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Mar 16, 2017

Cards betting in soccer: Get an edge over the bookmaker

A guide on how to bet on cards in soccer

Learn to use past data to get an edge over the bookmaker

Cards betting in soccer: Get an edge over the bookmaker

There has recently been a shift in soccer betting away from previously popular markets like 1X2, Handicap and Totals. Betting on cards has emerged as a new focus for sharp bettors. Continue reading to learn about cards betting in soccer and what kind of data can inform your betting.

We’ve previously explained how being knowledgeable about a relatively unknown sport or finding a specialist market within more popular sports can benefit bettors - this can be anything from betting on bandy to becoming an expert in corners betting in soccer.

Successful bettors will often use information others don’t have to take advantage of discrepancies in the odds set by a bookmaker. Even if you don’t have access to such information, you can still find betting value - cards betting in soccer is just one of many different ways.

Why bet on cards in soccer

It’s naïve to think that any bookmaker doesn’t use data and expert knowledge to set their odds in sports betting. However, due to the popularity of the main betting markets (1X2, Handicap and Totals), a lot of resources and time will be spent on making these odds as sharp as possible.

Some possession-centric teams like Tottenham Hotspur have received an above average number of cards per game.

Bettors can take advantage of the lack of time spent forming the odds for cards betting in soccer and will find it easier to spot discrepancies. Additionally, an analytical approach is more reliable for betting on cards compared to the aforementioned markets due to the low scoring nature of the sport.

How to bet on cards in soccer

Different bookmakers offer different markets for betting on cards in soccer. Pinnacle offers Handicap and Total cards markets for the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A - all of these markets use a points system.

A booking (yellow card) is worth 1 point and a red card worth 2 - because two yellow cards result in a red, this is worth 3 points (one for the yellow and two for the resulting red if a second yellow is shown).

In Totals cards betting, a figure for the combined cards points is set by the bookmaker - the bettor can choose to bet on the actual figure being over or under the bookmaker’s figure.

Underdogs will most likely have to chase the ball and be forced into more tackles and fouls per game

If Tottenham Hotspur were playing Crystal Palace, the total might be 4.5. Two bookings for Tottenham (2 points) and three bookings for Crystal Palace (3 points) would mean an over bet on the Totals would win - anything less and the bet would be a loss.

Handicap cards betting in soccer is the same as any other Handicap market - the bookmaker will offer one side as a + and the other as a - to counter a perceived bias.

An example of a Handicap bet on cards in soccer might be Tottenham Hotspur -1 and Crystal Palace +1. This means Tottenham would have to accumulate 2 more cards points than Crystal Palace in order for a Handicap bet on them to win - if Palace accumulated the same or more cards points a bet on them would win (if Tottenham scored one more point than Palace the result would be a push).

Cards betting analysis

Using Premier League data from the 2013/14 season up until now, we can see that there are numerous factors to consider when betting on cards. Tackles per game (TPG), fouls per game (FPG) and the average number of cards per game (CPG) are some of the most useful stats.

The table below shows the average number of TPG, FPG and CPG for each team currently playing in the Premier League from 2013/14:

Average TPG, FPG and CPG for Premier League teams from 2013/14 to now

TeamsAverage TPGAverage FPGAverage CPG
Arsenal 18.8 9.6 1.5
Bouremouth 16.9 9.8 1.4
Burnley 15.9 10.9 1.8
Chelsea 19.3 10.6 1.8
Crystal Palace 19.7 12.5 1.8
Everton 18.9 10.1 1.6
Hull City 18.7 11.1 1.7
Leicester City 19.9 11.6 1.5
Liverpool 21.4 10.7 1.6
Manchester City 18.8 10.9 1.9
Manchester United 18.9 12.1 1.9
Middlesbrough 20.4 12.2 2.0
Southampton 20.2 11.7 1.6
Stoke City 17.6 11.8 1.9
Sunderland 18.3 11.3 2.0
Swansea City 17.2 10.6 1.5
Tottenham Hotspur 20.1 11.6 2.0
Watford 18.6 13.2 2.2
WBA 17.5 11.1 1.8
West Ham 16.9 10.8 1.8
Average 18.7 11.2 1.8

Somewhat surprisingly, possession-centric teams like Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United make an above average number of FPG and receive an above average number of CPG. Conversely, teams that tend to set up defensively like WBA and West Ham make fewer TPG, commit less FPG and receive less CPG.

