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Things you have to know before live betting on a football match

Despite the fact that the recommendations given here refer to bets on football only, many common points are also true for bets in general, regardless of the sport. Therefore, even if you do not specialise in football, you can still find something useful in this text. You may be interested in betting on this sport. And for those who are already interested in betting on football, this material should be especially useful. I tried to collect and summarise here the main factors that should be considered when selecting bets on this sport, as well as the main mistakes that are made in the analysis of these factors. All of the following is not a lengthy discussion of the theorist, but the result of many years of experience of the practitioner, who has achieved some success during this time. Therefore, even if you think that it is written here too much to spend your time – try to read through to the end, if you really want to succeed in the bets.


Football is certainly the number one sport in the world. In the world of bets for sure (except for North America, but they are not like people). It is enough to look at the paintings given by offices for different kinds of sports, and football here will be out of competition. Bookmakers are working their asses off to give the most popular matches as many betting options as possible, on anything, including “whether the coach will be removed from the bench” or “whether the match will be interrupted due to riots in the stands”. And these efforts of the offices are not their personal whims: demand generates supply, including here.

And, perhaps, in any other kind of sport among the ordinary people there will not be so many “experts” who are ready to give advice to athletes and coaches who almost believe that they are better than themselves, no one, including these very athletes and coaches, does not understand this game. It’s no wonder that many of these people, even though they’re not big fans of gambling (though there’s a lot to be found for non-gambling sports fans?!), but having heard about the bets, confidently decide to take part in them, thinking for themselves: “Well, I know all this football kitchen thoroughly, why not make money on it?

It’s familiar, isn’t it? Especially if you are a fan of a club, attend its matches at the stadium, or at least do not miss any TV broadcasts (if it’s a grand team), you know everything about players and administrative and coaching staff, up to what the leading striker ate for breakfast today, or whom the goalkeeper slept with the day before yesterday (with whom – obviously – a girl, not someone from the same club, though …. though … However, you should also be aware of the goalkeeper’s orientation – it’s your favourite team!); whose Birthday was celebrated by the whole team after the next match in the city’s coolest nightclub all night long… etc., etc. In short, in the life of your favourite club there are no secrets and secrets for you, and you decide that it will help you to enrich yourself in the bookmaker’s office.

And this is one of the main mistakes. The most important thing, perhaps, is to bet, generally having a vague idea of what you bet, but it should be clear to any sensible person and so. But the fact that even a great understanding of football as a game and have all the information about a club from the point of view of a fan is not enough to be successful in betting on this sport (and on this team) – obviously not a lot, if at all, of people think about it, especially at first. But still, it is! The most comprehensive knowledge of game theory, sufficient, for example, to write a study on your own on the topic of “Defence with Libero and Linearity: A Comparative Analysis”, is unlikely to be of any use in betting. If everything were so simple, the most successful players would be people of football with sufficient experience – coaches, teachers of football specialities of physical education institutions, famous football reporters (although the qualification of most of them is much lower than it seems, however, and among them there are real experts, especially if they are former players or coaches).

But we see it’s not happening. Even if you don’t notice it, open any sports newspaper and find the section “Projections of a specialist” there. At least, the Russian Premier League has such a section in many of our publications. As a rule, each tour is predicted by a new person, and the more solid the publication, the bigger the football stars are involved in it. Try to keep statistics of these forecasts, not just how many are guessed, but how many are not (as a rule, the forecasts there are given on the account of the matches, but we are interested in the outcome – who will win or draw), namely in terms of bets – that is, take the coefficients in your favourite bookmaker’s office, apply them to the forecasts of specialists, giving each bet on 1 conventional unit (you can have 100, for the convenience of calculation and exclusion of fractional shares in it), and bring the balance of the stake to the bottom. With a sufficient number of such bets will draw a more or less reliable picture, which is guaranteed to surprise you! And it will surprise you.

