While mainstream sports such as football tend to get the most attention from punters, sports like tennis – where there are only two possible outcomes – can provide much improved betting value.
This is especially true in tennis, where very few factors can affect the result. Typically, only two competitors take part in a given match (with doubles being the exception), there is generally video technology, a quiet crowd, a pristine playing surface and a mild, dry climate. This is in stark contrast to football, where at least 22 players are involved, referees play a critical factor, weather conditions can vary wildly, pitches can be bobbly and muddy, and partisan crowds provide a psychological minefield – amongst many other factors.
This reduction of impacting variables makes tennis much more predictable. That’s not to say shocks don’t occur – of course they do. But it does make it easier to gain an edge on the betting market – especially with in-play or live betting.
So, the key question is: how can you exploit the limited external factors? Is there a good live betting strategy on tennis out there that can be utilised for profit? Or are there even systems that can be used to make money on tennis betting?
Popular Tennis Betting Tricks
One of the reasons betting in-play on tennis is valuable, is because bookmakers are focussed on the end result of a tennis match, rather than how the match actually progresses.
For example, some players are habitual slow starters. So, regardless of whether they go on to win or not, a slow-starting player’s odds will increase immensely if they appear to be struggling in the first few games – even if they always play like this – compared to their pre-match odds.
Below I’ve done a breakdown of two live tennis betting strategies that can give you an edge on the bookies.
Set Betting – Level: Beginner
Live betting on the outcome of individual sets is the go-to market for beginners, and there’s no need for you to be a tennis betting expert – although it doesn’t hurt!
There’s not necessarily a ‘system’ that can guarantee profit. However, live tennis set betting does provide a lot more value – especially when bookmakers have a tendency to underprice favourites, which then get even shorter approaching the event, meaning very little value can be found.
So, one of the best ways to generate value in tennis betting is by using this popular little trick:
- In an unbalanced match (i.e. one with a clear favourite and underdog), place a small bet on the underdog to win before play starts.
- Then, if the favourite fails to take an early lead, back the favourite to win 2-0 in sets at much higher odds than would have been found pre-match.
- Voila, very often the favourite will go on to dominate the match, but if not, you still benefit from covering yourself by backing the underdog pre-match.
It’s amazing how well and how often this trick works. It’s all about creating value. And you don’t need to know a great deal about tennis for this system to work – nor does it need to be done on the big Grand Slam matches – it’s works pretty much across the board.
Total Games in a Match – Level: Intermediate
Another popular tennis betting system (although one which requires more research) is betting on the total number of games in a match – typically betting on ‘over’ a certain amount of games occurring.
The idea behind this system is to find players with strong service games, and are therefore likely to win all or more of these games, ideally meaning each set is more likely to end 7-6, rather than 6-2 or 6-4 and so on. Having two players with good serving records also means there are likely to be more games, with serve breaks a rarity.
As I previously mentioned though, this does take a bit of time to research. So, how should you go about betting on total games in a match to maximise your chances of winning?
- Ahead of matches, do research on both players, looking at the percentage of service games they win and how many games they win when returning (i.e. not serving). These statistics can be found on the ATP and WTA websites. For example, the top five best serving players in 2017 are John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Roger Federer, Milos Roanic and Nick Kyrgios. While the best returning players are Andy Murray, Diego Schwartzman, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Damir Dzumhur. Ideally, you want to find matches with two high-ranking serve players, who have relatively poor return stats. If you want to go deeper into the stats, look for players who also have high ‘First Service In’ and ‘First Service Points Won’ statistics.
- Once you have identified matches involving these types of players, you should look to place a bet on there being a high number of games in the match. A set that goes to a tie break would see 13 games take place. So, in a three-set match, the maximum number of games would be 39. However, you should look to get odds of around 3/1 for over 28.5 games – although this obviously varies a great deal match-by-match.
Become a Tennis Betting Expert
Another top tip to finding value, is by becoming a tennis betting expert. By this, I mean you should study tennis players and competitions.
As tennis typically involves only one individual against another, their behaviours, strategies and habits are much easier to predict than in team sports where there are many variables.
So, how can you put this knowledge to good use?
Well, one key behaviour to look at is if a player comes out all-guns-blazing, or if they slowly grow into a match. This is vital information as, typically, the odds of a player winning the first set tend to mirror the odds of the outright winner. So, if a good quality player starts slowly but improves, it’s often worth betting on the underdog to win the first set – even if he is unlikely to win the rest of the match – thus providing very good betting value.
This system is particularly valuable where there are two closely matched players, although it can also work when betting on a clear favourite. However, one thing to be wary of is players that boast a formidable first serve – as this can often lead to tie breaks, even against higher level opposition. While they tend to eventually buckle, they do make set betting more unpredictable and so are better off avoiding for those wishing to bet astutely.
