How to Bet on Sports for Beginners

Learn everything you need to know about betting sites and how to make bets on sports.

The Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting 2021

Sports betting has never been more popular than it is nowadays, especially in the United Kingdom.

The digital age has made it possible to track sports data in real-time and provide punters with the best possible wagering experience.

Many sports fans want to be part of this exciting industry and test their knowledge and intuition by betting on their favourite sports.

But joining a bookmaker without prior knowledge could be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we decided to make a comprehensive guide about sports betting.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to make your first online bet successfully, with a safe and legal bookie.

Keep reading to learn more.

Sports betting basics

The basic betting process is pretty straightforward.

First, you need to select an online bookie and open an account. After that, just pick a sport and place a wager on an event to back it. 

If your prediction turns out to be accurate, you’ll receive a payout (some people are able to win big amounts) based on the provided odds.

Speaking of odds, they play an essential role on every sports betting site, so let’s talk more about them.

Reading odds

Odds display the probability of an event happening. If the odds are high, the event is less likely to occur. In that case, bookmakers will offer more significant payouts.

On the other hand, if the odds are low, bookies will offer a lower payout, as the risk you’d have to take by supporting such an outcome is much smaller.

This may sound confusing, but odds actually represent the payout multiplier, so that’s why a higher number would usually mean a bigger payout. Therefore, when punters talk about high odds, they talk about lower probabilities and vice versa.

Let’s see an example.

The odds of Manchester City winning the 2020/21 Premier League are set to 6/4 (low). If you bet £100, you’ll receive £250 in case the Blues end up holding the trophy.

However, Fulham is much less likely to achieve this result, so the odds are 3000/1 (high). Therefore, you’ll receive £300,000 in case that happens.

Yet, sports betting is all about finding the best ratio between odds and payouts, and that’s usually possible if you know the sport, the players, and the statistics.

But odds come in different shapes and sizes.

Bookmakers in the UK use fractional odds, meaning payouts are represented with fractions. However, different books around the globe use two more popular formats — decimal and American.

Decimal odds are simply the decimal representation of a fraction. If you know your math, you’ll be able to convert them quickly. If the odds are ½, they would be represented as 1.5 in decimal odds and vice versa.

Since decimal odds are mostly used in Europe, the British usually refer to them as continental odds.

Finally, there are American odds which are used mainly in the US and some South American countries. In this case, ½ would be represented as -200.

If you’re from the UK, you probably use fractional odds. Even if you find other types more convenient, you’ll be spared from doing the math, as most of the online bookmakers let you choose which odds you prefer. 

As soon as you pick one type, all odds on the site will be adapted to your preferences. 

Making bets

Making bets on online betting sites is easy. However, getting them right is always a challenge and requires some luck and skill.

Here’s a short step-by-step explanation on how to do it:

  1. Find a suitable sports betting site;
  2. Open an account;
  3. Make a deposit (and claim a welcome bonus, if there’s one);
  4. Select a sport you want to bet on;
  5. Select available matches;
  6. Pick a betting market;
  7. Wager the amount you want;
  8. Wait for the outcome.

With most bookmakers, you’ll make a “back” bet, meaning you’ll back a particular team to win a match (if you choose that betting market).

However, bookmakers aren’t the only betting sites out there. Nowadays, there are betting exchanges, where you can make a “lay” bet, meaning you can wager against a certain team winning.

The world of sports betting comes with plenty of opportunities, and choosing the best betting site, sport, and betting market is an integral part of seizing them.

This leads us to the next part, where we’ll explain all of the most popular bet types.

Bet types explained

UK punters have used the following bets for a long time. They all originated from horse racing but are often used for modern football (and other sports) matches.

The most common types are:

  • Win — A bet where you back a specific participant to win;
  • Place — A bet where you guess the place a participant will finish in;
  • Each-Way — A combination of two separate bets, a win bet and a place bet.

Bets can also be divided into:

  • Single bet — Betting on a single selection or outcome;
  • Multiple bet — Betting on several selections.

Multiple bets can be further categorised as:

  • Double — A wager on two selections;
  • Treble — A bet on three selections;
  • Accumulator (ACCA bet) — A wager on four or more selections.

Please take into account that you have to win every selection to receive a payout. For example, if you wager on four matches and guess three of them correctly but fail on the fourth, you’ll not win.

If you make a bet that includes all three types of multiple bets, you’ll make the popular full-cover bet. These are almost exclusively used for horse racing and come in various shapes and sizes.

