How To Bet On Tennis – An Expert Guide to Tennis Betting
Learning how to bet on tennis is always popular, and for good reason. Because a tennis match involves just two players, and there is no possibility of a draw, there are just two possible outcomes: a win for Player 1 or Player 2.
This simplicity makes it much easier to pick a winner in a tennis match than in other sporting events that have a larger number of possible outcomes. Of course, there is more to tennis betting than picking winners, and there are ways to win that don’t even require you to predict which player will score the match point.
In this Expert Guide to Tennis Betting we will teach you how to bet on tennis and win. We will start by showing you the main types of bet that are most useful for tennis betting purposes and how you can approach them strategically to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Tennis betting moneylines allow you to bet on which of the two players will win any given tennis match. The amount of profit that you will make from a moneyline bet depends on two things. First, the amount of money you choose to stake. Second, how likely your chosen player is to win, according to the odds set by the sportsbook you are using.
The moneyline for the player who is viewed as having the best chance will be quoted as a negative (-) figure. The moneyline for the player who is viewed as the underdog will be quoted as a positive (+) figure.
When a tennis line is negative (-) you will need to bet the figure stated in order to win $100. If Player 1 is quoted at -120 you would need to bet $120 in order to get $220 back. That would give you a $100 profit.
When a tennis line is positive (+) you will need to bet $100 in order to win the figure stated. If Player 2 is quoted at +120 you would need to bet $100 in order to get $220 back. That would give you a profit of $120.
Where to Bet Online?
Wondering where to place your bets online? Our team at HowToBet.com has you covered. Check out our recommended US legal online sportsbooks in the list below:
Betting on Tennis Moneylines
You can bet on tennis moneylines just by choosing either player, putting your money down, and hoping for the best. However, a better approach is to do some homework and look at the past performance of the two players involved.
If Player 1 has reached the quarter-finals in each of his last three tournaments, whilst Player two has failed to progress beyond the second round in his last three tournaments, that past form would suggest that Player 1 is likely to have a greater chance of winning the upcoming match than Player 2.
KEY TIP: It is important to look at the past form of players before checking the moneylines. This is so that the predictions made by the sportsbook don’t skew your view.
By looking at the past form of players, you can make your betting decisions based on actual and proven performance. This is much better than simply assuming that the sportsbook has correctly predicted the winner. It's also better than assuming that the underdog is ‘due a win’ for some reason.
In all forms of sports betting, sound reasoning and logic will always give you the best chance of winning. Reliance on hunches and gut feelings can be costly.
A Note About Rake
When betting on the moneylines, you should understand that the sportsbook will take some kind of ‘rake’ from the market. This ensures that the sportsbook will always make a long-term profit no matter what happens in any given event. It is usually in the range of 5-10% of the book total. Because this rake element exists, the moneylines only broadly reflect how the sportsbook views the chances of each player.
Here's how to determine the more accurate ‘implied odds’ for any given player. First, grab a calculator. Now divide how much you are betting by what you will get back if the bet is successful. Then multiply by 100 to arrive at a percentage figure.
For example, if you are betting $120 on Player 1 in order to get back $220, you would calculate: $120 / $220 = 0.5454 x 100 = 54.54%.
Odds Calculation Example
The price being offered by the sportsbook, therefore, suggests that Player 1 has a 54.54% chance of winning.
KEY TIP: To give yourself the best chance of making long-term profits, only bet when your own assessment of a player’s chances is equal to or greater than the odds being offered by the sportsbook.
How to Bet on Tennis Spreads
Spread betting in tennis involves two things. The first is predicting how you think the game itself will unfold. This second is looking for opportunities to cash in on your views if the sportsbook has a different opinion. One of the most common tennis spreads offered is for the number of games that a player will win by.
Take a look at this example:
Tennis betting spreads explained
Here John Isner is quoted at -110 for -1.5. This means that the number of games won by him will be reduced by 1.5 before your bet is determined as a winner or a loser. He would therefore need to win by at least 2 games for your bet to win. If he only wins by 1 game or loses, your bet would lose.
At the same time, Kyrgios is quoted at -100 for +1.5. This means that the number of games won by him will be increased by 1.5 before your bet is settled. He can therefore afford to actually lose by 1 game and your bet would still win.
The spreads available in a match will fluctuate according to the action that has already taken place, if any. For example, in a five-set match, if Player 1 wins the first set by 6-2 and the second set by 6-1, the spread for the third set would be wider than if he had won both the first and second sets by 6-5.
Men's Tennis v Women's Tennis
The spreads offered in tennis vary significantly between the men’s game and the women’s game, and that is because men and women tend to play quite differently in a number of respects.
In the men's game, there tend to be many more aces scored - and typically fewer breaks taken - than is the case in the women’s game. This means that the spread is normally closer in men’s games as a matter of course. Having said that, it must also be understood that the spread is also dependent on the particular details of each individual match, including the abilities of the two players taking part and the type of surface they are playing on.
