Net ProfitsThe new football season is upon us and World Cup winnings are set to be replaced by Premier League punting. As always, one of the keys to success will be the avoidance of common traps and pitfalls. With that in mind Gareth Bracken presents Gambling’s top 10 football betting mistakes, accompanied by expert advice on how to counter them
1) BETTING ON THE TEAM YOU SUPPORT
The prospect of three points for your team and a punting payout for yourself coming from the same game is enticing, but this still doesn’t mean such a bet is a good idea. It’s difficult to separate the analytical from the emotional and you may well find yourself backing your side purely through loyalty. “Nobody wants to bet against their own team,” says Leon Blanche of Boylesports. “It’s a heart versus head situation.” Ed Pownall of Bodog suggests a way of betting on your team’s game without necessarily going against them. “If in your heart of hearts you know your team can't win you could back there to be three or more goals in the match,” he says. “This way if you get hammered 3-0 you collect but you can still win if your team wins 2-1.”
2) IGNORING THE DRAWS
It’s well known that backing the draw is not a bet of choice for many punters. People don’t like the idea of putting money on a stalemate as they simply don’t see it as being very much fun to watch a game and not feel able to get behind one particular side. This holds true even when the two teams in question appear quite evenly matched. However, this bet’s lack of popularity is exactly what makes it a useful and oft-overlooked weapon in a football gambler’s arsenal. Pownall offers the reason why: “Punters tend to want to back one side to win,” he explains. “Therefore the draw in a tight game is also the biggest odds of the three outcomes, representing value for obvious reasons.”
3) TRYING TO WIN BIG ON LONG ODDS SCORECASTS
As fantastic as it undoubtedly is to collect on a 125/1 scorecast bet the truth of the matter is that you’re not actually getting much value. These type of bets are priced the way they are for a reason. “The bookmakers are always trying to lure unwary punters into the shops by advertising scorecast bets in their windows such as ‘Rooney to score first and Manchester United to win 3-0. £10 pays £220,’” says betting expert Pete Nordsted of petenordsted.com. “However, when looking at the bare statistics this is a terrible bet and in all probability the price for this bet should be nearer to 50-1 rather than 21-1. Always stick to single bets that offer value. Bookmakers’ headline bets are the quickest way to the poorhouse.”
4) LEAVING IT LATE WHEN BETTING IN-PLAY
The appeal of betting in-running is its immediacy. You can bet, win and collect in a matter of minutes. Also, as bookmakers love to remind us, the market is volatile and can therefore throw up great value. However, if the bookies have a bad time of it during a particular match it can lead to their odds compilers needing to tilt the scales in their favour to ensure profits are made. It is for this reason that it’s wise to be wary of getting involved in an in-play market towards the end of a match. “The value at the end of the game of football, say the last ten minutes, is worse than the preceding 80 minutes due to bookmakers trying to cover their end book,” explains Chris Shillington of Extrabet.
5) STICKING WITH ONE BOOKMAKER FOR THE WHOLE SEASON
It’s always wise to search around to get the best value on any product or service and football betting is no different. “A punter who does not shop around for the best available prices is showing complete disregard for their betting bank,” says Nordsted. “If you were to have ten £20 bets with the same bookmaker and each selection was an even money shot and you had five winners and five losers you would have a balance of £0. If you shop around and obtain 5/4 on these ten matches then after the ten bets you would be sitting on a profit of £25.00, and this is just by spending a few minutes researching.” Shillington describes sticking with one bookmaker as “the biggest mistake a serious punter can make,” adding: “Three accounts are manageable and the difference between odds will regularly be 20%.”
6) STAKING LARGE SUMS ON IN-PLAY ‘CERTAINTIES’
One of the most common mistakes people make when gambling on the exchanges is betting big on so-called certainties. As with any form of betting, nothing is certain. This may seem obvious but it’s advice that even regular gamblers are failing to heed. “The betting exchanges are dangerous places for the unwary,” says Nordsted. “Many experienced punters just put large sums of money down without thinking of the downside. You may get away with doing this on a couple of occasions but you will certainly get caught out more times than expected.” His suggestion for exchange betting is to “never put yourself in the position where you are risking ten or more times the amount you are trying to win”.
7) LAYING CORRECT SCORES AT SILLY PRICES
Attempting to buy money on the exchanges is a mistake that can also be made when laying. If a game is 2-1 at half-time and you lay a 3-3 draw at around 20.00 you are risking £200 to win £10. Nordsted describes the attitude in this instance as “it will never happen”. It can happen however and does so more than you might realise. All it takes is for a couple of early goals and, as Nordsted notes, “you are left with the dilemma of whether to cut your losses now or spend an agonising half hour trying to win £10.” Even if you come out on top it may not have been much fun getting there. Nordsted warns that the journey “can leave you a nervous wreck.”
8) NOT FOLLOWING THE LATEST NEWS
Bookmakers obviously price-up matches in advance and you’ll miss out on the opportunity to exploit this if you’re not on the ball. If news of a player injury breaks and you think it will significantly change the likelihood of a particular outcome then act quickly. “Always do your research and be up to date,” says Blanche. “Gather as much information as possible to help you. Rolling news channels like Sky Sports News are very punter-friendly in this respect.” Pownall notes the importance of finding out who the referee is. “Some referees like to let the game be free while others are more card-happy,” he explains. “The form book will show different score lines for the same game depending on who holds the whistle.”
9) BEING DRAWN IN BY CLICHÉS/STEREOTYPES
The anti-thesis of doing your research and gathering solid information is relying on tired and outdated clichés. It’s a pretty lazy approach and one that will put you on the path to failure. Any vaguely serious bettor won’t just assume that a certain team plays a certain way or that particular types of matches always bring about particular results. You might get lucky on a couple of occasions but in the long run you risk doing yourself financial damage. “Avoid ideas such as there always being loads of draws on Boxing Day or that derbies are always full of bookings,” says Pownall. “This may have been the case in years gone by but the game is too professional for those to have an impact now.”
10) CHASING LOSSES ON GAMES YOU WOULDN’T USUALLY BET ON
Chasing losses is never a good idea in any form of gambling and with football betting opportunities available pretty much every night of the week it’s important to stay disciplined. “When on a run of losses you need to consolidate your position and rethink,” says Shillington. “Chasing a game when your emotions are running high will, as in all areas of life, lead to bad decisions.” Nordsted endorses a long-term mentality, underlining the importance of self-belief. “Losing is part of gambling. Always stick to your game plan. Just remember that so long as you are placing your bets at a value price you will come out on top in the long run. Never place a bet just for the sake of it,” he says.