The same applies to fans of different teams, especially the famous clubs or national teams. A fan of a lower league club who lives in the same place where his favourite club is based may still have some advantage in terms of awareness compared to other players (why – we’ll find out later). However, here we also add such a negative factor for bets as patriotism, or emotions of the fan. Excessive idolatry of their idols, or, conversely, hatred for them in moments of failure, prevents us from objectively assessing the chances of our favourite club. Rarely anyone can “disconnect” from fanatic thoughts and look impartially. Especially if in some match your idols need only victory: to convince yourself that “we will definitely tear them up!!!” is good for a fan, it is necessary for a footballer (psychological mood in sports plays an important role), but it is completely unacceptable for the player at the bets. If all the teams that need to win were to win, even in matches with unmotivated opponents, there wouldn’t be any football as such, especially in the final rounds of the championships. Even in the Italian championship, where at the end of the season usually those who do not need anything, obediently give points to those who need them, exceptions are not so rare.

So, summing up the above: even if you are thoroughly familiar with the game of football, you collect information about your favourite club by pieces, regularly watch the matches live – success at bets is not yet guaranteed. Moreover, you do not have much more chances than the average visitor of the bookmaker’s office with his average knowledge. And this must be understood before you rush into a booth with a line in front of it.

Why is this happening? First, bookmakers are professionals. They also collect all available information, keep track of the latest news, and take all these factors into account when setting up the odds. Take as a postulate: “What I know, people on the other side of the window have already laid in the line”, and you realise that, no matter how outstanding the expert you are, all your knowledge has no advantage over the coefficient in the line. Moreover, because of the margin, you are not even in an equal position with the bookmaker at the beginning! Actually, not all information is taken into account by the bookmaker in the line, and then we will see it, but first it will be useful to consider it that way. Underestimation of their powers, knowledge and skills here will be more appropriate than a reassessment.

Secondly, most of what you “know” or “believe” in is actually embedded in your brain by such a powerful factor as public opinion. People are characterised by a herd of feelings and admiration for the opinion of the majority. Very few are able to oppose this opinion and do not doubt the latter. Public stereotypes, often very little in common with reality, will overwhelm our lives, serve as a guide for it, and in the stakes it acts as a distinctly anywhere. Popular argument “Real wins because it’s Real! – the most vivid illustration of that. At the same time, the fact that even the Real world loses from time to time is known to everyone, but this fact does not diminish their confidence in this particular case. In other articles on this site it is shown that the public opinion of the players for the bookmaker when setting the coefficients is even more important than the actual state of affairs. Therefore, it is already in the line.

Therefore, what do we get in the long-term game, if the choice of bets will be based on publicly available knowledge and opinions? In the most common case, we will “get” on margin. At worst, we will get an even more tangible loss, because another property – elementary human greed – makes us collect “our” (in fact – mostly public) opinions in the express, and then once again to be upset that did not play only one event … Often the one I was most sure of.


The next mistake those who bet on football make when they pay too much attention to statistics. The history of personal meetings up to 1889, the statistics of home and away matches, the history of each team’s games all the years on the day of the current match… In these data you can even find some statistical laws (however, as long as 500 years do not play football, the statistical significance of these laws is not high), and it is quite possible that this match will end in full compliance with the found laws, but that’s what it means?

It is unlikely that even those who like to bet on statistics believe that players go on the field and play, looking back at these figures. A “convenient” or “uncomfortable” opponent – not from the world of bets, but from such statistics – maybe somehow affect the participants of the match, but rather before and after the match, when they give interviews. It is unlikely that the players on the field of play think that the team they are currently playing for has not beaten their current opponent since 1972, and even more so, it is unlikely that it imposes an additional psychological burden on them. It is more likely that they will be weighed down by the current winning or goalless streak. But still, the result of each particular match is a random value that does not depend on the statistics of previous matches. If all those matches were played by the same squads, in the same conditions, then we could still derive something useful from their results. And so – any series are interrupted sooner or later, and any regularities found in the statistics may stop working at any moment and forever. And, finally, if the stakes on football were dominated by statistics, the best players would be the encyclopedists who root over the reference books, and know all the details by heart, up to the point at which the winning ball was scored in the unresolved match of the outsiders of the 5th league of the championship of Honduras in 1965.

