Betting on sports events is exciting and invigorating – it’s full of tension, drama, elation and sometimes disappointment. It is also about money, potentially lots of money.
There is almost no end to the list of sports you can bet on. With popular sports such as football (soccer), horse racing, rugby, boxing, golf, motor sports and tennis – which are shown on TV all the time – you can bet online and in betting shops the length and breadth of the land.
Other sports which perhaps do not have such a large fan-base – like snooker, darts, cricket – are not bet on so often, but most bookies (online and in the High Street) will still provide a ‘book’.
In the US, American football is the number one betting sport, and baseball, basketball and ice hockey are not far behind.
In fact, there seems to be an almost unlimited number of sports that someone, somewhere wants to bet on.
And that is not even considering the non-sports events that are available: election results, Oscar winners, ‘X Factor’ winners, financial markets…
The variety of bets available is staggering. Take football. You can obviously bet on which team will win, or if there will be a draw. You can also bet on which team (or player) will score first (or last). You can bet on the number of corners, the number of red and yellow cards, and the correct score. If you think that one team will score a certain number of goals more than its opponent, you can bet on that too.
If you want to bet that a team will win a league or competition – even before the season starts – this is possible with ante-post betting.
You can also bet during the game (in-play, or in-running). Say you are watching a match, and one side is piling on the pressure, raining in shots, and it is just a matter of time before they score. You can bet that they will score the next goal, or score a goal in the next 10 minutes.
Betting is not limited to your own country’s sports. You can bet on sports events around the world.
For instance, if you have a particular interest in or knowledge of football in Japan, then you can profit from that by betting on those games.
Betting is full of strange terminology and jargon, which can take a while to get used to. (It is all explained later in this guide.)
The first thing you come across in betting is the way that odds are expressed. The traditional method in the UK is to express odds in a ‘fractional’ format, e.g. 3/1 (3 to 1), which tells you that if you win a £1 bet you would receive a profit of £3. Similarly odds of 4/5 mean a £5 stake would receive a profit of £4.
Increasingly common is the decimal format (used in Europe). Here, odds of 4.0 would mean a £1 bet would return £4 (including the stake), so a profit of £3. So odds of 4.0 are the same as odds of 3/1 in fractional format.
The best way to get familiar with sports betting is to give it a go. Minimum bets are often as low as 10p - you won’t be risking too much!