Football Bets

Football BetsFootball is the most-played game on the planet and also the most watched. It is truly the global game, with the top club sides like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man United and Liverpool having supporters groups in scores of countries on just about every continent. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that football is also one of most bet upon sports too (if not THE most bet upon).

UK punters and football fans all over the world can bet on football virtually every day of the year. The best football betting sites cover a ridiculously wide range of leagues, competitions, cups and matches. Within any given game you may find more than 200 separate markets, whilst you can also bet on football months or even years in advance, on the day of the game or even live, in-play, once the match has already kicked off.

We cannot possibly detail and explain every single football bet there is. Even if we tried to cover all the available bets and markets this article would soon be out of date, as bookies add new football betting options with great regularity.

What we can and will do, however, is look at all of the major markets, explaining how the most popular football bets work. We’ll also look at the different types of football wagers in a more general sense, covering in-play betting, accumulators, ante post betting and specials market. Lastly we’ll tell you what rules you should be aware of when it comes to betting on football to help you avoid any nasty shocks.

Main Football Markets

As said, you can bet on football in a huge range of ways but despite the growth of in-play betting, the most popular way to bet on the beautiful game is pre-match. As such, our first consideration will be “normal” football betting. By this we mean that we shall first examine the main markets that punters look to for the bets they place in the hours or possibly even days leading up to a game.

Match Odds

Match odds, also known as 1X2, 90 minute or “to win” betting, is probably the most commonly placed football bet there is, and also one of the simplest. For any given match, you simply bet on which team you think will the game, or indeed whether it will be a draw.

Correct Score

This is a bet on what the correct score will be (you would have never guessed, right?) and it is a popular punt for those seeking the long odds usually on offer. You have to get the score exactly right to win the bet, including which side will win. So, for example, 2-1 is a 2-1 home win, not 2-1 to either side.

First Goalscorer

Sometimes abbreviated to FGS, betting on which individual player will score the first goal; this is another very popular bet. As with betting on the correct score, part of the appeal is the chance to win big from a small stake, especially if you back an infrequent goalscorer such as a defender who hasn’t scored for three years.

Both Teams to Score

Backing both teams to score is a relatively new bet and as long as the score doesn’t include a 0 for either side, your bet is a winner. BTTS, as it is known, is a hugely popular football bet, with odds for “Yes” and “No” never too far away from evens.

Over 2.5 Goals

You can bet on both under and over and this bet is available on a range of goal options, starting from over/under 0.5 goals and going as high as over/under 6.5 goals or even higher. That said, betting on over 2.5 goals remains the most popular bet, with odds for both over 2.5 and under 2.5 usually, as with BTTS, somewhere around the evens mark.

Last Goalscorer

Betting on who will score a game’s last goal is another popular option. The odds are the same or very similar as for FGS bets. One big advantage of last scorer betting is that, unless your player is taken off, your last goalscorer bet is guaranteed to stay live until the final whistle.

Anytime Goalscorer

Another hugely popular goalscorer bet, this offers shorter odds than betting on either a named player to score first or last. To land this bet, your player simply has to score at anytime during the game, meaning as with last goalscorer bets, excitement-value is assured right until the last kick.

Half Time/Full Time

Often abbreviated to HT/FT betting, this is a market that can be used in a range of different ways. You are betting on which team will be in the lead (or whether the match will be a draw) at half time and also at full time. If you think a Merseyside derby will be a slow burner, you might back draw/draw, meaning the match will be level at both the break and the final whistle. The longest odds are usually for an underdog to come back, for example Barcelona/Levante. HT/FT betting is also a good way to increase the odds on a big favourite. A side may be odds-on to win but a more attractive 13/10 to be ahead at both 45 and 90 minutes.

Handicap and Asian Handicaps

Handicaps, and Asian handicaps, are a great way to add flexibility to your betting and can be used in a range of different ways to achieve different things. Essentially one side is given a handicap, for example -0.5 goals, and the other is given a corresponding half goal head start. We cover handicap betting in much more detail our specific feature, as we do with many of the most popular bets.


A scorecast is just one of many combined bets that exist in football betting. A scorecast combines the FGS market and a correct score punt. For example you might bet on Cristiano Ronaldo to score first and Real Madrid to win 3-0.

Note that this has to be combined into a single bet, as opposed to being constructed as an accumulator based on the separate odds for 3-0 and Ronaldo to score first. We cover why that is the case in details in our dedicated accumulators feature but essentially, because the two events are related, the bookie will quote scorecast odds separately.

