Online betting is not only a wonderful form of entertainment but also an excellent opportunity for in-the-know punters and complete novices alike to make huge profits from top sports like football, tennis and horse racing. Whether it’s a simple prediction such as the match result or correctly predicting the first scorer in a basketball game, the list of ways to win is seemingly endless. Not sure where to start? Our beginner’s guide will take you through everything you need to know before you start placing your wagers at a top online betting site.
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Beginner’s guide to online betting
Why bet online?
There’s nothing stopping you from heading out onto the high street and placing your bets with a land-based bookie, but the advantages of betting online simply can’t be ignored. There’s the obvious – being able to bet anytime, any place frees you from the confines of the local betting shop, thanks to mobile-friendly betting sites as well as native mobile betting apps. Plus, many of the best online betting sites allow you to bet in-play on a huge number of sports, while you watch the action unfold on high definition live streams. As if that wasn’t enough, the ability to cash-out online puts full control in the hands of the punter, allowing you to cut your losses early on or claim a win before things take a turn for the worst.
Find the best value
Sure, betting on sport is fun, but we’re all looking for a nice return when putting our hard-earned money on the line. It goes without saying – every bettor is after the best prices available. When comparing, you’ll probably find that most prices on major sports are quite similar, but there are a few features that set the contenders apart from the pretenders. Can you get a bonus on your accumulator? Are there any money back specials or price boosts on offer? There are usually great ways of measuring which betting site offers the best value for punters.
When comparing prices, the way they’re presented might make them tough to decipher for complete newcomers. Markets aren’t priced like items at a supermarket, but are instead assigned betting odds. Betting odds simply indicate the payout you’ll receive from the bookmakers if your bet is a winner. These odds are usually presented in one of three formats:
- Fractional – Here, your potential winnings are given as a fraction of your stake. For example, odds of 1/1 means that if you place a £5 wager, you’ll receive £5 in winnings and have your original stake returned for a total of £10.
- Decimal – This is simply the multiple of your stake that you’ll receive for a winning bet. So if you place a £10 wager on a market with decimal odds of 2.5, you can expect a £25 return.
- American – American odds are a completely different ball game. The bookies’ favourites come with a – or + symbol attached for favourites and underdogs, respectively. The higher the value, the larger the underdog. For instance, a -500 favourite has a better chance of winning than a -200 favourite, while a +100 underdog has a better chance of winning than a +600 underdog.
Online betting markets
The best online betting sites deliver a stellar choice of betting markets for punters. Betting markets are the outcomes available for betting on any given match. We aren’t just talking the number of different sports available to bet on, but also the choice of betting markets within each match, such as the match result, handicap and winning margin markets. While there’s often little to choose between the biggest brands when it comes to major sports like football, you’ll find a fair amount of variation in market coverage from bookie to bookie when looking to bet on more obscure sports and competitions.
You can be forgiven for thinking you’re limited to pre-match markets at the top online betting sites. Whilst this used to be the case, live betting is now one of the most important features to consider when choosing a top online betting site. Placing bets during a live game can present more favourable opportunities and odds for punters, depending on how a game is unfolding.
Compare welcome bonuses
If the prices and market depth on offer aren’t enough to filter the list down to just one, the welcome bonus offered to new customers is a great way to make your decision a little easier. Bookies offer a number of first bet bonuses to attract new punters, including free bets, first bet insurance and matched first deposits. Here, it’s not all about choosing the biggest bonus, but instead, choosing wisely to find a bonus that suits your betting style. Reading the terms and conditions for a specific new customer bonus offer and keeping an eye out for any wagering requirements is a great way of figuring out if a welcome bonus is really as enticing as advertised.
Ready to place your bets?
Now we’ve shown you the ropes, you’re sure to have a better idea of what to look out for before signing up at an online bookmaker. Check out our carefully curated list for the premier selection of the best betting sites available today. With plenty of sports for you to bet on, from American Football to UFC, we’ve got you covered. Once you’ve picked out one that ticks all your boxes, simply sign up, claim your exclusive welcome bonus and start betting online today!
Your Questions Answered
What should I be looking for when choosing a bookmaker?
There are a number of things to consider. Many people automatically think about free bets and bonuses – and with good reason. You’ll often find offers like ‘bet £5 get £10 free’, or deposit match bonuses such as ‘100% up to £50’. While they will usually have a number of terms and restrictions applied, they certainly boost the incentive for getting started with one bookie over another. You’ll also want to think about the range of markets, availability of live betting, bonus features like cashout or live streaming, and mobile friendliness – all of which are covered in our in-depth betting site reviews.
How do I deposit funds to my betting account?
It’s pretty simple, really. Once you’ve signed up to an account at your chosen bookmaker, head to the banking, payments or cashier section. Most punters will deposit with a debit card or bank transfer – which simply requires entering your details into a form. If you’d rather use an e-wallet like PayPal, it’s as simple as signing in and depositing your chosen amount.
What is an accumulator?
An accumulator is a fancy word for when you combine multiple bets together. For example, if you bet on Arsenal, West Ham and Leicester to win as part of an accumulator, the odds are multiplied together. This makes the potential payout much higher than if you bet on just a single game. Another way to think about it is this: the winnings from each part of the accumulator are automatically bet on the next match – and so on. The only downside is that, unless you have a very reliable crystal ball, the odds of you winning are pretty low! Still, accumulators remain a popular bet and many punters place a weekly accumulator in the hope of one day hitting the big time.
Should I cash out or not?
Ah yes, the eternal dilemma! A growing number of bookmakers offer a ‘cashout’ feature, which allows you to cash out early and take a reduced win in exchange for guaranteed profit. The alternative is to stay in the game and ride it out. If the result remains the same, you’ll win more. But if the outcome changes, you’ll be left wishing you cashed out when you had the chance. Whether you should do it or not? That mainly depends if you fancy holding on for the ride or the certainty of a guaranteed outcome. It’s like making a bet within a bet. The choice is yours!
Do all bookies have mobile apps?
Most of them do. Usually these specific mobile apps downloaded from an app store will be faster and more reliable than a regular mobile website. However, that’s not always the case – and some people prefer to play from their mobile web browser than taking up space on their phone with another app. You can browse our top mobile betting apps here.
How do I make sure I get the best odds?
Our reviews include spot checks of various odds on a range of popular markets. This gives us a fair idea of how good the odds are at various bookies, and you can find that in each review we provide. However, the smartest thing to do is to compare specific odds for the market you’re interested in, on the day you want to place the bet. This will help you know exactly which odds are available on the market, and where your potential returns are maximised.
What are enhanced offers?
These offers, also known as ‘price boosts’, are a way of attracting new customers by raising the odds on a specific market. For example, Man Utd might be events to beat Bournemouth at home, but an enhanced odds offer might boost that to 5/1. Please note there are usually limits and terms applied to these kinds of offers, so they aren’t usually as lucrative as they first seem!