Other key areas to focus on if you want to become a tennis betting expert are monitoring injuries, looking at serve and return statistics, as well as their consistency.
Tennis Arbitrage Betting and Matched Betting
Now, if you want to make money from betting on tennis without becoming a tennis betting expert, there are two other options: Arbitrage Betting and Matched Betting on tennis.
For anyone who’s not heard of arbitrage or matched betting, they’re basically risk-free betting systems that pits bookmakers against each other. And it’s something that’s growing in popularity year-by-year as bookmakers compete against each other with crazy offers to draw in new customers.
Sound amazing? Well it is. But it does take a lot of patience and despite being risk-free, gains are generally very, very small. This means it can require a decent amount of financial investment to make it really worth doing.
To begin with, you need to understand how bookmakers make their money (to keep this easy to explain, I’ll refer to odds in decimals in this example). You’ll have a tennis match with two players, let’s say Murray against Djokovic, and they are completely equally-fancied to win. Statistically there are two possible outcomes: Murray win or Djokovic win. If no-one was looking to make money from this match, they would both be priced at 2.0 to win (evens). However, bookies would likely price them both at 1.95. This gives the bookies an edge, as if the bets placed on both sides are equal, they are guaranteed to make a profit – regardless of who wins. Essentially, this means every bookmaker is looking for total odds of all outcomes of matches to be over 100% – thus guaranteeing a profit for the bookie.
The interesting stuff happens when bookies boost their prices in order to appeal to customers ahead of other bookmakers. This means the value is with the customer, especially when the odds of all outcomes are under 100% – this is how you can guarantee a profit as punter.
With arbitrage betting, you’re looking for tennis matches where you can bet on all possible outcomes of the match to guarantee a profit.
For example, if Andy Murray had odds of winning of 1.3 at bookmaker 1 and odds of winning of 1.42 at bookmaker 2, you’d get better value backing him with bookmaker 2. But as the bookmakers want to make money whatever the outcome, backing Murray’s opponent at bookmaker 1 will likely to be better value. If the combined odds for both outcomes (i.e. Murray to win and Murray to lose) are less than 100% you can guarantee a profit.
For example, let’s say we’ve put £100 on Andy Murray to win at odds of 1.42 at bookie 1 (potential return = £142). Now, if his opponent has odds of 3.93 at another bookie, you could bet £36.13 on him (potential return £141.99) and will be guaranteed a profit regardless of the result. Your total stake would be £136.12, but whatever happens you’ll get a return of £141.99 for £5.86 profit.
Using an arbitrage calculator is the best way to figure out if a match is worth betting on and how much you should stake. There are also many websites that will help you find matches on which you can use the arbitrage betting system.
Matched Betting on Tennis Betting Bonuses and Offers
Matched betting with tennis and welcome bonuses is very similar to arbitrage betting, but it instead focusses on guaranteeing profit by accepting welcome bonuses – as well as other offers from bookmakers.
While you could use arbitrage in tandem with matched betting for extra profit, it’s not necessary.
Matched betting involves enabling free bets, while incurring a minimum – or no – loss. For example, if a bookmaker was offering a ‘Bet £10, Get £20” offer, you would spend your £10 free bet while laying it off on another betting website or exchange site to minimise loss. For example, you could bet on Roger Federer to win and lose and whatever happens you will lose a small amount, say 50p. This may seem pointless. However, you can then access your free bet. By using a free bet calculator for matched betting, you can then perform a similar bet on another match. Again, you will lose a small amount whatever the result – but these funds will then be returned to your account as cash rather than bonus funds – meaning you can withdraw these funds. Effectively, this allows you to turn bonus funds into cash, while incurring little or no cost to get them.
Typically for a ‘Bet £10, Get £20’ offer, you can expect to make a guaranteed profit of between £5 and £15.
Is Arbitrage Betting and Matched Betting Legal?
Yes, both arbitrage betting and matched betting are completely legal. However, bookmakers are – for obvious reasons – not a fan of the system and will likely close your account if they suspect you of doing this.
Live Tennis Betting Strategies Summary
As you can see, there are several ways you can get on edge on bookmakers in order to make money from tennis betting.
Obviously, by becoming a tennis betting expert you can gain an edge, but there are also simple strategies such as in-play set betting, as well as total games in a match markets which can be used to your advantage.
If you prefer a more conservative approach, you can also use tennis arbitrage betting to guarantee small gains, or tennis matched betting with bonuses for sure-fire profits. Be warned though – if the bookies catch you, they’ll close down your account!