Updated September 17, 2023
Reviewed By Mike Battaglino

An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Betting on Soccer

Soccer is widely considered the most popular sport in the world. According to estimates, soccer is played by over 240 million people worldwide and has a fan base of over 3.5 billion, which is almost half of the world’s population.

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In the United States, soccer has risen significantly in popularity. In 2022, the top league in the country, Major League Soccer, had record attendance, surpassing 10 million. Together with Mexico and Canada, the United States will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the most prestigious soccer tournament in the world and one of the most-viewed sports events.

The spike in soccer viewership has been accompanied by an increased interest in the gambling opportunities that come with it. And with soccer a global sport, the number of betting markets available can seem daunting.

Here we break it down for you and teach you the fundamentals of soccer betting so you can have fun and join the action by wagering on The Beautiful Game.

How to Bet on Soccer

Soccer Betting Lines

To fully understand soccer betting, you must be fully aware of how soccer rules work. There are some fundamental aspects in which soccer is different from the more popular sports in the United States.

One of those aspects is that, for regular-season soccer matches, it is possible to end in a draw. While MLB would go to extra innings, and the NBA and NFL would go to overtime, this doesn’t happen with soccer, unless the match concerns a playoff or knockout stage, in which case it would carry on to either extra time or a penalty shootout. This has an impact on how soccer betting lines are set up.

Related: How to Bet on NFL

Soccer Moneylines

There are two ways soccer moneylines are set up. But first, let’s review  what a moneyline is.

If you are not familiar with sports betting, a moneyline pick is a wager on a team to win outright. In the case of soccer, because there is also the possibility of a draw, the bettor can choose “Draw” as an outcome.

For example, you are planning to wager on FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, one of soccer’s most storied rivalries. There are two types of moneyline options available, 3-way and 2-way, as follows:

3-way Soccer Moneyline

The three-way moneyline permits a bet on the final outcome, with three options:

  1. FC Barcelona wins
  2. Draw
  3. Real Madrid wins

The odds could look like this:

  1. FC Barcelona +120
  2. Draw +235
  3. Real Madrid +190

Based on these odds, the bookmaker believes FC Barcelona is more likely to win. They also consider a draw as the least likely outcome, so it has the highest odds.

It is important to consider that for a 3-way moneyline, the chosen outcome needs to happen within regular time, which, for a soccer game, is 90 minutes plus any stoppage time the referee decides to add.

This is important, because in a different scenario, let’s assume that the same match, FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, is the UEFA Champions League final. This means, unlike the La Liga regular season, the match would need to end with one of the two teams winning the game, without a Draw result.

However, the 3-way moneyline is based only on what happens within the regular-time boundaries. So, if after 90 minutes plus stoppage time, the score is 2-2, then goes on to extra time, the bettors who wagered on Draw would be the winners, regardless of the final result.

2-way Soccer Moneyline

For those who do not like the idea of a draw, sportsbooks have created a two-way moneyline.

In a two-way moneyline, a draw would mean a “no bet.” If the match ends in a draw, the bet would be voided and the stake would be refunded.

Because the implied probability is different when a draw is not considered an outcome, the sportsbook adjusts the odds to reflect that.

Here is how the odds would look for the same match, under a “draw no bet” scenario:

  1. FC Barcelona -155
  2. Real Madrid +115

This moneyline only considers regular time (90 minutes plus stoppage time), so if the match happens in a knockout stage, and the winner is decided in extra time or a penalty shootout, the bet would be voided.

Soccer Double Chance Lines

When betting on soccer, a way to hedge your bet is to take advantage of Double Chance lines.

By choosing the Double Chance option, you are placing a wager on two of the three outcomes at the same time. This automatically improves the chance of your bet being a winner.

With a regular moneyline, you win if one of three outcomes is correct (33.3% probability). With Double Chance, if either one of the two outcomes you choose is successful (66.6% probability), you would win the bet.

This is how it works, in practice:

Bayern Munich is facing Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League.

The Double Chance soccer odds are:

  1. Bayern Munich and Draw -380
  2. Paris Saint-Germain and Draw -105
  3. Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain win -470

According to the odds, the sportsbook considers that the most likely outcome is that Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain will win. The second most favored outcome is that Bayern Munich will win or the match will end in a draw.

