Making the Most of In-Play Betting

Let’s look at In-Play betting. Sports betting is an industry in a hurry and as the number of wagers on major sports like football, horse racing and greyhounds continues to grow year-on-year, the race for your business becomes increasingly competitive between major bookmakers.

It’s a crowded market and, similar to the one you’ll find with the mobile phone contract business, customer is king, and you have the top suppliers falling over themselves, promising you the world just to gain your business.

Traditionally, we had the top bookmakers on the high-street and they were successful, regardless of what they did. If they had a prime location in town, near a sports arena or a popular pub, they would enjoy continued custom and the tills would ring while the safe filled seven days a week. The arrival and growth in popularity of online gambling and betting on your mobile app changed the game forever.

The ability to accept bets without the need for a licensed-premises opened the door for an avalanche of start-up online bookmakers to collapse into the market and the traditional big names, such as Bet365, Ladbrokes and William Hill, could no longer rely on reputation and loyalty to ensure they beat the competition. That’s because those arriving on the scene were eager to make an impression and they did so, snatching a share of the market, by offering over-the-top welcome offers to new customers.

Why bet on the same terms with your traditional bookie when you could move and take advantage of free bets, price boosts and enhanced place terms? What’s more, all you had to do to swap bookies was type a different name into your internet browser.

In-Play Changed the Way We Bet

The increased competition, as well as the possibilities opened by internet gambling, led to a flood of new and improved ways to bet. Some were seen as nothing more than fads, proving popular in the early days before dying out as punters moved onto the next craze, while others lasted the test of time and not only became part of how we bet, they changed the way we bet forever.

That’s certainly true of in-play betting which exploded onto the scene and grew in both strength and popularity from there. Before its arrival punters were forced to get their sports bets on in plenty of time for the start of a match and if you missed the beginning there was no chance of having a wager on the outcome. It was a case of act early or miss out. That never sat well with players, especially those who missed the kick-off of a football match by a matter of seconds.

Something had to change and with the invention of in-play betting it did, offering customers an increased number of betting opportunities in every match, close to double in many. The reason for that is in-play betting makes having a punt as exciting in the final few minutes of play as it is before the start.

Let’s take a closer look at just what it is and how it works, before investigating how we can make it work for us and, ultimately, provide punters with more of a profit.

In-play Betting Explained

In-play betting – sometimes referred to as live betting – is the process of continuing pre-match markets throughout the course of the fixture. So, you can bet on the match winner before the start, or you can bet on the match winner at any point of the play, even with 84 minutes on the clock. The reason for that is traders work on any single game throughout play, updating odds on the most popular betting opportunities to match the flow of play.

If the home side are even money favourite before kick-off and the scores are tied at 0-0 at half-time, you’ll often get a slightly better price as they now only have 45 minutes to get the victory and land your bet. If they are 1-0 down, the price will grow as they now have to get even before pushing themselves ahead and winning the match. In-play prices are determined by a number of factors in a sport like football, including performance, bookings, red cards, score, time left to play and even substitutions. That’s why its so exciting and that’s why punters can’t get enough of it.

It’s not just match winner that’s available to bet in-play, however, there are literally hundreds of markets. Pre-match betting opportunities like both teams to score, handicap, first goal scorer, total goals and bookings are all there throughout play with the prices updated to match the flow of the game and the lines moved. For example, if you back a team -1 on the handicap and they have already scored to take the lead, the handicap may be moved to -2 for new bets, keeping things relevant and ensuring the prices are always competitive.

New Bets Added

As well as pre-existing markets, there’s also new ones added to keep up with the fixture. Before kick-off you could bet on first goal scorer but, with the game at 2-0, there’s no point in that now. So, you’ll now find player to score the next goal with the prices and markets updated after every strike. Odds on a certain player scoring hat-trick will obviously change as the game moves towards 90 minutes but will shorten the more goals they have already.

For example, Aguero to score a hat-trick may be 12/1 before kick-off but if he has two goals in the game already and there’s only 60 minutes on the clock, you can guarantee you’ll be offered nothing like 12/1 at that point.

