One of the most popular bets in football is to back the draw. After all, about a quarter of all matches finish in a draw.
Backing the Draw in Football
Most of the time when we are betting on football, we like to back one team or the other. We think one team has a better chance of winning due to form, their players, tactical advantages or for any number of other reasons.
Some of the time though, there is an appeal in backing the draw. It might be that you are anticipating a tight match, or the teams are particularly adept in getting draws or there is a scenario when the draw does both teams a favour.
In some leagues, nearly a third of games finish in a draw so there can be ample opportunities to find a winning angle.
Best Bookies for Backing the Draw
With pretty much all bookies these days offering competitive odds on the draw, you are spoiled for choice in terms of which one to go for.
Generally speaking, Betfair tend to offer the best value on the draw market overall.
The Draw Advantage
Even though the draw is one of the main betting options in a match in the win-draw-win match odds market, it is often overlooked by punters.
This may be because, as we mentioned earlier, most punters like to bet on a particular team to win. That gives them a chance to cheer on that team, where as it is a bit tricky to “cheer on” the draw and for neither team to win.
So if you look on Betfair at the amount of money matched in a market, the draw will have attracted a much smaller portion of money than the win bets.
Here is an example from the Serie A match between Verona and Sampdoria.
Whilst Sampdoria are priced at 2.18 and the draw is priced at 3.6, there is a much greater proportion of money placed on Sampdoria than the draw.
Looking at the volume of bets, over £114,00 has been matched on Sampdoria:
Where as on the draw, only £16,000 has been matched:
In theory the amounts matched should be about the same on all three, but this is very rarely the case.
What this means is that the bookies will often offer “draw inflation” – or in other words a slightly inflated price on the draw.
Draw Betting Strategy
If you are going to bet on the draw, in addition to using a tool like the Pre Match Trading scanner, you may want to study some stats.
Some teams – and even some leagues – are much more partial to achieving a high number of draws in a season than others. Using a website like soccerstats, you can some strong examples of this.
If we have a look at the Greek Super League for example, you will see the high proportion of matches finishing in a draw:
As you can see, 28% of matches in the Greek Super League finished in a draw over the season, which is a high proportion relative to other leagues around the world.
And there are some teams who have a high propensity for drawing matches. Here we have the Greek League table for the whole season:
As you can see, Xanthi drew an astonishing 15 of their 30 matches – in other words, half of their games! They would be have been a good team to back the draw in over the season.
Looking “Under the Radar”
Whilst these teams might be worth backing to draw on a regular basis, it could also be the case that they are rather “obvious” ones and the odds for the draw are likely to be low accordingly. In low-scoring leagues like Greece, the odds of the draw in general tend to be lower.
So in searching for value it may be better to look for the not so obvious picks that go under the radar so to speak.
Looking at the 2016/17 Premier League season, it may have surprised some to see that Manchester United in fact drew a large number of their games – more than any other team in the league in fact.
As you can see, they drew 15 games, which represented almost 40% of their matches.
That was nearly as many games as they won. And quite a high proportion were at home as well, where they drew 10 games but only won 8.
If you had watched Utd play during the season, you would not have been surprised that they drew so many games either. They were very reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to get their goals, with a lack of alternative goalscoring threat.
So they struggled to kill teams off in the way that they used to do with such regularity under Alex Ferguson and a lot of their games finished 1-1.
You could have got very decent odds on the draw though, particularly in their home games where they are typically strongly fancied by the bookies.
Often the draw would be priced between 4 and 6, representing great value for draw backers.
So this is an example of finding value draw bets that may not be the “obvious ones” but actually represent significant value.
Obviously it is important to recognise that such opportunities can change, with United buying players like Lukaku, they might not draw as many games going forward as they did in the 16-17 season.
Backing the Draw In-Running
Another approach to backing the draw is to wait until matches have gone in-running and to then see how they develop.
It might be that one side has gone 1-0 up but the other side is dominating the game and creating plenty of chances, looking like they will equalise.
In such circumstances, it can be advantageous to back the draw as the odds are likely to have drifted after the score went 1-0, unless the side that scored were large underdogs.
So the draw odds may be in the range of 4.0-4.5, offering significant value if the side that is losing is pressing forward and looking likely to score.
You can tools such as the In-Play Trading scanner to monitor dozens of matches and identify where such instances are occurring. It will alert you when one side is creating lots of pressure and getting close to breaking through.
Alternatively you can use sites like Bet 365 or Flashscores that have live stats you can use.
The great thing about this approach is that if there is a late equaliser, you will be sitting on a very handsome profit as the draw odds may have moved from around 4.0 to less than 2.0, meaning you can cash out for guaranteed profit.
Using Correct Scores as Insurance when Backing the Draw In-Running
If you are backing the draw in-running and want some “insurance” against things going against you, there is an option of using correct scores to assist you.
So for example if the score was 1-0 and you then back the draw, you could back 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 to cover the option that there are no more goals and that the team leading scores the next goal.
That way you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket and it gives you some options if things do not go as expected.
Obviously the other side of the coin is that you won’t win as much if it does finish in a draw.
Backing the draw is one of the main ways of betting in football and there are potentially ways to profit from it if you equip yourself with the right stats and preparation.
Studying the way teams play and those that a propensity to draw a lot of games is one way to approach the market.
Another strategy is to wait until the match goes in-running and then to see how things develop.
Either way, if you are going to back the draw then please gamble responsibly and only risk what you can afford to lose.