It would be fair and accurate to say that the enhancements in technology that we have enjoyed in the past couple of decades have changed the world in an irrevocable way, and that is certainly the case with football betting.
Long gone are the days where we would have to traipse down to our local betting shop, with its smoke-filled room, to back our favourite teams.
Nowadays, we can have a flutter on our laptops, mobile phones and tablets wherever we are, and that tech has advanced to the stage where we can actually live stream many high-quality sporting events through our chosen bookmakers’ websites. With live football betting, we can even have a flutter as the action unfolds.
The bookies aren’t daft and know when they are on to a good thing. Many have placed their ‘in-play’ channel at the front and centre of their operations, and most have reaped the rewards: bet365 confirmed that in the previous financial year live betting accounted for some 72% of their revenue, an actual worth of around £1.5 billion.
So the notion of placing an in-play wager is firmly ingrained in the landscape for 2018 and beyond, and the good news for punters is that football betting in play is really easy to get to grips with.
What is Live Football Betting?
From the first minute to the final whistle, punters can bet on thousands of football matches each and every day.
If you backed Liverpool to beat Arsenal before a ball is kicked, then this would be considered a pre-match wager. But as soon as the first toot of the referee’s whistle is made, the action moves to a bookmakers’ live football betting platform.
Fire up your preferred sportsbook’s website or app and you will see it: their offering will be broken down into two sections, the traditional betting platform and a ‘live’ or ‘in-play page’.
Click on the in-play page and stacks of fixtures from all four corners of the globe will be presented to you. Fancy a flutter on the Iranian Second Division? No problem.
And that’s the beauty of football betting in play: there is generally always a match to bet on any time day or night!
The Advantages of Football Betting In-Play
Think about the process you go through when placing a bet on the football before the match has kicked off.
You might place a wager on a hunch: whether it’s a team in hot form or you want to back against a team with a lengthy list of injuries.
Or you might be the super-organised sort: doing your research well in advance of a game, getting to grips with the reams of stats that are available these days and placing your bets based on that information.
Both of the above cannot legislate for the golden rule of football betting: when the players cross that white line, anything can – and often does – happen.
And so the idea of reacting to the million things that can occur in a game clearly gives live football betting the edge over pre-match punting.
What happens when the favourite has a man sent off, or a key player gets injured? What happens when the underdog takes a surprise lead? What happens when the heavens open and the rain waterlogs sections of the pitch, making beautiful ‘tiki taka’ style football impossible?
These are just some of the variables that can impact upon a fixture, and so naturally the main advantage of football betting in play is that we can react accordingly.
The other huge benefit is that we can maximise our return by monitoring odds movements, and wagering where we feel the bookmaker has been too cautious or generous with their new prices.
Let’s say that Manchester City are playing at home against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup, for example. The Premier League champions will be a red-hot favourite; let’s say they start the match as short as 1/20.
Now let’s imagine that a) Kevin de Bruyne gets injured early on and has to be substituted, and b) Leyton Orient take a surprise lead.
The traders at your chosen bookmaker now have to re-evaluate their odds. Clearly, City are less likely to win but are still in the box seat, and now we have to weigh up whether their revised odds are reflective of their chances. It is in the minutiae of these details where live football betting value lurks.
Which Live Football Betting Markets Are Available?
The good news is that there are nearly as many betting markets available in-play as there are pre-match.
You can have a wager on the outcome of the match, with full-time result and both European and Asian handicap markets readily available.
You can try your hand at predicting a variety of goals-based outcomes. Who will score first or last? How many goals will there be in the match, or in the first/second half? Will both teams score?
For fans of the old favourite, you can have a go on the correct score market too.
Clearly, some of these live football betting markets are time sensitive, so you can’t expect to place a half-time result bet after 42 minutes of the game. Acting fast, but with clarity of thought, is key to football betting in play.
How to Get Started
The reality is that in this day and age pretty much all bookmakers and online sportsbooks offer live football betting in some shape and form.
But clearly some are better than others, and so we must shortlist our preferred bookies based upon a few different factors.
Clearly the generosity of their odds is the main one, as in the long term this will ensure we are maximising our profit.
And it is worth doing a quick evaluation based upon the number of available in-play markets; some sportsbooks cover football more extensively than others.
Some firms are even offering promotions based upon live betting, with one example being that they will match a pre-match wager with a free in-play bet worth the same amount.
It’s no secret: live football betting has and will continue to overtake pre-match betting in terms of popularity. Make sure you don’t miss out on all of the fun!
Written by Craig Simpkin
A sports journalist with a smorgasbord of experience writing for a variety of publications, Craig is a Leicester fan hoping that England can also achieve the impossible this summer.