  • Trixie — Three doubles and a treble;
  • Yankee — Six double bets, four treble bets, and an accumulator bet with four selections;
  • Canadian (Super Yankee) — ten double bets, ten treble bets, five fourfold, and one fivefold acca;
  • Heinz — 15 double bets, 20 treble bets, 15 fourfolds, and six fivefold acca;
  • Super Heinz — 21 double bets, 35 treble bets, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, seven sixfolds, and one sevenfold acca;
  • Goliath — 28 double bets, 56 treble bets, 70 fourfolds, 56 fivefolds, 28 sixfolds, eight sevenfolds, and one eightfold acca.

Full cover bets can also contain singles. In that case, you also have several options.

  • Patent — Three single bets, three doubles, and one treble.
  • Lucky 15 — Four single bets, six double bets, four trebles, and a fourfold accumulator.
  • Lucky 31 — Five single bets, ten double bets, ten trebles, five fourfolds and a fivefold acca.
  • Lucky 63 — Six single bets, 15 double bets, 20 trebles, six fivefolds, and a sixfold accumulator.
  • Alphabet — A total of 26 bets, consisting of six selections, with 1, 2, and 3 forming the first patent and 3, 4, and 5 forming the second. Also, bets 2, 3, 4, and 5 for a Yankee and all six must make a sixfold acca.

Professional punters sometimes use ATC (anything to come) bets. These are often referred to as “if cash” or “conditional” bets. We’ll just list them here, and once you gain enough experience, you can check out how to make each of them. The popular ATC bets are Up-and-Down, Round Robin, Flag, Super Flag, Rounder, and Roundabout.

Finally, there are forecasts, which require you to guess the correct finishing order of two or more competitors.

There are several types of forecasts.

  • Straight forecast — Name two selections in the correct finishing order to finish first and second in a single event;
  • Reversed forecast — Name two selections to finish first and second in any order;
  • Combination forecast — Bet on three or more selections and choose two of them to finish first and second in the correct order;
  • Tricast — Name three selections to finish first, second and third in the correct order;
  • Combination tricast — Name three or more selections and choose the three of them to finish in the correct order.

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How to choose the best betting site

There are dozens of available online betting platforms, but not all of them are suitable for you. Therefore, we prepared a short guide on what you need to pay attention to when choosing a betting site.

  • Available sports/betting markets — Even though most UK punters prefer football and horse racing, betting on other sports is not uncommon. If you like specific sports that aren’t that popular in the UK, you need to find a site that offers them. The majority of popular sportsbooks and betting exchanges feature dozens of sports.
  • Safety, security & legality — You should always check the site’s licence and make sure it uses the latest security protocols. Please stay away from suspicious sites that don’t have any information on licences.
  • Payment methods — Make sure that the betting site of your choice accepts your preferred payment options.
  • Customer support — Does the betting site feature 24/7 customer support? How fast can you get a response? Is the customer support team helpful? These are just some of the questions that you should ask before joining a betting platform.
  • Bonuses — Ideally, the site should feature a welcome bonus for new users. Luckily, most of the great ones do.

10 betting tips you need to follow

If you’re new to the world of sports betting, you should take into account the information we’re about to present. These are rules that will help you embark on a successful online betting journey. 

Let’s check them out.

Start with a small bankroll

This may seem like an obvious decision for the majority of new punters, but we still think it’s worth mentioning. 

Sometimes, newcomers tend to get carried away and wager much more than they initially planned. Therefore, make sure to be in control of your finances and not spend too much money while you’re still learning the art of sports betting.

Choose a bookie with the best odds

Find the sport that you like to wager on and compare the odds on different bookies. Some of them will give you better odds on certain betting markets. 

Simply put, some bookies have more competitive odds on specific selections, and it’s up to you to find out which ones suit you the most.

Don’t let your emotions take over

If you’re a passionate sports fan and you have a favourite team, don’t bet on it just because you love it. 

If the reality is that you’re most likely to lose the bet, think twice about your actions. Instead, try looking at things from a logical perspective to make a proper assessment of the possible outcome.

Avoid long odds

Long (or high) odds can be pretty inviting, promising a great return. However, they are usually offered on selections where the probability of winning the bet is extremely low.

It takes a skilful sports punter to find long odds that may be worth betting on, but newcomers should avoid them until they have enough experience.

Use the advantage of in-play markets

If you’re not sure how bookmakers work and how they create odds, there’s no better way to learn it than placing bets on live sports events. 

