Tennis Odds Don't Have to Be Hard. Read Our Guide and Master It.
While the NFL and NBA get most of the attention, when it comes to sports betting there is another option that is not only gaining popularity, but also offers great opportunities for knowledgeable bettors to take advantage of a still untapped market: Tennis.
But how do you bet on tennis if you’ve never done it before? And more importantly, how do you make money betting on tennis? Let’s dig in to this growing sector and see if we can uncover some of the nuts and bolts of tennis sports betting. But before we dive into the deep end, let’s discuss some of the basics.
Tennis Betting 101
Thanks to tennis tours such as the WTA and ATP that travel throughout the world, tennis betting is available around the clock nearly 365 days a year, making it the perfect sport for bettors looking for action in non-North-American primetime hours. Additionally, tennis analytics stand head and shoulders above their North American counterparts thanks to a governing body that has long-since embraced the collection of data, meaning tennis sports bettors have nearly endless trends and statistics at their disposal via websites such as tennis-data.co.uk among others.
To bet on tennis, all one needs to do is sign up to a betting platform such as Americas Cardroom and proceed exactly as you would when betting on the NFL or NBA, choosing between MoneyLine, Spread, and Over/Under bets. If those are unfamiliar concepts to you, keep reading.
Moneyline Tennis Betting
Whether you’re looking at Wimbledon betting odds, US Open betting odds, Australian Open betting odds, or French Open betting odds, the primary way to get in the action is to “back” (bet on) individual tennis players using a moneyline (ML) bet. This type of bet is concerned only about the ultimate winner of the match.
Let’s say your analysis has revealed an edge for one competitor over another that you’d like to bet on, simply hop on your preferred betting platform and look for the “moneyline odds”, which are generally presented either in decimal form (1.91) or in American-style odds (-110), with the former being more popular in Europe and the latter in North America. A negative number in American-style odds indicates the size of the bet required to win $100. For example, a -200 line would mean that for every $200 a bettor “lays” (bets), they’d make $100 in profits plus their initial bet amount. Conversely a positive number such as +200 refers to the amount of money won for every $100 wagered.
Tennis Spread Betting
Alternatively, bettors looking to reduce the amount risked on any given bet can utilize tennis spread betting, which is a bet dictating a specific number of games that the winner must win by to ‘cover’ the spread. So rather than, for example, needing to lay -300 odds on Serena Williams winning her opening round matchup, bettors can bet on Williams winning by more than 4 games, which would be denoted as Williams -4 -110. So rather than having to risk $300 to win $100 in the -300 ML bet, bettors can bet just $110 to win that same $100 via a spread bet. And as long as Serena wins by 5 or more games, that ticket is a winner. Should the game end by exactly 4 games, most books consider it a “push” and will refund the bet, however this is not necessarily true of all books so make sure to verify what the rules are in your selected platform.
So, is it better to bet the Moneyline or Spread in tennis betting? Although there is no right answer to this question, as mentioned above, the advantage of spread betting is that it reduces the investment required to get in on the action while minimizing the potential amount that can be lost on any given match. Additionally, spread betting allows bettors to back players they see as undervalued without requiring them to pull off a true upset. Perhaps your favorite young prospect can’t beat Djokovic outright, but if you believe they can keep the match close, perhaps backing them getting +6 points could be a bet with positive expectation.
Over/Under or Total Betting
The Over/Under (O/U) bet is a bet on the total number of games played in a match. So, for example, if the total is set at 24 games but you think the favorite can make quick work of their opponent, you could play the under and cash in if proven right. The majority of tennis totals range in price from -105 to -120, meaning you’d need to lay between $105 and $120 for every $100 you’d like to collect in winnings.
As the name indicates, live betting refers to placing bets while the match is already in progress. This can be advantageous to seasoned tennis fans who can analyze how each player is performing early in the match and use that knowledge to find favourable bets in-game. One example of a live betting strategy is waiting for a heavy favorite to fall behind early and grabbing their moneyline at a much lower price than was possible pre-match, with the expectation they’ll be able to overcome their early struggles and win the match.
In addition to single game bets, some sportsbooks will offer tennis “futures” bets, which are bets decided over a longer time-period, bets such as “will win the US open.” The fun thing about tennis futures bets (or any sport for that matter) is that the odds will often be much more enticing than single match odds, even for the favorites. So while Nadal might be a -300 favorite on his first round matchup, he might be +300 to win the entire tournament. If you believe strongly in a given player, this is one way to try and hit a bigger payday with lower risk than would be possible in a single match.
How to bet on tennis and win
Most importantly when attempting to win on tennis betting is to have a strong knowledge-base about the sport itself. Tennis fanatics who can quickly rattle off not just the top players that even casual fans might know but also the up and coming stars-in-the-making will likely be the ones who can spot and exploit pricing mismatches.