It is possible, however, you believe Paris Saint-Germain will win or tie the match, which is the least favored of the three outcomes.

If that is the case, you could choose the “Paris Saint-Germain and Draw” option and earn a decent return, as long as Bayern Munich does not win the match.

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Goal Lines / Spreads

Like football, basketball and other sports, soccer betting has the possibility of wagering on goal lines, also known as spreads.

In other sports, betting on the spread is one of the most popular options, by far. In soccer, what is meant by “goal line” or “goal spread” is a goal margin or handicap given to a team in order to make the odds more even.

The side would need to “cover” the goal line for the wager to be a winner. For example, if Manchester City is playing RB Leipzig, and is considered a strong favorite, there could be an option to bet on Manchester City with a -1.5 goal line. RB Leipzig would be given a +1.5 spread.

For a bet on Manchester City to be successful, it would need to win by at least two goals. If RB Leipzig wins, or loses by one goal, a bet on it would be a winner.

The goal line or soccer spread odds are adjusted to reflect the handicap given to one of the teams.

So, for this match, here is how the moneyline would look:

  1. Manchester City -265
  2. Draw +425
  3. RB Leipzig +600

With a goal line soccer spread, which eliminates the possibility of a draw, the odds would look like this:

  1. Manchester City -1.5, +100
  2. RB Leipzig +1.5, -145

RB Leipzig losing by one goal is now considered the favorite. So, if you believe Manchester City will win by at least two goals, you could bet on the -1.5 spread and earn a better return than you would if you just bet on the moneyline.

Over/Unders & Totals

Like other sports, the over/under and total bets offer a wager on the total number of goals that will be scored in a match.

The “over” is an exciting wager for soccer fans, because it means that instead of waiting until the end of the match to see if your bet was a winning one, the outcome can be decided long before the match ends, if the two teams combine to score more goals than the over/under line.

Also, more goals usually means a more exciting match, and this way, you can enjoy the game without worrying about who will win.

Of course, some teams are more renowned for their defense rather than their attack, so in those matches, you might want to consider betting on the “under”. The odds for each over/under line reflect the teams’ scoring capabilities.

Here’s an example:

Leicester City is playing Chelsea in the English Premier League. Because both teams play an offensive game, it is expected the match will have plenty of goal opportunities. Therefore, the odds are as follows:

  1. Over 2.5 goals -170
  2. Under 2.5 goals +130

This means the sportsbook considers it more likely that Leicester City and Chelsea will combine to score over 2.5 goals, which is why the odds for that option are lower.

However, we could have the option of using a 3.5 total instead. Those odds look like this:

  1. Over 3.5 goals +140
  2. Under 3.5 goals -185

This tells us the sportsbook believes the match most likely will have three goals. If you believe Leicester City and Chelsea will combine for over three goals, you can wager on over 3.5 goals and get a better return than if you wager on over 2.5 goals.

Soccer Futures

A future bet is a wager placed in anticipation of a result for a full season or other long-term outcome. This can be related to a team or a player.

For example: Which team will win the English Premier League? Which player will be the top goal-scorer in the English Premier League?

For the former, the odds could look like this:

Manchester City+100
Manchester United+4000

For the latter, the odds could look like this:

Player Odds
Erling Haaland-10000
Harry Kane+2500
Marcus Rashford+10000
Ivan Toney+10000

Looking at these odds, you can infer that the sportsbook considers these contests pretty much settled, with a heavy favorite and the other contenders priced as significant underdogs. With a future bet, soccer odds can change depending on weekly results.

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Soccer Props

A prop bet, also known as a proposition, is a pick that focuses on a specific outcome within a given match.

These could include the individual players who will score a goal, the number of corner kicks a team will take, or whether both teams score or not. More detailed props consider whether a player will receive a yellow card or a red card, the total number of cards that will be shown, or if a player will score a goal in a particular way (header, penalty kick, or other).

Prop bets are worthwhile if you have detailed knowledge of a specific team or player. For example, if you have analyzed Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance, and you have detected that most of the goals he scores are headers, you can bet “Yes” on a prop called “Cristiano Ronaldo to score a header”. If that does happen, the wager will be a winner.

