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Football Trading on Betfair - The Essentials

Football Trading on Betfair - The Essentials

Martin's picture
Jun 20, 2020

Football Trading on Betfair - Essential Considerations before you enter a trade!


One of the most important things when trading on Betfair is being able to take your shortlist of football trades for the day's trading and check that they meet all of the criteria needed to be truly considered as ‘trade worthy’. 


You should also use this Betfair trading guide when following anyone else’s Betfair trading strategy or trading system.


What we mean by this is that there are always outside factors that must be considered and taken into account when football trading, the reason is that every football match is an individual game and is in some way unique as a result. 


This has to be taken into account when trading football on Betfair and fortunately there are a few essential steps that can be taken before entering any football trade.


The more we work with other traders at the more it becomes apparent that what separates the pro-football traders from the new traders is their ability and their willingness to do this due diligence before they place any football trade. 


Whether you follow the guidance below is up to you, it is of course on you to make that decision but we strongly advise that you do for the benefit of your football trading. 


There is more than one way to skin a cat, if you are having success doing something different to the below that is fine, this is just our guide for those who want some help.


Factors that must be considered when trading football on Betfair:


For us here at BTC these are the four essential factors that every football trader should consider before entering a trade once they have their initial football trading shortlist. 


We will list them here and then talk more in depth about them. 


As an aside we must mention that there are of course other factors you can consider but we are just listing the absolutely essential ones here. 


They are:


  1. The stage of the season that the match is being played.

  2. Team News

  3. The In-Play Statistics

  4. The odds.


Let’s go through them thoroughly:


The stage of the season that the match is being played:


There are two parts to this - they are ‘start of the season’ and ‘end of the season’.


  • Start of the Season

We advise waiting until 8-10 matches have been played in a league season before we start to consider the matches from said league for our football trading shortlist.

The reason for this is that we need to build up some football trading data to use for our pre-match statistical analysis. If we do not have enough data we are effectively ‘trading blind’. 

Important: We do not like using last season’s data, there is often too much turnover between football seasons regarding players and coaches to make that old data as valid as we need it to be. 

Also bear in mind if teams were promoted or relegated from their data will come from a different division, making it less valid in our opinion. 

This is just simple for us, cut and dried, wait until the 8-10 game threshold at the start of a season, before, using the league for your football trading.

  • End of the Season

A team’s motivation at the end of a season is not considered by enough traders. 

It is something we must look into before trading a league that could be close to the season’s end. 

As a general rule of thumb we will not trade a game where neither team has anything to play for, these games are like friendlies and often end up contradicting any pre-match data that we may have accumulated. 

If only one team has something to play for then we will only trade that match if that motivated team is the one we are looking to back (or if we want to lay their opponents). In this case if we are looking for goal trades rather than match odds these matches are to be avoided completely.

On the other hand if both sides still need to win a match then you can keep it on your shortlists even if it is the last game of the season.


How can you check this out? 

Look at the league table, if there are only 2-3 games left and the team has no chance of winning the title or promotion, qualifying for Europe or relegation then they are to be completely avoided. Wikipedia will tell you how many are relegated and how many teams qualify for Europe, if you get stuck working it out.

Team News:

Team news is one of the major factors in football trading that will affect the odds of a market. 

The reason for this is simple, players are everything in football, without them there would be no match. 

The easiest way to find out the team news is to do a quick google search of the clubs you are trading, often you can find a written match preview which will mention players suspended or out with injury. 

Twitter is a great way to find out the line ups around one hour to 30 mins before a match is due to start. If there is some potential for players to be 50/50 decisions then it is worth checking if they play or not.

We will add to this that a recent manager change can also have a big effect on a team’s performance, we would be very weary of trading a match where any team that had changed manager in their last 4-5 games. 


The In-Play Statistics:

In-play Stats


In-play statistics are vital indicators that our trading selections are ready to be entered. 

Here we will give a rough guide of what you should look out for during a match to see if you should trade it or avoid it.

  • Trading the match odds market 


If we are looking to back a team (or lay the opposition) we want said team to be dominant on pretty much all fronts. That means we want them to be attacking more, having more possession and having more shots on goal (especially more shots on target). Another good statistic to have on your side is the corner count, if a team is dominating the corners then they are probably dominating the game. 


The exception to the rule is to look at current momentum, if later in a match one team starts to dominate the stats in a period of time (say 15 mins minimum) then they could be considered for a trade, even if they are still behind on the stats dominance of the total match time. 

So for example, say a team has six shots on target to their opponents one and go 1-0 up. Their opponents then start a comeback effort, having four shots on target to zero but do not score. 

In this example, the team 1-0 up would still lead the shots on target stats six to five on their opponents but the current momentum is clearly with the team looking to make a comeback. As a result of this the team losing the match would be a potentially viable trade.

  • Trading the goals markets

This is where we have no real interest in team dominance but rather in the total of the statistics. 

We are going to chart some minimum values that we like to have before entering a trade below, what needs to be said though is that these can be adapted. Here are our examples but feel free to try to find what in-play stats suit your entry points.

We work our scoring method out based on shots on and off target. If there is a shot on target it scores one point, if there is a shot off target it scores half a point. 

