They say that the only currency that matters in football are goals, but for those who enjoy a flutter on the cards markets there’s no doubt which number is most important.
That would be the card points, or booking points market as it is sometimes known. Quite simply, this assigns a points value to each card, and the object for the punter is to determine whether or not the number of cards shown in a game – and thus the number of points – will be over or under the line given by the bookmaker.
Naturally, some matches lend themselves to being low key, tackle-less affairs, and that is reflected in the number of card points bestowed upon the players. Conversely, local derbies and those featuring hot-headed players are more likely to be tempestuous encounters, and as such more booking points are likely to be recorded.
Knowing the unique character of the players involved in a game will help you to decide whether to go over or under the given line, and the cards points market can be a profitable point of interest for those who can predict how feisty a match will be.
What are the Most Common Points Brackets?
While the points brackets can differ slightly from one bookmaker to the next, often the Over/Exactly/Under line will be set at 40/45 points.
Again, this will change based upon the nature of the two teams and the type of game they are involved in – dead rubbers would usually tend to accrue fewer points than competitive matches with lots on the line.
Let’s think about some of the combinations that would breach the 40-point line. You would need five bookings for the overs, four for the exact and three or fewer for the unders line, and when we add a red card into the mix the over 40 option looks to be a near certainty.
How Many Points are Awarded Per Card?
Of course, you’ll need to know how many points are awarded per card for totting up how many you think there will be in the 90 minutes.
Happily, the points totals are universal across the bookmakers, so whoever you bet with you’ll need to know:
- 10 points per yellow card
- 25 points per red card
With this information, you can begin to visualise how many points there might be per game, so what do the stats suggest is the smart play?
Average Premier League Card Points
It’s interesting to take a look at the average cards per game dished out, as that offers a guide as to the number of points we might expect to be accumulated.
Here’s the data for five completed seasons of the Premier League:
|Season||Avg. Yellows per Game||Avg. Reds per Game|
As you can see, if we round the decimals up or down as necessary the average number of card points per game would be 30 – three yellows and zero reds.
In that sense, we might expect the unders line to be the favourite with the bookmakers, but here’s how the odds looked for a Premier League game chosen at random, Chelsea vs Manchester United:
- Under 40 Points – 6/4
- Exactly 40 Points – 4/1
- Over 40 Points – Evens
As you can see, the bookmakers believe that this game will outdo the average number of card points given out in a Premier League match. Incidentally, Manchester United averaged 2.17 yellows per game heading into the contest and Chelsea just 1.08, so is the unders line the value play?
Highest Cards Points Matches
Of course, some games just descend into chaos – at that point, all bets on the ‘unders’ line are off.
On three occasions in Premier League matches, 12 yellow cards have been metered out – Chelsea vs Leeds (1998), Wolves vs Newcastle (2010) and Tottenham vs Chelsea (2016).
Each would have accrued a mighty 120 cards points.
Meanwhile, there have been 17 instances in which a Premier League game has seen three red cards dished out by the referee – an instant 75 points, and an instant win for the overs line.
How Many Cards Does It Take for a Game to Be Abandoned?
It’s never happened yet, but there are rules in place which dictate that a Premier League game will be abandoned if either team is reduced to fewer than seven men.
To that end, if a single team receives five red cards then the game is abandoned.
They could also receive fewer reds than that, and if they pick up a number of injuries and players have to leave the field of play, that could take them below the seven-player threshold.
This has never happened at Premier League level, although a Championship game between Sheffield United and West Brom was abandoned in 2002.
The Blades picked up three red cards, and having used all of their substitutes two of their players were injured and unable to continue in the legendary ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’.