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It might surprise you that tennis is second only to soccer as the most bet-on sport in the world. With billions of dollars bet every year, a competitive match with a live score feed should be available on any sportsbook anywhere.

However, betting on tennis can seem complicated. To help you place successful bets, we’ve prepared a breakdown of the three most common forms of tennis betting.

Tennis Futures Betting

Tennis futures betting is the simplest and easiest to understand. Before a big tournament, you’ll see an odds list that looks something like this from the 2018 French Open:

Player  Odds
Rafael Nadal -225
Novak Djokovic +800
Dominic Thiem +700
Juan Martin Del Potro +1800
Alexander Zverev +1600
Stan Wawrinka +2000
Nick Kyrgios +3300

(Rafael Nadal is very good on clay courts.)

Pick the player, and you get the odds payout if the player wins the tournament. These are American odds, meaning that, to get a $100 profit on Rafael Nadal, you have to risk $225. A $100 bet on Djokovic will pay out $800 in profit should he win. For more about how this odds system works, go to our guide to reading different odds systems.

There are many disadvantages for futures tennis betting. The field is large, the draw is unknown for a long period of time, and the favorites get ludicrously short odds (and then win anyway). It’s all somewhat frustrating, so for some bettors, the real value is betting on individual matches.

Individual Match Betting

Instead of betting on the result of a 64-player tournament, many tennis bettors prefer to place wagers on individual matches. Sportsbooks offer odds on dozens of matches every day, and you can bet on almost every level of professional tennis.

There are two ways to bet on the outcome of an individual bet: moneyline and against the spread.

Moneyline Tennis Betting

Moneyline betting is the same for any sport. To account for differences in skill and likelihood of victory, players are given different odds that should reflect that probability. Picking the underdog (rather than the favorite) offers the chance of a bigger payout. Your bet slip could look something like this:

Player  Odds
Antonio Favoriti -260
Ivo Underdogovich +210

Mr. Favoriti is considered to be the better player, so he has better-than-even odds to win this match. The odds here are listed in the American odds format, so to get a return of $100, you’ll have to bet $260 on Favoriti.

Spread Tennis Betting

Spread betting isn’t quite the same for tennis as it is for other sports. Since the vast majority of tennis matches are three-set affairs, the largest spread sportsbooks can offer is 1.5 sets. This essentially boils down to “Will the losing player win a set?”

Sportsbooks aren’t able to be as granular with tennis as they are with football or basketball betting. Instead, they do something similar to hockey puckline betting, where the spread has uneven odds to reflect a clear favorite and underdog.

The odds sheet might look something like this:

Player  Odds
Antonio Favoriti -1 1/2 (+120)
Ivo Underdogovich +1 1/2 (-155)

The favorite is certainly still the favorite, but winning in straight sets is tough (and maybe the underdog is known to be streaky). There are a handful of players – like Ernests Gulbis – who play at the very highest level but frequently experience strings of unforced errors and poor decision making. A player like that could be the favorite to beat a lesser opponent but an underdog against the spread.

For more strategies regarding how to bet on tennis like a sharp, check out the remainder of our how-to guide!