Beyond that, it’s important to constantly keep an eye on tennis betting odds and investigate potential reasons for any movements or fluctuations (often related to injuries or a shift in public opinion). Since tennis betting lines can be posted days, weeks, or even months ahead of an event (many books will post tennis lines for majors such as Wimbledon tennis odds, French Open tennis odds, and US Open tennis betting odds well ahead of the tournament beginning).
As a general rule, bettors should stay away from websites offering ‘can’t lose daily tennis picks for a low price’, as paying for tennis betting picks is a betting expense that is nearly impossible to overcome when factoring in win-rates. Meaning, that even the most successful sports bettors in the world only win about 55% of the time, so if you’re paying for someone to give you 53% winners, the “juice” or “vig” will slowly eat away at your bankroll, making profiting over the long-run impossible. Instead, the key is to review tennis lines for yourself, find a good portal that offers tennis betting online, and use your own analysis to spot potential mispricings. It may also be wise to choose just one type of bet – moneyline, spread, or total – and specialize in that bet type alone, at least at first until you’ve proven profitability to yourself.
It’s important also when making tennis bets to shop multiple sports-books in order to find the best tennis odds as not every book is created equal. One book may offer the best ATP odds, while another may specialize in offering the best live tennis odds or even table tennis odds. Additionally, each book will offer a different welcome bonus, something that new bettors with smaller bankrolls should take advantage of to give themselves a little more room for error as they begin developing their tennis betting strategy. In fact, many books will offer extremely generous bonuses, such as Americas Cardroom 100% Welcome Package.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when beginning to bet on Tennis for the first time, it’s critical to adhere to extremely conservative bankroll-management guidelines that protect your capital and substantially lower your risk-of-ruin (aka going bust). Although there are some exceptions to the rule, the majority of professional sports-bettors rarely, if ever, risk more than 3% of their betting bankroll on any given bet, with many averaging somewhere in the 1-2% per bet range. Of course, if you’re only working with a small bankroll and have the means to replenish it if it busts, you can be a little more aggressive; but the most important goal for new sports-bettors is actually not about making money, but rather about surviving long enough to see their edge realized over a significant sample-size. Too many recreational bettors come in looking to hit a big score or a massive parlay payday and unsurprisingly are out of the game entirely in the matter of a few short weeks, so rather than focusing on a betting-fuelled early-retirement plan, it may be wiser to look at sports-betting as a fun activity with potential for long-term upside once a good system has been put in place.
And of course, what would be the point of any of it if you’re not having fun? So make sure to only risk an amount that allows you to shrug off your losses with as little amount of “pain” as possible and live to fight another day. If you do that while continuously working hard to refine your strategy, perhaps you can eventually be one of the 10-15% of sports-bettors who can brag about long-term profitability. And if not, at least you’ll have had a blast doing it!
eSports Betting For Beginners: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What do odds of +500 mean?
If you need tennis odds explained, you’ll be pleased to know they aren’t complicated. As outlined above, positive-numbered odds such as +500 indicate the amount won on each $100 wagered, meaning that in this example, you’d be betting on an extreme underdog that would pay out 5-1 on every dollar risked.
What does +1.5 mean in tennis betting?
In tennis betting, +1.5 refers to a spread bet where the underdog is given a 1.5 set head-start, meaning that at the end of the match, 1.5 sets are added to their final score and if that is enough to give the player the win, the bet is a winner too. Conversely, if you’re betting on a player -1.5, you’d need them to win by at least 2 sets to be declared a winner.
How often do underdogs win in tennis?
Although no exact number exists, a study in 2018 of more than 23,000 Grand Slam matches saw an underdog ROI of -6.3%, making the favorites the preferred play in these instances.
How often do Favourites win in tennis?
Once again, although no exact number exists, the same study determined blindly betting on the favorite in Grand Slam matches offered a return of -1.6% (primarily thanks to the ‘juice’ charged by the sportsbooks). So while the favorites clearly have the advantage – at least in Grand Slams – bettors must pick their spots and use data to help them determine the best plays from among them if they hope to overcome the juice.
What does straight sets mean in tennis betting?
Straight sets refer to winning in consecutive sets without a loss in between. For example, winning 3 sets to none.
Can a tennis match end in a draw?
Although generally speaking tennis matches cannot end in draws, there are a couple situations – namely a player retiring and weather-related cancellations – that force matches to be cut short. In these instances, the results of bets placed will be determined by each individual sports-book’s specific policies, so it’s important to check the fine-print or email your book’s customer support ahead of placing a bet to verify how they intend to deal with such situations.
Is Tennis Betting Legal In The US?
Of the 51 states, 22 have already enacted legalized sports betting programs, 8 more are nearly there with legislation expected to pass as early as this year, 17 others have started the process, and only 3 – Utah, Idaho, and Wisconsin – either have no legislative action in motion or, in Utah’s case, are unlikely to do so anytime soon.