But this does not mean that the statistics are useless. First of all, very often, when there is no other information, bookmakers set their odds based on statistics, and therefore, having some important news, inaccessible to the majority, we can see their advantage. And in general, in any case, the statistics has an impact on the setting of coefficients. That’s why you can’t take it as a basis for selecting bets – it’s already taken into account in the coefficients. Secondly, the statistics of the last matches of the team can tell you a lot about it. However, without knowing the reasons for such results, you can’t rely too much on it anyway – maybe the team’s decline wasn’t a recession at all, the players just “leaked” the coach, and as soon as it was taken off, they played again at full strength. Something interesting about the team’s style can also be told about the statistics of home and away matches of this season: for example, if the team plays better than at its stadium, especially if it has low home performance, it is obvious that this team has problems in the game “first number”, and the favourite and played tactics – from the defence on the counterattacks. However, in this case it’s better to get a confirmation of these guesses: maybe it just coincided that at home she played only with the leaders, and away – with the outsiders. Even with the use of such statistics, it is necessary to monitor the composition of the team: if it has changed half of the players and coach during the period of additional applications, the results of previous rounds become a useless set of numbers for us. Fortunately, you can find almost everything on the Internet now, even amateur clubs’ websites.


One of the few factors that, on the contrary, is the size of the coefficients. In general, players can be divided into three camps. The first one is those who choose the most probable outcomes from their point of view, regardless of the coefficients. The second one is those who are guided first of all by the odds, and if it is profitable enough, the bet will be made, even if they do not believe in success. Finally, the third camp is those whose bets cannot be explained logically, but we will not talk about them.

Which of the first two approaches is better – the argument is rather metaphysical: if you constantly put on the coefficients that express an advantage over the line, then the profit in the long-term game is guaranteed to us purely mathematically (if, of course, this is the most advantage over the line is determined correctly), the fans of the first approach are relying on their intuition and knowledge, which helps them to choose from a line of winning bets. However, the main disadvantage of the latter is that they often do not pay attention to the odds, not even in the sense of comparing them with the expected probability of the event, but in terms of optimising them by office, i.e. searching for the highest odds on the chosen outcome among all available offices. That is, they deprive themselves of profit – maybe, additional, or maybe even general, as a fact! I have even read in the description of one of the new companies: “If I see a good bet, I give it at once, not looking for 0 whole horses of a tenth of a profit”. You can see at once that a man himself plays for a penny, if at all plays. Because even an extra one-tenth in the coefficient gives an increase in the winning 10% – with bets on 5 rubles the difference may be insignificant, but with a deposit of hundreds of dollars – quite noticeable. And in a long-term game, where the struggle is for every tenth of a percent of the turnover, such a difference can translate the general minus into a plus, if you “look for 0 whole horseradish”, and vice versa – to turn the potential profit into a real loss, if you do not worry about it.

The conclusion here is as follows: no matter what principles you play, but if you are not looking for the maximum coefficient for your bet – you steal your profits.

For those for whom odds play an important role, simply finding the maximum odds on your bet is not enough. It is also necessary that the probability corresponding to this coefficient is lower than the estimate of the expected probability of the event. This principle is called Value Betting. But even here it is not so easy. If you notice a strong difference between the coefficient and this probability, do not rush to bet, think: did you take all the factors into account in determining the estimate? Conversely, hasn’t the bookmaker overestimated some of the factors, perhaps intentionally, to attract players who overestimate the same factors, to bet on what he needs? Motivation is a factor that affects the odds in particular. Often, in the final rounds of the championships, there are quite funny odds on the last place team against the leader, just because the leader has already secured the first place, and the outsider who is fighting for survival is in dire need of points. And here we should carefully weigh all the pros and cons: are the leader’s players relaxed enough to give the match to the opponent without fighting, and is the outsider strong enough to beat the leader, even if the latter’s players will walk the entire match? As mentioned above, even one-sided motivation is not yet a guarantee of anything. If there is no logical explanation for this distortion, it should be even more alarming. The bookmaker may know about some backstage moments, or maybe just provoke players without any reason – it will be explained in the next chapter.

