How To Bet Online – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide for 2023

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Last Updated on: 21.02.2023

Want to learn how to place a bet? Our complete guide provides you with all the information you need to know to start your betting journey. Whether it is choosing the right site and welcome bonus to suit your needs, or understanding the differences in betting odds, our guide below covers all this and more!

Placing a Bet

Needless to say, before you can start learning how to place a bet, you'll need to first sign up to an online bookmaker. Our table below lists our top recommendations of bookies offering markets on the most popular sports to bet on.

  • Choose an outcome that you would like to back.
  • You will see your chosen outcome appear on your bet slip, usually at the right-hand side of your screen.
  • The minimum stake that you can place varies among top betting sites and generally falls in between £0.01 and £1. The maximum stake amount varies among different sports, and depends on the odds that you are backing and the number of selections that you have made.
  • Select the amount that you want to stake and confirm your bet.

How to Bet on Football Matches Online

It's no secret that UK punters love betting on football, so you'll find plenty of markets and competitions to bet on for the sport as a result. Whether you wish to bet on the Premier League, League Two, La Liga, or the Bundesliga, there are plenty of opportunities out there covering a multitude of events around the world.

If you want to place a bet online, the simplest market is Final Result, i.e. betting on the final outcome of a football match. This can either be a win for Team A, a win for Team B, or a draw. Other popular bet types include Over/Under Goals, Total Cards, corner bets, Correct Score, and many more.

How to Bet on Horse Racing Online

Horse racing betting is extremely popular in the United Kingdom, with the two main types being flat races and National Hunt races. Both come with a series of classifications to help distinguish prestige.

Below are four important terms you'll come across when sifting through various horse racing markets:

  • SP – Starting Price
  • NR – Non-Runner
  • NRNBNon-Runner No Bet
  • Ante Post – A bet placed at least a day before the commencement of an race

Before betting on any race, you should first study form cards/race cards in detail to find out the form, names, age, weight, jockey, and trainer, and odds attached to different horses. It's also a good idea to check weather conditions too, as these could have a significant effect on the event in question.

The major horse races in the United Kingdom include Cheltenham, the Grand National and Royal Ascot – however, there are many other races taking place almost every week!

We've compiled below a few popular horse racing bet types:

  • To Win – This requires you to predict the winner of a horse race.
  • Each-Way – An each-way bet consists of two separate bets (on the same horse) – one to win, and the other to place.
  • Forecast – This bet involves you predicting the top two horses in a race in the exact winning order.
  • Tricast – This is similar to a forecast bet, except that you need to predict the top three horses, again in the exact order of winning.

Some betting sites offer the popular Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) on British and Irish horse races. This means that, should the Starting Price on a horse be bigger than the fixed odds you took, the bookie will pay out at the SP instead. This generally includes Board Prices, Early Prices, Singles and Multiples, To Win, and Each-Way.

What Happens if a Match I Bet on Is Cancelled?

This is query commonly asked by both beginner and expert punters. For this reason, we've prepared a detailed guide on what to in case your bet get postponed, cancelled, or voided.

Understanding Betting Odds

If you are totally new to betting in general, it is crucial to understand the different types of betting odds available. There are three types of betting odds: fractional, decimal, and American (Moneyline).

Lower odds on a selection indicate a favourite to win.

Fractional Odds

As is obvious from their name, fractional odds are represented by fractional figures, e.g. 5/1. This means that for every £1 that you stake, you will receive £5 in profit for a total of £1 + £5 = £6. These are the odds most commonly used in the UK.

Payout = (Stake × [Numerator/Denominator] + Stake)

The numerator and denominator for the above formula are taken from the fraction representing the odds in question.

The probabilty of you winning a placed bet can be calculated in percentage using the below:

Probability % = 100/(Numerator+Denominator)/Denominator

For example, for odds of 5/1, the probability percentage for a win stands at 100/(5+1)/1, which equals 16.66%.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds represent the amount of money that you will win for every £1 that you stake. For example, odds of 6.00 indicate that for every £1 that you stake, you will receive a total of £6.

