It all started with soccer, football actually, but in American lingo “football” means something else, so I’ll stick with soccer. Soccer started in England. Two teams try and kick the round ball into the opponent’s goal. Rule No.1 is that you do not touch the ball with your hands. One day, at Rugby school, a boy named William Webb Ellis became bored with the game. Maybe it was the lack of goals. Whatever the reason, he decided to pick up the ball and run with it, and thus was born “Rugby Football.”
Rule No.1 of Rugby Football is you do not pass the ball forward. The introduction of the forward pass was what transformed Rugby Football into American Football. Along the line the ball also changed shape, so that in Rugby Football, as in American Football, the ball is guaranteed to bounce in an unpredictable fashion, usually in the direction you would rather it hadn’t.
But soccer, and soccer betting, is my subject. It’s a big business, popular with punters worldwide except in America. Its success rests on the fact that it is honest. The players are sufficiently well paid to make winning the best proposition, rather than conspiring to defraud us poor bookies.
Looking at UFA through American gambler’s eyes I would immediately perceive the paucity of goals. The whole purpose of the game is to score goals but, sadly, there aren’t many of them. Nearly 9% of games end up with no goals at all. The crowd will turn up and pay their cash to watch two teams try and score goals, but at the end of ninety minutes neither side has managed one. Despite this, soccer is a great game to watch and, if you are watching it, you should bet on it. The problem is what to recommend for the experienced American bettor.
You will have noticed that if the scores are level after ninety-minutes the game is a draw and the players and crowd go home. While this is not always true, most soccer betting is on the ninety-minutes play, even if the rules allow for extra time. This means that there are three possible outcomes to a soccer match. I’ve found that most American bettors prefer to find winners from only two possibilities. Americans also find it difficult to accept the roughly 11% “juice” that results from 3-way betting.
For Americans it just has to be the total goals. Here are the stats. In the English Premiership over the last five years, 8.79% of games finished goalless, 18.47% with just one goal, and 24.11% with two goals, making 51.37% under the usual 2.5 goal’s line. Last season the figures were 9.21%, 17.11%, and 26.58%, making 52.90% under. So you would expect the under to be favourite? Wrong! Usually there are more games where the favourite is over 2.5 goals than where the favourite is under. This is because English punters, being optimists, expect to see goals and bet accordingly.
So, here’s the deal. Wait for the next live TV game and have a good wager on the under 2.5 goals. There are two possible outcomes—you lose your wager but discover the truth that with every goal soccer is the most beautiful game in the World; or you watch a boring game for ninety interminable minutes, turn off the TV in relief, and then realize—hell, I just backed a winner!