Turbocharge Your Goals Bets

| December 5, 2017 | Reply

Today we have a really interesting guest article from Mick Baster on the subject of sports spread betting.

This can be a particularly profitable type of betting and is the focus of our popular SpreadJackerservice, which you can read more about here.

If you have any feedback or questions for Mick or I, you can reach us at bettingrant@agorapub.co.uk.

Matt Houghton

The spread betting alternative to over/under 2.5 goals

Today, I want to talk about football betting and look at an alternative strategy to betting directly on the over/under 2.5 goals market…

Instead, I want to suggest spread betting the Total Goals market, selling and buying goals.

The two spread betting companies I use are Spreadex and Sporting Index.

Betting on Overs/Unders is immensely popular – just look at the liquidity on some matches on Betfair (although admittedly some people use these markets for hedging, which can push liquidity up a bit).

Most people choose Over/Under 2.5 goals, although this is a notoriously difficult market to bet on as most games end up with two or three goals scored and the average Over/Under split is often around 50/50 (this varies depending on the league – see below).

Of course, the bookies shamelessly take advantage of this close split with very high over-rounds of 106%-107%.

So, how many times have you bet on Under 2.5, only to see a third goal scrambled in with a few minutes to go? Or Over 2.5, when both goalies are performing like flying pigs and the woodwork is taking a battering and it ends up 1-1?

In both cases you would lose your whole stake. Using spreads, depending on the odds you have taken, and if it is just the odd goal that has let you down, you might lose less.

WARNING: On the other hand with spreads, you could lose more and sometimes a lot more. I will explain in more detail later.

IMPORTANT: It is always better if you have a reasonably tried and tested prediction system that you know you can rely on.

If you haven’t developed anything like this yourself, you can always try to follow one of the prediction websites. There are many and you will find them easily with a search engine. Look at historical results and then just paper trade at first to check out how good they really are!

How it works

On the spread betting site find the match you are interested in and go to Total Goals (Spreadex) or Match Goals/Total Goals (Sporting Index).

Let’s take a game in Serie A as an example. You will see something like this:

Chievo vs. AC Milan 2.4(sell) – 2.6(buy)

These are the prices at which you will sell or buy goals, the median in this case being 2.5. The spread is 0.2 and this is the bookies edge, comparable to the over-round. There are good explanations of how to calculate various bets on their websites.

If you believe the match will end up with 2 goals or less, you would sell goals at 2.4. Conversely, if you think there will be 3 or more goals, you would buy goals at 2.6.

As an example, let’s assume you think there is a good chance the match will end up Under 2.5 goals. The difference to fixed odds betting is that your stake (let’s say £10) is the amount you are risking per goal scored.

Selling goals

If you sell £10 at 2.4…

Winnings/losses are worked out as follows:

P/L = Stake x (Sell Price minus goals scored)

Let’s see what might happen…

0 goals scored:

You have made a brilliant choice! You will win your stake times (the sell price minus 0 goals scored) i.e. 10 x (2.4–0) = £24

1 goal scored:

10 x (2.4–1) = £14

2 goals scored:

10 x (2.4–2) = £4

Now for the downside:

3 goals scored:

10 x (2.4–3) = -£6

4 goals scored:

10 x (2.4–4) = -£16

If it unfortunately turns into an 8 goal thriller:

10 x (2.4–8) = -£56

Keep the following points in mind…

As I mentioned earlier, in some of the major leagues, 2 or 3 goals is the most common number of goals scored. But in Serie A, 3 or more goals have been scored around 60% of the time this season…

The actual match prediction from one website is about a 62% chance of over 2.5 goals for this game. So selling goals in this game may not have been the wisest choice!

With fixed odds, your stake would have been lost at the third goal. If your choice of match had been good you would have been a bit unlucky to see four goals scored, but would have benefitted if only three were scored.

Note: I didn’t know the result at the time of writing, but it ended up 1–4 – I also didn’t have a bet on this one.

Please, also bear in mind that we should be looking at our profit/loss over a substantial number of games, so that statistics will play an important part in helping us to a positive outcome.

What if we buy goals?

This is perhaps where things can get a bit more interesting.