Match Result and Both Teams to Score

This is another composite market that has been created relatively recently as the popularity of both teams to score betting has increased. Some bookies shape the market differently but most offer a home win, draw and away win and in order to win your bet you must get the match result correct with both teams also scoring.

As said, we can’t cover all bets in this article and there are literally hundreds of different bets available before the start of the biggest matches. Games such as the Champions League final will have well over 250 different betting options, whilst even a non-televised Championship match in England’s second tier will probably have more than 100 markets at many of the best football bookmakers.

Essentially you can bet on just about anything when it comes to football. A whole range of pre-match markets cover just about every eventuality in terms of the score, different players, bookings and red cards and corners and throw ins, with many of those markets being further broken down into sections of the match, for example betting on the half time score.

Football Accumulators

One bet not covered above is the accumulator, or acca as it is often known. As you can read in our dedicated article on accumulators, accas can be placed on just about any sport or event, or even across a number of different sports.

However, accas are hugely popular among football fans, partly because there are a large number of games played on most days. Accas can offer returns of almost lottery-esque proportions from a similarly low stake and that is a large part of their appeal.

Many football betting fans love the ritual of pouring over the weekend’s fixtures and picking out their bets. An acca is a single bet composed of several different, unrelated bets; they must all win in order for the bet to win.

Match Result

The most common football acca is the match result “long list”. An acca is technically anything with at least two selections but many punters pick far more games in order to increase their potential returns. For example you may place a Premier League acca, trying to correctly guess the winner of all 10 Premier League games on a given weekend. Even picking all 10 favourites will almost always give odds of 200/1 or more and possibly a lot higher if there are a number of evenly matched games.

However, throw in even a couple of outsiders and those odds can leap dramatically. Because of the way accumulator odds are calculated, being multiplied together, if you can land a couple of selections at decent odds, you can soon see the profits ratchetted up significantly. Switching just three favourites for three unfancied teams at around 5/1 saw our example Premier League acca jump from odds of 300/1 to almost 20,000/1!

One thing to note, however, is that many bookies have maximum payouts. Our maximum payouts and betting limits article covers this in more detail but for those backing accas at huge odds this is well worth being aware of. For example, if a bookie has a maximum payout of £100,000, backing a 20,000/1 acca for more than £5 is pointless, as your winnings will be capped anyway.

Popular Football Accas

As well as match odds accas, there are a few other football markets that are also very popular for accas fans. BTTS accumulators are very frequently placed, as are over/under 2.5 goals bets. Because these markets tend to have odds around 1/1, or evens, they are ideal for combining into accumulators. Anytime goalscorer betting is also a good shout for an acca, with many punters combining a number of the top scorers in a given league.

As said, you can create an accumulator however you like and some punters even like to cross their fingers and do a correct score acca or first goalscorer one. With any accumulator you need a degree of luck but given the difficulty of landing one correct score, trying to combine two or more is very difficult indeed.


In-play betting, sometimes known as live betting, is a relatively new phenomenon. Although it has been around for more than 10 years, it has only really grown and become mainstream in the last five years or so, from about 2010.

In-play bets are those placed once a game has already begun. In many ways they are the same as pre-match bets and many of the same markets will be available. The most popular bets such as match odds, correct score and over/under are generally all offered by most online bookies.

There will be fewer markets available in-play than pre-match because many of those markets need to be managed with odds being updated according to how the game is panning out. Obviously many markets will also be settled during the game and thus no longer be available to bet on, for example both teams to score or over 2.5 goals.

From a punter’s perspective, in-play betting has a number of key advantages. Firstly, it offers the experts their chance to take a look at the game first. If you think you are great at seeing how a game is taking shape then in-play betting gives you the chance to watch a portion of the match before you decide to risk your cash. Often the commentators will remark, following a goal, that “it was coming”, or similar, and if you agreed and got your bets on before the goal was scored you should be in a great position to profit.

The other big advantage of in-play punting is the added excitement it gives you. If you place a pre-match bet on the first goalscorer and someone else scores in the first minute, in the olden days that would be it. Bet over, fun over, wait until the next game.

However, with in-play betting you can just place another bet, for example on a correct score or perhaps a last goalscorer bet. Equally, if you’ve backed Southampton for the win and they start very well you can increase your stake during the game. Of course, if they start badly you could choose to switch allegiances and bet against them.

