Cards Betting Explained: Tips, Strategy, and Bookmakers

Written By: Bradley Gibbs
Last Updated: June 29, 2023

Football betting no longer means betting on which team will win the match. Nowadays, there’s plenty of choice. One game element that has increased in popularity among sports bettors is red and yellow cards. 

Sports bettors can now bet on how many cards a football match will have, which team will pick up the most cards, and whether or not there will be a red card shown, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

What is Card Betting?

Card betting is where users of betting sites place bets on the number of yellow and red cards in the game, including which teams or players will receive those cards. Bookmakers will often use booking points rather than total number of cards.

In football, if a player does something that the referee deems to be outside of the laws of the game, the player receives either a yellow or red card, depending on the severity of their offence. Since yellow and red cards are something that occur during a football match, they can be bet on. 

Instead of betting on the result or the number of goals in a match, card bettors are interested in red or yellow cards, or both. 

If you want to bet on cards, there are lots of options. You can bet on the exact number of cards. you can bet on whether or not there will be more than a nominated number of cards. You can bet on the number of cards that each team will receive too. 

Alternatively, you can also bet on a red card to be shown at any point during the game, while there are options for punters to bet on individual players to receive either a red or yellow card as well. 

Card Betting Markets

Total Cards (Over/Under)

The bookmaker sets the line at say 3.5 for example. This means that you will have the opportunity to bet that there will be either more or less than 3.5 cards. If you were to bet that there would be more than 3.5 cards shown during the game, you would be betting ‘Over 3.5 Cards’. For that bet to win, at least four cards would have to be shown. 

Player To Be Booked

This is where you can bet on the player of your choice to receive a booking. If the player is shown a yellow card during the game, you will win the bet. 

Player To Be Sent Off

Much like betting on a player to receive a yellow card, you can bet on a player of your choice to receive a red card during the match. If your chosen player is sent off, whether that be by receiving a straight red or two yellows followed by a straight red, you will win the bet. 

Card Handicap

This is where you bet on a team to have collected the most cards at the end of the match, despite starting with a handicap. 

For example, you could bet on ‘Manchester United -2’. This means that Manchester United essentially start the game two cards down. Basically, the other team has already picked up two cards before a ball has been kicked. 

Of course, they have not, but you’re betting on Manchester United to accumulate at least three more cards than their opponents. This is because the opposition has been given a two-card head start. 

Asian Total Cards

Similar to the standard total cards market, but instead of only being able to bet on under or over 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 for example, you can now bet on over or under 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2.00, 2.25 and so on. 

For thorough examples and a more detailed explanation of this market, see our guide ‘Asian Total Cards’ guide.

Asia Handicap Cards

Like handicap betting, but with more outcomes. Now you have half and quarter handicaps too. This means you can bet on -0.25, -0.5, -1.00, -1.25 and so on. 

A complete walkthrough and detailed explanation of this market is available via our ‘Asian Handicap Cards’ guide. 

Card Betting Strategy

So, how should you go about cards betting? Are there certain markets to focus on, and how can you find success? 

Strategy is critical. Successful bettors deploy strategy at every turn, and card bettors are no different. If you’re going to bet on cards in football, then you need to be equipped to do so. 


The first thing you want to do is specialise. 

You can start to specialise by picking a league or a small number of leagues, rather than trying to bet on anything and everything. If you do this, you won’t have an expert knowledge of any of the leagues you’re betting on, so it’s better to focus on just a few and know everything there is to know. 

Know your teams and players 

Follow your leagues intensely, especially from a yellow and red card perspective. Gain an understanding of how both teams and players perform in terms of fouls. 

Learn how certain teams fare in terms of fouls and cards against other certain teams. For example, a team fighting relegation is likely to spend much of their time defending against a bigger, top-four chasing team, which means that they’re likely to give away more fouls and pick up more cards as they do everything they can to close all routes to goal. 

Similarly, teams that have lots of possession and like to attack lots, might give away lots of cynical fouls in the opposition half to prevent quick counter attacks. If you know this, you’ll be better situated to place the right sort of card bets. 

Certain fixtures

For some card bettors, focusing on certain fixtures is the way to go. This is because certain fixtures are known for producing more bookings and more sendings off. 

For example, big rivalries such as El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, or the North London Derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Such fixtures tend to get very heated, and therefore, lots of fouls are committed. As a result, there’s usually plenty of cards. Such fixtures often present numerous betting opportunities for those looking to bet on cards. 

Big clashes between teams in direct competition for the same prize can bring about similar opportunities too. Think top-of-the-table clashes late in the season. If two teams are neck-and-neck in a title race, tempers often flare and the cards can flow. 

Focus on referees

What is often overlooked is the importance of the referee. Sure, the number of cards in a game depends on the players and how much they step outside the laws of the game, but the number of cards can often depend on the referee. Let’s face it, some referees are more lenient than others, while others are particularly harsh. 

If you’re going to be a card better, then you need to know the referees in the league(s) that you focus on. This will help you to make more informed betting decisions. 

