How to Bet on Soccer – The Complete Guide to Soccer Betting Strategy

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How to bet on soccer

The increased popularity of soccer in the US has seen a sharp rise in coverage amongst US-based sportsbooks.

With Copa America betting about to take center stage for the summer, read on to learn how to bet on soccer and find information on soccer betting strategies, tips, and the best betting sites to bet on the sport.

How to Bet on Soccer

Soccer betting is one of the most bet on sports in the world and soccer betting sites provide a choice of hundreds of markets on hundreds of matches from around the world.

You need to start with some idea about the league or tournament that you want to wager on. This summer that will almost definitely be Copa America or Euro 2024.

Once you’ve chosen a league or tournament, you now need to choose the game. You can use our betting strategy guide to see what to look out for when it comes to value bets and when you find the game, you can narrow this down to the market you want to bet on.

Remember to shop around to find the best odds, which is key to finding expected value when wagering.

Finally, you need to choose the amount you want to stake on the bet you want to place. When you’ve done this, confirm your bet and then submit it within the bet slip.

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Example of a Soccer Bet

To show how this works, let’s start with the first game of the USMNT schedule at Copa America. It’s against Bolivia and will be both team’s fist fixture at the tournament.

USA vs Bolivia USA -2 Bolivia +2
-105 +105

For this bet, we’re betting on the USMNT to cover the spread of two goals at odds of -105

Spread betting on soccer is the exact same as on other sports like football and basketball. Betting on USA to cover -2 means they must win by three goals or more for the bet to cash.

We’ve taken this bet as the moneyline odds for the USA are -515 which doesn’t offer much value.

Step-by-Step Guide to How to Place a Soccer Bet

As part of our guide on how to bet on soccer, we’ve included a step-by-step tutorial for how to place a bet.

We’ve used BetOnline as our example sportsbook.

  1. Open an Account

    You first need to open an account with BetOnline. Click on the ‘Join’ button at the top of the page to get started. You will need to enter a series of fields that include your name, address, email address, and password for your account, amongst other things.
    Open an Account
  2. Make a Deposit

    Once your account has been set up, you now need to deposit. Head to the cashier and choose the deposit button.
    Make a Deposit
  3. Choose Soccer from the Navigation Menu

    Find ‘Soccer’ in the navigation menu and head to this section to see all the games and available betting markets.
    Choose Soccer from the Navigation Menu
  4. Pick Soccer Game you Want to Bet On

    Within the soccer betting section, choose the game that you want to bet on. You can use the menu to find the country that the league, cup, or tournament is located or you can choose one of the upcoming games.
    Pick Soccer Game you Want to Bet On
  5. Confirm Your Soccer Odds, Stake, and Place the Bet

    Once you’ve found your game, click on the odds to add it to your bet slip. Within the bet slip choose your stake and take a minute to make sure that the game, market, odds, and payout are all as they should. Click to confirm the bet and it will be live within a few seconds.
    Confirm Your Soccer Odds, Stake, and Place the Bet

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Types of Soccer Bets

Soccer has a huge range of bets you can place. Most games come with dozens of markets to choose from, and in our guide on how to bet on soccer, we’ve included these below as well as highlighting how each works.

Match Result

The match result market refers to predicting the outcome of a soccer match. It is also known as the 1X2 market, a 3-way moneyline bet or the win-draw-win market. In this full-time result market, you have three options to choose from:

  1. Home Win (1): This means you predict that the home team will win the match. If the home team wins, your bet is successful.
  2. Draw (X): This means you predict that the match will end in a draw or tie. If the match ends in a draw, your bet is successful.
  3. Away Win (2): This means you predict that the away team will win the match. If the away team wins, your bet is successful.

To place a bet in the match result market, you select one of these three outcomes based on your analysis and predictions. The three-way Moneyline odds associated with each outcome determine the potential payout for a successful bet.

Double Chance

Double chance allows you to cover two of the three possible outcomes in a match, providing a higher chance of winning. Instead of choosing just one outcome (home win, draw, or away win), you select two possibilities from the three options.

For example, you can choose “Home Win or Draw” (1X), “Draw or Away Win” (X2), or “Home Win or Away Win” (12). If either of your selected outcomes occurs, your bet is successful. However, the odds for double chance bets are usually lower compared to the match result market since you have a higher probability of winning.

