Tennis betting is getting very popular in last years due to increasing TV coverage of this sport and the fact that there are only two possible bet outcomes when betting on tennis matches. With the ATP and WTA Tours, it runs virtually all year round from January to late November. It is not surprising that now most, if not all bookmakers offer a whole range of tennis betting options for each match.
Understanding basic bet types is absolutelly vital for any bettor to suceed on the field of sports betting and to maximise his opportunity of making a profit. You should fully understand all basic bet types before you place your first tennis bet and be capable of choosing the most ideal option for you.
This article explains the most common bet types in tennis betting.
Match Winner Markets
Most bettors place their bets on these markets as they are also the simplest way for a player to understand. Here you are betting on one tennis player to beat his opponent and advance to the next round.
Take the match between Rafael Nadal (1.448) and Andy Murray (3.040) as an example. If you place a £100 bet on Rafael Nadal to win, you would win £144.80 - although that would also include your initial £100 stake. Therefore your profit would be £44.80. You would win nothing if the result ended in a defeat for Nadal. Similarly your £100 bet on Andy Murray would have returned you £304 (£204 net profit and your £100 initial stake) in case of Murray's win.
Logically you are winning less when betting on big favourites and winning much more when betting on underdogs.
The online bookmakers have different betting rules regarding how they settle the bets on tennis matches if the match is not fully completed due to a player retirement. It is important for a bettor to pay attention to these rules and choose the bookmaker with the right policy.
Betting on the handicap is valuable when one player is heavily favoured over his opponent. Bookmakers offer the handicap to counter the difference in player's ability and to level out the match. The bookmakers' goal is to create a handicap (also called as a line) that will make the chance of either player winning (considering the handicap) as close to 50% as possible. The handicap is factored into the final score to determine the game's outcome for the purpose of the bet (which might be different from the actual result). This means that you are betting on one tennis player to beat another, with a particular handicap applied.
One of the players (usually the outsider of the match) recieves a few games advantage (plus handicap) to counter the difference in quality of both players. The handicap is factored into the final score to determine the game's outcome for the purpose of the bet. The bets on the player who wins more games with a particular handicap applied are winners, no matter which player actually won the match.
We will once again take the match between Rafael Nadal (1.448) and Andy Murray (3.040), where the handicap was set as (-3.5 with odds 1.901) for Nadal and (+3.5, 2.010) for Murray as an example and look at three different scenarios:
1) If the match ends with 6-3 7-6 victory of Rafael Nadal, bets on Nadal would win as the 3.5 games handicap is not enough to change the outcome. This is often called "covering the handicap". Nadal wins total number of 13 games to 9 games won by Murray, so even with the 3.5 games handicap applied, Nadal wins more games in total than Murray (as 13>12.5). This also means that if you place a handicap bet on Nadal at this market you need him to win at least 4 more games than Murray in the match to win your bet. Similarly if you bet on Murray you need him not to lose by a difference higher than 3 games.
2) This time the final scoreline of this match is 6-3 2-6 6-4 for Rafael Nadal, and the Spaniard advances to the next round. All bets on Nadal on the match winner market would be won, however, on the handicap market, bets on Murray would win, as the 3.5 games handicap added to the scoreline is enough to tip the match in his favour (Nadal wins total of 14 games, meanwhile Murray takes 16.5 games after applying the handicap). In this situation we can say that Nadal did not cover the -3.5 games handicap.
3) It has been already mentioned that when betting on the handicap markets the game's outcome for the purpose of the bet might be different from the actual result of the match and this will be showed on our last example. Rafael Nadal is defeated by Andy Murray 6-7 6-0 6-7 but even despite the loss he covers the handicap as he wins a total of 18 games to 17.5 games (14+3.5) won by Murray. This is a paradox of handicap betting, where you can win even if the player you bet on losses the match.
In the event that a whole number of games is used for the handicap (f.ex. 5 games handicap), the handicap adjusted final score could result in a draw and both players might win the same number of games. In this situation all bets are cancelled and you will get your original stake fully back as there is no winner.