Payout = Stake × Decimal Odds

The probability of you winning a placed bet can be calculated using the below formula:

Probability % = 100/Decimal Odds

For example, for odds of 6.00, the probability  for a win stands at 100/6.00, which equals 16.66%.

American Odds

American odds are represented with a minus (-) sign to denote the favourite and a plus (+) sign for the underdog, e.g. -500, +300.

This means that, if you bet on the underdog, you must risk £100 to potentially win a profit of £300 for a total of £400 (£300+£100).

If you punt on the favourite, you need to bet £500 to potentially win a profit of £100 for a total of £600 (£500+£100).

Bookmaker’s Margin

Betting sites charge a margin of profit on all bets that you place called the bookmaker’s margin, which is how they earn a profit as a business. This margin varies from one betting market to another, and depends on the popularity of the event.

Before placing a bet, you should evaluate the margin of profit that your bookmaker charges.

A margin which is nearer to the ideal market mark of 100% is better than one which meets or exceeds the 110% barrier. Betting markets with a high margin are harder to reap a profit off, as they are likelier to lead to a loss.

To calculate the bookmaker’s margin, you must first determine its odds overround.

First, convert the fractional outcomes of a betting variant into their decimal form. Divide each of these outcomes by 100, and add the resulting numbers. Alternatively, you can use our handy odds overround calculator available on our site.

When choosing a betting site to register with, we always recommend shopping around to find the best betting margins and odds you can get.

Popular Betting Types

Here are seven of the most popular betting markets among sports punters.

  • 01
    Outright Winner
    This betting market requires you to predict the winner of a tournament.
  • 02
    Match Winner
    Here, you are required to successfully predict the winner of a match
  • 03
    This wager involves you predicting how many times a certain event (such as corners or goals scored) will occur outlined over or under a certain number provided by the betting site.
  • 04
    With Totals markets, you will need to predict the total number of a certain event to take place (such as goals scored) during a match.
  • 05
    Handicaps are highly useful as they hand a weaker team an event-based advantage and stronger teams a disadvantage, thus levelling the playing field somewhat.
  • 06
    Spread Betting
    The amount you win or lose from spread betting is based on the accuracy of your wager, which is placed against the spread, a moving market.
  • 07
    Accumulator Betting
    Accumulators allow you to stack up markets from different games or races together into one large bet. They do come with a greater risk given the amount of variables, but your odds are significantly improved and can yield a big profit from a small stake if you are successful.

Registering at an Online Betting Site

To help you out, we've outlined a few basic steps below on how to create an account at an online bookie.

  • 01
    Find the Register or Sign Up button on the homepage of your chosen bookie. More often than not, this can be found on the right-hand side of your screen.
  • 02
    Click this button to kickstart the process.
  • 03
    You will be asked to enter personal identification details like your full name, email address, date of birth and place of residence, as well as to create a unique username and password. Next, you will be prompted to go through and accept the main terms and conditions, privacy policy, and cookie policy.
  • 04
    During the next step, you may be asked to upload documents to prove your identity. Until you do this, you cannot deposit funds into your account or place any bets. The verification process usually takes between 24-48 hours. Note that if the bookie does not ask you for these documents during registration, they will probably do so when when you attempt to make your first deposit or withdrawal.
  • 05
    After your account has been verified, you can proceed to making a deposit. Choose a payment method that suits you best, and proceed accordingly (debit card, PayPal, NETELLER, Skrill, ecoPayz, EntroPay, paysafecard, AstroPay, cryptocurrency, Google Pay, Wire Transfer, or others).
  • 06
    Take particular care when depositing funds into your account, as you may need to deposit a certain amount of funds to unlock the welcome bonus.
  • 07
    Once your deposit goes through, you can start placing bets!

Choosing a Betting Site

Apart from the quality of odds available, there are several other factors that you should consider when it comes to choosing a betting site:

Best Betting Sites We Recommend for Beginners

  • Easy to navigate through website
  • Set your own odds
  • Arguably the Best Betting Odds around!

