Betting on football players to be booked with a yellow or red card may sound like a bizarre type of wager, but it has proven to be quite profitable to the average bettor. Bets on football bookings are considered as special bets, given that they bear no resemblance to the common match winner or over/under markets. They first made their appearance on national team tournaments (World Cup, Euro etc.) but nowadays many online bookmakers offer them regularly, especially in popular leagues like the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga or the Italian Serie A.
Football card bets have their own rules and advantages. It’s a matter of instinct and smart analysis instead of luck. You don’t have to wait till the end of the match to get paid, since you can win regardless of the final score. All that is needed, is to predict the right mood of the match, or the right player(s) to be booked or sent off. Given that it is a special bet, the total amount of money wagered on them isn’t too high, meaning that the bookmaker’s attention about setting the right odds, isn't that high. Usually bookmakers derive their odds from obvious data (total number of football cards shown etc.), making it easier to find the perfect valued odds.
Betting sites with cards betting
Player and team bets
There are two main categories of booking bets. Those about individual players and others for an entire team.
To be shown a yellow/red card: Different odds are offered for every player who’s going to play in a match. Odds vary depending on his playing position (i.e. centre backs are more likely to be booked) and his past attitude (booking frequency, aggressiveness etc.). This can be a tricky market as it requires extensive knowledge on not only a specific team player, but also his opponents.
- Number of bookings: The average total number of football cards in a match is around five. This number, of course, differs from league to league and match to match. The most usual type of bet is “Over 5,5/Under 5,5”, where you are asked to choose from a somewhat physical game to a more relaxed one. This bet can be found both as a total and team bet.
- Red Card: Is there a possibility of dismissal during the match? You need to predict if the odds on this bet are valuable or not. A variation of this bet includes a three-way market with odds for both teams and a “no red card being shown” option.
- Team/Total booking points: Some online bookmakers have established a somewhat arbitrary football cards point system, calculating five (5) points for a red card and three (3) for every yellow during a match. This type of bet requires you to predict whether the total number will exceed a specific limit (the most usual being 15,5 or 16,5 points).
- First/Next/Last booking: A type of bet usually found during live betting, especially in the “next booking” form. You need to predict which team will receive the first, next or last booking.
- Minute of first booking: This type is included mostly on special, big matches (UEFA Champions League, World Cup etc.). Usually, the 90 min duration is cut into nine 10 min. parts, where each has separate odds.
Tips and strategies for betting on football cards
Analyze the referee: The match official is a key figure to your analysis. Regardless of the number of cards a team gets during every matchday, it’s obvious that you have to take the referee’s behavior into account. What is his usual attitude during a match? Is he strict or lenient? This information can prove invaluable in yellow cards betting.
Don’t simply look on his average yellow and red cards, but rather pay special attention to the minute he usually awards his first card. Some try to make their feelings known right at the start of the tie, while others may limit themselves to cautioning the players.
The worldwide refereeing authorities have tried hard so that officials maintain a standard attitude, by punishing aggression in the same manner. However, every referees’ personality is different, meaning that their football cards stats will bear differences as well.
Rules and history of bookings: Some players get in a match with the aim of getting a yellow or a red card. According to the rules of some leagues, when a player reaches a certain number of cards, he is automatically suspended from the next match. If a player is a card away from suspension, he can choose to be booked and lose a meaningless next league match, in order to be available for an upcoming hot clash. Look carefully for these players, as they’re fine candidates for getting at least a yellow card.
In addition, in some leagues when players reach a high number of cards (7 or 8) during a league season, they are suspended for two league matches. This means that if they receive a booking, it might be better for them to get a second yellow card and be expelled (usually in the last minutes), as to get only a one-match suspension.
Local derbies: This is a special category of football matches, where tempers are usually flaring, regardless of the teams' league position or recent results. Watch out for these matches, as the crowd usually encourages players to play extra aggressively. Red cards are more usual in these matches, and the number of yellow cards is considerably higher compared to other league matches. On the other hand, in meaningless matches near the end of the season, it’s always worthy to place a bet on zero cards on traditionally high odds, as both teams have nothing to play for.
How do red cards impact a match?
According to a statistical analysis drawn from the Lancaster University on the English Premier League & Championship divisions, red cards tend to severely impact the scoring ability of each team. Given that most red cards are usually awarded in the second half it is safe to say that they can impact the final result as well.
- Home Red card → 60% increase in away team’s scoring rate, 17% decrease in home team scoring rate.
- Away Red card → 69% increase in home team’s scoring rate, 42% decrease in away team scoring rate.
Usually, cards are awarded for violent behaviour or insults. Nearly every team has one player who is more aggressive than the rest. However, the bookies know him all too well and his booking odds are considerably lower compared to other team members. It’s obvious that tall and muscular centre backs will not shy away from a fight and are considerably likelier to get booked. If you wish to get higher odds you should pay attention to other aspects of the game, especially about players who are unlikely candidates of getting a card, as:
- A goalkeeper of a minor team is a serious candidate when playing away from home against a strong opponent. If his team manages to hold the favourite to a tie, or even take the lead, there is a great chance he'll get a yellow card for deliberately delaying the game.
- A striker's role usually doesn’t involve him tackling or man marking a specific player. However, if he is known to be overly enthusiastic, there's always a possibility he will score a decisive goal and get a yellow card for excessive celebration (for example, leaving the field and climbing the stands to celebrate with the fans or pulling off his shirt).
- The player who has the role of acting as the last defender on his team’s set pieces (when the centre backs go forward to get a header) is the one who will be sacrificed to get a yellow, or even a red card, in order to prevent a dangerous counterattack.
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