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Tennis Betting Odds Explained

/ January 14, 2021
Tennis Betting Odds Explained

With the main tennis season taking up the bulk of the calendar year, tennis betting offers an amazingly large number of opportunities. However, you can't expect yourself to be able to bet skilfully and fruitfully if you still have lingering confusion over exactly understanding tennis betting. Here is an easy-to-follow, jargon-free, but also in-depth guide to those odds.

The main odds you need to think about are match winner odds, live in-play odds, set odds and handicap odds. We will explain each of these types of odds in turn and in this order, as the definitions will grow in complexity - making clear what kinds of people might want to bet on which odds.

Match Winner Odds

These odds are consistently popular with both first-time and experienced bettors, for one good reason above all: they are simple. There's no Rubik's Cube that you need to solve here – you bet on which player you think will win the match. That's it!

While, for match winner markets, the odds that many booking sites present can be influenced by a range of factors, generally the most powerful of those factors is player rankings. Thus, of a match's players, the one with the highest rank will likely be given the lowest odds.

In these markets, placing your bet on the widely-backed favourite might seem a safe move, but it won't necessarily bring you significant winnings if they indeed win. It can be worth occasionally betting on an underdog for the chance of greater winnings if that player does pull off an upset.

Other factors that bookmakers could consider include how individual players have been faring in recent matches, what injuries they have recently picked up, and how each participant in a two-player match has fared against the other in previous contests. The surface on which the participants are playing could also be taken into consideration - in fact, it's an often overlooked tennis betting strategy.

Live In-Play Odds

If the meagre returns on offer for a successful bet on the established favourite make you baulk, you could alternatively have a go at live in-play odds. As you have probably already been able to gather, these odds are not static as a match is ongoing, but instead updated during that time in reaction to events and circumstances that unfold on the court.

So, how can you effectively bet on such fluctuating odds in practice? Imagine following a match where the world's third-ranked player is competing against the ninth-ranked one in a Wimbledon semi-final. The higher-rated player might go into the match with better odds; however, those odds could lengthen if the player falls a set behind.

Once those odds have stacked against him or her, you could bet that they will actually turn things around and ultimately secure victory in the match. This is hardly uncommon in tennis grand slams - and if you placed your bet when the odds weren't so good, you would get a better payout than would have been the case if you had placed a bet when the victory was more clearly on the horizon.

Set Odds

Tennis betting gets a bit more advanced with set odds. With these, you are tasking yourself with predicting not just the winner, but also exactly how many sets each player will win. Naturally, due to the much bigger number of outcomes that you have to consider, successful bidding on these odds can require much more in-depth knowledge of the players and circumstances.

The flipside, however, is that the potential winnings are much greater, too. You could require a heavy slice of luck to land a victorious bet; after all, even players boasting excellent rankings and form still sometimes have off-days. On the subject of off-days, those have led to a peculiar discrepancy in how set odds are calculated...

You could commonly find that higher odds are available for narrow wins than for landslide triumphs. Initially, this might not make much sense. After all, if an underdog manages to get the better of a higher-ranked opponent, wouldn't the contest be pretty tight? Actually, this wouldn't necessarily be the case. Bookmakers often believe that, if a match's David beats its Goliath, this will more likely be due to the latter suffering a bad day than the former performing beyond expectations.

Handicap Odds

You might think that betting on a match where one player is much better-positioned to win than the other would make for a horrendously dull and predictable experience (or, you could check out this US Open preview). However, this doesn't strictly have to be the case if you bet on what are called handicap odds.

These work by placing a points handicap on the more favoured player, thus helping to even the odds and make successful betting trickier. That player will be assigned a minus figure, while the weaker competitor will get a plus figure. Come the match's end, the number will be added to the tally of games the player has won in total.

Learn about tennis betting odds before placing a bet

So even if player A clinches wins in 12 games and player B triumphs in just 7 games, you could still win the bet if it had been on the latter player and they had been given 5.5 points at the start. Those points, added to the 7 game points, would equal 12.5 - higher than how many games player A won.


As you spend more and more time betting on tennis matches, you could grow to master the different types of betting and so secure better financial prizes. However, do you want to further hone your skills beyond those that you can develop in rudimentary betting? Keep in mind that our article here still doesn't touch upon the full gamut of complexity that tennis betting can bring.



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