An Expert Guide to In-Play Betting

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As you learn more about football betting, there are lots of different areas you will come across, and in turn these will give you more opportunity to generate profit. One of the big areas that can see you make great profit is that of In-Play betting.

In-Play betting has exploded in popularity in recent years thanks to a variety of reasons from the upward trend in online gambling, faster internet connection speeds for home computers and the way it takes some of the guesswork out of football betting. If you keep seeing this term bandied around but aren't quite sure what it is or how it can help you win then this betting guide will help.

We will cover all you need to know about this lucrative aspect of the football betting market, from how it all works, to what are the advantages, and how best to benefit from it. Many people actually use In-Play betting as their main way of betting on football now. Once just the preserve of the betting exchanges or a select few bookmakers, the demand for this type of betting means that most online bookies will offer it now.


Table of contents: 


What Is In-Play Betting?

In simple terms, In-Play betting is the act of gambling on a football match (or whatever sport you're into) when the game has actually started and is still being played. This is obviously massively different from traditional betting where you place your wager BEFORE the game has started. The ability it gives to bet while the game is 'In-Play' is where this form of football betting gets its name. It can also be known as Live Betting at some bookmakers.


What Are The Advantages of In-Play Betting?

As the number of people who gamble on football in this way would suggest, In-Play betting offers some unique advantages over traditional pre-game betting.

1. More Accurate Betting As already touched on in our Definitive Guide to Football Betting, in-play betting takes a lot of the guesswork out of football betting. The problem with traditional pre-game gambling is that you can do all your homework and research but still get it wrong due to something unforeseen happening on the pitch when the game starts. In-Play betting allows you to take this into account and bet based on what is happening in real-time when the game has started.

For example, if Manchester City were to play West Ham in the 2017/18 English Premier League, based on pre-match research you would in all honesty probably back City to win pre-game. However, what if their main playmaker gets injured in the first five minutes, their main goal scorer gets sent-off two minutes later and the referee awards West Ham a couple of dodgy penalties also to go 2-0 up? Suddenly, your pre-game bet for City to win looks a bad one!

This demonstrates where In-Play betting gives a real advantage to your football betting exploits. By waiting to see what is happening after the game has kicked off, you would be able to take what has happened in the first few minutes into account and place any bets accordingly. This naturally should lead you to winning more as you are basing your bets on what is actually happening, not what you think will happen.

2. Increased Flexibility another great bonus is the added flexibility it gives you. By allowing you to bet when the game is playing you not only have the knowledge of what is going on but also the power to react to it. By keeping an eye on the match, you will see which team is stronger, which is more dangerous on the break, which may have a player behaving recklessly that may get sent off, as well as many other useful pieces of information. This gives you the constant chance to assimilate all the up to date information, react to it and profit.

When thinking about this point, it is vital to know that reacting to what is happening is not just about placing a bet on a certain market. Once you have placed a bet, if it looks like it may not pan out as expected, In-Play betting allows you to deal with this. You could lay that bet off at an exchange like Betfair or place another bet to cover yourself.

3. It's Fun! although this is a serious In-Play betting guide designed to help you profit, it is worth noting that In-Play betting is more fun compared to traditional football betting. This not only stems from the fact that you stand more chance of winning your bets but also from the excitement it provides from being a more interactive experience. Rather than betting pre-game in relative isolation which some find dull, In-Play betting puts you right in the heart of the action as it happens which may be more appealing to some football gamblers.

4. More Betting Opportunities with traditional betting, although there will be a range of markets available to bet on pre-game, this is as far as it goes. In-Play betting will not only have all these too but also give opportunities for betting on more markets as the game unfolds live. For example, if a player were to pick up a yellow card early in a game, you may suddenly be able to bet on him getting a second yellow and being sent off in the first half. This increased choice means more ways to use your football knowledge of the game at hand and increase your profit margin.

5. Higher Prices as a football tipster, I'm always looking to get the best prices out there for an event. With In-Play betting, this is a real possibility as it can generally offer higher odds for something to happen. This is due to the fact that everything significant that happens in a game will impact on the In-Play odds being offered. With this in mind, you can find some great value odds to bet on for an event you expect to happen during the match.


Which Bookie Should I Use?

This is a question all tipsters and football betting experts get asked frequently. My personal recommendation is Bet365 for a few different reasons. Firstly, their website is fast and easy to use which makes placing your bets simple. In addition, they offer a huge range of markets to bet on In-Play, which is great for finding the market you want to wager on. They are also well-known for having good prices, so you know you are always getting a decent return on any money you place with them.

