As you play and watch more tennis, you will become more knowledgeable about the game and will feel more able to predict the outcome of matches involving top players. While you may be satisfied with impressing your friends with your predictive powers, you may also feel that there is money to be made from placing a few well chosen bets. So, how does betting work in tennis?
You can bet on simple tennis match results, but there are also numerous handicap and in-play markets. Many bookmakers permit betting on tennis and have websites allowing you to bet online. When betting regularly, one can attempt to develop a system to maximize profits, although it is difficult to make a sustained profit from gambling.
Tennis Betting Odds Explained
The easiest type of tennis betting to understand is match betting. Here, you decide who you think is going to win a match and place a bet on them to do so. You choose how much money to risk, known as the ‘stake’, and the bookmaker declares the odds they will give on your chosen outcome. For example, you think Garin is going to beat Opelka. The bookmaker is offering odds of 2/1. This means that if Garin is successful, the bookmaker will pay you 2 times your stake money, and will return your stake on top of this. Thus, a stake of $5 will result in a return of $15. However, if Opelka wins, the bookmaker will keep your stake and you will receive no payout.
Many betting sites offer in-play odds during matches. These change according to the state of the game. In the example above, if Garin is leading 6-3, 5-2 in a best of three sets match, the bookmaker might offer odds against an Opelka victory of 66/1. If you are watching the match and feel that a change of momentum is taking place, you may want to place a small bet on an Opelka win. In the unlikely event that you are correct, your stake will be returned multiplied by a factor of 66.
Certain bookmakers offer handicap odds. Going back to Garin and Opelka, they may offer +2.5 on Garin, and -2.5 on Opelka. What this means is that they add up the total number of games won at the end of the match, and add 2.5 to Garin’s total or subtract 2.5 from Opelka’s. For the purposes of the bet, if Opelka wins three more games than Garin, or by any greater margin, Opelka wins. Otherwise, Garin wins. These handicaps are designed to level the playing field, so the odds offered on each player to win on this basis will be very similar and close to evens (1/1).
Some sites will also allow you to bet on exact match-scores, or even whether specific events like a tie-break will occur. You might also bet on which player will win a tournament.
How Does Over/Under Work In Tennis?
This is another form of handicap betting, and is often applied to the number of sets in a match, although it could equally be applied to the number of games. In a best of three sets match, odds might be given for ‘under 2.5’ or ‘over 2.5’. Thus, if the match is expected to be decided in straight sets, the ‘under’ odds’ will be significantly lower than those for ‘over’. You win by correctly predicting the number of sets played.
Where Can You Place Tennis Bets?
There are numerous online bookmakers offering a reputable tennis betting service. Some, such as Bet365, will offer live streaming of matches to encourage in-play bets. In most countries it is straightforward to open an account and place your bets, but in the USA the situation is more complex.
Until 2018, the majority of states banned sports betting. However, since then a legal ruling has permitted more states to allow it, and some have taken the opportunity to do so. If you live in the USA, check the position in your home state, as some will allow almost any form of sports betting, others just allow it at certain locally based venues, while a few still permit none at all.
Developing a Betting System
A good betting system will be based on as much information as you can obtain about the matches, players and venues If you know a player is carrying an injury, or dislikes a particular venue, or even the weather conditions are more likely to help their opponent’s style, you will want to bet on their opponent if the odds are reasonable. Similarly, if you know that a player plays well against a specific opponent, you may want to bet on them to win.
The key concept is ‘value’. If Fognini is 5/1 to beat Nadal, but your research suggests his chances are better than the 1 in 6 that this suggests, you may bet on him even if you do not believe he is favorite because he offers the best value. If you adopt a strategy of betting on outcomes where you think the odds are wrong, and you make a number of bets over a period, you should ultimately make money- but ONLY if you are right about the probabilities.
Is Tennis Betting Profitable?
You can only make money betting on tennis if you have better information than the bookmakers, who employ people to analyse the statistics and news in order to determine odds which will attract customers but allow the company to make a profit. Unless you have better information than these experts, for example through illegal information from players, you cannot expect to profit from tennis betting in the long term.
You are not likely to make a significant amount of money from tennis betting over any length of time, because the bookmakers work hard to be well informed. Nonetheless, it can be an enjoyable hobby and you may occasionally strike it lucky.