Some teams in the Premier League will make their opposition commit more FPG and receive more CPG than others. The table below - using the same sample of data as above - is evidence of this:

Average OFPG and OCPG for Premier League teams from 2013/14 to now

TeamsAverage OFPGAvergae OCPG
Arsenal 11.3 2.0
Bouremouth 12.2 1.9
Burnley 11.1 1.8
Chelsea 12.5 2.4
Crystal Palace 11.6 1.7
Everton 11.8 1.7
Hull City 11.1 1.6
Leicester City 9.4 1.6
Liverpool 11.3 1.9
Manchester City 10.1 1.8
Manchester United 11.1 1.8
Middlesbrough 10.8 1.7
Southampton 10.7 1.4
Stoke City 11.4 1.7
Sunderland 11.5 1.7
Swansea City 11.8 1.9
Tottenham Hotspur 11.1 2.0
Watford 11.5 1.5
WBA 10.8 1.4
West Ham 11.6 1.7
Average 11.2 1.8

It is important to note that what these tables don’t show is when these fouls and cards are accumulated (e.g. if a team is an underdog, if they are the favourite, if they are losing or if they are winning). Underdogs will most likely have to chase the ball and be forced into more TPG and FPG, while the losing side will be forced to do the same the later it gets into a game.

While you may want to consider the impact new rules have on cards betting, the vast majority of cards are given for fouls - within 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 other bookable offences).

Betting on cards and the referee

Of course, it isn’t just the two sides playing in a match that impact what might happen in terms of cards betting in soccer. The referee is the one who makes the decisions and while all referees follow the same rules - some will give out more cards than others.

The table below shows the average number of CPG that active Premier League referees have shown from the 2013/14 season up until now:

Average referee CPG in the Premier League from 2013/14 to now

Referee2013/142014/152015/162016/17Average
Andre Marriner 3.8 4.4 3.7 3.8 3.9
Anthony Taylor 3.6 3.9 3.6 4.2 3.8
Craig Pawson 2.8 3.6 3.2 4.1 3.4
Graham Scott - - 4.3 3.2 3.8
Jonathan Moss 3.2 3.9 3.0 4.5 3.7
Kevin Friend 3.3 4.3 3.1 4.5 3.8
Lee Mason 3.0 3.0 2.6 3.7 3.1
Mark Clattenburg 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.5 3.5
Martin Atkinson 3.3 4.1 3.4 3.7 3.6
Michael Oliver 3.6 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.6
Mike Dean 3.8 4.4 3.5 4.3 4.3
Mike Jones 3.2 3.1 3.0 3.4 3.2
Neil Swarbrick 3.6 4.1 3.2 3.9 3.7
Paul Tierney - - 3.0 2.9 3.0
Robert Madley 3.4 2.55 2.9 4.1 3.2
Roger East 4.2 3.2 2.9 3.8 3.5
Stuart Attwell - - 3.3 3.2 3.3

Although there is still much to consider for cards betting in soccer - such as the propensity for more cards in local derbies - the data above will certainly give you an edge over other bettors and most importantly, the bookmaker.

Now that you know how to bet on cards in soccer and how to analyse data that will empower your betting, all that’s left to do is put that knowledge into practice.

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Benjamin studied English with Creative Writing (BA) before pursuing a career that combined his love of sport and fascination with betting. An avid fan of numerous sports, his writing now covers anything from in-depth major sporting event previews, to examining betting trends and techniques.

By Benjamin Cronin

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