Both Teams to Score (BTTS)

Both Teams to Score (BTTS) focuses on predicting whether both teams participating in a match will score at least one goal each during regular time. It doesn’t matter which team wins or what the final score is; the sole condition is that both teams find the back of the net.

If both teams score, the BTTS bet is successful, and if one or both teams fail to score, the bet is unsuccessful. This market offers a simple and exciting option for soccer bettors who want to wager on the goal-scoring aspect of a match, regardless of the overall result.

Over/Under Total Goals

The over/under total goals market allows you to predict whether the total number of goals scored in a match will be over or under a specific value set by the bookmaker.

For example, if the set value is 2.5 goals, you can bet on either over 2.5 goals (three or more goals scored) or under 2.5 goals (two or fewer goals scored). The outcome of the match or which team scores the goals is irrelevant in this market; you’re solely focused on the total goal count.

Draw No Bet

Draw No Bet (DNB) eliminates the possibility of a draw. In this market, you choose a team to win, and if the match ends in a draw, your stake is refunded, resulting in a “no bet” or a push bet, as it’s more commonly known.

If your selected team wins, your DNB bet is successful, and you receive the corresponding payout. However, if the opposing team wins, your bet is unsuccessful, and you lose your stake. The Draw No Bet market offers a way to mitigate the risk of a draw while still maintaining the potential for a winning bet, making it a popular choice for bettors seeking added security.

Correct Score

The correct score market involves predicting the exact final score of a match. You must accurately forecast the scoreline, considering both teams’ goals. For instance, if you bet on a correct score of 2-1, the home team must win by a score of 2 goals while the away team scores only 1 goal for your bet to be successful. Since predicting the correct score is challenging, the odds for this market are generally higher than other betting options.

First Player to Score

The First Player to Score market allows you to wager on which player will score the first goal in a match. You select a specific player, and if they score the first goal, your bet is successful. However, if any other player scores the first goal or if no goals are scored during the match, your bet is unsuccessful.

Handicap and Asian Handicap

A handicap bet involves giving one team a virtual advantage or disadvantage in terms of goals before the match begins. The purpose is to create a more balanced betting opportunity. For example, if Team A is given a -1 handicap, they must win by a margin of at least two goals for the bet to be successful. Conversely, if Team B is given a +1 handicap, they can either win the match or draw to result in a winning bet.

An Asian handicap is a variant of the handicap bet that eliminates the possibility of a draw by providing fractional handicaps. This creates more options and tighter odds. For example, a -1.5 Asian handicap means the favored team must win the match by 2 or more goals, while a +1.5 Asian handicap means the underdog team can either win or lose by just 1 goal.

Handicap markets are a type of bet similar to spread betting. A -1.5 spread acts just like the above example. Asian handicaps and goal spreads use a two-way Moneyline as the market is made in such a way that the draw isn’t possible. Full goal lines aren’t available on Asian handicap soccer events as a tie could happen.

Futures Bets

Futures wagers are where you place bets on long-term events or outcomes that will be determined in the future, usually beyond the immediate match or season. It involves predicting events such as tournament winners, league champions, top goal scorers, or player transfers. Typically placed well in advance, futures betting often happen before a season begins, and the outcomes are settled at a later date. In other words, futures odds are a long-term bet.

Top Soccer Tournaments to Bet On

Soccer has a range of tournaments that run across each season. In this part of the how to bet on soccer guide we’ve included information on the top soccer tournaments to bet on.

Copa America

Formed in 1916, the Copa America is the oldest international football tournament in the world, usually it features only teams from South America but the 2024 tournament will feature the national teams of Canada, USA and Mexico.

It is also being held in the USA for the first time, an event that will see many football stadiums temporarily transformed into Copa America stadiums as soccer fever sweeps the nation.

The tournament will follow a format where 16 member nations participate in four groups. From there, eight teams qualify for the knockout rounds leading to the final.

Uruguay is the most successful team, winning the tournament 15 times, followed by Argentina with 15 titles, and Brazil with 9 titles.

UEFA European Championship

Commonly known as the Euros, the UEFA European Championship is a prestigious international soccer tournament held every four years. It brings together the top national teams from Europe to compete for the title of European champions.