Bet365 also have lots of the games you can back streamed live onto their website for you to watch. Needless to say, being able to watch the match you will be betting In-Play on is vital, so this is a nice touch from them and makes it easier for you. They are also frequently offer superb In-Play promotions, which can really help bump up your bank balance as you place your bets with them.

Of course, you may choose to use another bookmaker or betting exchange that you prefer – this is perfectly fine as this is one area of football betting that is largely personal choice.


Pre-Match Research – It's Still Key!

One very common mistake people make when thinking about using In-Play betting as their method is that it means you don't have to put any hard work in. After all, if you are simply watching the game when it happens and placing your bets based on what you see, does it not then follow that any pre-game research is useless?

The simple answer to this is – NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even if you are going to bet In-Play, be smart and still do your homework as you would if you were betting pre-game. Knowledge is still power and you need to be armed with all the facts, regardless of how exactly you will be placing your bets.

But why is it still so important to get as much information as you can pre-game?

1. Allows you to spot unimportant matches – a real golden rule with football gambling is that the importance of the match itself should be taken into account. If the game is the final one of the season between two teams who gain nothing from it whatever the result, it makes it harder to then predict what might happen. Team A would usually win on paper but if they are already on the beach so to speak, Team B may be more up for it and spring a shock result.

With this in mind, you should use this knowledge to avoid these types of games for In-Play betting. They are too hard to get a proper handle on what might happen and too easy to lose money on!

2. Allows You To Spot In-Game Opportunities – one of the real plus points for In-Play betting is the chance to jump on any opportunities that may present themselves in the game. By still doing some proper research, this unique advantage is made even greater.

It may be that when looking at Team A you notice that, if they concede first, they always manage to come back and win. With this in mind, if their opponent scores first in the match you are watching then you have a great opportunity to place a bet on them to win overall and make a nice profit. This would not be something you could if you hadn't done your homework or even if you did get on them later in the game, the odds would not be as good.

3. Keeps You Grounded do you remember we said one of the brilliant things about In-Play betting was the fun factor? While this is true, it can sometimes be easy to get swept up in this as markets unfold In-Play and end up placing bets you probably shouldn' Arming yourself with the right information before the game will stop this happening and keep you in control. If Team A's star striker has scored two goals by the 80th minute but has never scored a hat-trick in his 200-game career, it probably isn't a wise move to put money on him doing so now. Without knowing this, you could see this market flash up in-game and be tempted to throw your money away on it.


In-Play Analysis

Do I Need To Be Watching The Game Live?

One thing that you must do when betting In-Play is to be keeping an eye on what is happening during the match itself. This naturally will allow you to react to what is going on and take any opportunities that may present themselves to you.

But do you need to be actually watching in person via a TV or internet stream or can you rely on the information the bookmakers websites give you?

Many bookmakers such as Bet365 will provide lots of in-game information on the match you are involved with via their website. Real-time information on factors such as possession percentage, number of shots and which team is attacking amongst others can be used to base your In-Play betting decisions on.

Of course, the other option is to get in front of your TV or computer screen and actually watch the game itself live. This gives you a different point of view in that you are assessing what is happening yourself although obviously there will probably be various stats that come up on-screen as you watch.

My personal preference as a football tipster is to watch the game on TV or a live internet stream. This is because stats on a bookmakers website don't always tell you the full story and therefore can lead you into making incorrect assumptions to bet with. For example stats alone wouldn't be able to tell you if Team A's 10 shots on target are all from 30 yards out and comfortably saved or whether each one has come very close to scoring and required spectacular saves to deny a goal. Knowing this kind of detailed information can have a huge impact on what betting decisions you should make in-play, and highlights the difference between seeing what is happening for yourself against relying on stats alone to make your decisions.

Keep An Eye Out For Value

In-Play betting is not only different in respect to when you place your bets but also the pace and focus of betting. Compared to traditional football betting, it is much faster and requires you to have a close eye on what is being offered, based on what is happening in the game. A goal for one team can quickly and significantly alter what the bookmakers will be offering live.

The kind of opportunities this creates could translate directly into better value for the markets you are betting on. In the long-run, getting this extra value is what will see you be successful as a football gambler.

As a quick help to get you started in this area, here are a few examples of what may happen in a game to give you opportunities for greater value in particular In-Play markets:

1. Big Favourite Goes Behind Early – this is one of the best and most common opportunities you will come across In-Play. If the favourite team goes behind early, the odds on them for the overall win will shoot up. This is your chance to get in quickly and take the value that is being offered. In all probability, they will still go on to win and you will reap the benefit of making that bet In-Play at the time.

