Video wall at William Hill's shop in Aldgate. © William Hill

Many of those who occasionally bet on sports regard this as a hobby, rather than a steady source of income. This sports betting guide is aimed at helping them. As a form of entertainment, betting is fun, but when done professionally people discover obstacles one at a time. Beating the bookmakers house edge was always a challenge and recently bookmakers tend to further complicate matters for aspiring punters. Even those who don’t exclude or limit the freedom of winning players, make it difficult to find value in the odds they offer.

This is where this sports betting guide comes in handy, providing players with the insight they need to stay afloat. Nothing is written in stone and fine-tuning is always recommended, but the general principles can be put to good use by players regardless of bankroll. The bottom line is that anyone can use the information regardless of the size of the bankroll and the daily betting patterns. Some concepts might sound difficult to grasp, but once used in the field of sports betting, they showed their usefulness.

Sports Betting Guide on Special Bets

Casual punters will almost always bet on the outright winner of various matches, based on their sports of preference. Those who prefer football, usually have to predict the right outcome out of three possibilities. Tennis, American football and baseball punters have just two obvious choices, whereas ice hockey and basketball are somewhere in between. You can bet on the winner after regulation time or the team that prevails after extra rounds have been played.

Another type of mainstream sports betting market is the under/over, which also has the advantage of only two possible outcomes. At the same time, bookmakers provide members with the option of betting on special markets, such as the name of the goalscorer, the first event in the match, a succession of events and so on. It is self evident that these markets are far more difficult to beat and variance can become a serious problem. In order to offset the shortcomings, bookies offer bigger odds to attract players.

This short sports betting guide will teach you when to stick to the classics and when to seek something special. As a rule of thumb, the house edge increases when you bet on special events, because the bookmakers have more leeway in setting the odds. Since an intelligent punter tries to minimize the edge the bookmaker has over him, these markets are usually to be avoided.

However, players can offset these handicaps by opening account with several leading bookmakers and seeking better odds. For example, you can sign up with William Hill, Unibet, GamebookersBetfair, Sportingbet and try to find the best odds on your event of choice. When betting in real-time, you can find superior value and even hedge against the risks by betting on opposing outcomes.

Improve Your Chances while Respecting the Rules

As you can see from the above paragraphs, this sports betting guide recommends players to use special markets only when they can extract value. If you have accounts with several bookies, you can lock in your profits, by betting on two opposing events. The problem is that this is considered arbitrage, a type of strategy that bookmakers frown upon. If bookies notice such a pattern, they will block the funds and even suspend one’s account.

Granted the advantages of this foolproof strategy, many players are tempted to go around the rules and take their chances. Having account with multiple bookmakers helps at reducing the odds of being found out. The good news is that the leading gambling operators provide their members with a legal and straightforward way of taking profits. The early cash out enable customers to withdraw winnings before the final whistle.

Paddy Power's Tote betting launch in Ireland with Pamela Ryan and Niamh Cullen. © Paddy Power

This is another sensitive issue and one that we will only discuss briefly in this sports betting guide. It is the bookmaker that inside the amount it is willing to pay based on the live score. It goes without saying that the house are trying to protect its winnings and pay less than the fair amount. While it is universally accepted that you will always receive slightly less than what you deserve, the differences are worth considering. By choosing a professional bookie, you will be presented with an offer worth considering.

Accumulator bets are a special breed, one that we will discuss thoroughly in the next section of the sports betting guide. For the time being, it is worth mentioning that most bookmakers would even allow players to cash out profits if the live matches part of an accumulator.

Is it worth betting against the public?

Another interesting question that we try to answer in this short sports betting guide is whether it’s worth joining the betting exchange. The difference between such a gambling operator and a traditional bookie is that it allows you to play against your peers. Betfair is the best-known betting exchange and also the one offering the most options. To start with, if you are to sign up for an account with this unique breed of bookmaker, it’s very important to find one that has a healthy customer base. By doing so, you make sure that whenever you want to place a bet or lay a wager, you will have plenty of people interested.

The advantage of choosing a betting exchange over a bookmaker is that you can benefit from significant higher odds. This means that even if you choose to bet in the same manner, by backing various teams, you will extract more value. That’s the result of players competing among themselves and trying to differentiate their offer through bigger odds. By sticking exclusively to placing bets, you don’t unlock the full potential of a betting exchange. The next step is to act as the house and invite others to bet.

