How To Bet On Tennis?
Tennis is one of the purest sports around, with no coaches or teammates on the court, just two players and a ball. If you’re a fan of the sport and are looking to get on the betting action, I’m here to help by breaking down the basics of tennis betting.
In this article:
- Basics of Tennis
- Rules of tennis betting
- Tennis betting tips
- Types of Tennis Betting
- How to read Tennis odds
What Is Tennis?
Tennis is a kind of racket sport. It can be played by two players against each other(singles match)or a pair of players against another pair of players(doubles match). The players should hit the ball, passing over the net onto their opponent’s court. The goal is to receive the ball from your opponent successfully but make it hard for them to do the same. In fact, you should win enough points to win a game, enough games to win a set, and enough sets to win a match.
Tennis is one of the sports that bettors love to wager on. The advancements in modern technology made this more convenient and ideal because plenty of online platforms has emerged allowing them to do so. When it comes to global betting popularity, no sport can touch soccer. But you will be surprised to know that tennis consistently ranks as one of the most bet-on games in the world.
The nature of tennis is a natural for gambling. With hundreds of players competing in large draws nearly every week for 11 months. Few sports can compete for the sheer volume of wagering options that tennis provides. If you are curious about tennis wagering, below is everything you need to know.
Now, before I proceed to tennis betting, it’s better to go over some basics about tennis itself:
Understanding Tennis Rules and Scoring
Before the match starts, either player or team will spin their racquet and the winner of the spin have to choose from one of the following options:
- To serve or receive.
- The side of the court.
- Or defer their choice to their opponent –but the opponent cannot defer back.
The winner of the toss chooses one of the options above, and the opponent has the remaining choice.
The Scoring System in Tennis
It has a different point system than most sports. Before we go into details of betting, you better go over the basics of tennis scoring:
- 0 points= Love
- 1 point = 15
- 2 points= 30
- 3 points= 40
- Tied score= All
- 40-40 = Deuce
- Server wins deuce point = Ad-In
- Receiver wins deuce point = Ad-Out
So, who is the winner in the game?
Well, to win the game, you must win at least four points. If you are up 40-30, 40-15, or 40-love, and win one more point, you win the game. If the score is tied in a game or set, the term “all” is used to announce the score. For example, if a player and their opponent have both won two points in the game, the score would be 30-all.
This is the tie score of 40-all in a game, at which a player needs two consecutive points to win the game. In other words, you and your opponent have won 4 points each and the score is 40-40. When scores reach deuce, one player or team need to win at least two points in a row to win the game. Ad-In is when the server wins the deuce point. But if they lose the deuce point, it is called Ad-Out. If the team with the advantage (Ad-In or Ad-Out) wins another point, they win the game. Or it goes back to deuce.
Tennis Sets Scoring
There are two main ways of scoring a set in tennis:
In an advantage set, you or a team need to win six games, by two, to win the set. In other words, there is no tiebreak game played at 6-6. The set continues until you/ a team wins by two games.
In this set, a player or team needs to win six games to win a set. If the score gets to 5-5 (5-all), one player must win the next two games to win the set. Meanwhile, If the score reaches 6-6 (6-all) in the set, a tiebreak game is played.
Now, how do you score a tiebreak set?
In a tiebreak game, the next person who was due to serve, will start the tiebreak game, and serve one point to the deuce side of the court. The following two points will be served by the opponent starting on the ad side. In the doubles match, the player on the opposing team due to serve will serve these points. Players or teams switch ends of the court every six points (e.g. when the score is 4-2). To score this tiebreak game, you use, “zero” “one”, “two”, “three”, etc. The first player or team to win seven points, by two, wins the tiebreak. This means the score can end up being very high (e.g. 15-13) or as low as 7-0 through 7-5. So, whoever wins the tiebreak game, wins the set by a score of 7-6.
Scoring a Tennis Match
“Best-of-three tiebreak sets” is the most common format used to play a tennis match. This means if you don’t win the first two sets, the third set will decide the match!
Grand Slam Matches
Beginning in 2019, each of the four Grand Slams presents different ways to win a final set:
Australian Open: Final set. First to 10 points, tiebreak at 6-6.
French Open: Final set. Advantage set, with no tiebreak.
Wimbledon: Final set. First to 7 points, tiebreak at 12-12.
US Open: Final set. First to 7 points, tiebreak at 6-6.
Now that we reviewed the basics of a tennis game, let’s start betting!
Rules of Tennis Betting
Tennis may not be considered a mainstream sport in the United States, but it is wildly popular among bettors around the world.
That’s because the tennis calendar is set up in a way that matches are being played almost every day. The ATP and WTA tours travel around the world. So the matches are played at all different times — including during the workday in the U.S.
