Football trading: how to beat the Betfair markets

In this article we would like to introduce football trading in general, starting with the basics. Let’s talk about the most important things you need in order to succeed on the betting exchanges! Enjoy the reading!

What is football trading?

You can trade football both pre-match and live, but the majority of traders prefer the latter. Traditional bookmakers don’t allow you to trade, in order to do so, you’ll need an account on Betfair, Matchbook or any other betting exchanges.

In general, when you trade, you enter the market with a bet that can be a back or a lay. When you back something, you bet on something to happen. Lay is exactly the opposite, in this case, you bet on something NOT to happen. After you’ve placed your initial bet, you expect the odds to move into your favor. If you placed a back bet, you hope the odds to decrease, if you placed a lay bet, you hope the odds to increase. When you entered the markets, you can decide to close your bet or simply let it run.

Here is an example:

Arsenal play against Chelsea and you place a back bet on the Gunners at odds of 2.00 with €100. Let’s say Arsenal scores and their odds drop to 1.30. If you decide to close – or green up – your bet, you have €53 profit in the pocket.

If you „green up”, it means that you lay €154 at the price of 1.30. As you staked only €100 with your back bet, while someone had to take your lay bet for €154, the difference between the two amounts, minus the commission is your profit.

Of course, football trading is not always that easy. Let’s stick to the previous example, but now Chelsea scores first, and Arsenal’s odds increase to 6.00. In this case, you have two options: if you still believe in Gunners, you can stay. If not, you can „take the loss” and close your bet. In this case, you lay €33 at odds of 6.00, and you have a guaranteed loss of €67.

Pre-match football trading

As we said earlier, football trading before the kickoff is less popular than trading in play. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make some money pre-match!

All in all, football trading before the kickoff holds less risk than trading in play, but this also means your expected profit is lower. In the previous chapter, we discussed that if you trade, basically you try to predict where the odds will move. Just as in play, odds are moving pre-match too, but not that drastically.

What are the main factors that move the odds pre-match?

  • Significant bets on any of the sides
  • Injuries
  • Team news, such as unpaid salaries, etc.

If you are well informed and quick to get the latest news, you have a good chance to succeed in pre-match football trading.

Betfair pre-match markets

An alternative approach to prematch trading

Now that it is clear that the odds move a lot less before kickoff compared to in play, it’s time to introduce a different approach. In our previous examples, we were talking about green-up and taking the loss, but there is a third option, creating a free bet.

Let’s say you strongly believe that Arsenal will beat Chelsea and you also expect a high scoring game. You go to the correct score market and place a bet on Arsenal to win 3-1 at 20.00 with €100 and also place a lay bet on the same outcome with €100, but on odds of 19.50. If both of your bets will be matched, you will be left with no risk, but €50 to win if Arsenal wins 3-1. With this football trading method, you created a free bet for yourself!

In-play football trading

Football trading in-play offers a lot more options and also a higher potential profit. When we say „a lot more options” we primarily refer to two things. First of all, the majority of the bets come in live, secondly, even the smaller markets see more liquidity.

Markets to consider for in play trading

  • Over/under x.5 goals
  • Match odds
  • First-half goals over/under x.5
  • Half Time
  • Correct score

How to select which market to trade on?

When you have an idea of what do you expect from the match you trade, you need to decide which market to enter. Most of the time, this depends on the game situation. Here are some examples:

1st Example:

You are confident that the game will produce at least one more goal after the 60th minute. You can use the lay the draw trading strategy if the score is a draw, or simply back the over x.5 goals.

2nd Example:

You think that the teams will start the second half slowly. Your football trading strategy should be the following: Simply place a bet on under x+1.5 (if the score is 0-0, bet on under 1.5), and wait until you reach the desired profit, or exit if a goal comes early.

3rd Example:

Home team leads 2-0 at halftime, and you believe that the home side will score at least 2 more goals. Simply back the Any Other Home Win option on the Correct Score market.

This is the point when the Goalstatistics Daily Football Stats comes in. With our statistics, you will be able to plan your football trading easily, as you get the most important stats for more than 30 000 matches each year. Not only pre-match but the most frequent in-play situations too!

Is it football trading really?

If you read the examples above carefully, you might have already asked this question. Many people, especially newbies to football trading mix betting and trading.

All in all, we can talk about football trading, when you place a bet on any football markets with the intention of trading out at a certain point. The 2nd example is definitely trading, as we have a clear goal, to get out when we reached our desired profit, or a goal comes in.

Example 3 is definitely betting, as we enter the market, and we will let it run until the end of the match, or until our bet wins.

Example 1 is a mixture of betting and trading, but rather the latter. If we use the Lay The Draw Strategy, we would close our bet if a goal comes in. On the other hand, if the game ends with a draw, we can’t trade out (unless we take the loss at some point in the match).

Which factors have the most significant effect on the markets?

When you trade football, you expect the odds to be changed – it is clear from the examples above. The question is, which factors have an effect on the odds? These are the following:

Time decay

This is the most common and most important factor. With every single minute gone from a match, the less the chance for another goal to be scored. If you have a match where the odds on over 2.5 is 1.80 before the kickoff, and it is 0-0 in the 20th minute, the odds on over 2.5 will drift to somewhere between 2.10-2.30. Simply because there is 20 minutes less from the match. When you’re trading football, this is one of the most important things you need to consider.