The majority of online bookies offer in-play betting, where you can wager on a match that’s underway. You’ll be able to see the odds change in real-time, and make your decisions accordingly.

Don’t make advanced bets yet

Advanced bets can be fun and earn you a lot of money. However, they are called advanced for a reason — mainly experienced punters have success with them. 

Therefore, as long as you’re learning how online bookies work, you should stick to standard bets, such as singles, doubles, and acca bets with several selections. There will be a time when you can make a Goliath.

Chasing losses is never a good idea

If you’re out of money and start making impulsive bets to chase losses, you’ll just end up losing more money. Instead, call it a day and come back after a while, when you have a new strategy and a fresh bankroll.

Use free bet promos

This one goes without saying — free bets are always a significant boost for new punters that can help you get comfortable with the bookie you’re using and make bets free of charge.

Don’t drink alcohol

Alcohol can sometimes cause punters to lose control over their betting and end up spending much more than they wanted. Therefore, try to avoid drinking and betting if possible.

Don’t give up

If you fail to make a winning bet at first, that doesn’t mean you’re bad at it. Although it requires skill, sports betting ultimately relies on chance, meaning there will be times when luck will work in your favour.

How to bet on football

Here’s a short overview of how to make a successful football bet.

  1. Find an online bookie that offers football & open an account;
  2. Select football from the list of available sports;
  3. Find a match you want to bet on;
  4. Select one of the available betting markets and place a bet;
  5. Wait to find out whether you’ve won.

Football comes with a set of betting markets, so here are some of the most popular ones.

  • Full-time result — Choose whether the home or away team will win the game. There is also an option to bet on a draw;
  • Double chance — Three options are available to bet on home + draw, away + draw, home + away. Double chance markets usually have low quotes;
  • Correct score — Try to guess the correct final score of a football match;
  • Half time/full time — Guess the winner of both half time and full time. You can find hefty odds in this betting market;
  • Over/under — Try to guess whether the teams will score more or less than the suggested number of goals.
  • Goal line — The favourite has to win and score the suggested goal difference to win this bet. If you bet on the underdog, you’ll win even if they lose, but the favourite fails to make the suggested goal difference.

These were some of the most common markets. It’s up to bookies to decide which ones will be offered to football punters, so make sure to examine the markets as well before signing up for a bookie.

How to bet on horse racing 

Wagering on horse racing is even easier than football, as long as you’re prepared to keep it simple.

Open an account on a sports betting platform that offers competitive odds for this sport, select a race, and place a bet on the competitor that you think will win.

You can, of course, make additional bets, some of which are quite complex. We covered the majority of them in the Bet types explained section. 

If you’re new to horse racing, we suggest you start with single bets.

How to bet on esports

First of all, you need to select a book that offers esports betting. The good news is that the majority of them provide certain esports, but you have to find those that cover games that you like.

Popular esports are:

  • CS:GO
  • League of Legends
  • Dota 2
  • Call of Duty

However, you’ll find plenty of other titles in online bookies.

Once you sign up, make sure to select the game you want to bet on, and pick a match. Depending on the bookie, you’ll see various betting markets. Some of them that are quite common for esports betting are:

  • Map winner — Select a team that will win in a particular map;
  • First blood — Which team will make the first kill (draw first blood);
  • Next kill — Which team (player) will make the next kill (for in-play esports betting);
  • Total kills — Odd or even number of total kills?

The list goes on. Make sure to find the betting market that you like the most when betting on esports by examining popular bookies that offer this type of wagering.

The top 10 trusted betting sites in the UK

Searching for the best bookie can be a tiresome process. Therefore, we made sure to pick and review the ten betting sites that we currently consider the best in the industry.


10Bet offers excellent odds, especially to those looking to bet on the Premier League & Championship.

New players receive a 50% matched bonus up to £50, meaning you need to deposit a total of £100 to get the maximum prize. Also, before making a deposit, you need to use the code PLAY10 to trigger the bonus.

The minimum deposit required to claim the bonus is £15, and the minimum bet per selection is £1. 

Key Features

  • An incredible selection of sports and betting markets;
  • Available in-play betting, casino, live casino, and virtuals;
  • Daily enhanced odds for popular sporting events.


The bonus is available for new customers and can be claimed once per household. The wagering requirements are 8x the bonus amount, and you have 30 days to meet them and convert your bonus to real money.

