news and lineup on there just before the game. This can be a great way of finding value in the lower leagues before the bookies react and adjust their odds.

Check the Opinions of Experts

Blindly following some football experts and tipsters is not the best idea, as no one would just give you profitable betting picks for free on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you should completely ignore them, as seeing another opinion could sometimes be very useful. It could help you recognize an angle you might have missed or confirm your own thoughts on the match.

Beginners Guide : How To Bet On Football -
WhoScored rates each player out of ten. If a team is missing a tonne of key players, you’ll quickly be able to see and get an overview of a team’s strength.

Be careful since there’s an online information overflow, and everybody is an expert nowadays. Carefully pick who to follow so you don’t get disappointed.

Sometimes certain journalists could be a useful source. Former players, and betting experts in a certain football league are among the other possible viable choices.

Always Check Team News

This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s not just about checking who’s injured and who’s suspended. In fact, that should be just the starting point of your analysis. You should also take a look at the schedule of both teams, as there’s always the possibility of rotations if there are a lot of games in a short period of time. This is especially true for the most popular European leagues and teams that play in the Champions League or Europa League.

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Often a player will start, so you’ll think all is well. Hearing that he had a knock in training may deter you from betting on them to be the first goal scorer. This is just one example of the importance of research before placing your bets.

Once you have a good idea about the starting lineups, you should try to predict how this will affect the performance of both teams. How important are the missing players? How did their potential replacement perform in the past? Would this affect the whole style of the team or is it just a personnel change? Do your best to create a complete picture of how the game would look in general.

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Injury and suspension information can be crucial. Betting on a foreign team as you hear they have a great, in form striker may seem a good idea – but could be costly if you weren’t aware he was injured

Check Other Factors – Weather, emotions, pre-match press conferences

There are other factors to consider, as even the slightest thing could affect a football match. The condition of the pitch, the referee, and even the weather sometimes could play a major role. We’ve all seen how teams that are technically better are having issues on a wet pitch, for example. The same applies to referees that allow more physical games.

The best example of this is the clash between Arsenal and Stoke City in the EPL. The Gunners have no issues at home, but when they play at the Britannia Stadium, they get constantly bullied and almost never manage to win.

To get a complete idea of the possible outcome of a football match, you should consider every possible angle. It seems like a lot of effort, but that’s the difference between a loser and a winner at the end.

Take Advantage of Promotions

The good news is that the popularity of football means it’s one of the top priorities of almost any bookmaker out there. The fierce competition to attract customers works in your favour, and you will be able to find plenty of ongoing football promotions that can give you additional value.

Don’t Place Too Many Bets

It could be appealing to place a bunch of bets on the same match day and win big, but in reality, you will hardly find more than two or three options that really contain value. It’s nearly impossible that the bookmakers let too many good opportunities slip, so you should concentrate only on your best bets.

Plenty of people are actually quite good at finding one or two good picks, but when they add a couple of losers as well, it doesn’t really matter. Don’t be too greedy and stick to the best choices available. If you think there aren’t any, there’s no shame in skipping a day or two.


As you can see, football betting is complex and requires some effort in order to succeed. The information in this article won’t make you an instant winner, but it provides the crucial basis required for you to become one.

It will help you build a successful strategy that will bring you a nice side income (or even become your main one, who knows!). You will need some time to get used to most of the things listed, but it will get much easier when you gain enough experience.

Further Reading : Advanced Betting Guides

The following betting guides focus around the psychology of betting, strategy and money management.
This is a little more advanced than most betting guides normally cover.

Mike Lovatt

Mike has over 14 years of experience with online sports betting, having used countless online betting sites. Mike previously provided football betting tips on goals and corners in Facebook groups before starting his own betting website. A huge football fan, Mike has been writing betting guides and football betting advice for years.

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