1. Once the bonus is credited to your account, losses will be refunded up to the bonus amount. 2. You must deposit at least the qualifying deposit of £20 (or currency equivalent) in a single amount with your first deposit to be eligible for the rebate. 3. To withdraw rebated funds, you must bet at least the qualifying deposit on any combination of markets within the promotional period; otherwise, rebated funds will be forfeited. 4. Unused bonuses expire after seven days of being credited to a user account and will be removed after this period. 5. Users making their first deposit by Skrill, NETELLER, PayPal or a virtual/prepaid card will not qualify for this promotion. 6. The sign-up offer is strictly limited to one per individual, family, household address, email address, same payment account number, and shared computer. 7. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other sign-up promotion. 8. Smarkets Full T&Cs apply. #ad

SBK logo
  • Great design and easy to navigate through
  • Wide selection of payment methods
  • The best mobile-only sportsbook in the UK

New UK, IE & Malta customers only. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5. Free bets expire in 90 days. Full T&Cs apply. 18+. #ad

  • Easy to use
  • Brilliantly designed site
  • Excellent statistics section

18+ - Offer for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and Full T&Cs apply. #ad

  • Easy to navigate
  • One of the most reputable betting sites
  • Good VIP reward system

18+ Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days. To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days. Wagering requirements vary by game. Deposit methods, Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&Cs apply. #ad

  • Over 15,000 employees
  • More than 30 sports available
  • A comprehensive online betting exchange on offer

18+ New UK+IRE Customers only. Certain deposit methods & bet types excl. Min first 5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4x 5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned. No cashout, restrictions + Full T&Cs apply. #ad

  • Lots of sports and markets
  • Easy to use
  • No deposit welcome bonus

If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £25 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free Spins on Asgard Warriors. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | 18+ New UK Customers Only | Full T&Cs apply. #ad

Coral logo
  • Over 1,800 UK stores
  • Well over a dozen promotions
  • An excellent quality of odds on offer

18+ New UK+ ROI Customers only. Deposit & Bet min £5 as first bet at minimum odds 1/2 to qualify for 1x £20 Free Bet. Certain deposit methods and bet types excluded. Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned. Restrictions apply. Full T&Cs apply. #ad

  • Livestream your favourite sports
  • Available in over 100 countries
  • £10 free bet every week, as a part of the in-play free bet club

18+ New customers only. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus if first bet loses. Wagering requirements: sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Unless forfeited the sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Bonus expires 7 days after opt-in. No deposit required for NI customers. Call 08081699314 to claim. Full T&Cs apply. #ad

  • A wide range of top betting products
  • Great live betting options
  • Dedicated pre-match and in-play statistics

18+ Opt in. Min. Odds Evs, Min.depsoit £10, Max. £10 stake, Max. additional profit £100. Skrill and Neteller deposits are not eligible - Full T&Cs apply. #ad

William Hill
  • One of the most popular bookies around
  • Wide variety of promotions
  • Unique special bets outside of sports

New customers using Promo code H30 only, Min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full terms below. Full T&Cs apply. #ad

Betting Online vs Betting in Shops

While betting in shops comes with its own benefits, there are many more advantages to betting through a website or app.

These include a variety of payment options, several attractive promotions to help boost your bankroll, VIP/loyalty schemes, easy-to-use mobile apps, and plenty of live betting options.

One feature that particularly stands out when it comes to betting online is the cash out function, which allows you to retrieve partial winnings on a placed bet during an ongoing event. (This is where a livestreaming service would prove to be highly useful).

In other words, if you're watching a game and sense things are about to turn against your favour, you can trigger the cash out feature to claim any winnings you would have made up until that point. While these funds wouldn't add up to the total amount you would have won otherwise, cashing out ensures that you still make a profit regardless.

Of course, the most obvious advantage that a betting site has over a physical betting shop is convenience. There's no need to leave the house to place your bets on that upcoming Premier League match – you can do everything from the comfort of your own home!

For more on this topic, check out our detailed guide on betting online vs betting in shops.

In-Play Betting

If you want to know how to place a bet online, then you should certainly learn how live or in-play betting works.

Simply put, this form of wagering allows you to bet on events as they unfold in real time.

