Over the past decades, the perception of tennis has changed significantly. Once regarded as a pastime for aristocrats, this sport has gradually become massively popular, with top players now enjoying rock-star status, much alike superstar footballers, basketball players and boxing champions. Consequently, tennis has become a common market for punters and receives considerable amounts of bets on Grand Slam tournaments and other high-profile matches (Davis Cup, Masters, Olympics…).
Given that tennis is an individual sport with a precise ranking of the best players, far less upsets are likely to occur compared to team sports like football and most of the times a favorite will beat the underdog. Of course, that doesn’t mean that a high profile player won’t lose from time to time, even during a prestigious tournament. Experienced bettors know that even the best players can sometimes stumble due to an injury or simply a bad day and try to find a favorable matchup whenever they can. Given that tennis betting offers a multitude of choices besides predicting the match winner, it is clear that tennis can provide immense action and allow you to win big if you place the right wager.
Tennis betting options
There are numerous different markets you can find on any tennis match, including:
This is the most straightforward bet and like any other sports event, concerns the winner of the match. It is a two-way market and all you have to do is pick one of the two players.
In order to balance tennis odds, bookmakers will place a handicap on the underdog, that has to be overcome by the favorite. Handicaps can offer you some profitable choices, especially if you take into account the previous meetings between the players and how they perform on different types of court surfaces.
Pretty much the same as the “match result” market, as you have to predict the winner of a specific set. In most cases if a tennis player manages to “break a game”, the odds for the “set winner” will change significantly on his favor.
A well-known type of betting that takes into account the sum of sets, or games, of both players. You have to predict whether a specified number will be surpassed or not.
Guessing the exact score of a match will certainly give you larger rewards compared to predicting its winner, but it is also a far riskier choice.
This type of a bet requires the bettor to correctly predict the margin of games, or sets, between the two players, along with guessing the match winner. It is offered either within a range, or on an exact figure.
The bet focuses on a single player and tracks the total number of games or sets he will win. It is most commonly found on prestigious events and generally consists of a two way market.
Tie break or not
It is not uncommon for a tennis set to be decided on a tie break and bettors can predict whether a match will include such an event or not.
Correct score after a given number of games
You do not have to wait for a match to end in order to win this type of bet, since the result can be verified after a certain amount of games, during the event.
Not winning a set
In case of an expected one-sided matchup, bettors can wager on a clean victory by the favorite, or even the underdog, where the winner must not lose a single set. You will always find better odds on this market, compared to the “match result”.
Long term bets (tournament winners)
Although the best players will usually advance to the final, correctly predicting the winner of a tournament can be harder than it seems. This added risk is reflected on higher odds.
Choosing the best bookmaker
In order to get the best tennis betting experience, it is necessary to find a bookmaker that will fulfill your needs. Practically all bookmakers accept wagers on tennis matches, however they are certain differences among one another, that can make or break your betting style. Your decision can have a lasting impact on your playing experience and total winnings, so it is necessary to carry out a thorough research before you choose the right bookie.
Here is a list of important criteria you should check before deciding your preferred bookmaker:
1. Bookmaker’s Credibility – Reputation
Some betting sites are well respected in the industry because they treat their customers in fair way and allow them to bet on tennis through many different markets. Given that a happy customer (and an unhappy as well) is likely to share his views on blogs and forums dedicated to online betting, finding any details on the site you are interested in, shouldn’t be too complicated. It goes without saying that you should stay away from any shady websites, as there is no reason to put your money at risk by punting on an unreliable provider.
2. Number of betting markets
Most bookmakers will let you choose through various betting markets. These options generally fall in two categories – pre-match bets and in-play wagers. However, depending on the company of your choice the available wager types might be extremely limited.
Even some well-known bookmakers such as Pinnacle and Betfair fall short of expectations in this regard, as they offer few options, generally covering only the match and tournament winners. On the other hand, bookies like Bet365 and Unibet have chosen a completely different direction and allow their members to place a wide variety of bets (sometimes numbering hundreds), including multiple bets on tennis accumulators. Bettors should also pay attention to the limits set on every type of bet, as each bookmaker has a separate policy regarding stakes.
