Whether you’ve just placed your first bet, or you’ve had an acca on every weekend for years but finally want to start taking things a little more seriously (and at the very least reduce your losses!), this is the place to be. Here is your football betting strategy guide.
In this article, we’ll cover the basic ways to improve you football betting strategy - show you how to get the most out of stats, how to avoid getting sucked into just backing a big name, and even which time of the season might be best to bet.
If you’re looking for explanations of more advanced football betting strategies like value betting, a detailed look at accumulators, as well as what to look for when finding a new tipster to follow, head here.
And if you want to learn how to manage your bankroll and how much you should stake on each bet, we’ve got you here.
Right, let’s get started. People have been betting for a long time, and they’ve developed sophisticated strategies to try to beat the bookies, but there’s also loads of common sense stuff you should bear in mind if you’re going to be successful.
Do Your Research
As with everything in life, before you dive right into something, it’s a good idea to do your research. Football betting is no different. In fact, it might be especially important.
Congratulations, reading this article is a good start. Doing your research doesn’t just mean looking into the stats and data for individual matches, it also means reading about betting strategies and money management. These are as crucial to successful betting in the long term as being an expert on the finer points of Pep’s high-press.
Before you bet, you should absolutely look at how a team or player has performed recently. This is true of any market - not just Win-Draw-Win. Bookies build their odds based on data, so you should be looking at the data too. Here are our top tips when looking at stats.
Be Specific To The Market
At KickOff we lay out our form stats so you get the most relevant stats for each market. For the over/under 1.5 goals market, you don’t care how many matches a team has won, you need to know how many goals they’ve scored and conceded. For the HT/FT market, what matters is whether a team was winning, drawing or losing at half time and then at full time regardless of how many goals had been scored or what the exact score was.
All our form stats are tailored for each market, and we have handy infographics, which again are different for each market so that you can see at a glance the most relevant information.
Let’s look at what stats we offer for over/under 1.5 goals and HT/FT, how they’re different, and what you can learn from them.
OVER/UNDER 1.5 GOALS FORM STATS
We show the following form stats for both teams over their last 20 games - these stats are given for their last 20 overall, as well as their last 20 at home if they’re playing at home next (and vice versa):
- Goals scored
- Goals conceded
- Match finished with over 1.5 goals
- Match finished with under 1.5 goals
- Games scored
- Games conceded
- Games failed to score
- Clean sheets
Crucially, at a glance, you’ll see the donut chart which shows how many of a team’s last 20 matches have finished with over (light green) or under (dark green) 1.5 goals. This is the most important metric really, and that’s why we make it so prominent.
This is because what you’re betting on is that the next match will finish with at least 2 goals. You don’t care if it finishes with 4 or 5 goals, just whether it finishes with at least 2. There’s more on this in the next section - looking at frequency over averages.
You can see immediately that the HT/FT form stats look completely different. This is because the market is very different, and you always need appropriate information. This graphic shows how many of a team’s last 20 games have been in each game state (winning, drawing, losing) at HT and FT.
It’s really important that you have specific data for the HT/FT market and don’t just go off wins, draws and losses. Just because a team wins lots of matches, you shouldn’t assume they’re a good WDW bet. They might prefer to keep it tight in the first half, before attacking in the second half. Or they might be really good at grabbing late winners - think Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson!
When looking at this data that would show up, because you would see the team wins a lot more games at FT than they are winning at HT. This could make them a good draw/win HT/FT bet.
One note on using this data: just because a team has been winning 7 games at HT and 7 at FT, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they went on to win at FT all the games they were winning at HT - it could be that some of the games they were winning at HT ended in draws, and they came back to eventually win some of the games they were losing at HT.
This is just a quick snapshot, but we have tailored data for every single different market. Check them out:
We also track hot (and cold!) streaks for each market. For BTTS this includes teams who have scored and/or conceded in 5 or more consecutive games. Again, these streaks are unique to each of our markets.