Parlay Bets

A parlay is one single bet that groups two or more wagers, known as “legs”. In order for the parlay bet to be successful, all the picks selected (legs) must win. Losing one leg causes the entire bet to be lost. The benefit of the parlay is that if all the legs win, the payoff is higher than it would have been if the bets had been placed separately.

Related: What is Parlay Betting

It’s a Major League Soccer weekend, and we have three selections:

  1. Charlotte FC +120 vs. Atlanta United
  2. FC Dallas +185 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
  3. Draw +235 (DC United vs. Orlando City SC)

The combined parlay odds are an attractive +2000, but to win at those odds, the three predictions all need to be successful: Charlotte needs to beat Atlanta, Dallas needs to beat Vancouver, and DC and Orlando City need to draw. If any one of the three wagers fails, the entire parlay bet is lost.

Asian Handicaps

An Asian Handicap is an advanced soccer bet that includes fractional goal advantages.

This can, in principle, seem weird, because there is no such thing as a fractional goal, and an Asian Handicap bet could show spreads like +1.25 or +1.75.

What these fractional spreads mean is that the bet is split into two.

If you have wagered on Canada +1.25 against Croatia, half of your stake goes to Canada +1, while the other half goes to Canada +1.5, meaning:

  1. If Canada wins or draws, you win both bets. 
  2. If Canada loses by one goal, the +1 half of the bet is pushed (neither won nor lost), and the other half is won, with the +1.5 advantage. 
  3. If Canada loses by two goals, both bets would be lost. 

Exotics & Parlays Based on Spreads & Totals

There are several other soccer betting markets. These are often called exotic or derivative bets, and they can be played as single bets or combined as parlays.

To illustrate, a Liga MX match between Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM could offer the following:

  1. Cruz Azul to win Half-Time and Full-Time, +200 (both need to happen for the bet to be a winner).
  2. Juan Dinenno to be the first goal-scorer of the match, +550.
  3. The final score of the match to be 3-2, in favor of Pumas UNAM, +3600.

When it comes to soccer betting, the sky's the limit, and it is likely that sportsbooks will keep creating new markets to keep fans engaged and enhance their experience.

Soccer Rules For Bettors

It is important that a prospective soccer bettor becomes familiar with the rules of the sport to ensure they maximize their chances of a positive outcome.

Some of the rules to keep in mind are:

  1. A regular soccer game is 90 minutes long, plus the minutes the referee decides to add as stoppage time.
  2. A game can end in a draw after regular plus stoppage time.
  3. In knockout stages, a game that ends in a draw will go to extra time. If, after extra time, the game is still tied, there will be a penalty shootout.
  4. Most soccer moneyline bets only consider valid results that happen within regular time boundaries.

Where can I bet on soccer? 

Due to its increasing popularity, many sportsbooks in the United States include soccer as one of their primary sports, and within it offer many markets to prospective bettors. is partnered with some of these leading brands, including Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. To place a bet on soccer, follow their respective links and sign up!

How to read soccer odds

American Odds in Soccer

For new bettors, American odds can be hard to understand. Here are critical concepts you need to know to fully comprehend American odds:

  1. The base for American odds is $100.
  2. When a team is favored to win, or an outcome is favored to happen, American odds will have a negative number, for example, -120.
  3. In this case, -120 means you need to bet $120 to win $100. If you win the bet, you would get $220 in total ($100 in profit, plus the $120 you invested).
  4. When a team is an underdog, meaning not favored to win, or an outcome is considered unlikely to happen, American odds will have a positive number, for example, +120.
  5. American odds of +120 means that if you bet $100, you would make $120 in profit, and recover the $100 you invested.
  6. This doesn’t mean you always need to bet $100 or in multiples of $100. Instead, if you bet different amounts, the same proportion of return would apply. For example, if you bet $50 with +120 odds, you would make $60 in profit, and recover your $50 if your wager is successful.

To simplify things further, there is another way of estimating your winnings with American odds.

Related: How to Understand Betting Odds

Let’s assume you are betting on a World Cup match that involves the United States facing Scotland.