In-play betting has created a whole world of new betting options, decisions and avenues, adding total flexibility. Live cash out and partial cash out only add to that and in-play betting really is great fun.

Ante Post

Almost at the other end of the spectrum from live betting is ante post betting. Ante post betting takes its name from Latin for before the post and, as with many gambling terms, has its origins in horse racing.

It doesn’t truly have a single, clear definition but when applied to football it usually means a bet placed before a tournament or league has begun. However, even that can be a little confusing because betting on the opening game of the World Cup a couple of days prior would not be an ante post bet.

Ante post football bets usually relate to backing teams or players in outright markets before an event has begun. For example, one very popular ante post football bet is who will be the top goalscorer in a given league, whilst another is backing a side to win the title, all before a ball is kicked.

Other examples of ante post betting include betting on who will win the World Cup before the teams have even qualified, or perhaps after they have qualified but prior to the draw being made.

The best thing about ante post betting is that you get great value in terms of the bet “lasting” a long time. For example, if you have a bet in July on Sergio Aguero being the top Premier League goalscorer, that punt will hopefully keep you interested for almost 11 months! Obviously there is the danger he could break his leg in pre-season training or perhaps move to Real Madrid. Alternatively he might just have a terrible season and be completely out of it by Christmas.

However, it is far more likely that the Argentine ace will score on a regular basis and provide you with almost an entire year of betting excitement, just from a single bet. Ante post betting is a great way to whet your appetite for the season ahead and also a key part of the annual pre-season ritual for many football betting fans.

Specials and Outrights

Whilst you might think that hundreds of pre-match bets, in-play and ante post options and football accas was plenty, we’re not done yet!


We touched on outrights above and whilst many punters place such bets as ante post wagers, outrights are also great to place at any stage of the season. An outright bet is on a side to win the league or cup, a player to win an individual award or accolade or a nation to win one of the big tournaments such as the World Cup, Euros or Copa America.

Outright bets are a little like ante post punts in that they can provide season-long excitement. Moreover, because they involve multiple teams, rather than just two as in a single match, even favourites can be backed at decent odds and thus offer a solid return.


As well as all the aforementioned options there are a growing number of specials bets available at different times throughout the football calendar. Some of these, such as betting on a side to finish in the top four, top six, or even top 10, are very similar to outright markets.

However, there are an almost infinite array of other specials available too. The “sack race” market is ever-popular and this is a bet on the next (Premier League) manager to be sacked, whilst there are a range of other manager bets too. These include who a certain manager will take charge of next, who the next boss at a named club will be, how many managers will be sacked during the season and who will win the various managerial awards.

You can also bet on relegation, promotion, sides to finish in the bottom half, who will be top at Christmas and regional specials, such as the top London side in the Premier League.

Rules to Note

When it comes to betting on football the rules vary according to the bet and, from time to time, according to which site you have placed your wager with. Naturally we cannot list the rules for every football bet at every bookie here. However, there are one or two things that every football bettor should be aware of. These may seem incredibly simple to many but for those new to betting on football, they may not always be quite so obvious.

90 Minutes

Unless stated all football bets are valid for 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) only, with extra time and penalties excluded. Obvious exceptions where the “unless stated” bit would apply are bets such as half time bets or wagers on a side to win in extra time or penalties.

However, markets such as match odds, correct score, first, last and anytime goalscorer bets, BTTS, over/under bets; and even specials such as a player to see a red card, a penalty to be scored or a named player to score two goals or a hat-trick, are all only relevant to 90 minutes.

As such, if you bet on Barcelona to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final and Barca win on penalties, your match odds bet, which also featured the draw, is a loser. Let’s say you backed Lionel Messi to score first in the same game. If the match is 0-0 after 90 minutes the FGS winner is “no goalscorer”, even if Messi scores the first goal in extra time.

Own Goals

Own goals are treated in the same way at just about all bookies. In simple terms, for general match and score markets, the count as normal, whereas for player-specific markets, they are entirely discounted.

So, as an example, a game that ends 1-1 with either or even both goals being own goals is: a winner for over 1.5 goals, a winner for both teams to score, a winner for the draw, a winner for correct score 1-1.

However, for the sake of first, last and anytime goalscorer bets own goals do not count. As such, if both were own goals, there are no winning anytime scorer bets (other than, if offered, no goalscorer) and “no scorer” wins both first and last. If just one of the goals was an own goal, then whoever scored the other goal is the winner for both first and last goalscorer.