Finally, thirdly, there may not really be any logical explanation for such line movements. It’s just a bookie game, which is often called “divorce”. However, at no other interesting championships this does not happen, for the bookmaker it is important to attract the attention of players to these movements, so it is often used for this purpose, or second-rate European Cup tournaments, such as the Intertoto Cup or Champions League qualifying rounds, or second-rate championships, in which the volume of bets are not so large, but still have a constant interest in them, for example, the second Bundesliga. Why is this done? In order to attract additional funds from players, and as a consequence – to increase the profit, which normal bookmakers have a percentage (in the amount of margin) of these funds. For many players, a sharp drop in the odds in a minor match means “The bookmaker learned something and lowered the odds in order to lose less. The logic is wrong, but the bookmaker knows about it and uses it. Thus, if you take the ratio of 2.00 in a potentially interesting championship, but not causing an active interest in the match, and drop it to 1.40, then you can attract the attention of players to this match, and more importantly – to the bets on 1.40. It may even happen that the proportions of bets will be approximately equal to the new coefficients – and this is exactly what the bookmaker needs!

It also happens that the sharp line movement is actually due to the fact that this match is a contract match. Especially if it is removed from the line in bulk (if everyone “falls” together and sharply, but no one removes the match, it certainly smells like a divorce). But it is true that only a few people – direct participants (club management, coaches or players) – can know whether this match is a match of agreement or not. Therefore, it is better not to touch such matches at all. Unless you yourself are one of these contracting parties.

The summary here will be the same as in the case of statistics – the analysis of the movement of lines is not useless, and in many cases – it is very useful, but it is not worth to draw conclusions based on numbers, not having additional information. It should be especially carefully selected in the presence of sharp drops in coefficients.


In my opinion, the most important factor, along with the coefficients. The latest news from the team camp can turn over all the initial ideas about the match. Conversely, the lack of clear information can make you waive your bet. The concept of “information” includes everything: the expected squads, motivation, weather conditions, the state of key players, the financial situation of the club … It is clear that the full set of all these data is unlikely to be found as a rule. Yes, and do not need: the more diverse the information available about the match, the harder it is to find the really important moments that can affect the decision on the bet. And the more “noise” – useless from a practical point of view, but distracting information that can negatively affect this decision. Therefore, it’s better to avoid matches where everyone is betting on – a meeting of grandees in the leading European championships, decisive European Cup matches or national teams games. Although it is often possible to find an attractive object for betting in them as well, in the vast majority of cases it will be hidden somewhere in the murals, and it will certainly not be what everybody is talking about. Although it is very difficult to disconnect from this noise and make yourself “dig” in the opposite direction.

It is important to be able to identify the key data for each bet. And for different bets the key can be different types of information. For example, if we are considering a bet on an individual total of one of the teams, it is important for us to know the state of the creative line of this team and the defensive orders of the opponent. But the information that this team will have a third goalkeeper for this bet is not key, although it may indirectly affect the tactics of this team in this match. It can also be very important to make use of the bonus offer from the bookmaker you’re gambling with. But before you place any bet you also should at first compare bookmakers on to get the most out of your placed bet.

Once the key data has been determined and a specific bet based on it has been selected, it is necessary to make sure that this information is not taken into account in the line. This happens especially if the match or the outcome is not popular with the players. The bookmaker does not need the odds to reflect the current information for each outcome of each match in the line, he simply will not be able to react physically to all of them. It is enough to do this only for more or less popular matches and outcomes, while the rest will be reacted to only when it receives a sufficient amount of bets, and most likely according to the proportions of these bets, rather than the actual information.

The reason for this is that for popular matches all available information is usually available, so the bookmaker knows the reaction of the masses to it in advance, and prepares coefficients for this. For third-rate matches, firstly, the information is available only to the most detailed players, which are very few (the rest, if they put on this match, then on the “external” factors – usually the same statistics), and secondly, such matches will still not be significant for the current profit bookmaker, even if he made a mistake in the coefficients. There are many illustrations of it. For example, when a team in some other Eastern European championship in the interval between circles experiences financial difficulties and sells out all the leaders, bookmakers often continue to give it the same coefficients as in the first circle. Maybe they even know about this crisis, but keep in mind that if anyone will bet on this team at all, it is likely – according to the statistics of the first round of games, not knowing anything about the fact that under this name will be played by very different players. If there are well-informed players who play at favourable odds against this team, the bookmakers move the line to this match, but in the next round, as a rule, give the “wrong” odds again, based on the same considerations. And so many rounds in a row can go on.