The American odds on the moneyline are:

  1. United States -120
  2. Draw +310
  3. Scotland +190

Because the United States, as the favorite, has negative odds, here is how you could calculate your potential winnings:

Profit Formula for Negative American Odds = (100/Odds) * Wager

It is important to leave the minus/negative sign aside for the odds, so it looks this way:

Profit for a $50 bet on the United States = (100/120) * 50 = $41.66

You would get a $41.66 profit betting $50 on the United States, as well as recovering the $50 you wagered, for a total payout of $91.66.

But what if you wanted to bet on Scotland instead?

Because the odds for Scotland, as the underdog, are plus/positive, the formula used to calculate the potential winnings is different.

Profit Formula for Positive American Odds = (Odds/100) * Wager

In this case, the odds for Scotland are +190, therefore:

Profit for a $50 bet on Scotland = (190/100) * 50 = $95

You would get a $90 profit betting $50 on Scotland, as well as recovering the $50 you wagered, which would make your total payout $145.

Even if American odds are the predominant type of odds used in the United States, some sportsbooks might show their odds in decimal or fractional format. We cover those in this guide.

Successful Soccer Betting Strategies

Understand the rules

A common mistake bettors make is to wager on a sport they don’t fully understand. For you to maximize your probability of winning your soccer wagers, you need to know the rules of the sport, as well as the rules of each type of bet that is offered.

As mentioned before, an important thing to keep in mind is that most sportsbooks will only consider a soccer moneyline bet valid if it happens within regular time, which means 90 minutes plus stoppage time. However, other types of bets might consider extra time or a penalty shootout.

Before placing a bet, make sure you review the rules of the particular sportsbook you are using. Technicalities can vary from one sportsbook to another, and that is something you want to and need to know.

Dig deeper: What is each team playing for?

In soccer, every match is more than it seems. This is because, compared to other sports like baseball, football or basketball, where teams qualify for the playoffs based on their win-loss record, in soccer the format is different.

  1. For every match won, the winning team is awarded 3 points.
  2. When a match ends in a draw, each team is awarded 1 point.
  3. The losing team in a match gets 0 points.

Beyond this, if two teams tie in points, other factors are considered to determine the team that moves through, like goal difference (goals scored minus goals allowed), goals scored, and other statistics like yellow cards.

It is important to analyze how the teams are doing in the competition that you are planning to wager on, and how that fits in the bigger picture of their overall objectives.

Here’s an example: Paris Saint-Germain is comfortably leading Ligue 1, France’s top flight. Its next matchup is against Angers, which is bottom of the table. On paper, it looks like an easy matchup for PSG.

However, consider this. Paris Saint-Germain’s real objective – the reason behind the millions spent on players Mbappé, Messi and Neymar, among others – is to win the UEFA Champions League. After PSG visits Angers on Sunday, it will travel to England and play Manchester United on Wednesday.

Angers, on the other hand, desperately needs the points. Ligue 1 is the only competition in which it is still alive, and it has earned most of its points at home. Defeating the current leaders means it has a better chance of escaping relegation.

Because the match is not as important for Paris Saint-Germain, it will likely play with the bench, as Mbappé, Messi and company need to be ready for Manchester. For Angers, however, it is do-or-die, and it will use the best players available.

Does this affect the implied probability behind both teams? You would think so, and understanding all the external factors at play can be critical to success as a soccer bettor.

Tactics and strategy

Another important aspect is to understand the tactics and strategies that each team utilizes on the pitch.

For example, Italy is known for having an extremely solid defense. This means that most of its games have fewer goals than the average match. Therefore, the “Under” can be a good bet.

There are many other ways tactics can help you find value in betting opportunities. If Argentina is playing Poland, and the Polish manager has ordered his team to do a double defense on Messi, this has many implications. A potential one could be that yes, Messi is covered, but this opens up spaces for Di María, Fernández and other prolific Argentinian attackers. They take advantage of these opportunities, and Argentina ends up winning 3-0.

If you are able to foresee that, it could lead to a highly successful wager.

Compare specific team matchups

Similarly, certain teams tend to do well against specific rivals, and not so well against others.

Another example: The Netherlands has an impressive offense. It is dynamic, fast, and can outlast most opponents. However, most of its goals come from counterattack plays. This means its performance is best against opponents who attack often and like to hold possession of the ball.

For the next European Championships, this gives the Netherlands a favorable standing against England and Spain.