In addition to the Win market offering more value if this happens, there will also be more goals expected as the favourite comes back strongly to triumph. This will give greater opportunities in all the Goals related markets such as Over/Under.

2. Favourite Level At Half-Time if the favourite goes in level at half-time then this could be the sign for you to enter the market. As they are drawing, you will get higher odds for them to win at the end of the game. If you expect this to happen then by taking the increased Win odds at half-time you maximise the value you take out of the bet.

As with the above example, it also should give some higher odds in the Goals markets during the second half for you to take advantage of.

3. Corners if you find yourself watching a game where the stronger team is pushing for that winning goal then the Corners market is worth looking at. The better team bombarding the opposition goal will make corners more likely and may well make it worthwhile for you to put some money on. This is a great example of an In-Play strategy that you just couldn't do pre-game without seeing what was really going on. On the reverse, the corner count will normally decrease once the stronger team takes the lead as they defend their lead. Again, for the savvy In-Play gambler this represents a superb opportunity to use this to make some money.

4. Both Teams To Score if you are checking out a game with two free-scoring teams that is pretty end to end then getting into the Both Teams To Score market is wise. While pre-game it is hard to say this will happen for sure, if it becomes obvious when the match is being played you can use this to your advantage. Obviously, it is good to do this when it is still 0-0 as you will get the very best odds then before one does score.


Discipline is vital!

We have already mentioned in this guide that proper research is as important for In-Play betting as in traditional betting. The same sentiment is true for maintaining your discipline when betting live. In the same way as you should never be placing ill-informed and emotional pre-game bets, you should not do that when betting In-Play either.

The trouble with In-Play betting for some is that what makes it effective can also be their downfall. The sheer range of markets and adrenaline felt when betting this way can lead to rash decisions being taken in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, this is usually when you will lose and wonder why you put that particular bet on in the first place! Although it is very tempting to jump in and place a bet on a market that catches your eye, if it has no sound factual basis or you hadn't planned too then don't!

For the serious gambler, the necessity to never chase losses is well known. Chasing your losses will often lead you to wiping out your account with the bookmaker in the end. It rarely works and is definitely something to be avoided. If you have a loss, resist jumping straight back into a random market or game you haven't researched to try to win your money back.


Remember To Use A Proper Staking Strategy

Along with the above, another key component to have in place for In-Play betting is a sensible staking plan. This is still just as important for In-Play betting as pre-match betting so don't skip it! There are various staking plans from Set Amount to Proportional or Points based – pick the one that you like best and stick with it. Discipline is essential here too especially when in the heat of the In-Play action – always keep to your staking plan, whatever may be happening at the time.

For help deciding which staking strategy might be right for you, I recommend taking the time to read our Staking Strategies Betting Guide, which covers the benefits and weaknesses of the most popular strategies.


Use Cash-Out Wisely

Along with In-Play betting, the ability to Cash-Out bets in the modern world of football betting is a recent yet welcome trend. Cashing-out is made available on certain games and markets by the bookmakers – used wisely it is a great tool to have in your arsenal. In simple terms, it allows you to settle your bet at that particular time in the game and take whatever profit is being offered.

Obviously, this can be a very sensible move in some cases. If you have ever backed a team to Win who were 1-0 in front but then gave a goal away to draw late on, cashing-out would have helped! By cashing-out before the equalizing goal, you would have won the bet as your team was winning when you cashed out. You would not usually get the full amount in terms of winnings for settling the bet early but would have still made some profit! Scenarios like this are the best time to cash-out and lock in some profit. If your bet is winning but you notice In-Play that the other team is looking strong and might cause problems like go onto win the game, then it could be the sign to cash-out while you can.

Another scenario can be seen in the goals market. You may notice both teams are playing very attacking football early on, so you back "Over 2.5 Goals" in-play. Each team scores a goal before half time, however after the break they come out and both look more cautious, and happy to play out the remainder of the game just to secure the 1 point. If you spot this change in play soon enough, it would be wise to cash out as soon as possible before the cash-out value become too small.


In-Play Betting – A Summary

In-Play betting is a very useful and profitable tool to have in your football betting kit. Used properly, it can help you make better informed decisions dependent on what is happening in the game live. As we have seen, it can also give better value odds and the flexibility to adapt to what is happening once the action is underway. For these reasons, many football punters love it and many use it to make very healthy profits with their football betting.

Hopefully this guide will give you all the information you need to get started and some insider tit-bits to start betting In-Play yourself.

Photo by: Prakash via Flickr

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