The downside is that a beginner will need a lot of time to adjust and the learning curve can be pretty steep if you know little about betting exchanges. Another shortcoming that only becomes obvious when you start winning is that the bookmaker will charge a commission. This is why it is so important to choose the right betting exchange. You need to have enough players to bet against, but also pay a low commission. The bottom line is that traditional bookmakers are better for beginners.

Sports Betting Guide Gamebookers Football Odds

Betting on spreads and Asian handicaps

As mentioned above in this short sports betting guide, those who bet on football and similar sports usually wager on regulation time results. The fact that there are three possible outcomes can have a deterring effect on those who don’t like the possibility of a draw. The best way to avoid this outcome was still betting on your favorite sports is by choosing Asian handicaps. They are commonly referred to as spreads betting when it comes to American sports but they work in similar fashion.

Handicap betting means that you trust a certain team to prevail by at least a preset number of goals. At the same time, players can bet on the underdog not to suffer a crushing defeat. The advantage is that you get bigger odds when betting on favorites to cover the spread. This is pretty much the only way of betting on top teams that makes sense in terms of odds value. Perhaps more important is that Asian handicaps and spreads betting allow you to minimize the risks.

A very popular type of Asian handicap among risk-averse punters is the Draw no Bet market. Players bet on one team to win and if the match ends undecided they get the money back. This type of wagering goes hand-in-hand with the money line bets. In that case, players bet on the result of the game after overtime and penalty shootouts if needed. The only downside is that the odds are slightly lower.

Spread betting is easy to learn and the benefits are multiple for both amateurs and pro-punters. That’s why we wholeheartedly recommend it in this sports betting guide. Once you learn the basic mechanics, you won’t have a problem in calculating the odds and placing the bets accordingly.

The Perks and Pitfalls of Live Betting

Arguably the most exciting type of wagering is live betting. All flagship bookmakers offer this possibility to their customers and support mobile devices. The main reason for why so many people choose live betting is that it’s incredibly entertaining. Almost all amateurs enjoy watching the games they bet on and plays multiple wagers in real-time. The obvious advantage is that live betting makes wagering on sports much more exciting. It is a great choice for those who bet okay any and usually small amounts.

Savvy punters will highlight other perks of live betting, such as the fact that you can hedge against the risks. A smart investor will watch the game live and monitor the fluctuation of odds. Such a punter will only bet when there is value in the odds, based on the dynamics on the pitch. The ultimate betting strategy in real-time is usually one that also include pre-match wagering. It is perhaps the most valuable thing you will learn by reading this sports betting guide. Easy to learn, it’s difficult to master and requires patience.

First of all, players need to understand betting patterns and the how bookmakers adjust odds. They always drop if a lot of people back a team. They usually do so on big favorites and that’s why the odds shrink so much before kickoff. If you plan on betting on the better team, do so as soon as the odds are listed to maximize the return on investment. When betting on the underdogs you can wait until the game begins.

Live Betting with Multiple Bookies

The next step that has to do directly with live betting is hedging against the risks. If you don’t like the direction in which the game is heading, you can sell the bet early on and still make some profit. On rare situations, the odds will shrink so much after kickoff that you can bet on the opposite results and still make money. Placing such a bet with the bookmaker you wager before the match might get you into trouble. However, if you have an account with another company, this won’t be a problem. Just make sure you don’t break the rules and get branded as someone who uses arbitrage strategy.

The reason for why we recommend players to open account with several bookmakers go beyond strategy. It’s actually a smart idea to give yourself more options when betting in real-time. This is when the biggest odds differences exist and you can only take advantage if you have open accounts. To make the most of live betting, we strongly recommend to watch the games from the comfort of your home. A quiet environment is preferred to bars, no matter how exciting it might be to watch the games with friends.

Perhaps the biggest problem with live betting has nothing to do with the actual wagering process. In this sports betting guide we try to tackle psychological challenges not only technical ones. When you bet in real-time you’re more likely to wager larger amounts than normally. Players are also more inclined to chase losses by resorting to string bets and lose even more. Those who don’t have the mental toughness to end the betting session when things go south should avoid live betting.

The Bottom Line

The insights with shared with you in this short sports betting guide should set you on the right foot. Keep in mind that the world of gambling is quite exciting but can also be treacherous. Exercise patience and don’t set overly ambitious goals, instead keep playing in bankroll to keep things safe. If you play by the rules and keep betting fun, it will be rewarding on many levels and hopefully lucrative.