Betting Strategy: How to Beat the Sportsbooks when Betting Soccer

This week we look at timing within a match. In-play betting is all about timing, especially in soccer. A keen awareness of timing can give you a big edge over the house when making in-play soccer bets late in the match. contributor and handicapper of more than 25 years Robert Williams explains how to beat the books late in this week's Betting 101 instalment.


As the 90th minute approaches, officials announce how many minutes of injury time are to be added.

There are usually between two and five minutes added, but this number can be as high as nine or 10 minutes. Injury time counts for wagering purposes, so your job as a handicapper is to have an idea how much time will be added before the officials announce it and beat the books with your preparedness.

Let’s say you are wagering on a match and there have been three bookings, two injuries, and a long VAR review in the second half. As a successful handicapper, you keep track of these delays and by the 85th minute you approximate that there will be nine minutes of injury time.

This is the time to make OVERS wagers on totals and props as you will get great value. This is especially true in games where the margin is one or two goals, as one club will be pushing hard. The traders who make the in-play lines have many games to follow; you only have one or two.

Many times, they won’t adjust their lines until officials make the announcement of injury time. For instance, you are following a match with a score of 2-1 in the 85th minute. So far there have been three goals and nine corners.

You calculate that there will be eight minutes of injury time. Over 10.5 corners is offered at +110 and over 11.5 corners is priced at +225. Play these overs now before they are taken off the board and before the traders adjust the numbers.

Over 3.5 goals is also worth a play as you are likely to get +250 or better even though you know there is a lot of match left to play. 

One caveat: It is important to remember that there is an unofficial mercy rule of sorts in soccer. This is rarely discussed or acknowledged but is a key concept when betting in-play.

Even if there have been six or seven minutes worth of stoppages in the second half, many officials will greatly reduce the amount of injury time if one team leads by four or more goals.

So, while over 6.5 might look like a solid play in the 87th minute of a 6-0 match with eight minutes worth of stoppages, keep in mind that the final whistle is likely to blow soon after the 90th minute.  

As you follow the soccer action this weekend, be sure to keep track of the stoppages. It is a time commitment, for sure, as you need to be super-focused on just a few matches as they take place.

But if you make that commitment, you will be more prepared than the books to grab the money late.  

Robert Williams has been a sportswriter and handicapper in New England and Las Vegas for 25 years. He has covered horse racing, football and baseball, but soccer became his first love after the 2002 World Cup. Tweet your comments, questions, best bets and sports betting anecdotes @vegasdimer.  


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