Bonus money must be wagered on bets of at least ⅘ for singles and ⅖ for acca bets. The bonus is not available for Skrill and Neteller deposits. Also, some of the bet types aren’t available for bonus wagering, so make sure to read the T&C of this bonus to find out more.


888sports offers competitive odds and a premium-quality sports betting experience enhanced by great promotions.

New players who register, make a deposit and place a £10+ bet will receive £30 in free bets.

The minimum deposit for this platform is £10, and the lowest amount you can wager is £0.01. Still, make sure it’s at least £10 to trigger the welcome bonus.

Key Features

  • A bookmaker with a long tradition (established in 1997, being one of the first in the industry to offer sports betting online);
  • A wide variety of banking methods accepted;
  • Part of 888 Holdings, one of the most popular brands in the online gambling industry.


This bonus is available for new customers who want to make their first bet. To make it count, you need to place a bet that has the minimum odds of ½. You’ll receive £30 after the qualifying bet settlement.

Make sure to place your first qualifying bet within 30 days after registration. Once you receive your bonus, you’ll have to use it within the first seven days, or it will expire. If you make your deposit using PayPal, Muchbetter, Paysafecard, Neteller or Skrill, you will not qualify for the bonus. Also, some bets, such as those placed on virtual sports, do not qualify for the Free Bet bonus. 


Betfair is the largest online betting exchange in the world. Unlike traditional bookmakers where you bet against the book, Betfair allows you to bet against other users.

If you place five £10 bets, you’ll receive a £20 free bet. If you repeat that five times, you’ll get £100 in free bets.

The minimum deposit is £10, and the minimum bet you can place can be as low as £0.01, although we suggest you to bet at least £10 to get the welcome bonus.

Key Features

  • The most popular betting exchange in the world; 
  • Revolutionised sports betting;
  • Other forms of gambling available, including slots, live casinos, poker, bingo, virtual sports;
  • Esports betting available.


This offer is available for new customers only. You need to place a bet on odds of at least ½ to qualify for the welcome bonus. Free bets will be allocated to your account 24 hours after meeting the qualifying requirements.

Make sure to place these bets within 30 days after registering an account, as the welcome offer will expire after that. Only deposits using credit and debit cards and ApplePay are eligible for the welcome bonus.


BetVictor is an all-in-one gambling site that features casino games and poker in addition to being a great online bookmaker.

If you opt-in and make a £5 bet on odds of at least 1/1, you’ll receive two £10 free bets and a £10 Game Show bonus.

The minimum deposit limit is £5 or £10, depending on your preferred payment method. The minimum bet amount is £0.01.

Key Features

  • Reportedly offers some of the best odds on football matches;
  • A vast portfolio of popular online casino games;
  • Great deposit and withdrawal limits for many payment options.


You’ll receive a £10 free bet for single sports bets with at least 1/1 odds and £10 for any sports acca bets with 5+ selections. The bonus has a seven-day life span, meaning you need to spend it within a week. Bets can’t be used on virtual sports, and the bonus is not valid if you make a deposit using Skrill, Neteller, or PaySafe. There are no wagering requirements for the sports bonus. However, the £10 Game Show bonus comes with 40x wagering requirements.


Betiton is an online gambling platform that offers the “three main gaming aspects” — bingo, casino, and, of course, sports betting.

Deposit £10+, bet £15 on odds of 1/1+ and receive £10 as a free bet — simple as that.

The minimum deposit is £10, and the minimum amount you can bet per selection is £0.01.

Key Features

  • Betiton offers an excellent VIP programme;
  • It has a massive selection of esports bets;
  • The platform has a dual licence — one from the UKGC, and the other from The Malta Gaming Authority.


The free bet is only available for new players who make their first bet and can be used only on selections with ⅘ or higher. It will expire 14 days from the day it is activated. The bonus is not available for customers who use PayPal, Neteller, Pay Safe, or Skrill 1-Tap. The winnings from the free bet are not subject to wagering requirements.


Betfred is marketed as a platform with the latest live betting odds and special bonuses for Premier League bets.

Deposit at least £10 at even odds on any sport and receive £30 in free bets ten hours after the qualifying bet is settled.

The minimum deposit on Betfred is approximately £10 (depending on the payment method), and the lowest you can bet is £0.50.

Key Features

  • A comprehensive platform offering sports, lotto, casino, bingo, poker, and more;
  • A great offer of horse racing selections with competitive odds;
  • An easy-to-use website with an excellent user interface. 


