Beginners Guide to Football (Soccer) Betting

There are few sports in the world that have managed to seep into every pore of society, like soccer. But none of them has as widespread of an impact as it does. Every TV station shows it. The magic game is bigger than ever, and NostraBet believes that’s the best excuse to get into soccer betting.

Watching teams battle it out with impressive tactics is a one-of-a-kind feeling. Those last-minute goals, skill displays, and smart decisions stay with you for a lifetime. So, if you want to experience all that, possibly make some money in the process, you’ll love our guide.

Equipped with everything from rules to the best competitions and betting sites, you’ll get it all. The only thing you need to do is study these basics, watch a lot of game footage, and be smart when taking punts. It’s time for liftoff!

Page Navigation
Page NavigationTOP

Understanding the Rules

soccer pitch and ball

The best thing about soccer is that its rules are simple enough that you don’t really need an ideal environment to play it. Regardless of whether it’s the Premier League or your weekend league at the YMCA, things are the same. Just to make sure we get the correct info, we studied the official FIFA rulebook. Here’s the outline of the game. Learn ‘em, and you’ll understand all the soccer lines you see.

The Pillars of the Game

Two teams face off against each other in a game lasting a total of 90 minutes. It’s split into two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute break in between. This break is used for rest, tactical changes, and anything that can help the players perform better in the second half. When both teams have scored the same amount of goals (or a lack thereof), two 15-minute periods of added time are played. In case it’s a draw even after 120 mins, a penalty kick out ensues.

Each team consists of 11 players — 10 outfielders and 1 goalkeeper. They are also allowed to have 7 substitutes on the bench. Only 3 substitutions per squad are allowed (5 by the newest rules for many leagues). If they already made 3 and a player gets injured, they will be forced to play with 10 men.

Each soccer match is played on a grass pitch. This can be real grass, which requires to be cut and treated regularly, or artificial grass — a cheaper option. Take this into consideration when applying your strategies to place a soccer bet online. Also, injuries happen more frequently on artificial grass. It’s 100-130 yards long and 50-100 yards wide. The sidelines (length) and goal lines (width) are marked, along with a 6-yard box, an 18-yard box, and a centre circle with a spot in the middle. There’s an 8-foot tall and 8-yards broad goal in the middle of each goal line.

The only equipment you need is a round ball made out of leather and 58-61cm wide. Along with that, soccer players wear cleats, special shoes with spikes on the soles. It’s to allow for more effortless movement over the unstable grass surface, filled with soil.

3-4 referees make sure the game is going on smoothly. One is the main ref, and he runs wherever the action is. The other 2-3 are assistants behind the sidelines, running parallel to where the ball is. In the late 2010s, a thing called Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was introduced. It’s operated by another ref, who is in the video room. It allows the ref crew to replay a moment that they didn’t see clearly enough to make a proper decision. After VAR footage is watched, a ref’s decision is either confirmed or overturned.

What You Can and Cannot Do in a Soccer Game?

The objective is only to score more goals than the opponent. A goal is when a ball is placed beyond the goal line, between the goalposts and the crossbar. There’s also goal-line technology, which analyzes whether the ball has passed the line in certain situations.

If a team kicks the goal beyond the opponent’s goal line but not into a goal, the opposing team gets to put the ball into play from their box. If they are defending, and it’s their guy/gal that touched the ball before it went past their goal line (not into the goal), it’s a corner kick from the opponent.

The ball can’t be touched with any part of the arm. If this happens, it’s a kick for the other team, and the player gets a yellow card. If you’re not a goalie and touch a ball with your hand in the 16-yard box, most of the times, it’s a red.

Cards are also given out for unsportsmanlike conduct, either repeated or severe enough that a chance of possession and a foul are not sufficient punishment. A yellow is a warning, and two yellows result in a red card. Reds can also be given outright. In any case, this card is an automatic disqualification. The player leaves the pitch immediately and cannot be replaced. There’s usually a soccer bet that lets you wager money on who’ll get a card first. Those are called prop bets.