The Euro 2024 schedule follows a format familiar to soccer fans. It features a qualification phase, followed by a final tournament with 24 teams. The teams are divided into groups, and the top teams, along with the best third-placed teams, advance to the knockout stage.

The tournament’s history began in 1960, and it has since grown in popularity, showcasing the best talent in European football.

FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is the premier international soccer tournament organized by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). It takes place every four years and brings together national teams from around the globe.

The tournament features a qualification phase, followed by a final tournament with 32 teams competing in a month-long event. The teams are initially divided into groups, playing round-robin matches, and the top teams advance to the knockout stage.

With tournament history dating back to 1930, the inaugural edition was in Latin America in Uruguay. Since then, both the competition and betting on the World Cup has grown in prestige, capturing the attention of billions of fans worldwide as one of the most-watched sporting events on the planet.

UEFA Champions League

The UEFA Champions League is the premier club football competition in Europe, organized by UEFA. The tournament operates on a group stage and knockout format. Teams are initially divided into groups, followed by knockout rounds leading to the final.

The Champions League began in 1955 as the European Cup and has evolved over the years to become a global spectacle. Real Madrid is the most successful team in the tournament’s history, winning it 14 times, followed by AC Milan and Liverpool with seven titles each. Discover how to bet on the Champions League elsewhere on site.

MLS Cup

The MLS Cup is the championship match of Major League Soccer (MLS), the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. It is the culmination of the MLS Cup Playoffs, which feature the top teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The playoffs consist of knockout rounds leading to the conference finals, and the winners from each conference compete in the MLS Cup final. The tournament began in 1996, with D.C. United winning the inaugural edition. The most successful teams in MLS Cup history are LA Galaxy and D.C. United, both with five championships, followed by Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City with two titles each.

Europa League

The Europa League, originally known as the UEFA Cup, first started in the 1971-1972 season. The tournament was rebranded as the Europa League in 2009 to provide opportunities for teams that don’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the format consisting of a group stage followed by knockout rounds, leading to the final.

The winner of the Europa League earns a spot in the following season’s Champions League. Sevilla holds the record for the most Europa League titles, winning it six times. Other successful teams include Juventus and Inter Milan, each with three titles.

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Biggest Soccer Leagues to Bet On

In this part our of guide on how to bet on soccer, we’ve covered some of the biggest leagues and tournaments that you can bet on from around the world.

Copa America

Copa America is being held in the USA in 2024 and the USMNT stands a great chance of qualifying for the elimination stages.

Copa America odds will fluctuate when the tournament starts. But if you want to lock in some value on a team or teams you think will do well this summer then now is the time to do your homework and place your bets.

European Championships

Commonly referred to as the Euros or Euro 2024. The Euros are second only to the World Cup in terms of international prestige for European nations.

England are favorites to win Euro 2024 but they must overcome the weight of history – England has not won an international tournament since the World Cup in 1966.

The tournament starts on July 14 so there isn’t much time left for you to find the best group stage bets. Once the tournament begins there will be plenty of live betting opportunities with between two and four matches per day to enjoy for the first two weeks of the competition.

MLS

The MLS, or Major League Soccer, is the top professional soccer league in North America across the United States and Canada.

It consists of 29 teams divided into Eastern and Western Conferences. Each team competes in a regular-season schedule, playing a total of 34 matches. The regular season is followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs, where the top teams from each conference compete in a knockout-style tournament to determine the league champion.

As well as betting on MLS matches, they best teams also participate in international competitions such as the CONCACAF Champions League. The league has steadily grown in popularity since its inauguration in 1996, attracting talented players from around the world and expanding its reach in North American soccer.

Premier League

The Premier League is the pinnacle of English football. It consists of 20 teams that compete in a round-robin format, playing 38 matches each. The league follows a promotion and relegation system, with the bottom three teams at the end of the season being relegated to the lower division (Championship), while the top three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League.

The team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned the league champion. The Premier League is widely regarded as one of the most competitive and prestigious football leagues in the world. Big teams include Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

La Liga

La Liga is Spain’s premier soccer league and is one of the highest-rated across Europe. Like most elite European soccer leagues, there are 20 teams that compete over the course of the season. Each team plays 38 games with the bottom three relegated at the end of the season. Its two biggest clubs are Barcelona and Real Madrid, whose rivalry is affectionately referred to as El Clasico.

