Betting on cards and corners can offer great value if you know which patterns to study beforehand. Here's our guide to getting the most out of the markets on Betfair...
There will always be those who will feel that betting on corners and cards is as random as betting on what colour energy drink the right-back will guzzle down when the physio comes on. But they're wrong. It's no different to betting on who will win a football match or how many goals there might be in it. Analysis of stats works in exactly the same way and knowing as much as possible about the teams and individual players helps as well.
If anything, you'll find greater value on these markets than the more mainstream ones. The less interest there is in a betting market, the less research odds-compilers put into pricing it up so you might find some excellent value prices on these if you know to research them yourself and what to look for.
Cards: Bookings odds, bookings match bet and team bookings
If you're interested in betting on cards, a good place to start might be the bookings odds market on the Exchange. It's a three-runner market divided into 25pts or under, 30-40 pts or 45pts and over. Each booking is worth 10 points and a red card is worth 25pts if it's a straight red, while two yellows followed by a red would be worth 35pts (10+10+25).
So do you think the match will be low on cards with 25 pts, have 30-40 pts in it or have a high card count with 45 points or more? Here's what you should consider.
Some teams play a more aggressive brand of football than others with tough tackles and a physical approach to the game. Other sides pick up lots of cards through persistent fouling or cynical tactical fouls. Other teams have players who lack discipline in other ways - protesting too much to the referee, for example, time-wasting or diving.
All are bookable offences so don't just focus on those who commit bad fouls. Instead, look at the number of cards a team has accumulated. Better than just seeing how many bookings Team A has picked up on average over the past couple of seasons, study the average number of cards given to both teams in their games. Then do the same for Team B. That's what really matters for the sake of this market.
There are plenty of sites out there showing how many cards each referee has handed out over the past few seasons. Some refs are more lenient than others so make a note of whether the ref in question's card average is higher, lower than or equal to the average for the division.
Where would you expect more cards to be handed out? In Lithuania v England or in Brazil v Argentina? The answer is pretty obvious. Local derbies or grudge matches between international rivals tend to have more cards for obvious reasons. The expected number of cards as per the odds reflect that but, occasionally, you'll find some fixtures that have had an unusually high or low number of cards for no apparent reason over the years. So take advantage of a game that has historically had a high card count, where the odds-compilers haven't picked up on that.
The opposite can also be true, of course. With so much at stake and referees less forgiving today than in yesteryear, players don't want to be getting booked or sent off in big games so look out for 'grudge matches' where the card count has fallen considerably. For example, when you think of the Merseyside derby, you might expect a 'bloodbath' but the seven games between Liverpool and Everton between December 2016 and March 2019 didn't feature any sendings-off. Remarkably, the 0-0 in April 2018 didn't have any bookings at all. You would have secured excellent odds on a low card count ahead of that one.
Once you've crunched the numbers and considered all the factors you should have an idea of how many cards there might be in the game. Remember that if you feel there will be less than 45pts you don't have to back one of the other two outcomes, you can just lay the 45pts and over runner on the Exchange.
Over on the Sportsbook you can also find other card-related markets such as which of the two teams will have the most cards (or whether it's a tie) or exactly how many cards each of the two teams will get.
You can also bet on whether there will be a sending off in the match (either straight red or for two bookings) both on the Exchange or on the Sportsbook.
To be shown a card
Rather than predicting how many cards there will be in a match or shown to one of the teams, you can instead focus on one player. Work out how many cards a player averages per game (eg. 0.3 cards a game) and whether they have a history of getting booked against particular opposition. If you want to get really clever, consider which opponents they might be up against in terms of individual players. A slightly slow full-back against a pacy, tricky winger might be the archetypal 'walking booking' so bet accordingly.
If you like to use stats ahead of your betting, you might prefer to focus on the corners markets rather than the cards ones. After all, there's less of a 'human' factor to corners than bookings, where a referee's mood on the day or that of a particular player can have a big impact. Corners are a lot more black-and-white and will therefore appeal to the number-crunchers among you.
The corners odds market on the Exchange works the same way as the bookings odds in that it's divided into three bands, in this case: nine or less corners, 10-12 or 13 or more.
Just about any football results site worth its salt will show how many corners there have been in a particular team's matches. For the purposes of this market, focus on the total number of corners there have been in their games over the past two seasons or so rather than just how many have been awarded to them. Ideally, you want to be looking at historical stats while they've been playing under their current manager. Just as an example, a side playing with out-and-out wingers under Manager X generally has more corners awarded to them than one that plays quite narrow under Manager Y.
Work out how many corners there are on average for each of the two teams' games and then come up with a number across the two. If you want to take it a step further, also consider what ground the match is being played at as different stadiums have slightly different dimensions, which could affect the corner count.
If you'd rather just make it a two-runner market, you should go to Sportsbook where they'll have options such as over/under 9.5 corners and over/under 10.5 or 11.5. It's generally a 50/50 shot on whether there will be more or less than 10.5 corners in a match, although of course if the game is between two teams whose matches tend to have a lot of corners, the 'money line' might be 11.5 or even as high as 12.5 corners.
Corners match bet/corner handicap
If you're a value-seeking punter then this market could be the one for you. Bookies don't tend to get much wrong but luckily for us, this is one of the markets where they can be a bit lazy.
They have a tendency to assume that the favourite to win the match should automatically also be the strong favourite to have the most corners. Think again. Manchester City may be deserved favourites to beat Everton and they may well win and have far more attacks and shots on target. But City's style of play is more about quick breaks and getting the ball wide before cutting inside. Everton, on the other hand, are often happy for their full-backs to get to the by-line and put in crosses that can lead to corners. So it's plausible Everton can lose the match but get more corners as considerable outsiders. Remember that this market also has the 'tie' as a runner.
If you don't fancy an outsider to defy the odds you might consider playing the corner handicap. In the Everton v Man City example, you'd probably be able to secure even money on Everton +3 corners; so as long as the Toffees won the corners battle, drew it or had one or two corners less, your bet would win. A 'tie' with Man City getting exactly three more than Everton is the third runner alongside Everton +3 and Man City -3.