[Guide] Betting on the underdog


Betting on home underdogs is essentially betting on the success of a home team whose odds suggest they are least likely to win a match. However, home underdog trends change season to season. A lot of bettors tend to place wagers on away favorites than underdogs playing at home. But, we tell you what; home teams win a lot – in all sports. Which means home underdogs win too, although in most cases they cover towards the end of the match. So, this is something you really need to think about before placing your wager.


Betting on the home underdog requires a lot of research on teams. You need to know things such as the strength of the team, statistics and current standings among others. Also, you need to identify other factors which may have an impact on the match, for instance just because a team is playing at home doesn’t mean they will always have a large fan-base or win all the time. For instance, a local team may compete with a well-known international team with a huge local fan base, which could have an impact on the performance of the international team. Remember, home teams don’t win or cover all the time. Always check rivalries before you can place your bet.

How to bet on the underdog: hedge with live betting

Underdog status tends to be accompanied by high odds, and the key to profiting from betting on an underdog lies in knowing how to take advantage of this. Antepost odds on entries in sports events are generally quite stable. However, the live betting markets offered by bookmakers are a different matter. This is because form and dominance tend to fluctuate during the course of sports events, and live betting markets are highly responsive to these fluctuations.

As a punter, you can take advantage of the volatility of odds in live betting markets to hedge the bets you place before an event gets underway. This involves betting on the underdog prior to an event and then backing the underdog’s opponent during the course of the event, in an attempt to guarantee a profit (or at least minimize risk by offsetting the loss you could sustain).

Example of underdog betting

An Australian Open tennis match between Marin Cilic and Rafael Nadal sees Cilic priced 4/1 ahead of the match, while Nadal is priced at 1/2. You believe that Cilic is capable of putting up a stern fight, and decide to implement the underdog betting strategy. You place a bet of £10 on Cilic in the match betting markets and wait for the match to begin.

Cilic begins the match strongly, beating Nadal in the second game of the first set. As a result, the odds on Nadal drift to 3/2. You quickly take advantage of these odds by placing a £10 back bet on Nadal. This means that

if Cilic continues to perform well and wins the match, you’ll generate an overall profit of £30 (£40 – £10)

if Nadal wins the match, you’ll generate a total profit of £5 (£15 – £10).

In other words, you’ve effectively guaranteed that you’ll make a profit.

Avoiding a loss

There’s obvious risk inherent in backing an underdog, and you need to take quick action to avoid losses if your underdog fails to rise to the occasion. The easiest way to avoid a loss is to back the favourite with the potential winnings on the underdog as soon as the odds are high enough to cover your initial stake.

Consider the example from above. If Cilic loses the first set, you’d attempt to take advantage of any drift in Nadal’s odds during the second set. Ideally you’d want to bet the possible return on a Cilic win on Nadal at this stage, to avoid an overall loss.

Early in the second set, a minor rally by Cilic sees Nadal’s odds reach 1/4. At this point, you wager the possible profits from a Cilic win ($40 in this case) on Nadal. If Nadal does win, this bet will generate a $10 profit – enough to cover the initial stake. If Cilic wins, the $40 profit will cover the stake you bet on Nadal.

Tips for backing an underdog

To use the underdog betting strategy successfully, you’ll need to bet on matches for which there are only two possible outcomes. For example, the strategy is suited to tennis, boxing and ODI and T20 cricket betting.

Also follow these guidelines:

Ensure that live betting is available.

Some bookmakers offer only very limited live betting coverage of sports events. Top UK bookmakers like Bet365 and William Hill offer comprehensive selections of live betting markets, but you’ll still need to check their live betting diaries before you place your first bet.

The more you know, the more effective your betting will be. Consider head-to-head statistics for the two opponents, as well as each contestant’s historical performance. Some contenders may have a history of causing upsets, while others have performance that’s more consistent. Although very long odds may be attractive, it’s important to remember that you need the underdog to at least be competitive at some stage of an event. Go for underdogs that will put up a good fight and research form information on your selections before you bet.

Prices in live betting markets can change dramatically from moment to moment. Decide beforehand what odds you want to secure on your second bet and place your bet immediately once these odds become available in a live betting market.


Sports betting is often just one big popularity contest. A named favourite, whether it’s in boxing, football or horse racing, will always get more publicity and hype than their competitor.

For this reason, it’s easy for bookmakers – and the betting public – to ignore the underdog. If a well respected pundit tells the public that a certain team or horse is going to win, and the public follow this advice – the odds will be quite short, even if their form is comparable to their competitor. Spotting when this happens can help you identify a good underdog bet.

This can be very prevalent in horse racing, especially when a horse hails from a powerful yard such as the all-conquering Willie Mullins stable. Another horse might have very good form to his/her name, but because that individual is trained by a “smaller” stable, the odds can be more generous.

Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’allen is an example of this – as despite winning nine of his ten races, he went off 16/1 when winning the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in 2019.

In hindsight he was a crazy price, especially when you consider Laurina, trained by the aforementioned Willie Mullins, was a 5/2 shot, despite this only being her 7th race in the UK or Ireland and her first time taking on male horses.