  • The best betting sites offer a variety of live betting markets for different sports, a livestreaming service, dedicated statistics (head-to-head results, player/team form guides, match information), and live scorecards. Other features, such as cash out, bet builder, and fast markets, will also be available.

Betting Promotions and Bonuses

Before you commit to joining a particular bookmaker, look at what they are offering their customers, both new and existing. The rewards can be great for new customers when you first join, but then can dry up very quickly. The best betting sites ensure that excellent promotions are consistently available for all of their customers.

The most common examples of these offers include cashback bonuses, free bets, price boosts, and matched deposit offers. Enhanced odds are a particular promotion to look out for, especially when it comes to betting on major events such as the Premier League or the Champions League.

Bear in mind that betting promotions always come with a set of terms and conditions, which you should read carefully before opting in. Failure to do so may lead to the offer being withdrawn or your winnings declared void.

VIP Programmes

VIP/loyalty programmes are a bookie's way of thanking or rewarding loyal punters for their custom over a certain period of time or activity.

A versatile VIP scheme usually grants special bonuses, exclusive offers, prizes, express payment processing, a birthday bonus, and a personal account manager.

Betting Tips for Beginners

Before you place your first bet online, you should take note of the tips we have compiled below.

  • Research - Although betting sites do offer their own statistics breakdowns, you should always do your own research before placing bets. This can include looking at past match results, player/team form guides, official rankings, past tournament results, injury news, home advantage, pundit insights, match predictions, and the latest news.
  • Watch matches to prepare - Never bet on a match without having assessed the playing style of both opponents. Some players/teams resort to defensive gameplay, while others prefer to come on strong with their attackers. Once you become familiar with things like this, you will pick up on player tendencies and realise when they are having a good or a bad day. This is particularly useful for live betting.
  • Start small - As tempting as it may seem to go all in to try and land huge winnings, realistically, that will not happen to the average beginner. It is best to start off slowly by placing small stakes. As time goes by, and once you get the hang of how things work, you can start expanding your horizons. Our guide on luck vs skill betting has more information on this subject. Alternatively, you can place small stakes on outcomes that you are certain of in the form of a multiple bet.

Keen to learn more? Check out our vast range of betting tips covering all sorts of different sports and tournaments, as well as our in-depth guide to the most common sporting mistakes that all punters should avoid!

Responsible Gambling

It's important to remember that the whole point of betting is to enjoy yourself. This is why knowing how to gamble responsibly is crucial, as knowing which precautions to take will not only protect yourself, but also ensure that the element of entertainment remains in place.

Sensible bankroll management is vital, as well as making good use of any responsible gambling tools your bookie has to offer. These include deposit limits, time out sessions, ‘cool off' periods, loss limits, and temporary or permanent self-exclusions.

Top betting sites often offer a responsible gambling questionnaire to help you assess your gambling activity, as well as links and contact details for organisations such as GamCare.

How To Bet Online FAQs

Yes, punters can definitely place bets online legally in the UK, with lots of great legal betting sites to choose from too.
Based on our own research the best place to bet online include SBK, bet365, 888sport, and Ladbrokes.
The most common payment options accepted by online bookmakers include debit card, PayPal, NETELLER, Skrill, ecoPayz, EntroPay, paysafecard, AstroPay, Bitcoin, Google Pay, Wire Transfer, and many other alternatives.
Betting odds are displayed as fractions, decimals, or in the American format.
These would be Outright Winner, Match Winner, Over/Under, Totals, and Handicaps.
Several factors go into determining betting odds, including player/team form, home/away records, weather, injuries, past tournament results, the relative strength of a player/team, and head-to-head statistics. Favourites are usually assigned lower odds, while underdogs are given higher prices.

ThePuntersPage Final Say

Though the world of online betting can seem daunting to beginners, it's simply a matter of practice and patience until you get the hang of things.

We hope that our guide above has helped you understand how to place a bet online, as well as all other key information regarding betting markets and online promotions. Once you feel confident enough, simply pick a bookmaker from our recommendations above, and try things out for yourself!