If a goal is scored, the probability of each outcome changes significantly. The later it comes, the bigger this change will be, as the opponent has less time to equalize. You can also note, that time decay has a significant impact in this case too.

Red Card

Red cards are quite rare, but if someone is being sent off, you can see significant changes across the markets. Playing 10 against 11 is very difficult in general, but red cards can have a different level of impact. If Team A leads 3-0 against team B, and someone gets red from team B in the 80th minute, it will have a small impact. If it happens at 0-0 in the 55th minute, the changes in odds will be a lot higher.

A huge bet

If you’re trading football on exchanges, from time to time you will notice someone trying to match a large stake. It can change the odds, as many other bettors want to take even lower odds, to make sure they get in.

Dangerous set-pieces

This is something that happens quite frequently. If a team receives a free-kick just outside of the box, the odds on over tends to drop a bit. Please note, if the chance is missed, this is just a temporary change.

What do you need in order to succeed in trading?

The bad news is that it takes some time to become a profitable trader, but there are a couple of things that can make your journey easier. These are the following:

Plan your football trading

We think this is the most important thing if you want to become a successful football trader. But what is a football trading plan? Basically you prepare a plan that makes sure you enter the markets in the most profitable spots. Different game situations and different scorelines producing different behavior from the teams. To succeed, you need to know how teams behave in certain situations (winning, losing at certain key points of the match).

Just imagine the following fictional situation:

There is a match between Manchester United and Liverpool, the score is 1-1 in the 60th minute. In situation A you know that both teams go over 2.5 in 50% of the time. In situation B you know that if it’s a draw in the 60th minute, there is at least one more goal scored in 70% of the times.

Football trading plan wig-wba 60min

It is clear that if you have less information (Situation A), you won’t be able to make such a good decision as if you’d have more info (Situation B).

Here at Goalstatistics, we regularly publish free football trading plans which can help you make well-informed decisions. Not to mention that we cover the most frequent in-play scenarios, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

But that’s not everything. There are tons of games available every single day, so you have to do your homework too. If you’re a subscriber at Goalstatistics, we deliver the most important stats from more than 120 leagues and for more than 30 000 matches each year.

Watch the match

This is also an important factor in order to succeed in football trading. Creating a plan is just one thing, if you want to succeed, you need to watch the games.

The concept is fairly simple. If you can see a good spot arising, you can enter with more confidence, if you already see what you expect. If you want to bet on over, and there are shots from a good position, you can confidently enter the markets.

A side note on (sometimes misleading) live statistics

Many bookmakers offer visualized live coverage and stats (e.g. shots, dangerous attacks, etc.), but this is not enough. There are situations when less is actually more. If you know that there were 10 shots in 30 minutes, you might hit the bet button earlier, then with 3 shots in 30 minutes. A smart football trader asks a question here: where these shots came from? If the 3 shots were taken within 5 meters from the goal, then there should be a goal already. If the 10 shots were taken from 25 meters away, the teams might unable score in 90 minutes at all.

Last, but not least the providers are not necessarily correct. Once we have seen that teams took 20-30 shots combined in just 55 minutes and the score was 0-0. We jumped on over, shots were still coming in. Then we checked another bookie, there were only 8 shots registered. What happened? Watching the live stream we realized that every single cross was registered as a shot at the first coverage.

All in all, football trading can be quite difficult, when you’re mislead, just because you don’t watch the match.

Improve self-discipline

If you plan your football trading and watch the games, you can still go wrong, with weak self-discipline. To sum it up, you can create the best plans and watch every game, if you don’t stick to the plan, you won’t be able to succeed.

The best football traders can easily stick to their plans. In addition, if they have a good plan, but the overall picture of the game doesn’t match their expectations, they skip the bet.

Don’t forget, there are plenty of matches each and every day with hundreds of potential trades. Don’t bet, just because you are bored, or couldn’t place a single bet in the last two hours. Be patient and wait for the best moment!

Manage your bankroll efficiently

This is our last advice, but not the least important. If you are trading football, your most important asset is your bankroll. You need to make sure you protect it! Your maximum stake cannot be more than 1-2% of your bankroll on average. If you are an advanced trader, in certain situations you can change this, but the numbers must reflect your liability.

Here is an example:

You know that you want to enter the market as you expect a goal in the next 15 minutes. You know that if the goal doesn’t come, you will trade out. As you have done this kind of trades many times before, you know that if you have to trade out, in the worst case you lose 30% of your original stake.

Now if you have a bankroll of €1000, and you want to risk 2% of it (€20), you can enter the market with a stake around €60, as even in the worst case, your trade will result in 30% loss of your original stake, so something around €18.

In football trading, you’ll run into streaks regularly. These can be both winning and losing streaks, but if you manage your bankroll well, you won’t go broke in those negative streaks.

Last, but not least you must make sure you bet with money that won’t affect you if you lose. If you do so, you won’t be affected financially, by doing so, it is a lot easier to make clear and good decisions, as you avoid unnecessary pressure.


Football trading can be profitable and entertaining, but it has it’s learning curve. In general, we suggest trading in-play, as the markets are more liquid and it easier to find value.

When we about the points above, it is clear that even the best traders can commit mistakes. The most important is to make sure you learn from these mistakes and improve yourself.

Here at Goalstatistics we make sure you always get the most relevant stats to create your football trading plans. Other than that, we regularly publish free strategy articles and also free trading plans for the best matches!

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