Many people may be quite surprised to hear that tennis betting is actually one of the biggest in terms of the number of bets wagered and matched. It’s a haven for professional bettors who use the year round tennis calendar to full affect.
The beauty of tennis betting comes in the form of it being so subjective to betting strategies. Hedging bets and even the backing and laying strategy work superbly with tennis and it’s these strategies that are implemented by the professional bettors.
The highlights of the tennis betting year come in the form of the four majors. Wimbledon, The US Open, the Australian Open and French Open will provide bookmakers with their busiest times in terms of tennis. Not only do these tournaments have the highest profile matches but they also have the largest array of matches in terms of men’s, women’s, doubles, mixed doubles and even junior events all rolled into one.
Types of Tennis Bets / How To Bet On Tennis
There aren’t an awful lot of different types of tennis betting. If you are even a casual bettor you will likely have heard of most of them or at least their equivalent. We will quickly take you through some of the more popular with a brief description of each.
- Match Betting – Probably the simplest and definitely the most popular is the match betting markets, where you simply pick which player you think will win the game outright.
- Set Betting – Set betting requires you not only to pick a winner but also select how many sets you think they will win by. So 5 set games you would have to pick your player then 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 in sets.
- Games Spread – The games spread market is a little like handicapping, but for tennis. So you would choose one player at say -4.5 games, this means that for you to win your bet you need that player to win by 5 games or more. If you backed someone at +4.5 then you would need that player to then be within 4 games of their opponent (even if they lose the match) to win.
- 1st Set Betting – The 1st set betting market is an interesting one where you select who wins the first set. How is that interesting I hear you cry? Well, because you would be surprised how many times the underdog leaps out of the blocks and snatches the first set from the favourite. Obviously this doesn’t always happen, but more often than you would probably think.
- Correct Games – This market allows you to pick exactly how many games you think will occur in a certain set. Sometimes you will be given betting brackets or simply a line to choose the over or under. One thing we would recommend is that you stay away from this market in the final set as there are no tie breaks so games could run and run.
- Total Games – It’s possible to bet the over or under the total amount of games a player wins throughout the match. It’s the cumulative number for the entire match.
- Outright Winner – The outright winner is generally the market where you select the winner of the entire tournament and not just a certain match. The best odds are found at the start of competitions with odds reducing the further they make it through.
Tennis Betting Rules
Tennis betting rules are probably some of the toughest to nail down in one article as each bookmaker varies so much. There are however four categories that are used in terms of a game being abandoned either through weather, illness or injury; then bookmakers tend to lie into one of these four brackets.
- Ball Served – For bets to stand the first ball of the game needs to be served.
- 1 Set completed – The first set must be completed for bets to stand. Any stoppages after the first set will mean bets still stand.
- 2 Sets Completed – The same as above but with two sets completed rather than one.
- Match completed – The entire match must be completed before bets are paid out.
Don’t Run Before you can Walk
It only takes a couple of minutes of browsing some of the biggest bookmakers in the industry to see just how many tennis games there are each week. There is a tournament going on somewhere pretty much 52 weeks of the year, and often several, so it’s easy for the casual bettor to get overwhelmed.
It’s also easy to just target the big tournaments, but this isn’t always where the value lies. We’ve mentioned several times with other sports that often the best bets aren’t the most obvious or highest profile matches.
It’s for this reason that we think it’s best to narrow down the range of games that you bet on. You can do this by surface, gender, country, league or whatever works best for you. If you’re competent with certain players then go for that. If you know how clay courts work over hard courts, then go for this.
The beauty of the sport from a betting perspective is that you can literally hand pick your bets. You don’t need to feel forced into finding bets just for the sake of it, mainly down to the fact that there are so many to choose from.
Many professional bettors who bet on tennis don’t even look at the majors. These are often the events where the bookies put the most time and effort in, because they are often the events that are the most advantageous.
Look further afield and make sure you become efficient in that area first. You will likely have more success doing it this way rather than trying to tackle each tournament that your bookmaker is covering.
The over/under is a pretty simple concept in that you just need to choose the over or the under on the line set by the bookmaker for the total games in that match. Whilst it’s one of the most fruitful markets to bet on, it’s also one of the easiest to research.
