Soccer betting has shifted away from 1X2, Handicap, and Totals. Serious bettors are now betting on cards. Continue reading to learn about soccer cards betting and betting data.
Being knowledgeable about a relatively unknown sport or finding a specialist market within more popular sports can benefit bettors. This can include knowing how to bet on golf or soccer corners.
Successful bettors use insider information to exploit bookmaker odds discrepancies. Cards betting in soccer is one way to find betting value even without such information.
Why play soccer cards?
A bookmaker uses data and expert knowledge to set sports betting odds. Due to the popularity of the main betting markets, resources and time will be spent on sharpening these odds.
Bettors can take advantage of the short time spent forming soccer card odds to spot discrepancies. Due to the low scoring nature of the sport, an analytical approach is more reliable for betting on cards.
Soccer card betting
Soccer card markets vary by bookmaker. Pinnacle offers Handicap and Total cards markets for the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A. Two yellow cards result in a red, which is worth three points (one for the yellow and two for the resulting red if a second yellow is shown).
In Totals cards betting, the bookmaker sets a figure for the combined card points, and the bettor can bet on it being over or under.
If City played Palace, the total might be 4.5. Two bookings for Man City and three for Crystal Palace would win an over bet on the Totals; anything less would lose.
The bookmaker will offer one side as a + and the other as a – to counter a perceived bias.
Manchester City -1 and Crystal Palace +1 is a soccer Handicap bet. This means Manchester City would need two more card points than Crystal Palace to win a Handicap bet – if Palace had the same or more, it would win (if Man City scored one more point than Palace, the result would be a push).
2013/14 card betting analysis
Using Premier League data from 2013/14, we can see that card betting is complicated. TPG, FPG, and CPG are useful statistics.
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United make above-average FPG and CPG in 2013/14. WBA and West Ham make fewer TPG, commit fewer FPG, and receive fewer CPG.
Some Premier League teams make opponents commit more FPG and receive more CPG.
Underdogs will have to chase the ball and will be forced into more TPG and FPG, while a losing side (whether they are the underdog or not) will do the same.
In the sample above, less than 1% of cards were shown for simulation, removing the jersey during a celebration, and entering the field of play without permission (a few examples of less well-known bookable offences).
Card and referee betting
Not just the two teams in a match affect soccer card betting. All referees follow the same rules, but some give out more cards than others.
2021/22 soccer card betting
Using widely available data from 2016/17 to 2020/21, it’s possible to take into account the bookings records of the two teams involved, how their tactics can affect the likelihood of bookings, whether the match referee issues many cards (yellow and/or red), and if the VAR official is likely to play a role.
As the average Premier League match has 3.45 bookings, bookmakers set the total market line at 3.5. 58% of Premier League matches had two, three, or four yellow cards over the past five seasons.
The Handicap market works for cards as it does for anything else, with one side given an advantage (often +0.5) to account for the other team receiving the most bookings.
If the home team is given a +0.5 handicap, the visitors must receive at least one more booking than their hosts to win.
Yellow and red cards are rare, so do your research before betting.
The data above will give you an edge over other bettors and the bookmaker when betting on cards in soccer, such as the tendency for more cards in local derbies.
Now that you know how to bet on soccer cards and analyze data, put your knowledge to use.
Premier League cards betting
Five of the 10 Premier League matches on February 19, 2022 had the Total Bookings line set at 3.5, four at 4, and one at 2.5. When setting the lines, the teams’ booking records were considered, but there was also a pattern.
Liverpool vs. Norwich had a Total Bookings line of 2.5, and the home team was the weekend’s favorite. As they were expected to win easily and the match wasn’t fiercely contested, few bookings were expected. Liverpool had to come from behind to win, but the league’s most card-heavy referee showed just one yellow card.
Four matches with a Total Bookings line of 4 had long-priced favorites. Closer games have more yellow cards.
Handicap Bookings line logic was similar. In eight of the 10 matches, the favorite was given a +0.5 handicap and the underdog a -0.5. In five of eight matches, the underdog received the most cards because they were expected to defend more.
The other two matches had no handicap, as the line was set at 0, and they had the narrowest Money Line gap between home and away prices. Tight games not only have more bookings, but it’s harder to predict which side will get the most.
In 1,900 Premier League matches from the 2016/17 season to the 2020/21 campaign, there were only 218 red cards, or just over one per match week.
In most cases, card bets depend solely on yellow cards.
Yellow cards favor away teams 52% to 48%.
There is no correlation between a team’s season points and the number of cards they or their opponents receive.
This market has no home-field advantage, other than slightly fewer cards. Where home teams score 55% of the goals and have the same number of corners, away teams receive 52% more yellow cards.
While the card totals for the five ever-present Premier League teams are roughly what you’d expect, there are exceptions:
Manchester City and Liverpool were the most dominant teams in that period, so you might expect them to have the biggest bookings for and against difference.
When betting on these markets, we must consider certain tactics.
When betting on cards, consider the teams’ fouls per card records.
Here are the fouls per card figures for the Premier League’s 12 ever-present teams from 2016/17 to 2020/21. Division average is 6.6 fouls per card.
Liverpool averaged more fouls per card than any other team because they press before tackling.
Liverpool will press opposition defenders to win the ball high up the pitch, but such fouls aren’t as harshly judged as a full-blooded tackle and are less likely to result in a booking.
Crystal Palace made the most defensive-third tackles in three of the last four seasons.
Crystal Palace is the opposite. In three of the last four seasons, they had the most defensive-third tackles among our 12 teams. Defending a goal with frequent tackles near the penalty box increases a team’s card count.
Other tactics are involved. Bournemouth, who finished 14th in the league, had the third-most yellow cards against them in the last five years.
Their nine counter-attack goals have only been topped four times in the last 12 seasons, and never by more than one. If a team is good at counter-attacking, the defending team may have to bring down a player to stop the break, which results in a yellow card.
Card and referee betting
For most soccer markets, your main concern is the two teams involved, but with cards, we must also factor in the referee’s impact.
Despite the game’s universal rules, subjective decisions mean different referees will apply them differently, leading to some officials showing more cards than others.
This table lists the 10 most-used Premier League referees over the last five seasons. They’re ranked by yellow cards per game.
Five referees are above the Premier League average and five are below it. There is also a clear trend in how many fouls they allow per yellow card they issue.
In the yellows per game column, the margins are small, but the difference between Mike Dean and the bottom trio is huge.
Modern VAR impact
Since the 2019/20 Premier League season began, VAR has had little impact on yellow card totals. The system is only for red card decisions, not bookings.
In September 2020, VAR resolved a case of mistaken identity when Stuart Attwell booked Tomas Soucek when the offender was Andriy Yarmolenko.
There have been many instances of a yellow card being upgraded to a red following a review though. At the time of writing, 40 decisions have been overturned; 34 players have received a red card, but only six have had it downgraded to a yellow.
Bettors can’t predict when this will happen. Paul Tierney has been involved in the most red card reviews, as on-field referee or VAR.
His total of seven is one more than Chris Kavanagh and Graham Scott, so if they are at the stadium or at Stockley Park (the VAR hub), a player may be sent off after a video review.
There are many factors to consider when betting on the cards markets, but they can be profitable with a little research. This article’s data can be helpful.
When using data to price bookings, bookmakers may not pay close attention to relevant factors. They’ll focus on heavily bet markets.
Bookings and corners are often the last markets available before kickoff, giving bettors a chance to use their knowledge.