So for example two shots on target and one shot off would be a total score of 2.5 points. 

Six shots off target and zero shots on target would score three points and so on.

Here are some popular entry points and the total ‘score’ we would like to see before entering at this point in a game. 

Trading ‘Overs’ Markets - Looking for a goal or goals.

Entry points:

22 minutes - A score of 3 or above (ideally 2+ shots on target)

45 mins/HT - A score of 6 or above (ideally 4+ shots on target)

67 mins - A score of 9 or above (ideally 6+ shots on target)


Trading ‘Unders’ Markets - Looking for goals not to be scored.

Entry points:

22 minutes - A score of 2 or below (ideally 2 or less shots on target)

45 mins/HT - A score of 4 or below (ideally 4 or less shots on target)

67 mins - A score of 6 or below (ideally 6 or less shots on target)

These are rough guidelines and as stated above you would be wise to work out the best ‘number’ for your own trading but these are a good starting point.

Red Cards:

Although not an in-play statistic as such a special mention must be made for red cards. 

A red card has a huge effect on a game and pretty much eliminates our previous data as the previous data was recorded when eleven players were playing on each team. 

We exit games that have a red card there and then, except for one instance - when we are trading the match odds markets and the team we have opposed have gone down to ten men. 

In this scenario it is an advantage for our trade, so we can probably take a profit or expect our team will now have more chances to score a goal.


The Odds:

At this point if your shortlisted selection has met all of the above criteria you are all but set to enter a trade. 

The last thing you must consider is whether the current odds represent value. Having an edge on the market comes down to one simple factor - 

If you are backing.

Are the odds you are backing at bigger than they should be?

Or if you are laying.

Are the odds you are laying at shorter than they should be?

If the answer to this question is YES then you should enter the trade, knowing that you have done some solid background research and your due diligence. 

Your understanding of whether you have found value or not will be determined partly by your own knowledge and experience but there are some ways we can help you to answer this question and we will share those below.

The easiest way to determine value is to test your strategy and record the results.

For set and forget style trades (where you will lose you full stake on a loss) - once you have an idea of your average odds and your strike-rate you will have some idea of what your minimum price should be - your minimum price will be the same odds that represent the same percentage of your strike-rate. 

So if we know that our strike-rate is 55%, we would want our minimum back odds to be around 2.0 or above (evens - 50%) that gives us a 5% margin on the minimum odds. 

Most of our trades should be above that minimum price and we would therefore make a good profit long term if these figures remained the same.

If you are a layer and you have a strike-rate of winning 67% of your lays (around 1.50 when converted to odds) you would want your maximum lay odds to be around 1.45 or below to give you a decent margin for profit knowing, again, a lot of your lays will be below that price.

Use the below odds table to check what odds you would need to be profitable with your current strike-rate. 

Odds to decimal to percentage chart

Odds Decimal and Percentage Chart

For traditional trading (where you will not take a full loss on stake)- it is a little trickier to work out but some simple maths will make it fairly easy.

The equation to work out what strike rate you need to be profitable is this:

You take your losing amount on average and divide it by your losing amount+winning amount and then times that by 100. 

Loss amount/(loss amount+win amount) x 100

Here is an example:

If you win 50% of your stake per trade on average but lose 75% of your stake on average, you must have a higher strike rate than 60% to be profitable, let’s say 65%+ to deal with commission and have a decent margin of profit. 

It is a simple mathematical formula to work this out, let’s use £10 stakes for this example.  

If you win you win 50% of your stake per trade on average that is £5 (£4.90 after comm) per win. 

If you lose a trade you lose 75% (£7.50).

So in the equation above we take our loss amount, £7.50, and divide it by the loss amount £7.50 plus the win amount £4.90 (total of which is £12.40). 

So £7.50/£12.40 which equals 0.60. We then simply times that figure by 100, so 0.60 x 100 = 60. That figure is now our break even strike rate so 60 = 60%.

The equation example:

£7.50/(£7.50+£4.90) = 0.60

0.60 x 100 = 60%

However, we don’t just want to break even so we would want our actual strike rate to be above 60% in this case.


The Final Word:

While there are a few other things you can check when Betfair trading, such as weather conditions for example, we feel we have covered the absolutely essential considerations above. 

If you do your due diligence and arm yourself in this way when football trading then you will be, pretty much, as well prepared as you can be. 

Good luck out there!



Colin's picture

I started employing the "set and forget" values to my bets back in November & realised that a S/R of 80% would need min odds of 1.30 to be profitable. These are my bets over 33 Leagues around the World since then. Worked out to a £10 stake with min odds of 1.30 1492 win 386 lost Total bets 1878 79.45% S/R +£526.48 to £10 stakes 2.80% RoI @ 1.30 Mostly the odds are between 1.30 - 1.38 so the Profit is greater than shown. Point I am trying to make is .. the advice given here is very relevant, & anyone new to betting / trading Football should read this article again & again. It will be of great benefit.
Martin's picture

Thanks! I couldn't agree more
Gary Tunnicliffe's picture

Great read, informative info to take away & refer to thanks

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