But the information should also be treated with caution, not rushing to put “under it” without looking. Especially if the news of problems with the squad is discussed at every corner. Bookmakers are not shy about different tricks recently, and may well “plant” in the media or on the Internet false information, or talk coaches to give them in interviews. And when you read that some team has half of the main squad dropped out because of the flu epidemic, there is a temptation to put it against it, especially when you see that in the neighbouring offices the coefficient has fallen to it, and yours still holds on. The disappointment that will come when you see that the “sick” team won 5-0, and all five goals were scored by the players, who, according to media reports, were supposed to be in a hospital bed, is hard to convey in words.

How to distinguish between false information of this kind and the true one? Again, there are no universal signs. But, as a rule, there are no such “divorces” to anybody’s unnecessary championships – the reaction of players to them will simply not be worth the effort to organise this “divorce”. But the more popular the tournament is, and the more people discuss this news, the more chance we have of being disappointed in the end, especially if the line is suspicious. With experience will come the ability to identify the most frank “divorces”, but from getting on the next, especially cunningly disguised, no player is insured, no matter how many years of experience he did not have behind his shoulders. Therefore, it is best not to touch such matches at all. After all, the money saved is the same as the money earned. And in the case when such information is correct, not necessarily the affected team will lose, for a number of reasons: from the fact that the eliminated is if not equivalent, then a decent replacement on the bench, and ending with a banal contract.

That is, even if we have a set of key information data, the reliability of which is beyond doubt, it is important not to overestimate the significance of this or that news, and its impact on the final result.


I haven’t seen a single player who’s on the plus side based on intuition. Somewhere in the local area – maybe, but not in the long run. Nevertheless, sometimes there are “insights” that this is the outcome of the match, although there is no logical explanation for this choice at first glance.

I do not deny the influence of intuition, but I do not try to find any supernatural explanation for it. In my opinion, this only works when intuition is the quintessence of experience gained over the years. For example, there are often repetitive situations in bets, and at the sight of our next subconscious can tell us the result, which often happened earlier in such cases. That is, intuition can serve as an initial impetus for us to pay attention to this very bet and start analysing it; but it is not a decisive factor in deciding what to bet. We need to find some additional, materialistic proofs of our intuitive conclusions.


In a long-term game, bad luck and bad luck in different periods should compensate each other. Probabilistic character of the game on bets implies not a stable ratio of winnings and losses, but some seriality – alternation of unsuccessful, “black” stripes (losing-strikes) and successful, “white” (winning-strikes). But the specifics of your game can be such that, objectively, there are more moments in which you can complain about bad luck. For example, if you bet on outsiders, they tend to skip the decisive goals in the last minutes more often (one of the most offensive manifestations of bad luck) than the obvious favourites, because, leading in a match with such a favourite, usually go back to the whole team and try to keep this advantage, but sometimes they can not stand the pressure. And there is nothing we can do about it, we just have to put up with it.

It is impossible to win on one luck (again, I mean the game in the long run, in one single match there can be anything, including a fantastically successful course of events for you). This fact agrees well with the statement made in the previous chapter: that you can’t win on a naked intuition, i.e. you can’t always or at least regularly guess the bets to have a profit from them. They should be analysed. Therefore, be calm about temporary failures: they are inevitable, just as the rise that follows them is inevitable. Unless, of course, you do everything right, and do not rush to extremes during such series. It is also worth reminding that during the “white” stripes, you should not lose your head: thoughtlessly increase the size of bets, pay less attention to analysis, in short – never forget about the strict discipline, which, along with the quality of forecasting and financial management is one of the key factors for a successful game in bookmakers’ offices in general. Unlike luck.

Article title: Things you have to know before live betting on a football match

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