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Boardroom’s Guide to Soccer Betting

Want to lay a wager on the world’s most popular sport? From three-way moneylines to Asian Handicaps, Boardroom’s FanDuel-powered quick-start guide will get you into the action.

With its emerging popularity here in the United States and its long-established global popularity, it should come as no surprise that soccer is also one of the most popular sports to bet on. It helps that the matches take place often take place during the middle of Americans’ workdays or early on weekends before our domestic leagues start their slates.

But understanding the odds and recognizing value requires takes a different sort of approach than you may be used to applying to your NFL teasers or college basketball parlays.

On Sunday, the first major trophy of the English football season is on the line in the form of the Carabao Cup, a knockout tournament whose final match features Premier League titans Chelsea and Liverpool. With so much anticipation in the lead-up to the decisive clash, let’s use the event to explain how exactly soccer betting works and what enthusiasts should watch for.

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How big is soccer betting?

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, soccer is the No. 5 most bet-on sport

Soccer betting typically falls right below basketball, football, baseball, and tennis in overall betting volume, as a FanDuel operator told Boardroom, while sneaking above hockey. It’s important to note that “soccer” is all-encompassing, which helps bring the sport into the top five. You can bet on competitions like the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, LaLiga, the UEFA Champions League, and beyond.

What kinds of bets are offered?

Though there are some limitations in the US, soccer is still a sport with an expansive number of betting options.

Most notably, there are different options when it comes to betting on the winner of the match. A “three-way moneyline” includes a draw as an outcome, while a “two-way moneyline” is rendered void on a draw — thus preventing bettors from losing money in that instance. Of course, the odds won’t be as good because of that added layer of security.

In a situation like the Carabao Cup, a draw won’t be accepted because the nature of the tournament demands a proper winner. When extra time or penalty shootouts are possible, sportsbooks will offer you odds on “X team to advance” or “X team to qualify,” which would include results that require extra time and a penalty shootout.

What about soccer props?

Sure, there are other markets as well. Total corner kicks and anytime goal scorers are popular, as are first-half moneylines and props like “both teams to score a goal” and “X team to score exactly one goal.” You will also see minute markets by which you can bet on a goal being scored before a certain amount of elapsed time. You can even bet on things as specific as correct scores at halftime or full time.

The most confusing of all to American bettors is likely the “Asian Handicap,” which will offer you fractional spreads such as -1.25 and -0.75. That is foreign (literally) to us, with spreads on domestic sports dealing with whole or half numbers — such as -1.5 and -2.

One of the core bets in world football, the Asian Handicap divides your bet into two. If you take the -1.25, for example, half of your stake would be placed on -1 and half would be placed on -1.5. It offers you a cheaper, safer way to back a team to win by more than one goal, with half of your money coming back in the case that it wins by exactly one goal.

The -.75 would place half of your stake on -0.5 and -1, and so on.

What are oddsmakers expecting Sunday?

They’re expecting to be watching the result between Chelsea and Liverpool closer than anything else. According to FanDuel, “The bulk [of the volume] is bet on the three-way moneyline.” They’re reporting 66% of tickets have come in on Liverpool to win at +135 odds with 28% of tickets on Chelsea +220, and just 6% on a Draw after 90 minutes at +225.

With that said, a ridiculous 91.5% of the handle is on Liverpool +135, with just 7.5% on Chelsea +220. That leaves 1% of all the money on this game on the Draw, which speaks volumes about how Americans are betting on soccer matches: we don’t like a tied score.

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Kenny Ducey