There’s one last rule, and it’s often difficult to understand for beginners. We’re talking, of course, about the offside rule. It means no player can have any part of his body nearer to the goal than the second-last defender (the last outfielder since the goalie is the last). The rule was added to the game to prevent players from camping in the other team’s box and having an unfair advantage. Offsides are only called when a ball is passed to a player.

Basic Football Terms

football stadium playing field

That wasn’t so hard, was it? When you’re picking which soccer moneyline bet is the right choice, knowing the rules can give you a full understanding of everything. Still, the sport is filled with unique slang terms that are used on every betting site. It’s easy to get lost, so we’ve done some research and isolated the most essential terms used in the game of football. Learn them if you want to become a pro punter.

  • Added time – One or two 15-minute periods that are played after 90 minutes, in case it’s a draw. League play allows for draws after 90 minutes, and no added time is played. It’s usually only reserved for knockout tournaments.
  • 12th man – A colloquial term for the fans in the home team’s stadium. Home support can mean a lot and can easily propel the underdog team to victory. Consider the quality of fans when placing a soccer moneyline bet.
  • Header – A goal that’s scored using the head.
  • Brace – When a player scores two goals in one match.
  • Hat trick – Three goals in a match by a single player. Since it takes excellent positioning, hat-tricks are usually only scored by forwards, and sometimes, defenders. A ‘perfect’ hat trick is when a footballer scores one goal each with his right leg, left leg, and head. It’s one of the rarest sights possible.
  • Tackle – A tackle is an effort by a defending player to strip the opponent of the ball by sliding his leg(s) to poke it out. A sliding tackle means a defender is accelerating, and he drops to the ground, sliding to gain momentum. Tackles that don’t target the ball are fouls and usually warrant a card.
  • Handball – Whenever the ball is touched by someone’s arm, either unintentionally or on purpose.
  • Promotion – Used in league play, it’s when a team places high enough in their league, and they get to advance to the next tier, directly or through some form of playoffs.
  • Relegation – The opposite of promotion. Teams that play badly throughout the season are in danger of dropping down a tier. Keep an eye out for relegation candidates when soccer spread betting. Bookies often underestimate the motivation of teams looking to stay up.
  • 3-way moneyline – It’s the most common market in soccer betting. You can bet on one team to win or a draw to occur. Depending on the strengths of each squad, there are different lines for each outcome.
  • Future – Any bet that relates to an event in the far future. For instance, if you’re betting on Manchester United to win the Champions League five years later, it’s a future because there’s no way to tell what’s going to happen. There aren’t any soccer betting tips for this market.

Where to Find Soccer Betting Websites?