Another great thing about betting on tennis is that the sport’s governing bodies have made a lot of data and metrics publicly available. Tennis is considered to be one of the more progressive sports in that regard.
Types of Wagering
The most common types of bets you can place on tennis are:
- Spread Betting(Handicap Betting): Set spread, Game Spread
- Over/Under on total games played (Totals)
- Props (Propositional bets)
- Exact Score Bets
- Live Betting
Let’s have a close look at each type along with its odds:
These types of bets are simple as you select a tournament winner before or during the event. So, if you like the king of clay Rafael Nadal to win the French open, you place a futures bet on him to win pre-tournament to win the title. In tennis, you can bet futures up until the quarterfinals. The odds for pre-tournament favorites are typically in the plus 100 to plus 700 range. In other words, at plus 100 you need to wager one hundred dollars to profit an additional hundred dollars on a successful bet. Whereas hitting your hundred dollar wager at plus seven hundred odds would net you seven hundred dollars in profits.
This is the most common way to bet on tennis. Here, all you have to do is pick a winner in any given match. For example, if Novak Djokovic is playing against Roger Federer and you like Novak to win and he does, then you win your bet. When looking at the money line odds, the favor will be indicated by a minus sign and the underdog is indicated by a plus sign. The underdog is always offering a bigger payout because in the eyes of the odds-maker the favorite has a higher probability of winning.
If Rafael Nadal is -120 on the Moneyline against Roger Federer. This means you have to pay $120 to win $100 on a Nadal victory. On the other hand, If the odds for Federer is +110 in the same match, you wager $100 and you win $110.
Remember, the smaller the number (including going further into negatives), the bigger the favorite. Conversely, the bigger the number (including going higher in positive numbers), the bigger the underdog that player is.
- Spread or Handicap Betting
Spread betting is the same as handicap betting. But the first one is an American term while the second one is mostly used in Europe. In tennis handicap betting, one player is given a distinct advantage, while the opponent player is given a disadvantage or a handicap to balance their chances to win in the betting process.
Also, in a tennis match, one player is the favorite to win on most occasions. Handicap betting focuses more on the performance of these two players and not the final result of the match.
Take an example of the match between Isner and Djokovic, most of the people will favor Djokovic, and rightly so!
Let’s assume a bookmaker offers a handicap of +3.5 games to John Isner. It means John Isner has a head start of 3.5 games. At the end of the best-of-three-set match, the result of the match is 6-7, 6-5, and 4-6 in favor of Novak Djokovic. This means he won 18 games against 16 pocketed by John Isner.
But when you count most games win after applying the +3.5 handicap on Isner, the result is in favor of Isner 16+3.5=19.5 as compared to Djokovic’s 18 games. Although in the real match Novak Djokovic wins, John Isner is the clear winner of your bet after applying the handicap.
Types of Handicap Betting
The two main types of handicap betting are Negative handicap and Positive handicap.
In a positive handicap, the weaker player is given the advantage of a few games or positive handicap e.g. +2.5, +3.5 games, and so on.
When the final result is out, this positive handicap is added to the weaker player’s final score, and the handicap score determines the result of the bet.
On the other, in a negative handicap, the stronger player gets a disadvantage in a few games, for example, -2.5. This negative handicap is subtracted from the stronger player’s total games win at the end of the match, and the result of deduction determines the result of the bet.
Now, let’s look at this example for set handicap betting.
Consider the Isner-Djokovic match again:
If you put your money on a Set Handicap at Isner +1.5, it means that if Isner wins one or two sets in the match, you win your bet. If Djokovic completes a straight-set victory, you lose your bet. But, an overwhelmingly one-sided match in favor of Djokovic, allows the bettors to have a shot at winning at better odds.
The set spread in tennis means you pick how many sets a player will win during a match. In a best-of-three -match, a set spread would be Djokovic minus one and a half against Federer at plus one and a half. If you think Djokovic will win in two straight sets, you take Djokovic minus one and a half. But if you think Federer will win at least one set, then you take him at plus one and a half.
In a best-of-five-match, a set spread could be Djokovic minus two and a half against Federer at plus two and a half. If you take Djokovic at minus two and a half, he must win three to nothing, for you to win your bet. A wager on Federer at plus two and a half would hip as long as he wins at least one set throughout the match.
Game Spread Bets
Another way to bet on tennis is to place a bet on the game. In other words, you choose how many games a player will win by. In fact, to cover the game spread, one player has to win by more than the margin while the other has to stay within it. Often, tennis matches will feature big odds. Because single-participant sports have less variance than team sports, so the spread is a way to level the playing field. If you feel the Moneyline just isn’t offering you the right value, the game spread is a good betting option.