Some of the bets you can expect to see on a standard in-play football match that are updated throughout the game are match winner, team to score the next goal, total match goals, match corners, Asian handicap, three-way handicap, draw no bet, player to score the next goal, correct score, both teams to score, result and both teams to score, scorecast, winning margin, and plenty more besides.

The exciting new Bet Builder feature, which allows you to combine multiples in the same match, is also live throughout the course of the match. You can take advantage of this to combine a number of outcomes, such as match winner, correct score, next goal scorer, total goals and bookings. That’ll ensure you are kept busy right up until the final whistle.

Get Back Involved

We’ve already spoken about how handy in-play betting is for punters missing the kick-off in a match they wanted to bet on and if there’s less than five minutes played with no goals scored, you shouldn’t see too much difference in prices from the ones offered before the start. That’s ideal for those running a little late in placing their Saturday afternoon football accumulators.

Another benefit of in-play betting is the ability to get back involved. Picture the scene. You’ve backed the home team to win the match and when switching on the TV, realise they are already two goals behind. That’s as good as a beat bet on most occasions and you’re now hoping against all hope your selection can score the three goals needed to turn things around. It’s highly unlikely and if they do go on and win the game, you’ve probably backed them as favourites, so your pay-out won’t reflect just how hard you’ve had to work for the profit.

With in-play betting you’re never down and out. Even if your team is 2-0 down, you have options. You could let the bet run and stick to your guns, or you could profit from the bad start and stick with your initial thoughts. If you believe they will fire themselves back into contention you could back them again at the in-play price which will be a lot bigger than you were offered before the start.

You could also cut your losses and move on to a completely new bet. Recoup some of your stake by betting on the side with a lead, helping minimalise the damage, or take the match result out of the equation completely and bet on a totally separate market, like both teams to score, total goals or even the correct score.

Pay Attention

Paying close attention to a live football match is where in-play betting could really pay off and this is our favourite aspect to getting involved during the match. If you are undecided on how a fixture might play out, you could keep your powder dry until getting an idea of how both teams are setting up in their approach to the game.

Is an away side playing for a draw or is it an open contest with plenty of goals expected? Now is the time to get your money down. With the benefit of watching five or 10 minutes of play you’ll be in a better position to judge a number of markets, including match winner and total goals than if you had placed your punts before the first whistle.

Betting in-play also works beautifully alongside live football and it pays those giving the action their full attention. You may look like a bit of a bore sitting in the pub jotting down numbers – and that’s probably taking it a bit far – but if it ends in you boosting your bank balance then it’ll be worthwhile. Keep your eyes on the coverage and look out for any patterns and trends you think may have a say in the match.

Follow the Trends

Has a certain player gone close on a few occasions in the opening minutes? Back him to score the first goal of the game and cheer every opportunity. Is a player flirting with being sent off and his name already appears in the referee’s book? If you bet soon enough, you’ll grab the value on him being sent off. Is one team defending for their life, knocking everything out of play? Back the total number of corners or invest your stake on the attacking side to eventually find a way through and score the game’s next goal.

Battering down the door could even result in a penalty, especially if the pressure is building on the defending side. You could bet on a penalty to be awarded or check who a team’s penalty taker is and back them for next goal. The options are endless and it’ll keep you glued to every kick of the ball right up until the ref calls the game to a finish.

Traders are watching the same game as you are at the same time, so it becomes a battle of wits. Who knows more about football, who has spotted something first and who will act before it’s too late? If you get your money down before the bookie catches on to the game going in a particular direction, you’ll help yourself to a better price and a slice of value. Backing over-priced selections is the key to making a profit from sports betting over a period of time, such as a season or a calendar year. That applies to bets placed before the contest starts or in-play, so keep your eye out for picks you think are quoted bigger than they should be and act quickly before the bookie changes their line.

Other Sports

In-play betting works extremely well with live football but it’s also available on non-live games and many firms, such as Bet365, give live commentary to keep you up-to-date with play. If you’ve not yet seen Bet365’s heat map feature, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

It tells you who’s in possession, where the ball is in the field, as well as match stats such as attempts at goal, cards, scores and corners. It’s not quite watching live, but it’s not far off it.

In-play betting also applies to other sports and in snooker, for example, you can wager on match winner, next frame winner, next foul, breaks, centuries and more.

Find out more about cash-out betting and accas in our betting basics area.

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