In some of our other tennis betting guides, we have mentioned that there are many different ways to bet on the sport that go beyond just the ‘match winner’ market.
One of the most popular options is to bet on total games, and this can be a very useful market to wager on when you feel you have an accurate read on how a tennis match will pan out.
Like many alternative tennis markets, total games betting enables you to maximise the return on your investment – you don’t have to take the sometimes-inequitable match winner odds provided by a bookmaker, and instead can push the boundaries (while placing bets with positive expectancy) by taking value positions on the number of games to be played.
So let’s take a look at this tennis betting market in more detail.
What Is Total Games Betting?
Those that have bet on football before may already be familiar with the concept of ‘overs’ and ‘unders’.
Quite simply, total games betting requires to predict how many games will be played in a particular match. The games line will usually have a point-five at the end, and your job is to wager on whether the match will have more games (i.e. over) or fewer (under) than the mark set by the bookies.
For example, Novak Djokovic is playing Tommy Paul in a best-of-five set match at the Australian Open. The total games line is 30.5, and so your ‘overs’ bet will land if there are 31 or more games played. Conversely, your ‘unders’ wager will win if 30 or less games are played.
Already, you may be able to see why betting on total games can be an excellent way to enhance your edge compared to the standard match winner market….
Why Bet On Total Games In Tennis?
In the named example above, Djokovic was priced as short as 1/20 to claim victory.
Those odds are fair but prohibitive, and it’s very hard to be profitable long-term in betting if you are taking 1/20 shots on a regular basis. Your win rate has to be super-high just to break even.
Some punters are tempted to play multiple 1/20 bets in an accumulator, and while this can be a useful betting strategy – if you find value bets, there’s no harm multiplying your edge – but of course it only takes one leg to lose for our coupon to be settled as a loss.
With total games betting, we can get better prices while still betting in a fashion that remains true to our predictions. So, if we take the under 30.5 games line at odds of 5/6, we are still effectively backing Djokovic to win comfortably, but at more equitable odds. A straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory would be enough for our wager to land, and seems like a fair enough prediction.
And the fun thing here is that, if Paul plays out of his skin and Djokovic has an off day, our bet will still land even if it’s Paul that claims a quick and easy win.
Some tennis matches are rather more difficult to call, with two players in good form locking horns in a contest that we might describe as ‘50/50’, or at least close to it. In this scenario, the total games market also comes in handy because we can bet on it being a close match (by taking the overs line) without having to pin our hopes on one particular player to win.
The nature of the players, and the conditions, also feed into total games betting. If two big servers meet on a grass court, you can make an educated guess that there will be tie-breaks – and thus plenty of games – if they perform to their normal standard.
Equally, we would expect a quality player to really assert their dominance on a weaker opponent on clay, where breaks of serve are easier to come by. Here, backing the unders line might prove to be the savvy play.
As you can see, the game-state and players involved ultimately determine how you should bet on the total games market, but as we’ve discovered this is an option that could enhance your betting value to some tune.
First Set Total Games
The betting market we have covered here relates to the whole match, but it’s also worth pointing out that a number of bookmakers offer total games betting on just the first set too.
This is a market that can be used when you think a player will dominate from the get-go (by taking the unders line), where your research tells you a particular individual is a fast or slow starter, or where two big servers – fresh and energised at the start of the match – seem likely to push the first set deep.
As a reminder, if the line is over/under 9.5 games in the first set, and you bet on the overs, you will win if the following scorelines play out:
- Win – 6-4, 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 5-7, 6-7
- Lose – 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 1-6, 2-6, 3-6