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Fixed Odds Betting Markets

There are many types of fixed odds betting markets available and most are suited to the full range of sports that fixed odds betting attracts. The most popular and common market is match betting. In standard match bets between two teams or players, winning odds are available for both, and the wager will either win or lose depending on the outcome of the event. Match bets are most popular in football and, because a significant proportion of games end without any winner, the "draw" is offered as a betting option. This means that if the match is drawn, only "draw" bets will win, and bets on either team to win will not be due any return. Football fixed odds match betting is sometimes known as 1X2 betting. On fixed odd coupons, a "1" denotes the home team, with the away team represented by a "2" and the draw by an X.

Occasionally, bookmakers may reduce the 3 outcomes for a football match to 2, by what is known as "Double Chance" betting, where a single price is offered on a win or draw. If the backed team wins or draws, the bet wins; if the team loses, so does the bet. With double chance bets there is no possibility for the draw. The win/draw odds will always be shorter than for both the individual win and draw odds, because the chances of either outcome occurring are greater than for each one separately.

Head-to-head betting is similar to match betting, where one backs one team or player. Sometimes, however, and unlike in 1X2 match betting, if a match is tied, half the face value of the wager will be paid (or a third if there is a three-way tie), as according to dead heat rules in horse racing. Head-to-head betting is quite common in golf, where such markets are available over 18 holes (1 round) or 72 holes (all 4 rounds).

An increasingly popular fixed odds market is total points/goals betting, sometimes known as over/under. A commonly available over/under bet available in football is over/under 2.5 goals. By introducing a decimal, this removes the possibility of a draw, leaving only two possible outcomes. Some bookmakers like to introduce an extra outcome to the book. Other common forms of over/under markets include total points betting in American Football, rugby and Australian Rules Football, total games betting in tennis and total frames betting in snooker.

Correct score betting is popular only with football, where the total number of typical scores is limited. This type of market is not used for the majority of other sports, which have much higher points totals. The chances of correctly predicting the exact score in a cricket match are, of course, very slim. The odds are dependent on the actual match odds between the two teams. For example, Arsenal, if quoted at 4/9 to beat Newcastle at home, would be in the region of 6/1 to win the game 1-0. In contrast, Bolton, 7/2 to beat Manchester United at home, would be around 10/1 to win 1-0. Bolton are perceived as having a much smaller chance of winning than Arsenal, and therefore their odds to win 1-0, or indeed by any score, are greater. Very often, correct score books are offered together with the first goal scorer in a game. These bets are known as "Scorecast".

Some sports are played with two halves, most obviously football, but also rugby as well. Some bookmakers now offer books for the half-time result only, and more typically the "double result", that is, the result at both half-time and full-time. For football matches this means a total of 9 betting possibilities is commonly available. This is a popular alternative to simply backing an outright result, which may often be at unattractively short odds. Obviously the risk is greater since there are more possible outcomes (9 as compared to 3 with standard match betting), but consequently the odds are better. The highest odds are obviously available for the home team to be winning at half-time and the away team to win after 90 minutes. Typically, odds of 28/1 can be found for this unlikely double result, and can be even higher if the home team is a strong favourite.

In sporting contests with large fields or competitors, even the shorter-priced competitors may have quite high odds. In a typical golf tournament, particularly where there are no strong favourites, the shortest price might be as high as 10/1. To increase the chances of a punter winning something from this bet, it may be offered each way. Each way bets are actually two bets, one for the win and one for a high placing, and are settled as two bets. The place part is calculated at a fraction of the win odds. This fraction will vary by sport and event, and will always be displayed where each way betting is available. For most golf tournaments, the place part is usually settled at one quarter of the full win odds, for places 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th. By contrast, in a football tournament, where there are fewer participants, the each way part may be settled at half odds for 1st and 2nd place only. Consider a £10 each way bet on England to win the World Cup at 10/1. If England win, a £150 profit would be made; £100 for the win at 10/1 and £50 for finishing in the top 2 at 5/1. If England lost in the final, the profit would only be £40; £50 from the place part minus the £10 stake lost on the win.

