Think Like a Bookie: Football Betting Skills Every Fan Will Benefit From

The beautiful game is not just a way for sports fans to lose themselves in a world of tackles, tantrums and triumphs on a Saturday afternoon (or most other days of the week). While there’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching your team put four past their perennial rivals, football is also a great sports to speculate on.

Being the biggest sport in the world naturally means that bookmakers across the industry are more than equipped to offer bets of all shapes and sizes to everyone and anyone. Whether it’s a low stakes punt for casual fans or a juicy parlay for seasoned Premier League fans, the betting industry has everything you need and more when it comes to football betting.

Naturally, to extract the most value from the market and give yourself something else to smile about on a Saturday, it pays to learn a few football betting basics. Now, as you’ll already know from reading the wealth of betting literature on our site, there’s never a “sure thing” in betting – just look at how Leicester City upset the odds in 2016. Regardless of whether it’s poker, blackjack, bingo or sports betting, the best you can do in any situation is make the most mathematically (and logically) sound move.

So, although we can’t guarantee your bankroll will move in the right direction after taking our advice, we’re pretty confident the following tips will put you in a much better position to win. Not only that, but once you start to find your feet in the football betting arena, you’ll find that you actually start to enjoy the game a whole lot more. So, without further ado, here’s our guide to football betting and the three Ss you need to remember the next time you ante-up.

Types of Football Bets


Wait, wait, wait! Before we delve into our top tips for betting on football, it’s important to run through some of the basic bets you’ll find online. Before you can make it to your destination, you need to know where you’re heading and in football that means choosing your bet type. Although there are some bets that a more profitable than others, the choice is yours when it comes to this stage of the game.

As long as you follow the tips we’ll outline later, you can enjoy at least a modicum of success with some of the bet types below:

Outright Bets

This is the most basic football bet and basically requires you to speculate on X or Y. Outright bets are usually noted using the fractional system in Europe and, typically, there will be a favourite and an underdog. For example, you could go online and find a betting line for Chelsea vs. Manchester United with the former priced 2/1 (the favourite) and the latter at 4/1 (the underdog).

Accumulator Bets

Accumulator bets require you to stake a set amount of money on two or more results. For example, an accumulator bet could see you choose a winner from one of the five matches:

  • Arsenal vs. Manchester City
  • Chelsea vs. West Ham
  • Manchester United vs. Cardiff
  • Stoke vs. Norwich
  • Wigan Athletic vs. Newcastle United

In the above example, a bookmaker will offer odds on the outcome of each match and, once you’ve made your picks, they will be factored into a final equation and you’ll receive a final price. Now, to win the bet and receive a large payout, all of your picks have to be correct. Anytime you get one or more of your selections wrong, your bet becomes a loser – it’s all or nothing with acca bets.

As you’ll appreciate, betting on multiple outcomes isn’t easy – which is why the odds for accumulators are often double digits and more. However, they are also tough to win and should be used sparingly.

The Parlay Bet

Parlays work on an accumulation principle. At the start of a session, a punter takes their bet and puts it on a team they fancy. After enjoying some success with that bet, the bettor then takes the profit from their previous win and puts in on another bet.  This process of betting, winning and then re-betting the win continues until a loss is incurred or the person decides to cash in their chips.

To illustrate the parlay bet in action, consider this example: a punter starts with a stake of £10 and places a single win bet on Arsenal to beat United at 2/1. They win this bet, receive a total payout of £30 and put the full amount on Chelsea to beat Spurs at even money. Again they win and receive £60. At this point, they bet the full £60 on Stoke City to beat Cardiff at 3/1 and when the result goes their way they decide to cash in for a total of £180.

As you can see, within a few successful bets, the parlay system can allow you to turn a small stake into a huge profit.

In-Play Bets

When you’re betting online, it’s possible to speculate on a football match while it is in progress. Known as in-play betting, this is a reactive form of odds making where the bookies and the punters are making moves based on the changing dynamics of a game.

The main thing you need to bear in mind when utilising in-play betting is speed. In-play football odds can change in a second which is why they can be extremely popular if you’re quick off the mark. They’re also extremely entertaining as you never quite know which way the market is going to move.

Top Football Betting Tips


Now that we’ve given you an insight into the type of bets you can expect to find online, let’s dive straight into three of the best ways you can improve your chances of success when the final whistle blows.



Possibly the most important thing you need to consider before you ante up is the size of your bet. In any form of betting, you need to exercise a certain amount of control. Technically known as bankroll management, the key thing you need to remember when you’re placing a bet is to only spend what you can afford.