How to Bet on Tennis Total Games
Another popular tennis betting opportunity involves predicting the total number of games that will be played in a match.
Here the sportsbook makes its own prediction by quoting a number, and your task is to bet on the actual total being over or under the number stated by the sportsbook, according to your opinion.
For example, a sportsbook might quote 20.5 about a certain match. If you believe that there will be more games than that (21 or over) you would bet over. If you believe there will be fewer games than that (20 or fewer) you would bet under.
Total Games Tennis Betting Strategy
Once again, the form book is your best guide to betting in this market. Look at how the players have fared against each other, as always, but also at how they have fared against others in recent games.
If one of the two players is currently on fire and making light work of winning matches against all comers, whilst the other is going through a bad patch where he can’t score a point to save his life, you might logically expect there to be a lower number of games than if both players were evenly matched on recent form.
Live In-Play Tennis Betting
Every aspect of the modern game of professional tennis is closely monitored, not just by the umpire, but also by television cameras and computer systems such as Hawk-Eye, which can prove whether or not a ball was played in or out of the court.
This has made it possible for most sportsbooks to monitor any professional match and offer constantly updated odds as it unfolds, giving you the opportunity to bet in-play throughout.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to betting in-play is that the lines are only up for a short period before they are adjusted. Because lines are changing constantly, there is plenty of room for error or miscalculation, and the eagle-eyed bettor can try to take advantage of such occurrences as and when they arise.
How to Bet on Tennis In-Play
One popular strategy for in-play tennis betting is to watch out for changes or even for potential changes in the momentum of the game.
Think of the player who is dominating a match, but then winces in pain after hitting a particular shot.
You know from your research that the player has only just recovered from a shoulder injury, but the moneylines available at the sportsbook haven’t taken the wince of pain that you noticed into consideration.
You could therefore bet that the dominant player will probably have to ease back a little and take advantage of the line that expects him to continue powering through to victory.
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Watch Mental States
You should also pay attention to the mental state of players by studying their body language and facial expressions.
If you spot a player getting increasingly frustrated or annoyed, and you know that such emotions usually lead to him performing less well or making mistakes, you might well predict that his performance on the course will soon begin to suffer.
In that case, you might be able to take advantage of a sportsbook line that hasn’t factored in the unfolding frustration.
Of course, if you know that another player normally responds to frustration by suddenly raising his game and unleashing a slew of angry aces, you can bet according to that knowledge just as easily.
It takes time to get to know how different players will react to various emotional states and other events, but if you get into the habit of studying match logs and identifying those players that tend to have the most notable responses, you could soon find that knowledge quite helpful in your efforts to make money in-play.
Follow Form, Not Feelings
Winning isn’t always easy, let alone automatic, but when you take a strategic approach to tennis betting you will have a much better chance of succeeding than you would otherwise.
The best stand-alone piece of advice to make money from tennis betting is - as we have said several times already - to follow the form instead of your feelings. Rely on past performance, previous results, and the evidence of your eyes to guide your betting decisions, and avoiding betting based on feelings, hunches, or the lines themselves.
Big lines and small lines can often tempt inexperienced bettors into making bets that don't align with their views on the match. If you want to succeed, you need to be different.
Put your head down, do your research, and bet according to reason rather than emotion. Do that and you will watch your tennis betting performance improve as a natural result.
Tennis Betting FAQ
Where should I bet on tennis?
Whether you want to bet on tennis moneylines, spreads, or live in-play, there is no shortage of places to choose from.
Spend some time exploring the options and getting a feel for each sportsbook that looks appealing. Also be sure to shop around for the best tennis odds, especially for live in-play betting.
How much does the playing surface matter?
That depends on the tennis players concerned. Different players tend to favor different tennis court surfaces, and whilst there are some who play equally well on all types of surfaces, most have at least a slight preference for grass or clay, indoor or outdoor.
The best guide to player preferences is their past results. If a player has always fared well on clay and has always struggled on grass, he may not be the best bet for Wimbledon. Conversely, if another player has performed equally well on all surfaces, the surface on which his next match takes place probably shouldn’t be something to be too concerned about.
As well as past results, also pay attention to player interviews. If a player has a personal preference for a particular surface and he happens to be scheduled to play on it, you can probably expect him to relish the match.
Is betting on men's or women's tennis better?
Whilst there are some differences between men’s and women’s tennis matches in terms of duration (the number of sets) and style, the fundamentals of studying the form and making decisions based on logic and sound reasoning are exactly the same.
If you have a preference for one over the other then you can of course focus on that preference. Otherwise, keep track of your results and feel free to bet on both types if you are faring equally well with them.
How much should I bet on tennis?
As in other sports, you should only ever bet as much as you can afford to lose in a worst-case scenario.
Not every tennis game will result as the form or the odds suggest, and even very short-priced favorites can suffer a shock loss, so your betting should be suitably cautious.
Start small, and only increase your stakes as your ability to predict outcomes improves. Even then, you should only bet a percentage of your available bankroll – no more than 10% per game – so that a loss or two doesn’t completely wipe you out.