Pro users can filter all matches to see only matches featuring teams on streaks relevant to that market. Where both teams are on complimentary streaks in a match (i.e. one team has lost 3 straight matches and another has won 3 in a row) you’ll see the icon shown below.
Recent research, including Ben Cohen’s book “The Hot Hand”, shows that streaks do have a real impact on performance and are more than just chance. If you can find a team on a streak, they might be a better bet than a team who is just good all the time.
Be Specific To The Competition
At KickOff all our league data is kept separate from data for cups. This is because the quality of opponents in cups can fluctuate wildly, beating a team from three leagues below 8-0 could throw out the stats badly. You should always look at data from appropriate competitions when assessing form, and that’s why at KickOff this is automatically what we give you.
We also have head-to-head stats and a league table which we’ll get onto below when we talk about the importance of taking the opponent into account.
Frequency Not Average
As we’ve just seen, averages are really useful and we have lots of them on KickOff. They’re a great way to see quickly if a team is suitable for a certain type of bet - say BTTS . But you should always look closer before you place your bet, and only use averages as part of the picture, in some cases they can be deceptive.
Let’s look at these over/under 3.5 stats for an upcoming Ajax match. Using the averages you might expect an upcoming Ajax match to more often than not have more than 3.5 goals (2.9 scored + 0.9 conceded = 3.8*). In fact though, only half of Ajax’s matches have had over 3.5 goals, and this is the more important number for our purposes.
This happens because Ajax have had four incredibly high scoring matches which have thrown out their mean average.
7 goals (6-1 vs Den Haag, 5-2 vs Fortuna)
6 goals (5-1 vs Heerenveen, 4-2 vs Sparta Rotterdam)
This shows the importance of looking at all the data carefully before making your bet, but it’s also true that as a rule of thumb frequency is more important than totals and averages.
Obviously, you can’t actually have 3.8 goals in a match. You can use something called Poisson Distribution to calculate the probability of scoring whole numbers of goals in an upcoming match, based on how many goals a team scores on average.
The probability of scoring 0 goals, 1 goal, 2 goals, 3 goals, 4 goals etc is shown below for a team who scores on average 2.9 goals.
0 goals - 5.5%
1 goal - 16.0%
2 goals - 23.1%
3 goals - 22.4%
4 goals - 16.2%
5 goals -
6 goals -
If you’re interested, you can learn more about how Poisson Distribution works in our guide to advanced football betting strategies.
Think about the opponent
How Good Is The Opponent?
Real Madrid win a lot of their matches, and so for some it’s tempting, especially if they’ve been on a good run lately, to stick them to win on the acca every week. But it is important to think check the form of the team they are playing.
The team they’re facing this week might also be in good form, they might be having a really good season even if they’re not traditionally a “big name”, or they might be a mid-table side with a good record of sneaking draws against the big sides.
In fact, this situation where big teams attract lots of bettors - partly because of the behaviour outlined above and partly because they have big fan bases who want to bet on their own team to win - can actually make betting against these big sides a good bet in certain situations. This is known as value betting - learn more about it here.
How Appropriate Is The Opponent For The Market I’m Betting On?
The idea that you need to look at both teams involved in a match should be fairly obvious in the WDW market, but can be even more important in markets such as over 3.5 goals. In that market, you’re not just looking for one team that scores and/or concedes a lot of goals. Ideally, you’re looking for two teams that both score and concede a lot of goals.
How Will These Two Teams Play Against Each Other?
There’s also another step, which is to try to work out how these specific teams might interact. As we saw with frequency vs average, just because a team has scored a lot of goals on average, that doesn’t mean they have consistently scored a lot of goals in every game against all the teams. They might have won all their games against the relegation candidates 5-0 and then barely scored against good teams.
So how do you work out what will happen in this game between these two specific teams? There are a couple of things that can help.
Use The Head-To-Head Record
One way to get a view on this is to look at the head-to-head history between the teams.
