A lot of North American sports bettors are not very serious about betting on soccer. They may bet on the sport during a major international event like the World Cup or European Championship, and they may even throw down a few bucks on a high profile European league game, but they hardly qualify as serious or committed bettors on the sport. For those bettors the difference between the two major ways to bet on soccer (moneyline and point spread) can be somewhat confusing, and they may be making sub-optimal betting decisions as a result. For those bettors let’s take a look at the differences between the two and the advantages of each.
We’ll start with the moneyline because it is the most straightforward of the options. In elimination games, soccer teams will play an extended extra time period before a shootout decides the winner. In most games the draw is a possible and acceptable outcome to a game. In either case there are three possible outcomes for what occurs at the end of regulation time (plus any injury time that is added on by the officials). Obviously those outcomes are that either team could win, or that the game could be tied, a draw in soccer lingo.
As in moneyline betting for football or baseball, a price is assigned to each of the outcomes depending on how likely oddsmakers think they are to occur. For exaple, a strong favorite could be at -150, which means that you need to bet $150 in order to return a profit of $100 if you are right. An underdog could be at +150, which means that if you bet $100 you would earn a profit of $150 if you are right.
The big difference in soccer betting is that there are three possible outcomes to bet on, and each will be assigned a price. This can lead to major mistakes for bettors. If you bet regularly on football or baseball then you only deal with ties in very rare circumstances. That means that you get into the mindset of deciding which team is better, how likely each team is to win and how that relates to the prices and the value. In this case, you cannot focus just on which team is more likely to win, but also on whether either team is likely to have an edge at the end of regulation. Since soccer is such a low scoring game, about 2.5 goals per game in typical play, draws are very common. It is very common for even seasoned and successful North American bettors to underestimate the likelihood of a draw, and to make a moneyline bet on one of the teams with far less value than they intended as a result.
To ensure that you take the draw into consideration you need to look closely at factors how the soccer teams match up, their recent offensive form and their head-to-head history to get a sense of just how likely the draw could be. If you aren’t looking to be a long term soccer bettor but just want to have an interest and a shot at a profit in the event you are watching, then many people consider using the draw as a hedge when they bet on the team they like. If the prices are right then handicappers can bet on both possible outcomes and still secure a solid profit if they are right.
Point spread betting is becoming much more popular in soccer betting, and will likely become the most popular form of betting on the sport at some point in the not too distant future. The point spread works much like it doesn in any sport, where the spread is listed, followed by the odds for the favorite and the underdog. If the spread is 0.5, for example, then the favorite needs to win the game in order for bettors to cash in while the underdog’s backers would cash in on a win or a draw. It is quite common for the point spread to be listed at zero, or a push. In cases like that the money bet on both sides is simply refunded if the game ends in a draw.
There are a couple of big reasons for the growing popularity of these bets. First, handicappers don’t need to worry about the possibility of a regulation draw. That’s an unsatisfying outcome for many, particularly North American bettors who aren’t used to it. Not having to deal with it is more pleasing and ultimately easier to handicap as well. As significantly, point spread betting is less profitable for books than moneyline betting, so therefore more attractive for bettors. In moneyline betting there are three different prices offered, so three chances for books to extract some juice compared to just two for point spreads.
For casual soccer bettors the transition to point spread betting is typically smoother than moneyline betting – especially if the bettor is used to betting point spread sports like basketball or football. It is also much easier for a casual bettor to assess the likelihood of an outcome when there are only two to deal with. You sacrifice the size of the potential payoff compared to moneyline betting, but when the risk is both smaller and more certain that isn’t typically unattractive.