Here’s a scenario to consider:

Let’s say based on your research of the two teams involved in an upcoming fixture, you want to place an ‘Over 3.5 Cards’ bet. From a team/player perspective, it seems a great bet. However, the referee in charge has the lowest card average in the league and is known for holding back on the bookings. This is something that may change whether or not that bet is viable at the available price, and thus is something you need to know. 

Card Betting Tips 

To be a successful cards bettor, or to at least give yourself a fighting chance of turning a profit over the long term, you need to know where to look for information. 

Fortunately, there are a few useful free sources that can aid the card bettor in their quest for profit. 

Card stats for players and teams is a very useful site for card bettors. It offers easy to understand information, and it’s free. You can find stats such as cards for, cards against, plus cards for and against per game. You can view these stats for all of Europe’s top leagues, as well as the Championship, and League One and League Two in England. 

Hard to beat in this area is, which offers punters a plethora of card stats and facts. You can see all of the above stats, plus much more. If you’re serious about card betting and are looking to do a deep-dive into the numbers, then is a site you want to be visiting. 

Card stats for referees 

Referee stats are generally perceived to be less common, but there’s actually lots of good referee stat sources out there. 

If you’re focusing on the Premier League, then the official Premier League website has a useful referee index which details the number of matches that each referee has taken charge of during the current campaign, alongside the number of red and yellow cards that they’ve presented. You can also see upcoming referee appointments, which is useful. 

For more in-depth referee stats, is great. They have the standard yellow and red card stats, as well as total games refereed. In addition, you can see how many fouls per game a referee is calling, how many penalties per game they’re awarding, as well as how many yellow and reds per game. Such stats are available for all of Europe’s top leagues. is another great free resource. It offers everything that provides, but also has a column for a referee’s average number of booking points. Some betting sites offer betting on more or less booking points, awarding 10 points for a yellow and 25 for a red. Such a stat is great for punters looking to get involved in this market. 

When to back Over/Under x cards?

Among card bettors, especially casual card bettors, the ‘Over/’Under’ markets is undoubtedly the most popular. 

So, when should you back either Over x amount of cards or Under x amount of cards? If you want to be successful, you should only bet on either side of this market if you believe, based on your own research, that the odds available are greater than they should be, therefore, obtaining value. 

For example, you might think that ‘Over 3.5 Cards’ in a particular game should be available at shorter odds. You might think this because both teams are high up in the cards table, both teams tend to give away lots of fouls in fixtures of this nature, plus the referee in charge is top of the cards table. 

Best Bookmakers For Betting on Cards

It’s now common practice for online bookmakers to offer card betting, but who does it best? 

In terms of variety and number of markets, these are the best: 

  • Bet365
  • Betway
  • Paddy Power
  • William Hill
  • Betfair

If you’re looking for a complete card betting package, then these five bookmakers are hard to beat. What’s good about each one is as follows: 


The most complete online sports betting platform when it comes to card betting is bet365, who with 15 different card betting markets across a wealth of fixtures provide a hard-to-beat card betting service. 

If you want to bet on cards at bet365, simply head to their website or download the mobile app, find your chosen game, then select “Corners” from the main tabs. 


Not as plentiful as bet365 in terms of market options, but Betway still have a place among the best card betting bookmakers. There’s a range of markets across all the big fixtures. 

From the sports list on the left hand side of the main page, simply select ‘Soccer’, before finding your nominated fixture. Once on your fixture page, scroll right until you find ‘Cards’ from the main tabs. 

Paddy Power

Perhaps the biggest rival of bet365 in this department. Paddy Power doesn’t skimp when it comes to card betting markets, that’s for sure. Whatever you’re looking for, they’re likely to have it. 

Card betting can be accessed by selecting the ‘Cards’ tab from the top of any main football fixture page. 

William Hill 

There’s plenty of card betting options here too, including all the typical ‘Over/Under’ and ‘Player to be Booked’ markets. 

William Hill are also great for specials, and frequently have a selection of ‘Red Card Specials’ for the big games. 

If you want to bet on cards at William Hill, then simply find ‘Football’ from the ‘Popular’ tab on the left hand side of the main page, before finding your chosen fixture. Card betting odds can be located by clicking on ‘Penalties/Cards’ at the top of the main fixture odds page. 


World leaders when it comes to exchange betting, Betfair rank highly in terms of card betting. Both the exchange and the sportsbook offer plenty of markets for the big leagues in Europe. 

Card bettors will find what they’re looking for on Betfair by selecting ‘Football’ from the sports tabs at the top of any page. Simply find the fixture you want to bet on, before selecting the ‘Cards & Corners’ tab. 

What’s great about betfair is they offer card match betting in the form of a market called ‘Team to Receive the Most Cards’, which can’t be found everywhere. 

Bradley Gibbs
Bradley Gibbs

Bradley is a freelance writer and sports betting analyst, specialising in all things golf, football, and horse racing, who has also written a variety of educational sports betting content. Over the years, Bradley has produced a plethora of content in the sports betting niche, writing for numerous websites and publications, including popular UK betting newspaper The Racing & Football Outlook.

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