Rating: 5.0/5
  • Trusted Online Betting Website
  • Licensed by the UKGC
  • Best Sports Betting Features
  • High Odds
New Customers only. Registration required. Bet £10* & Get £30* in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5* and £10* to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. +18 | Terms & Conditions time limits & exclusions apply. #Advertisement
Rating: 4.9/5
  • Trusted & Secure Online Betting Site
  • Competitive Sports Betting Odds and Markets
  • Great Range of Casino Games
  • Professional Customer Support
New customers only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Min Deposit: £10. Free Bet awarded: £10. 1 x £10 must be wagered at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card deposits only (exclusions apply). Free bet will expire 7 days after the 1st deposit. 18+. Bet The Responsible Way. Full Terms apply |
Rating: 4.6/5
  • Fantastic bonuses
  • Good sportsbook
  • Amazing casino games
  • Many payment methods
#ad • +18 Min deposit £10 • A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 • Min odds 1/2 (1.50) • Free Bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days • Free Bet stakes not included in returns • Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days and expires after 14 days • Bonus valid on selected Casino games only • Bonus wins capped at £500, excluding Jackpot wins • You must wager Bonus amount x40 – this requirement varies by game Full T&Cs apply | begamblingaware | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.2/5
  • An amazing sportsbook
  • Superb bonus offers
  • Cash-out feature available
  • Mobile apps
18+ | New Players only | Get up to £50 in FreeBets, an Odds Boost Token, 20 Free Spins and £10 Casino Bonus when you sign up to Sportingbet today. | T&C apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.6/5
  • Extensive sports library
  • High odds
  • Separate apps for sports, casino, and poker
  • Fully legal and licensed
18+ | New UK players only | Min deposit req. £10 | Certain deposit methods excluded | Pace 1 sport bet (3+ selections) } Excl Horse Racing | Min stake £10 | Max stake £20 | Min odds 2/1 (3.0) for each selection | Max FreeBet £20 for football only | FreeBet valid for 7 days | FreeBet stake not returned | T&Cs apply | |
Rating: 4.9/5
  • Trusted online betting site
  • Great range of Sports Betting markets
  • Top-class Customer service
  • Various Payment methods
New customers using Promo Code R30 only. Min £10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 3 x £10 free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment methods/player/country restrictions apply. 18+ T&C apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.3/5
  • Generous welcome pack + Free Spins
  • High-quality games by top suppliers
  • Regular Tournaments & Must-Drop Jackpots
Only available to new verified customers residing in the UK. Place a first ever sports bet (£10 min. stake; single bets only; min. odds 2/5). Get 2x£5 in free sports bets, £10 in bonus money at Casino and 20 free spins (£0.10 per spin) on eligible NetEnt Slots. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. | 18+ | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.4/5
  • Great Sports Betting Coverage
  • Secure Deposits and Withdrawals
  • Enhanced Player Security
  • Various Promotions
18+ | T&Cs apply. New reg only. Claim by placing a min deposit £10 via "My Offers" page within 30 days. 7 days to stake max £10 in-play, min odds 1/1. Max. extra winnings £100. Once claimed, 30-day expiry. Cashed out, System & EW bets do not qualify. Other Promotional Play Restrictions Apply. (Full T&Cs apply) | | LeoSafePlay
Rating: 4.4/5
  • Trusted & Licensed UK Brand
  • Great Customer Support
  • Competitive Odds
  • Various Sports Betting Features
18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 £5 max qualifying bets. 13 settled bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bets must be placed on sportsbook within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. 18+. T&Cs apply. | |
Rating: 4.6/5
  • Good looking website
  • An operator with a long history
  • Great selection of sports
  • Helpful customer support
18+ Eligible UK+IRE players. Paypal & some deposit & bet types excl. Min first £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x £5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned. No cashout, restrictions + T&Cs apply. | |
Rating: 4.7/5
  • Trusted Betting Site
  • Great Range of Daily Sports Betting Markets
  • Live Streaming & Other Features are Available
  • Mobile App for Android and iOS
18+. New customers only. Min Dep £10. Debit cards only. Opt in for bonus funds. Wagering, sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Sports bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Valid for 7 days. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. | 18+ | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.6/5
  • Huge amount of promotions
  • Live dealer and casino games
  • VIP program
  • Helpful customer support
New Players Only. Free bet is a one-time stake of €/$/£10, minimum odds of 1.5, stake is not returned. 10X wagering the winnings. Wagering occurs from real balance first. Wagering requirement is calculated on bonus bets only, wagering starts from real funds. Max conversion: €/$/£20. Valid for 7 Days from issue. Excluded Skrill deposits. 18+ T&C apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.6/5
  • Attractive Odds
  • Fun bets available
  • Cash-out feature
18+ | UK new customers only | KYC verified | Min £10 bet | Max £20 free bet (2 x £10) full amount awarded on losing first bet only | Min odds 7/10 (1.70) | Free bet stake not returned | Certain Markets/sports/payment methods restrictions apply | Cashed-out and Bet Builder bets are excluded from this offer | Qualifying bet must be made within 30 days | Free bet valid for 30 days | T&C's apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.7/5
  • Trusted & Licensed UK Brand
  • A wide array of promotions
  • Various Sports betting features
  • Various payment options
New UK 18+ only. Register with promo code WELCOME40, Bet £10+ on Sports in one transaction. Get £30 Free Bets & £10 free spins within 10hrs of bet settlement. Bonuses expire 7 days after issue. Min odds, eligibility & payment exclusions apply. Full T&Cs apply. | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.5/5
  • Good welcome offer
  • Active cash-out option
  • Plenty of sports
New bettors get 50% of deposit up to £50; Once per household; Min deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Wager 8 times deposit + bonus, max qualifying bet equal to initial bonus amount; valid for 60 days; Min odds of 4/5 on singles or 2/5 per acca leg; Some bet types excluded; See full terms; 18+ | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.6/5
  • UKGC Licensed Bookmaker
  • Wide Range of Sports Betting Options
  • Competitive Odds
  • Professional Support
18+ Opt in, bet £10 on football (odds 2.00+). No cash out. Get 6x£5 football free bets at specified odds for set markets, 7 days expiry. Valid from 12:00 UK Time on 25/08/2023. Card payments only. T&Cs apply | | | Please gamble responsibly
Rating: 4.5/5
  • Good payment methods
  • Allows easier access to mobile betting games without the need of a browser
New Customers Only, Sign up using Bonus Code: MB:20. Place your first bet, if it loses we will refund your first bet stake as a free bet, up to the value of £20. The first bet must be placed within 7 days of registration and at odds of 1.8 or more. 18+ T&C apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.4/5
  • Licensed bookie
  • A lot of betting features
  • Live betting
  • A ton of payment options
Rating: 4.4/5
  • Great range of sports betting options
  • Cash out is available
  • Wide array of casino games
New Customers Only. Max one £10 Free bet. Qualifying bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater. Paid as bonus token with min 4/5 odds req. Skrill, Neteller & PayPal not eligible. T&Cs Apply. 18+ | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.2/5
  • Cash out option is available
  • Modern and stylish approach
  • Huge selection of games from several providers
Bet £10 Get £10 Free Acca Bet | T&Cs apply. New players only. Qualifying bet(s) must have minimum odds of 4.0 and must be settled before triggering free bet. Free Bet must be used on an accumulator with 3 or more selections. 18+ | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.1/5
  • available cash-out option
  • offers live streaming function
  • has apps for iOS and Android
If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £35 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free Spins on Smoking Hot Fruit Stacks. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | | | Play Responsibly
Rating: 4.1/5
  • More than 20 sports available
  • Wide range of betting features
  • Boosted odds for singles and multi-bet
  • Virtual sports section
18+ T&C apply | Play Responsibly