Firstly, we have a fixed maximum loss (zero goals) that can be accounted for beforehand.

Secondly, in the event of a high goals count, we are quids in. Unfortunately, if the bookie expects a high scoring game, the buy price often has this factored in.

The calculation is as follows:

P/L = Stake x (goals scored minus Buy price)

So for 0 goals scored:

10 x (0–2.6) = -£26. This would be your maximum possible loss.

1 goal scored:

10 x (1–2.6) = -£16

2 goals scored:

10 x (2–2.6) = -£6

And into profit…

3 goals scored:

10 x (3–2.6) = £4

8 goals scored:

10 x (8–2.6) = £54

Important: There is another difference to many fixed odds bookies in that the spread bookies calculate the result based on 90 minutes play only. If you are buying on the basis of stats, bear in mind that most published sets of stats usually include goals scored in extra time.

Suggested strategy

As I mentioned, you need to be prepared to look at the results over a large number of matches. Clearly, you can’t expect to win every time.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Statistics

Go with the stats, not against them. Choose your league and your match carefully.

In the major European leagues for the 2016-17 season, on average, over 2.5 goals ruled.

Some leagues with predominantly over 2.5 goals: Serie A (58%), La Liga (56%), Bundesliga (55%), Premier League (54%).

In some other leagues, under 2.5 goals was often more likely: France Ligue 1 (52%) and Italy Serie B (63%). The Championship recorded under 2.5 goals in 51% of matches played last season.

Ensure that you look at the current percentages as they can change from season to season.

  1. Value

Better value can sometimes be found in some of the smaller leagues. So far, I haven’t been restricted betting on leagues like Russia or Finland. Bookies spend more time evaluating the most popular leagues since more money is placed on them, so look outside the box for value.

  1. Spreads

Like odds, the value of the spreads is crucial. I don’t sell goals if the price is 2.1 or less. Neither do I buy goals at 3.0 or more. I use £10 per goal stakes. If your staking level is different you might have cut-offs at different prices.

In practice, if you haven’t got your own way of working, check several different websites for a match they all agree is high probability over or under 2.5 goals then check the spread values.

  1. Good Sell Bets

For example, I’m looking at Sevilla vs. Leganes, which I think will end up under 2.5 goals…

I will look for the best sell price between both spread bookies and check it is not beyond my cut-off. Next, I will check the fixed odds prices from a bookie or from Oddschecker.

In this case bet365 is offering 2.0 for overs and 1.75 for unders (over-round a huge 107%, which is typical). This confirms that the bookies are giving Under 2.5 goals a 57% chance (ignoring the over-round).

The sell price on the spread is 2.3. My own workings show a better than 57% chance of under 2.5 goals so I shall sell at £10 per point. In my opinion more than 3 goals is unlikely, but if 3 are scored I would only lose £7. Less than 3 goals, of course I win.

Final score (again, I didn’t know at the time of writing) was 2-1. A fairly early goal and a penalty scuppered me, as I did have a bet on this one.

  1. Good Buy Bets

Think about buying when you expect a lot of goals and the buy price is around 2.6–2.7, or less. These do come up.

Although the two spread companies are pretty close on prices, always check both, as often there is a 0.5 difference in price and, more rarely, a big difference. If you are following the match and it happens to be in a cup competition, avoid disappointment by remembering the 90 minute rule.


It would appear that, in order to minimise your losses and maximise potential profits, buying overs (at the right price) is the way to go.

Having tried total goals spreads for a while, I have now changed my own strategy in line with what I’ve written above, although I still sometimes sell goals due to some success backing Under 2.5 goals last season. If this doesn’t work out in the future, then I will sell less in comparison to what I buy…

So far, the strategy appears to be working. Small gains or losses seem to cancel out and the bigger wins provide the profit.

Of course, with only a relatively small number of bets placed so far, it could all be down to luck! Time will tell.

If any readers are tempted to try this, please let us know how you get on. Similarly, if there are any of you with experience of spread betting on other markets or sports, we’d love to hear from you as well.

And remember, if you are interested in getting into this type of betting, do take a look at our spread betting service, SpreadJacker.


Category: Betting Advice

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