For example, If Novak Djokovic is a -1,100 favorite over Denis Istomin in a 3-set match, the game spread may be around -4.5. That means Djokovic needs to win five more games than Istomin in the match (6-2, 6-3) to cover the spread.
In-Play Handicap Betting
It is interesting to note that some bookmakers also offer in-play tennis handicap betting. Another name of this betting is Current Set Handicap.
You can extend the games handicap in a match to a set. This means you can bet on the number of games won in the current set but with the application of a handicap. In the Djokovic-Isner example above, suppose the second set handicap is for Djokovic to win with a -2.5 handicap. It implies the punter wins the bet if the Serb win by three or more games.
Your Handicap Betting Questions Answered
- How successful are handicap tennis matches?
If you want to make your tennis handicap bettings profitable, you need to 1. watch a lot of live tennis, 2. accept bad beats which sometimes will come, 3. never use tennis rankings as the main argument to bet, and 4. you need to know the players, their favorite surface, habits, physical conditions (this is the most important part!).
- What does tennis set handicap 1.5 mean?
This means if you take a -1,5 handicap for player A, you win your bet if the final tennis match score is 2:0.
On the other hand, If you bet on player A set handicap +1.5, this means you will win your bet if player A wins one or two sets in the match. You lose your bet if player B has to complete a straight-set victory – 2:0.
Over/Under; Totals Betting
In tennis, betting on totals does not involve picking a winner. Instead, you are trying to predict the length of a match in terms of the number of games played. In other words, you see one number (an over/under), then you have to decide whether the combined number of games played will be over or under that number.
What does it mean when you see 21.5 in tennis? The given 21.5 amount is the over/under for the specific match. If you bet on the over 21.5 for this match, you think the number of games in this match will be 22 or over. on the other hand if you bet on the under 21.5, you think the number of games in this match will be under 21 or less.
For example, you might see a number like 22.5 for a three-set match. If Federer beats Raonic 7-6, 1-6, 6-2, then there were a total of 28 games played between the two. In that case, the match went over. If the match was 6-0, 6-2 for Federer, then a total of just 14 games were played, and the match would stay under.
Prop or Propositional Bets
Many sportsbooks offer props for tennis such as:
These are considered exotic bets and aren’t available at all sportsbooks. But they offer a fun sweat if you can find them. Typically you may see these bets offerings during gram slam events like Wimbledon or the Australian Open.
Prop bets are wagers you place on whether or not you think something is going to happen. Here are some examples of prop bets you might see in tennis:
- Head-to-head matchups on which player will last the longest in a tournament.
- Will there be a tie-break in the match? Yes or No?
- What round will player X be eliminated in?
- Total games played in a match.
As you can see, there are a lot of creative options here. You will sometimes see a few of these prop bets made available at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. But usually, that is only for the biggest of tournaments, and even then, the options are limited. The brick-and-mortar establishments don’t always have the resources and board space available to offer as many options as the online sportsbooks do.
How do these prop bets work? Simple!
Let’s say you want to bet on whether or not there will be a tiebreak in the match you are watching. If you think there will be, you bet “Yes.” If you don’t think there will be, you bet “No.” If you’re right, you are the winner! Remember, payout odds are adjusted based on the likelihood of the prop hitting. So take a minute to make sure the risk is worth the reward for your bet.
Exact score Bets
You are going to love these exact score bets if you are an absolute tennis wizard or just like to make some higher variance bets. These bets allow you to try and predict the exact score of each set or the exact number of sets won by each opponent. This is probably pretty challenging. This means that you should expect a pretty healthy payday if you nail one of these bets.
I looked at some upcoming tennis matches, and the absolute worst you could get paid for a correct pick was +450, with some exact predictions paying as well as +15000 in the same match. Here’s how it works. Let say Player A and Player B are playing, and you want to make an exact score bet on the first set. You think Player A is going to crush Player B and win 6-1. You place an exact score bet on this, and if you are correct, you win big. Remember, you have to be 100% correct in this bet. Also, you have to pick who the winner is as well. You can’t just pick 6-1 and then if either player wins 6-1, you win. You have to be precise and accurate.
The same goes for the exact set betting. However, it’s going to be a little easier for you to pick. You only have four options to choose from in a three-round match. Options are 2-0 and 2-1 for Player A and 2-0 or 2-1 for Player B.
One of the most popular live betting markets in the world is Tennis. Odds can change after every point. So, you have to be ready to pull the trigger before it’s too late. You can also bet who will win the next upcoming game. With all of the potential swings, it’s a great sport to trade — but only for the most experienced bettors. So, if you are a newcomer, I suggest studying the rules and practicing well before placing your bets.
Example: If Roger Federer is down 4-0 in the fifth set at Wimbledon, you can bet him +800 live. Then, if he comes back to even the match at four games apiece, you can then take his opponent at plus money, locking in a guaranteed profit.