Bookmakers also offer sets handicaps, which works in the same way as games handicaps, but using the number of sets won by each player instead of the number of games.
In the match between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray an online bookmaker offers odds 2.260 on Nadal (-1.5 sets) and 1.730 on Murray (+1.5 sets). If Nadal wins the match 7-6 6-2, he covers this handicap and all bets on him on this market are won.
In the best-of-three-set matches the +1.5 sets handicap is covered if the player wins at least one set in the match and so is the same bet as "player X to win a set". Similarly the -1.5 sets handicap is the same as "player X to win 2:0 in sets".
Match Totals Markets
Totals bets are another basic bet type, and a popular alternative to handicap bets. Here the focus is not on finding the winner of a particular match, but predicting the total number of games (sets, points, aces or any other easily quantifiable variable) in the match.
Bookmakers offer the option for bettors to bet on whether the total games (or sets) will be either over or under their assessment of the game. This kind of bets is currently offered for almost all tennis matches by most of the online bookmakers.
For the match between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, the total games mark was set at Over 22.5 (1.943) and Under 22.5 (1.962). If you bet £100 on the game to be over 22.5 games and the final score was 6-3 5-7 6-3 for Nadal (a total of 30 games) you would make a return of £194.30 (£94.30 profit), while you would have won nothing had you bet on the games total to be under 22.5.
On this market the bettor has to correctly predict the exact outcome of a tennis match, based on sets won by each player. Set betting markets may be a good way to boost your profit as you are usually offered much higher odds than on the match winner markets. But it also increases the level of the risk as even the best tennis players are prone to playing one bad set in the match.
Bookmaker offers odds 1.448 on Rafael Nadal in his match against Andy Murray but the price for Nadal's 2:0 victory is 1.962. This means that if you place a £100 bet on Rafael Nadal to win, you would win £144.80 but if you correctly predict his 2:0 win then it would result in a win of £196.20.
- Rafael Nadal 2:0
- Rafael Nadal 2:1
- Andy Murray 2:0
- Andy Murray 2:1
Most of the tennis tournaments have best-of-three-set matches (either player wins 2:0 or 2:1) with the exception of men's singles matches on Grand Slams and in Davis Cup that are best-of-five-set, what means that the winner has to win three sets to win the match and possible outcomes are 3:0, 3:1 or 3:2 to either player.
Tournament Winner Markets
The tournament winner or also the outright winner betting is betting on a player (or team) to win a tournament. Most online bookmakers offer these markets for the majority of the tournaments at this moment. Even these markets offer some valuable betting opportunities and option to hit some big winners as not every tournament is won by one of the biggest title contenders.
An example for 2013 Australian Open:
- 2.620 Novak Djokovic
- 3.750 Andy Murray
- 5.000 Rafael Nadal
- 6.000 Roger Federer
- 17.000 Juan Martin Del Potro
- 34.000 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
If you place a £100 bet on Roger Federer to win the 2013 Australian Open and he really takes the trophy you would win £600 (including your initial £100 stake). Therefore your net profit would be £500.
Parlays or accumulators in general are very popular bets for the casual bettors, with the short favourites often backed to win. The big allure for betting on an accumulator is the excitement from the option to make high profit from only a small stake. In order to win your bet you need to correctly predict the result of all matches included in the parlay otherwise you lose your bet.
For example if you were to place a £100 accumulator bet on Rafel Nadal to beat Andy Murray (1.448) and Roger Federer to beat David Ferrer (1.308), you would make a profit of £89.30 (1.448*1.308) if the two results came in. Betting on the same two players to win their matches individually with a £50 stake per game would result in a profit of just £37.80, which is 57% less than betting on an accumulator.
The danger, however, is that with each game added to an accumulator, you're multiplying both your potential winnings and the margins of the bookmaker.
Other tennis bets
Tie Break in Match (or Tie Break in First Set)
First Set Winner - betting on which player wins the first set of the match.
First Set Correct Score