How to place bets

betting basicsIf you've never placed a bet before the act of placing your first bet can seem a bit intimidating. However, the process is really simple once you have the basic tools and knowledge in place.

Before you place your bet

Before placing your bet you will need a few things:

  1. To place a bet you must be over the age of 18. Bookmakers are very strict about age limits and will verify your age during the account sign-up process.
  2. You will need to open a betting account. To begin with it is advisable to open an account at one of the established, trusted UK bookmakers like William Hill, Paddy Power or bet365.
  3. You will also need to have a non-cash payment method available if you are betting online, such as a credit card or PayPal account
  4. Some form of identity document will be required to verify your account.

Once you have the above you can go to a bookmaker website and sign up for an account. During this process you will be prompted to make a deposit into your account.

Ensure that you deposit enough money to be able to redeem the maximum value of the new customer free bet offer provided by the bookmaker in question. For example, if your bookie is offering a £20 free bet, deposit £20. 

Placing your first bet

Once your betting account is set up and funded, the next step is to find an event that you want to bet on.

Bookmakers organize their betting markets by sport. So if you want to bet on a football match or horse race, you can click on the relevant section of the bookmakers website.

If you choose football, for example, clicking on this link will open up a page with a list of high profile football fixtures, live fixtures and additional tournaments and football betting markets.

From here on in, the process is simple:

  • decide which event you want to bet on
  • once you've selected your event, choose which betting market you want to bet on - the betting market is the specific element of the game you want to put a wager on
  • consider keeping your choice of betting market simple for your first bet, for example match betting (backing either team or a draw) in football or backing the winner of race in a horse race
  • click on the odds for the outcome you want to back to add your selection to the betting slip (if not already visible this will automatically open on the top right of your screen)
  • you can then enter the stake (cash amount) you want to put on your bet on the betting slip
  • if you're happy with your choice, click the button on the bet slip to place the bet.

Since you are placing your first bet and will usually be attempting to qualify for a free bet offer, it is a good idea to read the free bet conditions and requirements before placing your bet. Many free bets will simply require you to bet the full amount of the free bet at odds over 1/2. Fulfilling the free bet requirements will make the free bet available the next time you want to place a bet

Once your first bet is placed you will need to wait for the result of your event to come in. Keep in mind that if you're placing a bet on the Premier League winner in August, you're in for a long wait. So focus on events that will be completed in the next week.

Understanding the betting slip

The options available on a betting slip can be a bit confusing and distracting if you have never placed a bet before.

Some important things to look out for:

  • the betting slip will offer you two ways to clear your selections if you make a mistake: you can typically remove individual selections by clicking the 'x' next to the selection name or choose to clear the entire bet slip
  • if you place a bet on a market where there is a finishing order (for example a golf tournament or horse race) you will be given the option to tick an e/w box on the betting slip and place an each-way bet
  • if you make more than one selection your betting slip will start listing multiple bet options, allowing you to combine a number of separate bets into a larger bet like an accumulator bet or combination bet 
  • selecting two or more horses from the same race may also give you the option to place forecast or tricast bets
  • once your bet is placed the bet slip will display the maximum possible payout for your bet/s.

If your bet slip doesn't clear automatically once you have placed it, it is a good idea to manually clear it once done. Otherwise you may accidentally re-place the same bets if you go in for another round of betting.

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Tracking your bets

To keep track of your bets, simply click the link to your account and then navigate to the History or Account Summary section. If an event you bet on hasn’t yet concluded, you’ll find your bet under the open bets section. If the event has concluded and you want to see how much your bet paid out, you can choose to view all bets. This will show you whether your bet won or lost, along with the relevant odds and, if the bet won, the amount paid out.

Important things to remember

Once a bet is placed, it can’t be reversed. No amount of pleading or complaining will cause the bookmaker to reverse the bet. This means it’s extremely important to check your betting slip before you place a bet. Ensure that you’ve made the correct selection and have bet the correct amount.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the different odds formats used in betting markets can be confusing. For example, it’s vital to understand the differences between fractional odds and decimal odds.

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Related Articles

  • Make sense of decimal odds and figure out how to convert them to fractional odds.
  • Fractional odds are the most popular in the UK. Learn how to interpret them.
  • A simple, clear guide to using online betting slips to place your sports bets.