Pros and Cons of Soccer Betting

In this section, we’ve covered some of the pros and cons linked with soccer betting. We wanted to highlight why this sport is the most bet on globally, but also a few areas that you need to be aware of before you place a bet.

Pros: pros

  • Huge coverage on online sportsbooks
  • Massive range of bets and markets to choose from
  • Dozens of games take place on a daily basis from around the world
  • One of the best sports for live betting
  • Lots of strategy and free soccer betting tips from multiple online resources

Cons: cons

  • Huge coverage means soccer betting lines are generally quite sharp
  • Not easy to find value given the huge sums of money wagered on the sport
  • Can be overwhelming for new bettors due to the volume of games and markets

Soccer Betting Strategy

To be a successful bettor when it comes to soccer you need to immerse yourself in the sport. You must have a solid betting strategy and by implementing any or all of our recommendations below, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to profit more times than you lose.

The section below in our guide on how to bet on soccer covers a series of basic, intermediate, and advanced soccer betting strategies.

Basic

  1. Match Analysis Strategy – This strategy involves a thorough analysis of teams, players, recent form, head-to-head records, injuries, and other relevant factors. By gathering information and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, bettors can make informed decisions. This strategy focuses on identifying value bets by finding discrepancies between bookmakers’ odds and your own analysis.
  2. Bankroll Management – It’s imperative that you manage your betting funds wisely. Set a budget for your soccer betting activities and avoid chasing losses or placing overly large bets. Divide your bankroll into units and stake a consistent percentage on each bet, typically 1-5% of your total bankroll. Bet using a points system, with stronger bets gaining more points and therefore, larger percentages of your bankroll.
  3. Specialization Strategy – This strategy involves focusing on specific leagues, teams, or markets where you have expertise or access to reliable information. By specializing in a particular area, you can gain a deeper understanding and potentially gain an edge over the bookmakers. This narrows down the masses of games and allows you to become an expert in a particular field.

Intermediate

  1. Value Betting – This strategy involves identifying bets with positive expected value (+EV) based on your own assessment of the likelihood of an outcome. You compare your calculated odds with the bookmakers’ odds and look for discrepancies where the bookmakers’ odds are higher than your own. By consistently finding value bets over time, you can potentially generate profits. This strategy requires a solid understanding of odds calculation and a disciplined approach to avoid being swayed by emotions or biases.
  2. In-Play Betting – In-play or live betting involves placing bets during a match, taking advantage of changing dynamics and real-time information. This strategy requires attentiveness and quick decision-making skills. By observing the flow of the game, momentum shifts, and assessing the teams’ performances, you can identify favorable opportunities. In-play betting allows you to adjust your strategy based on the match’s unfolding events, offering additional options to capitalize on your insights.

Advanced

  1. Arbitrage Betting Strategy – Arbitrage betting involves taking advantage of discrepancies in odds offered by different bookmakers to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome. This strategy requires meticulous research and swift execution to identify and place bets on conflicting odds. By placing bets on all possible outcomes with different bookmakers, bettors can secure a profit by capitalizing on the variation in odds. However, opportunities for arbitrage bets are rare, and it requires a significant investment of time and effort to find and exploit these opportunities.
  2. Poisson Distribution Strategy – The Poisson Distribution model uses historical data to predict the number of goals scored in a match. By analyzing past matches, the model calculates the probabilities of different score lines and goal counts. Bettors can compare the model’s predictions with the bookmakers’ odds to identify discrepancies and value bets. This strategy requires statistical knowledge and the ability to gather and analyze large amounts of data. While the Poisson Distribution model provides a mathematical framework, it is important to supplement it with other factors like team form and injuries for more accurate predictions.
  3. Advanced Statistical Models – Advanced statistical models, such as machine learning algorithms, can be employed to analyze vast amounts of data and generate predictions. These models consider various factors such as team performance, player statistics, playing style, and more. By training the model on historical data, it learns patterns and trends that can be used to make predictions for upcoming matches. Advanced statistical models require expertise in data analysis, programming, and statistical modeling. They can provide valuable insights and an edge in soccer betting but may require significant technical skills and resources to implement effectively.

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Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert
Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.