Match betting is the most straightforward way to place a bet on any sporting event. This is the type of wager most people think of when you say you’re going to place a bet on an upcoming match. The name comes from the fact that two teams or competitors are matched with you attempting to predict which will perform the best.  Below is a list of the best match betting sites:

Betting Site
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Match betting is traditionally associated with fixed odds betting, which is illegal in the United States outside of Nevada. However, fantasy sports betting serves as a useful (and legal) alternative. The mechanics are different but you can still pit your prediction skills against other people and win real money.

Fantasy sports contests have you draft a virtual team of players from around the league. You are given a budget and must spend your money wisely in order to draft the most effective team given the salary restraints.

Your team is then “matched” against the virtual teams drafted by other contestants. Points are awarded when the real world players accumulate statistics such as pass completions in the NFL, baskets made in the NBA, strikeouts earned in the MLB and so on. The person whose virtual team accumulate the most points wins the competition and earns a real money payout.

These are not match betting sites in their traditional sense, but they are legal and do pay when you win. The rest of this article will explain how standard match betting works, so read on if you’re curious to know more or plan to visit Las Vegas in the near future.

If you’re familiar with fixed odds betting, you should be right at home at any match betting site. Most match wagers revolve around sporting events that involve one team or one athlete versus another in a heads-up match. Thus, you’ll find match betting opportunities in all team sports such as football, cricket, rugby, basketball as well as in heads-up sports such as mixed martial arts, boxing, and tennis.

The best match betting sites also provide opportunities in tournament-style competitions such as golf. They do this by picking any two competitors and assigning odds to each. Your goal is to predict which of the two will perform the best, regardless of how the rest of the tournament plays out.

For example, let’s say we have the PGA Championship coming up and there are roughly 150 competitors. Your favourite bookmaker may take any two of those golfers and pair them up for the purpose of creating a match bet. You bet on which of those two golfers will finish the tournament with the lowest score. It does not matter how either player does in the overall tournament; it only matters which one ends with the lowest score between the two.

How I Rank the Best Match Betting Sites

There are three key factors I look at when ranking sites for match betting. First of all is the average number of markets offered each day. Variety is good because not only is it fun, but it also presents more opportunities for you to spot profitable lines. Major bookmakers have upwards of 10,000 match bets on offer every single day. The options are almost endless at sites as big as these.

Second is the competitiveness of the odds. I like to go comparison shopping across the major bookmakers before I place any bet to ensure I get either the biggest possible payout (when betting on the underdog) or am asked to risk the least (when betting on the favourite). The match betting sites that consistently offer the greatest value get the highest rankings here.

Third, I look at the overall reputation of each betting website. Trust plays a key role whenever we deal with real money over the internet, and there are too many things that can go wrong if a site doesn’t have a sterling reputation. This is why I only list online betting sites that are market leaders, licensed, and with a well-established history of trust.

How Match Betting Odds Work

Oddsmaker are responsible for creating the odds for each match bet, setting the odds according to how each side is expected to perform and the volume of wagers each side will generate. His objective is to set a line that makes both sides of the wager tempting to players and therefore generate a roughly equal amount of betting action on each side.

The ultimate goal here is to minimize risk. Ideally, an equal amount of action will come in on both sides, enabling bookmakers to use losing wagers to pay winners. This is a bit of a simplification, but that’s the basic idea and none of it really matters from a purely betting standpoint. The only thing you really need to know is what how the odds explain your risk and reward.

Most match betting sites use one of three odds formats to show you how much you need to risk and how much you stand to win. If you prefer one odds format over the others, you can easily click a button on the bookmaker’s website to change the displayed odds format.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are most commonly displayed to punters in the UK. Your risk and payout are displayed in the form of a fraction (hence the name). The number on the left indicates how much you stand to win in comparison to how much you are risking.


In a recent football match between West Ham and Chelsea, had the following odds:

  • West Ham: 5/1
  • Chelsea: 4/7
  • Draw: 3/1

The odds of 5/1 assigned to West Ham show that you stand to win 5 units for every 1 unit risked. In this case, a £100 bet on West Ham would return £500 in net profit. Your total payout would then be £600 (the £500 profit plus the return of your original stake). West Ham are the clear underdogs in this match so Betway is paying good money in order to make West Ham a more attractive bet.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are the clear favourites here with odds of 4/7. You stand to win 4 units for every 7 units risked. A £70 wager on Chelsea would therefore return £40 in profit. The odds are not as attractive because Chelsea is widely regarded as the most likely to win the match.

You also have the option to bet on the draw outcome in this match. By now, you should be able to figure what the 3/1 odds mean (hint: you’ll be paid £3 for every £1 risked if the match is tied at the end of regulation time).

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are popular around much of the world thanks to their ease of use. You can figure out your total return by simply multiplying your wager by the decimal. The resulting number includes both your net profit and the return of your original stake.


Let’s use the same matchup as above for this example so you can see how the different formats compare. That same match between West Ham and Chelsea at Betway looks like this in decimal format:

  • West Ham: 6.00
  • Chelsea: 1.57
  • Draw: 4.00

Let’s assume a €100 wager on each side. If you take West Ham, multiply €100 by 6.00 and the end result is €600. This is the total amount you will be returned if your bet is a winner. It includes both your net profit of €500 plus the return of your €100 stake.

If you want to take Chelsea, multiply your €100 by 1.57 and you end up with €157. Once again, this includes your profit (€57) and your original stake (€100). If you were to place this bet right now, your betting site would deduct €100 from your account. Then, you would watch the match and hope Chelsea win. If they do indeed win, your betting site would add €157 to your account at the conclusion of the match.

American Odds

American odds, also known as moneyline odds, are popular in the United States and parts of Canada. These odds also show how the relationship between risk and reward of any bet. Let us once again use the same example to show how these odds look in action.


  • West Ham: +500
  • Chelsea: -175
  • Draw: +300

Any time you see the plus (+) sign next to a team, you’re looking at the underdogs. Placing a bet at positive American odds indicates that you stand to win more than your original wager. In this case, +500 means you will win 5 units for every 1 unit risked. A bet of $100 at +500 will result in a net profit of $500. Note that this does not include the return of your original stake. If you were to place a winning $100 bet at +500, the total amount returned to your account would be $600.

The negative sign next to Chelsea shows that you’re looking at the favourite. Odds of -175 indicate that you will need to risk 1.75 units for every 1 unit of profit. So, a wager of $175 at -175 would result in a net profit of $100.

American odds are not as intuitive as the other two formats, but the easiest way to remember is that positive numbers show how much you stand to win for each unit of risk while negative numbers show how much you need to risk for each unit won. If you have any problems figuring out what the odds mean, you can always just select the bet on your bookmaker’s website and the betting slip on the right side of the screen will show exactly how much money you will be risking and how much will be returned if your bet wins.