Show More

If you want to play in comfort and with extra value, check out our list of the top-rated bookmakers for football betting. We’ve tested all the big names in the industry and followed their offers on dozens of leagues, tournaments and rated them in real-time. All of them are 100%, so your money is safe. Choose wisely and have fun!

How to Bet on Soccer? – Detailed Guide

Betting on the most popular sport in the world is easy as long as you know the steps. We have wagered on this sport countless times, so you can start doing it by completing the following:

  • Choose the best soccer betting website.
  • You’ll need to sign up, but don’t forget to check if Nostrabet has a promo code.
  • Learn more about the welcome promotion. Many people skip this step, but almost all sites have a welcome deal that people can use when they want to wager on soccer.
  • Make your way to the payment category and make a deposit.
  • Once done, go to the sportsbook and choose which football league you want to bet on.
  • After finding something you like, browse the matches and pick one of them. Remember that most bookies have multiple markets for this sport, so pick the most appropriate option.
  • Once the market is in the betslip, place your wager.

After your bet is live, the bookmaker will let you avail yourself of different features. Depending on the soccer event, you may be able to watch the match live, settle it earlier than usual, and more.

A Real Football Bet Placed by Us

Following our explanation, we’ve decided to show you everything in real time so you get an even better idea of the process. For the purpose of this article, we chose Betano and decided to wager on the Manchester City vs Manchester United match from the English Premier League.