For some sporting contests, there may be an overwhelming favourite, with virtually no possibility of losing. By introducing a points handicap, this increases the chances of being able to win the bet by backing either side. The idea, as with most handicaps, is to give both sides a reasonably even chance of winning by giving the underdog a start. The size of the hadicap is added to the final score for the purposes of settling the bet. Thus one can still win a bet even when the side backed loses, provided they lose by less than the size of the handicap. If the margin of victory is same as the quoted handicap, all bets on the selected team will lose. There is no possibility for a betting tie or stake refund in standard handicap betting. The magnitude of the handicap, negative for one side and positive for the other, need not necessarily be the same for both sides. Where it is the same, this is sometimes called a line bet, particularly in American sports.

For most fixed odds betting, there is no such thing as a betting tie, with the exception of dead heats in head-to-head betting. To some, this scenario may seem a little too risky. Bets either win or lose - there is no half-way house. Asian handicap betting introduces a number of other scenarios into the betting outcome, where stakes are either returned with no profit or the bet is settled as a split stakes bet, with half winning and half losing. At the same time, it eliminates the possibility of a draw in a football match.

Asian handicaps are, as the name suggests, a special type of handicap betting popular in the Far East and commonly used in football betting. In addition to typical +1, 0, and -1 handicaps seen in standard handicap football match betting, Asian handicap allows for a ¼ goal, ½ goal and a ¾ goal start. These are sometimes called ¼ ball, ½ ball and ¾ ball. On the face of it this may not seem to make a lot of sense, since any team that beats (or loses to) a ½ goal start will also beat (or lose to) a ¼ goal start. However, there is more to ¼ and ¾ ball betting than meets the eye.

As for standard handicap betting, the underdog will be awarded a head start of a handicap, and the favourite will concede a handicap of the same magnitude. For the purposes of bet settlement, the predetermined number of the handicap will be added to the real number of goals. Where no handicap is awarded (0:0 handicap), a drawn game will result in a tied bet and returned stakes. If either side win, bets backing that team will win, whilst bets backing the other will lose. Similar rules apply for 1 goal (0:1) and 2 goal (0:2) Asian handicaps. When ½ ball handicaps are applied, bets can only be won or lost - a tied bet is impossible. If the handicap is set at ¼ (or ¾, 1¼, 1¾ etc) of a goal, then any bets on the match will be settled as a split stakes bet, with half the stake going on the handicap ¼ of a goal less than the quote and half on the handicap a ¼ of a goal more. For example, with a ¼ ball handicap, half the stakes will be settled as though the handicap was 0, and half as though the handicap was ½. It follows, then, that if a team beats a ¼ ball handicap by ½ or more, the backer will win the whole bet; if they lose by ½ or more, the backer will lose the whole bet. It is only when the result falls within ¼ of the handicap that the result is different from a conventional handicap. When a team beats the handicap by a ¼, the backer receives half stakes on a win, and half returned. For example, if £10 were staked at odds of 1.95 for a ¼ ball advantage, a drawn game would return a profit of £4.75. This is known as a "win ½". If a team loses by a ¼, the backer has only half his stake returned. This is known as a "loss ½".

In an attempt to attract spread bettors into fixed odds gambling, some online bookmakers have started to offer specialised markets, particularly for football matches. Special bets include odds on the number of corners and bookings a televised match will have, odds for team performance, or the time of first and last goal scorer. These bets have their origins in the spread markets, and it is only through the availability of online gambling that fixed odds bookmakers have been able to break into this market.

The term "ante post" comes from the world of horse racing. Betting on the horse is usually of two kinds: "post," when wagering does not begin until the numbers of the runners are hoisted on the board; and "ante-post," when wagering opens weeks or months before the event. Ante post sports bets might include a bet on the next winner of the World Cup, the Premiership champions, the Ashes Series, World snooker champion and so on. Taking a price months in advance can pay dividends, if during the intervening period it becomes clear that the player or team one backed is increasingly favoured to win. The opposite of course is equally possible, and serious ante post bettors will usually have a deep understanding of their market to reduce the chances of the odds moving against them. The main downside to ante post betting is the return period of any potential win. Having to wait months or even years to collect on relatively fewer bets, at generally higher stakes or higher odds than for most match or handicap bets, can seem unappealing.