For example, Fenerbahce start as favourites to beat Alanyaspor. Fenerbahce are above Alanyaspor in the league, and have similar, if not slightly better, recent form. But Alanyaspor have won the last 2 fixtures they’ve played at home against Fenerbahce. This is something to consider when assessing this match.
However, you should also bear in mind that teams only usually play each other 2 or 3 times per year. This means that within a few fixtures you can easily be going back years, and the actual players and quality of the teams on the pitch might have changed a lot in that time. Some teams might not have played each other at all for years if they play in different countries or leagues. Head to head data can be useful, but it’s not the whole picture.
Use KickOff’s Unique League Table
Another great way to assess a matchup is to use KickOff’s exclusive league table. Our league tables show the results of the two teams in an upcoming match against every other team in their league. This means that you can see how a team has previously performed against teams similar to the one they’re about to face.
They’re different for each market too, so for WDW it shows whether each game ended in a win, a draw or a loss, and for BTTS it indicates whether both teams scored or whether at least one team failed to.
Liverpool - Over 2.5 goals
Let’s look at a real example. Liverpool have scored an average of 1.7 goals/game in their last 20 at home, and conceded 1.2/game. Southampton have scored 1.2 goals/game and conceded 2.1 goals per game. 10 of Liverpool’s last 20 home games have finished with over 2.5 goals and 10 of Southampton’s last 20 away games have finished with over 2.5 goals.
However, if you look at the over 2.5 goals results by league table, you can see that of 11 matches Liverpool have played against teams in the bottom 7, only one of them has finished with over 2.5 goals.
Now you might think that actually, under 2.5 goals would be a better bet in this match - especially as it has much longer odds than over 2.5 goals and could therefore be a value bet.
Leeds - WDW
Going into their fixture with Brighton on Saturday 1st May, Leeds had won 9 of their last 20 Premier League 20 matches and lost 8. From this, you might conclude they had a 45% chance of winning the match. However, they had won 8 of their 9 matches (89%) against teams in the bottom 7 - Brighton in 17th would be another team in the bottom 7. Therefore, you can see how much use the league table can be useful for contextualising form data.
It’s crucial to always consider how the two sides might interact before placing a bet, and at KickOff we have head-to-head and the league table to help you to do exactly that.
Be Careful Of The Early Season
Many professional bettors will steer clear of early season matches. As we covered in the head-to-head section teams can change quite significantly over the close season with new players or possibly even a new manager.
Add into that the fact that some leagues have as many as 7 new teams (3 promoted, 4 relegated) each campaign and it means that it can be really difficult to pick winners for the first couple of months of the season. Many bettors think it’s better just to wait this period out until there is solid data to work from.
Think About Teams “Already On The Beach”
Additionally, there comes a point in the season where lots of teams in mid-table have nothing to play for while teams at the bottom are fighting for their lives and those at the top are going all out for promotion or title wins. This means that backing teams with everything to play for against those who are already thinking about their holidays can be a profitable strategy.
Get To Know A League Or Team Inside Out
Most people who bet on football are also fans. We all know how it feels when a fan of another club starts telling you all about how your club are doing and who their best players are. You listen and you think “This guy doesn't know anything!
The same thing can happen in betting. Looking at form data is great, but there is still no substitute for all the other knowledge which comes from following a club, or a few clubs, very closely. You know if the right-back has looked tired lately, that the new coach has really made a difference, or if an upcoming opponent is custom-made to take advantage of your weaknesses.
When betting, you should ideally stick to a team or a league - rather than splashing your money randomly across different countries and teams.
If you don’t have the time to become a League Two obsessive but still want to win, you can follow the tips of someone else who is an expert. At KickOff, you can find the top tipsters on our site for every league we cover.
Right, now you’ve got the basics of football betting strategy. Before you dive straight in, we’d also recommend taking a look at money management strategies so you don’t blow your bankroll on the first bet.