One area in which people often go wrong here, is that they target games between strong favourites and long shots. For example, if Roger Federer played a person ranked 100 in the world, you may think that the number of games would be high, when in fact the opposite is likely to be a better bet.
For over bets, you’re looking for tight match ups. Ideally if you can find matches that are likely to have at least one tie break, there is a good chance that you’re on to a winner.
It’s important to take into account the number of sets that are involved as well. In the women’s game, all matches are played as best of 3 sets, but in the men’s games, majors will play out as best of 5 sets. This is going to have a huge effect on the total number of games for obvious reasons, but it’s often something that a lot of punters overlook.
Players who are big servers are great for over bets. This is because they will be hard to break, meaning that a lot of sets are decided on the tie break. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played out a record-breaking game at Wimbledon where the final set eventually finished up 70-68 (no tie breaks in final set, must win by two clear games). The overs bet will have walked home for this match, but the reason was that neither player was able to break serve.
Whilst the above example was a one off, no doubt about it, it’s food for thought and something you should be looking at.
The surface in tennis can be one of the biggest variables in the game. Players will often favour some surfaces over others and this needs to be taken into account when betting.
A great example of this was Pete Sampras, who was an epic serve-volleyer and won Wimbledon (on grass) 7 times. For all his efforts on grass and even the hard courts where he won another 7 majors at the US Open and Australian Open, he was pretty poor on clay. In fact, he never got further than the semi-final of the French Open. For a 14-time major champion this is a pretty shocking statistic.
Whilst form and head to head data is hugely important when placing your bets, we would argue that taking the surface into account is more important. Players will perform better on some surfaces compared to others, and this is not necessarily something that the bookies always pick up on, especially in lesser tournaments outside of the majors.
Momentum in Live Betting
Momentum in sport is huge. It’s often the defining factor of a tennis match as well, and with it you are able to adapt to potential bets by utilising live betting.
Tennis works really well with live betting, in fact, a lot of professional bettors who bet on the sport exclusively bet live, as it’s here where they feel they get the biggest edge. Momentum is often a huge part of their strategy as well, and they look to see what direction games might be heading before placing their bets.
Studying this comprehensively will allow you to not only quickly spot trends but also get in before the bookies adjust their books, which is no easy task these days.
One of the factors that we find most rewarding when betting on tennis is simply looking at fatigue levels. A great point in the match to do this is when players head into the final set to decide the match, either at 1-1 or 2-2 depending on gender and tournament type.
You’re going to find that players who have won the last set are often the favourite to go on and win the match. However, you need to work out just how much effort it’s taken them to get back into the match after losing the first set.
A typical example would be something like this; Player A wins the first set fairly comfortably 6-4, holding all service games and breaking once. Player B wins the second set 6-3, breaking twice to take the second set. Throughout the second set and after the second break, Player A will realise their chances of winning this set are pretty much gone, so they switch off a bit and conserve energy. Unfortunately for Player B, as they are already 1-0 down they can’t switch off and must make sure they work as hard as needed to win the set to stay in the match.
Whilst Player B has won the last set, it’s actually Player A who has the most energy. That little mini rest they had when, they didn’t give up per-say, but they certainly didn’t give it their all, allows them to keep enough in the tank to take the final set.
We aren’t going to sit here and say this happens all the time, as it doesn’t, but it’s often a momentum trend that many punters don’t pick up on, opting to take the player who won the last set as they had the momentum from that a punters point of view.
Ante Post Betting
Ante Post betting is another favourite for a lot of tennis punters. It’s where you bet on a specialist market that allows you to bet on the winner of a tournament weeks or even months in advance. It’s good for two reasons:
- You aren’t subject to Rule 4 (where if a player withdraws, the bookmaker is able to adjust your bet and allow it to reflect the withdrawal of the player within the market).
- Odds are often at a premium high, especially the further in advance you place the bet.
Ante post betting is a tough one to call for a lot of punters, but we want to elaborate on point 2 a little more.
Odds are often higher in these types of betting markets, mainly because bookmakers don’t know who’s officially going to be playing, what form each player is going to be in (as it’s weeks or even months away), and what the draw is – which can have a huge effect on the pathway for players.
Whilst the bookies don’t know, we don’t know either, so it’s kind of a level playing field there. If you are looking to take someone on early though, perhaps because of previous form at the event, then the Ante Post market is going to be the place to do it.