Tennis Betting Tips
Here are some basic and advanced betting tips you better keep in mind:
- Keep an eye on the player’s current form. Sites like ESPN show you how a player has performed recently. If they are struggling, losing early in tournaments, and can’t get any momentum going, avoid the player.
- Keep an eye on the surface. Some players perform well on clay but struggle on grass and hard courts. But others might excel on all three. So, keep an eye out on what surface the current tournament is being played on and who are the specialists.
- Have a look at the matchup history. Certain players thrive against others regardless of the time or place, whereas other matchups are more equal. Before placing your bet, research the head-to-head history of the players.
- Remember, players will treat grand slams very differently than the smaller events. For example, Wimbledon is a big prize whereas an ATP 1000 Masters event is not as appealing. You have to take these differences into account when handicapping tennis matches.
- Bet sober and don’t go on tilt! Just like playing poker and other games, you need to be focused. So don’t let your emotions take over and never bet under influence.
- Manage your bankroll and don’t bet over what you can’t afford.
- Start slow and be patient. In general, betting is all about committing to a process and being methodical about it. Small bets but modest goals. Look to bet on smaller tournaments, lower-level events, or niche markets. These are all easier to attack and great places to build good habits while your bankroll is smaller.
- Just because there are tennis matches every day for 11 months of the year, doesn’t mean you need to bet on all of them or every day. Be reasonable!
- Never look at the rankings of a player. Never. Ever. Because It’s pointless. Even if the ranking system made any sense, it only tells you what happened a year or, at most, two years ago. Instead, focus on more recent performances and avoid looking at player rankings.
- Use statistics and trends to decide your bet. Statistics give you an objective overview of each player. Also, Recognizing trends early can help you identify value bets and beat the bookies. Here are some examples of notable stats you can use when betting on tennis.
Tennis Betting Strategies
Before I move on to the tennis betting strategies, I want to detail certain key factors that apply to most of the different approaches you might try.
If you want long-term success from betting on tennis, you need to consider these areas in almost every situation:
Bet on the Match Winner in Tennis
This simple market allows you to bet on the winner of each match. This is a straightforward betting market, but it doesn’t mean making money is easy.
Here are the best strategies you can use here:
Handicap Betting Strategy
A good strategy for set handicaps is to back major favorites. The odds for them to simply win are usually very low, but backing them with a set handicap is a viable alternative that gets you a higher price.
Game handicaps are usually much closer, with the probabilities of each outcome around the 50% mark for the main lines. Here are the two good systems to target these:
NOTE: You should understand certain key numbers when preparing for the game handicaps no matter what strategy you use. Most sets in men’s matches are decided by a single break, so the most common difference per set is 2 or 3 games, depending on who is serving. So, you should begin your calculations from here and factor in other possible breaks.
Live Tennis Betting Strategy
Many love live-betting on tennis and it’s another area that can bring you a lot of success. There are so many matches available, so many different markets, and constant swings. Hence, it is a good choice for making money if you have done your homework!
When you start betting on tennis live, quite likely you make a few mistakes and lose money. So, you need a strategy for live tennis betting! It’s hard to bring order to something so chaotic like in-play tennis wagers, but certain rules apply to most approaches, such as the following:
|Objective factors||Subjective factors|
|Pre-match stats||Eye test|
|Live stats||Body language|
Yes! You need to analyze all of the above and make sure to use them in your strategy. Some people get obsessed with one factor, like body language. Betting on players that are visibly upset may work well, but you should always explore other criteria, too.
Here is a list of tips to help you avoid mistakes and lose money:
- Pre-Game Preparation–You should always have a solid idea of what might happen once the match starts. Evaluate both sides and their chances to win and get prepared to recognize any potential patterns when you bet live.
- Physical Condition– Many surprising twists had happened in tennis because of small injuries, fatigue, or other physical problems. Make sure to closely monitor the players for signs that such an issue might be happening.
- Body Language– The mentality of each player is crucial in tennis. Body language can tell you a lot about the current state of mind of the athletes. Look for clues that might indicate when a player is losing their composure.
- Weather Changes– Many tennis tournaments are played outdoors. So, check the weather. If there is a risk of rain or strong wind, that can change the match dramatically.
- Hedge your bet! Let’s say the player you bet on is looking shaky and you want to get out. Here, you can bet on the opponent during the match. You’ll likely lose money in this case, but at least you can get some of your money back (rather than losing it all).
All right, now that you know how to place your bets in tennis. Let’s see where you can do that.
Best Tennis Betting Sites, November 2021
Tennis betting might be trickier than other sports. But once you understand the rules and don’t stop learning, you’ll see it is fun and profitable. So, keep learning and keep having fun in Tennis Betting!