In this instance, taking on the more known trainer paid dividends. It pays to look a bit deeper sometimes, albeit it’s not recommended to take on Willie Mullins too often!


A successful football team, a seeded tennis player, a Formula 1 race driver on a winning streak: they will all often get over-confident, which makes the underdog perfectly placed to deliver an upset. In Football, the FA Cup is famous for this, because the games are (for the most part) one-off fixtures that will never be repeated.

A club from the lower divisions being drawn against Premier League opposition is never expected to win. Because of this, there is no pressure on the underdog, no expectation and therefore they have nothing to lose.

Bookmakers will always decide odds on stats, facts and form. Magic, chance, serendipity and, most importantly, the psychological arrogance of the favourite have nothing to do with deciding odds, but everything to do with a result.

In 2013, Manchester City were red hot odds-on favourites to win the FA Cup when they met with Wigan, a team who would be relegated that same season from the Premier League. The Latics pulled off the shock of shocks however, with a 1-0 victory, thanks to a stoppage-time strike from substitute Ben Watson who’d come on in the 81st minute.

The same can of course be said for Leicester City in the 2015/16 Premier League season when they shocked the world to take the league title. Odds of up to 5000/1 were offered on them to do the impossible, and their fearlessness lead to them holding on, as the favourites floundered up the run in.

At times, fortune definitely favours the brave!


Researching the psychological, as well as statistical parameters of a sporting event, will help identify a good underdog bet. Knowing the head-to-head history of two competitors can give you an edge in identifying a possible upset scenario.

For instance, in football betting, if Manchester City were travelling to Molineux to take on Wolves in the Premier League, the odds would naturally favour Man City.

However, Wolves in the 2018/19 season won two and drew three of their seven league matches against the top six sides in the league, including a draw against the aforementioned Man City in October. They would naturally be outsiders, but this hasn’t held them back psychologically at all, making them an underdog to take note of in these matches.


Longer losing runs

When you are backing at higher odds its possible you might encounter some long losing runs. As you will be betting on outcomes with lower probabilities it is not uncommon to lose 20 or 30 bets in row. The higher the odds ranges you are backing the more likely a long losing run could occur.

Just to highlight this. You can see from the above image that Pro Footy Tips lost 19 out of 20 selections. From January 24th to February the 14th 2017. But still has a really impressive return on investment and makes profit long term.

Bigger bankroll or lower staking

Because you are backing at higher odds where losing runs are more frequent. You will need to make sure your bankroll can sustain these periods. This means that you would either need to stake lower amounts or have a larger bankroll. Compared to a betting system where you would be backing favourites.

Use The Betting Exchanges

In most cases you will find the best price on underdogs is at the betting exchanges. If you want to make long term profits from betting you always want to make sure you get the best odds possible. When looking at underdogs you should always check the betting exchanges.


Most people are of the question whether betting on the underdog is such a good idea; betting on underdogs may seem a risky affair but is definitely a good betting strategy.

The comparison between betting on the big teams versus that of underdogs is that the payout for favorite teams is smaller as compared to that of favorite teams. Betting on underdogs has huge returns though less frequently.

The concept behind betting on underdogs derives its returns from business models whereby the higher the risk, the higher the returns.

Betting on underdogs can be riskier as compared to favorites but in case it wins, the returns are very impressive.

For instance, during the 2015/2016 EPL season, one fan bet only £100 with Betfair for Leicester to win at the start of the season and ended up scooping £200000 at the end when Leicester surprised many by winning the Premier League during the season.

Despite calls for the gambler to withdraw his bet and be given cash as the season drew to the end, the fan held on steadfast and eventually reaped big.


Just like any business venture, before betting on the underdog you need to do thorough research on both teams. The fact that you are putting your money at risk calls for you to have some prior idea of why you should place your bet on the underdog.

Betting on underdogs should be based on some facts. It is advisable to place your bets on the underdog when there seem to be some discrepancies between popular opinions against the actual reality of the underdog’s winning chance.

For instance, if team A, which is perceived to be the underdog has a 33% winning chance over the favorite and its payout is 3x, the initial chance, then that is a good chance for you to bet on team A.

It is also good to bet on the ‘home dogs’. Home dogs generally refer to those supposedly weak teams which have better home records. These types of teams always defy the odds to pull surprises when they are playing at their home turf.

To bet successfully on underdogs, avoid moving with the crowd. Just believe in yourself and put your bet independently despite most people doing the opposite. But remember to do so with some background facts and statistics.

Betting on underdogs is inherently risky but enticing. Apart from probably winning a bigger amount of money, there is the thrill of following a match whereby everybody expects your team to lose only for it to upset their favorite team.

Most people will go home dejected while you and your team will be the joyous winners. For example, in the 2018 Russia World Cup, most people didn’t expect Croatia to sail through to the final. It was fun watching the team dismantling favorite World Cup teams all the way through to the final. Most people had bet against it but things went the other way.

For those, who had bet on Croatia, they cashed in big plus the thrill of seeing it winning against World Cup household names.

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