This promotion is for new customers only and requires them to stake at least £10 on bets with odds of 1/1 or higher to activate it. Your qualifying bet must be settled within 60 days after opening an account. All free bets are valid for seven days, after which they will be removed from your account. Customers who deposit using Visa, Mastercard or e-wallets are not eligible for this promotion. There are no wagering requirements.


Bet365 is one of the biggest online sports betting sites in the world, offering in-play services, as well as live streaming for some events.

Deposit £5 or more, make a bet, and you’ll get a 100% match on your qualifying deposit up to £25.

The minimum deposit on Bet365 is £5 for most of the payment options (some require £10). The lowest you can wager per bet slip is £0.01.

Key Features

  • One of the most popular sportsbooks among football punters;
  • Bet Builder and Edit Bet features take sports betting to the next level;
  • Great, quick, and secure mobile application for Android and iOS


This offer is available for new customers only, and it’s a 100% match offer, meaning your deposit amount will be matched in free bets, but no more than £25. Bets must be placed on at least one selection with odds of ⅕ or greater. You must claim the bonus within 30 days after registration and first bet. It’s awarded in Bet Credits which have a lifespan of 90 days.


Betway offers a wide variety of pre-game and in-play sports betting markets, covering all popular sports in the UK.

Deposit a minimum of £10, use them to place a wager on selections with ¾+ odds and get your first deposit matched with up to £10 in free bets.

The minimum deposit amount on Betway is £10, and the lowest wager you can make is £0.01.

Key Features

  • Fast payouts for punters all over the world;
  • A great offer of sports betting options, with a particular focus on football and horse racing;
  • Plenty of promotions for regular punters.


The bonus is available for new customers who have made their deposits using a debit card or PayPal. It’s a 100% match bonus with a maximum amount of £10, and there are no wagering requirements. To activate the bonus, you need to bet the value of your first deposit on single bets that come with the odds of ¾+. If you make each-way or system bets, the odds must be ⅖+.


Bwin (stylised bwin) offers more than 90 sports, featuring the latest odds, live betting, live streaming, and even an active news section.

Open an account and deposit £10 or more. Place a bet of up to £20 on 3+ selections with odds ½+ and get up to £20 back.

The minimum deposit on bwin is £10, and the minimum stake is £0.50

Key Features

  • Live streaming available for some sports, in addition to the news section;
  • One of the biggest online offer of betting markets for 90+ sports;
  • Available in more than 20 different languages.


Only new customers can get this bonus and need to place one sports bet on the minimum of three selections to activate. The free bet is available for football only and is valid for seven days. Deposits made using Entropay, PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller will not qualify for the welcome offer. There are no wagering requirements. The general T&C apply to this bonus.


Coral advises — “Don’t bet silly, bet savvy!” It offers plenty of pre-event and in-play betting markets from sports events around the globe.

Open an account, make a deposit and place £5 on any sport to receive four £5 free bets.

The minimum deposit is £5 for the majority of payment options, although a few set that limit to £10. The lowest you can wager is £0.01.

Key Features

  • Coral features plenty of instant deposit and withdrawal methods;
  • Helpful customer service team;
  • One of the oldest bookmakers in the country, founded in 1926.


To receive the offer, you need to place the bets on selections of ½ or higher. The bonus is available only for new customers and doesn’t have any wagering requirements. You need to claim the prize within 14 days after registration and use it within seven days. The following payment methods are not eligible for the welcome bonus: prepaid cards, Moneybookers, PayPal, Pay Safe, Neteller, and Skrill. (11) 

Betting laws in the UK

The UK is a country with the most advanced betting laws in the world. The entire industry (here are some stats) is licensed and regulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

All betting sites that have a UKGC licence must pass a stringent test and adapt their offer to UK punters. Moreover, they all must be part of a self-exclusion scheme called GamStop that fights against gambling addiction.

To place bets and gamble legally, you need to be at least 18 years old and provide the documents to prove your age if requested.

The most important legislative piece that provided a legal framework for modern gambling, including sports betting, is the Gambling Act of 2005.


To sum up, sports betting has been an integral part of UK sports for a very long time.

Nowadays, this activity is regulated by an official commission and is very popular among punters, who particularly enjoy wagering on football, horse races, and, as of late, esports.

Betting enthusiasts can now place wagers on their favourite sports on the web, via many popular online bookmakers that are available in the UK. 

We discussed some of the best ones in this article, so make sure to scroll up and check them out.