Because everyone is different, there is a simple way to ensure you don’t overdo it on a Saturday afternoon. In betting terms, your bankroll is the amount of money you’ve set aside to bet with. The size of your bankroll then dictates how much money you can spend on a single bet.

For example, let’s say your bankroll is £500. From this amount, you can then determine the maximum size of a single bet by using the 1% rule. So, in this instance, the maximum amount you should stake on a single match is £5. OK, great, but what if I want to bet on more matches? In theory, as long as you stuck to the 1% rule, you could bet on as many matches in a single day as you like. However, this assumes that you’re making positive expectation bets and will see a return on at least some of your investments.

In reality, it’s much better to limit yourself to no more than 5% of your total bankroll in any one session. If you wanted to bet the maximum 1%, then you’d be able to speculate on five matches. If, however, you wagered 0.5% of your total bankroll, then you could bet on 10 matches in a single session. By following these guidelines, you’ll not only ensure that a single bet doesn’t cost you all your money, it will ensure that a single weekend of football doesn’t drain all your funds.

Bankroll management is the best way to limit your financial risk while still giving yourself enough scope to win some cash. So, if you want to stay on top of your finances, it pays to think about the size of your bets.



How do you know if a team or player is in form? Well, short of asking them how they feel before a game, the best way to get a handle on a betting prospect is to review the stats. As much as football is a game about kicks and goals, it’s also about the numbers.

From the number of tackles a team puts in over the course of 90 minutes to the distance a player covers during a game, football is filled with stats, and current-day tech advances such as big data allow us to calculate more stats than ever. Naturally, if you want to improve your chances of making a correct pick, it’s always worth reviewing the numbers before you place a bet. For example, one of the most popular bets people often make is who will be the first goal scorer in a game.

To get a better insight into who might be a hot tip, it’s often a good idea to look at the stats in conjunction with popular and/or expert opinion. For example, one of the most backed by bettors players in 2016 was Sergio Aguero. According to the number bods at Oddschecker, Aguero’s 112 goals in 162 league games made him a firm favourite with betting fans in 2016.

By combining Aguero’s goal ratio with the betting stats from an aggregator like Oddschecker, you can get a clearer picture of both the teams/players and the market. Indeed, when a player is in form, they often receive the backing of the masses. So, to know that Aguero was the most backed player to score first in 2016 should serve as an indicator that he’s a solid betting prospect. Which may still not necessarily make him your top choice, but is always important to take into consideration.

Social Media


Thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to go beyond the stats and get a “real life” perspective on each football team before they take to the pitch. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have given us instant access to footballers like never before. Whether it’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Lionel Messi or Jamie Vardy, every pro has a presence on social media and that can often give us some vital insights into their mindset heading into a game.

For example, if we look back at the 2015/2016 season and Jamie Vardy’s barnstorming performance, it became clear that he was likely to score on a weekly basis. Using this logic (which we could glean from his stats), it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that it’s worth blindly betting on Vardy as soon as the next betting line is released.

In days gone by, this strategy would have been perfectly acceptable. However, today we can factor in social media, so it doesn’t pay to be so rigid. What if we scrolled through Vardy’s Twitter timeline and saw that he’d been feeling the effects of a cold that day? Even though this might have been a throwaway comment made using 146 characters, it could dramatically alter your betting strategy. Could his illness affect his chances of scoring? Naturally, there’s no way to be sure. But, what you can be sure about is that it will have some impact on his performance. With this being that case, changing your strategy and either skipping a bet or betting on Vardy not to score could be profitable.

Social media gives us a window into the world of professional footballers like never before. Having an insight into whether they’re ill, happy, sad or frustrated can help inform our bets and, potentially, give us a better chance of making a correct pick before a game. In fact, when you combine these social media insights with some solid stats, you’re essentially doing what a bookmaker would do – and this brings us onto our final point.

Think Like a Bookie


To really improve your chances of boosting your bankroll, you need to really think like a bookmaker. If you can gather information like a bookie and process it in a similar way, you have a much better chance of picking out the bets that make the most sense. Of course, you’ll be coming from the situation from a slightly different angle, but the end result is always the same: is it X or Y that’s more likely to happen?

If you can take the stats, combine it with some personal insights and learn how to manage your money, you’ll be in a much better position when it comes to answering the above question. In today’s betting world, oddsmakers aren’t privy to any information that you can’t find for yourself, even if it takes some digging around. With this being the case, there’s no reason you can’t go through the same process they do in order to pick out the hot tips.

Naturally, as with all things in the betting world, nothing is ever a certainty. Even the bookmakers will often get it wrong. However, if you can follow the above tips and pick out the right bets for you, you should find that you’re right a lot more than you’re wrong.