3. Live Betting/ Live streaming
Live betting is perhaps the most exciting way of punting as it allows you to place your bets at any point of the match. The odds are adjusted accordingly to real time events, which may offer an experienced bettor with some easy money if he acts quickly. You can access the live betting section through your mobile phone, which is supported on most sites. In the same manner, you can choose to cash out before the end of a match, if you think it is in your best interest.
Major bookmaker sites also feature live streams of tennis matches, although you usually must log in and have some money on your account to be able to watch an in play event. Some bookies might only allow you to watch a live stream match if you place a bet on the selected event.
Obviously, every bettor’s first and foremost concern is about the odds. Although in most occasions, you won’t find any significant deviation, a closer look might reveal some profitable opportunities. Being on the lookout for lucrative odds on any match is a good strategy, as long as you don’t forget to check other parameters as well. As in every other aspect of gambling, what matters is your long-term winnings and not just trying to gain a temporary advantage on the bookie.
5. Bonuses and promos
Keep in mind that almost every respected bookmaker will offer a range of bonuses for new and existing players. Sometimes it’s reasonable to accept a less profitable wager if it means that you may qualify for a free bet or a special promotion. The top betting websites, will offer you certain free bets upon creating an new account or might allow you to collect loyalty points for every bet placed. Various free bets, boosted odds and cash back offers are also available for regular players. For example, Bet365 gives players the chance to win up to 50% more by betting on 12 or more matches on a single betslip, while Winner Sports offers rewards to mobile users and live bettors, even when they bet on a single event.
6. Number of tournaments
If you are a tennis lover, you might want to bet on Challenger Tour matches or Futures Tournaments and lower ranked players from time to time. You should try your luck on a website that includes lower tournaments in its offering, as the harder estimation on these matches can sometimes mean better odds for you, given that upsets are way more common as you move down the ATP list.
There are dozens of ATP tournaments taking place throughout the year, so you can engage in a non stop betting action if you know where to look at. The season starts immediately after New Year with several tournaments held in Australia and runs through mid November, when the ATP Tour finals and Davis Cup finals are played. That means a dedicated tennis bettor can develop his own strategy and target any tournaments that fit his preferred betting style.
You need to think in advance and check how a bookmaker handles situations that fall outside the normal range of outcomes. For example, if a tennis match is interrupted at a certain point or forfeited, some bets could be compromised. Various betting companies have their own rules on how to resolve the resulting confusion – some could use the first point or first set as a reference to settle the match, while others might take into account the result, at the moment of interruption. Some bookies might also settle the bets only if the event has ended and will cancel any bets if a match is not concluded. It is recommended to read the fine print and learn the exact procedure for such cases before placing a bet, as this might save you a lot of trouble if your bet remains locked due to an unfinished match.
Here is an example: on Betfair, if a match can’t be processed due to either technical problems on the site or forfeiture by one of the players, the money put on various bets related to the match, will be returned to the players and every bet will be cancelled. On the other hand, Ladbrokes will consider matches that went beyond the first set to be valid and will only cancel any bets that were interrupted before that point.
If you know the sport, you can bet with confidence
As explained above, tennis is truly a unique sport that allows bettors to find every bit of information on a single player, before they decide to back them with their money. Another important factor is the odds and markets you can find – there are some excellent bookmakers that combine great bonuses, large choice of ATP tournaments, Challenger tournaments and Futures, as well as fair conditions for betting. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a betting company that fits all the bits and pieces mentioned in this guide. It is up to you though to personally compare and find which bookmaker best suit your needs and will keep you happy as a tennis bettor.
Lastly, we need to add a few words concerning the tennis betting strategy. In order to win consistently, you need to be aware of the tendencies of individual players – how they play on each surface (grass, clay, synthetic courts) and how they match up against certain opponents. If you can find your way through this pattern, you will nearly always be successful on your bets.