But what if the Netherlands faces Iceland, which is another counterpunching team. Plus, the last two times they played, Iceland defeated the Netherlands 1-0, because they didn’t give them any counterattack chances.

Studying the team vs. team matchups can help you see these trends and give you a critical advantage when it comes to value betting.

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To maximize your chances of winning, shop around at different sportsbooks for the best odds. This sometimes can make a considerable difference in the profits you take home if your soccer betting wagers are successful.

Soccer Betting in the United States

In the United States, is partnered with leading brands like Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. To place a bet on soccer, follow their respective links and sign up!

It is important to remember that due to the legal reforms in recent years, sports betting – which includes soccer betting – is fully legal and regulated in many states.

To find out if sports betting is legal in your state, consult this guide. We are constantly updating it as more states are introducing propositions to legalize sports betting.

What are the Best and Most Popular Soccer Events to Bet On? 

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer is the top-flight league in the United States and is formed of 29 teams. Of these, 26 teams have their home base in the United States, with three in Canada.

It took some time for MLS to gain traction, but its fan base has grown significantly, and over the years it has attracted many soccer stars, including Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Carlos Vela, Thierry Henry, Gareth Bale and David Beckham.

The season starts in late February or early March and each team plays 34 regular-season games. The MLS playoffs take place in October and November.

UEFA Champions League

At a club level, the UEFA Champions League is considered the highest-level tournament in the world.

The annual competition starts with a round-robin format, and the top teams advance to the knockout stage, progressing until the final round.

The UEFA Champions League is one of the most watched sporting events in the world and has been played, and won, by some of the most followed teams, including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, among others.

English Premier League

Over the past few years, the English Premier League has gained a considerable advantage over any other league due to its high-profile signings and spectacular playing style.

The league is formed by 20 teams – among them Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham – and is played in a 38-game round-robin schedule. All teams face each other twice, once at home and once away, giving the tournament abundant betting opportunities from August through May.

La Liga and Copa del Rey

Home to Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, two of the most successful teams in the history of soccer, Spain is a nation with a strong tradition.

Its main two tournaments are La Liga, which, similar to the English Premier League, is played in a 38-game round-robin format from August to June, and the Copa del Rey, which includes teams from tiers below La Liga (like La Liga 2, the second division) and is played in a knockout format from October to May.

Serie A

Like its English and Spanish counterparts, the Italian Serie A also is known as one of the top soccer league tournaments in the world.

With teams including Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and AC Milan, Serie A has forged the careers of players who have contributed to Italy’s four World Cup trophies, and has been home to several international soccer luminaries, including Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Kaká, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.

It is played from August to June.

Liga MX

Known for its strong rivalry with Major League Soccer, Liga MX is Mexico’s top-tier soccer league, and together with MLS is the best soccer competition in CONCACAF.

Some of its most popular teams are América, Cruz Azul and Chivas de Guadalajara, which often play MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Liga MX is played twice a year, first through a round-robin format, and then with the top teams advancing to a knockout stage until they reach the final game.

FIFA World Cup

When it comes to national teams, the FIFA World Cup is the landmark event to follow.

The World Cup is played every four years and brings together the world’s best national squads for a month-long tournament that has given us some of the best matches soccer has ever seen.

The next World Cup, in 2026, will be hosted by the United States, together with Mexico and Canada.

So, if you haven’t paid much attention to soccer so far, now is the time!

Soccer Betting FAQ

What is the best way to bet on soccer?

Though we cannot guarantee a positive result, there are many betting strategies we recommend to optimize your results when wagering on soccer. Check them out here.

How do you bet on soccer?

Before placing a bet, get to know the rules of soccer and each of the bet types available. You can do that here.

How does a soccer bet work?

To further understand all the different betting markets and opportunities for soccer, you can go to this section.

Where can you bet on soccer? is partnered with several legal and regulated sportsbooks in the United States that offer the best soccer odds. Check them out here.

What does “over 2.5 goals” mean?

It means the total number of goals scored in a match, between the two teams combined, will be over 2.5. To win the bet, the teams combined need to score at least three goals.

Further Reading:

Best Sports Betting Apps in Canada

Super Bowl Betting Guide

How to Bet on NFL

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