This selection had more than 200 markets, but we decided to choose Both Team To Score, which had the following odds:

  • Yes – 1.70
  • No – 2.07

We have analyzed both teams’ previous results and the H2H stats and decided to bet $50 on “Yes”. To win our bet, we have to wait until both teams score a goal (it does not matter who wins). If that happens, we will get $50 x 1.70 = $85.

Which Are the Most Popular Tournaments?

football game players in a match

Even though you can find hundreds of thousands of soccer betting markets each day, not all of them are suitable. Some are low-level and often have a lack of coverage or good odds. That’s why the best way to learn the ropes is to bet on these tournaments. Everybody knows them, and there is an abundance of stats and other betting tools.

World Cup

Organized every four years, it’s the pinnacle of soccer glory. 32 teams play 3 matches each, in 8 groups of 4, with the top-2 in each group advancing to a knockout stage.


A European version of the WC, the Euros feature 24 national teams in a battle for the trophy.

Copa America

South America’s continental competition. Currently, it’s been held every 3 years, but this has changed multiple times in the past.

UEFA Champions League

Europe’s top club competition. The best teams from all the top European leagues qualify, directly or through a series of play-ins. Features groups and a subsequent knockout tournament.

UEFA Europa League

The second-tier European competition for clubs. Composed of teams who didn’t manage to qualify for the CL or have been relegated in the CL group stage.

Copa Libertadores

South America’s Champions League equivalent. It also features some North American clubs and is organized by CONMEBOL.

Premier League

Believed by many to be the best national league in the world. 20 teams compete every year, with the bottom three dropping down to the Championship.

La Liga

Spain’s top tier. Usually always contested by Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid. Some even think it’s better than the Premier League.


Germany’s finest, the Bundesliga, is a fan-oriented league, with even the worst team having tens of thousands of passionate Tifosi in the stands.

Serie A

The Italian league, rich in tips and exciting battles.

Ligue 1

Often underrated, the French top tier is becoming increasingly competitive.

Short History and Facts

There’s no direct ancestor of football. It’s similar to dozens of games in ancient societies all across the world. Old peoples in China, Canada, Greece, Korea, and many other regions have enjoyed sports similar to modern-day soccer. The game as we know it today comes from 1848’s Cambridge rules. Sheffield FC is the oldest team, having been founded by students in 1857. It still exists!

Nowadays, the interest of billions of people has turned soccer into a proper cash cow. And soccer betting is right at the centre of what’s going on. You can even bet on minute details due to this interest. That’s the beauty of this sport.

Final Thoughts

Soccer betting is one of the most accessible punting niches to get on. Resources are everywhere, and many of them are free. Combine your knowledge and research with NostraBet’s recommended bookmakers, and you’re in an ideal position to make a profit. Keep in mind that it’s still gambling. Respect your budget, and don’t chance losses. It’s a game. Have fun!

FAQ about Football betting

How to bet on soccer?

Find a league or competition that’s to your liking. Learn its history and follow the teams. Combine markets and devise a strategy. That’s about it.

Is soccer betting hard?

Not at all. The sport is simple, and you can bet just about anything.

What is a double chance when betting on soccer?

Unlike the 3 way moneyline bet, a double chance lets you pick 2 of the possible three outcomes (team 1 wins, team 2 wins, or draw).

What are prop bets in soccer betting?

A prop bet is any bet not relating to the result. It can be ‘whether Messi will score a goal’ or something completely random, like the colour of a player’s shoes, who’ll get the first card, etc.

Should I watch game highlights before betting on a team?

Ideally, you should watch the whole game. It lets you see both their strengths and weaknesses, not just the best moments.

Can I earn from soccer betting?

Why not? It’s never a guarantee, but you can minimize your risk and get some good returns.

Should I always bet in the form of parlays?

Not really. If there’s a good line on a single, you can focus on it entirely.

Leona Melvin
Leona MelvinLeona is part of the Content Writers team behind Nostrabet. With 6+ years of experience within the iGaming industry, she has an in-depth knowledge of casinos and games.