Learn how to read the odds and over/under so you can walk into a sportsbook and know how to bet on tennis.
Betting on tennis is initially overwhelming: it’s a worldwide sport with an unconventional scoring system. You will likely encounter betting odds expressed as positive or negative whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. And the over/under is based on sets rather than a total score. It’s a lot to unpack, but we are going to walk through the basics so you can quickly and easily understand how to bet on tennis.
Bet On Who Will Win the Match
Each player in a tennis match will have moneyline odds assigned to them: how likely are they to win the match? The simplest bet you can make in tennis is by picking who you think will win and wagering $X based on those odds.
In tennis, however, reading the odds can feel tricky at first. Because the sport is played worldwide, you may see odds for a match expressed in one of three ways: American odds (a positive/negative whole number), as a decimal, or as a fraction.
You read American odds first by identifying if the symbol is a minus or a plus.
- – = in order to win $100 you have to bet #
- + = betting $100 wins you #
– = in order to win $100 you have to bet #
In this scenario, with the odds set at -110: You walk up and place a $110 bet. If you win you will get your $110 stake back, plus you will collect $100 in winnings.
Remember the vig is a ratio. You do not have to bet $110. Instead of $110, you could place a $55 bet in order to win $50. Or $11 to win $10.
+ = betting $100 wins you #
When the odds are written with a + sign, it indicates you win a little more than you bet.
For example if the odds are +100 that indicates you must risk $100, but if you win you would collect $110 in winnings.
You will see decimal odds used throughout Europe and a few other places in the world. These odds indicate the return on your investment, including your stake.
Thus, if the odds are 1.5 you can calculate your return my multiplying your wager and the odds. Let’s say you want to wager $100:
$100 (wager) x 1.5 (odds) = $150 (stake + profit)
Your profit in this instance would be $50.
Larger numbers indicate potentially larger returns. Thus, you’ll see larger decimals placed on the underdogs and you’ll have the opportunity to walk away with larger profits.
Heavy favorites will have very small return on investments. For example, the Rafael Nadal vs. Guido Pella match recently had moneyline odds for Nadal at 1.02. If you wagered $100 in this instance and Nadal won, you’d walk away with a $2 profit. That’s not very exciting.
Fractional odds originated with horse racing in the United Kingdom. These days, you will see fractional odds associated with other European-based sports as well. Some sportsbooks offer odds for tennis in a fraction format.
You multiply this fractional number with your wager to get your total potential return (not including your stake).
So, if the odds for a Rafael Nadal in an upcoming match are 3/2 then you calculate your return this way:
$100 (wager) x 3/2 (odds) = $150 (profit)
Your profit in this instance would be $150. You add back in your $100 wager and your total return would be $250.
Fractions that have a larger number on top indicate an underdog. Fractions where the denominator is larger indicate a favorite.
Bet on the Over/Under
Men’s professional tennis plays to the best of five sets. Women’s professional tennis play best of three sets.
Tennis bettors can bet on whether the match will go over or under a certain number of sets. In women’s tennis the over/under is always set to 2.5 sets. Thus, if you take the under you are saying the winner will succeed in two straight sets. If you take the over you indicate that it will take the winner three total sets to walk away victorious.
The over/under for men’s tennis is most often set at 3.5 sets, but you may see 4 and 4.5 set bets on occasion.
There will be odds (or a vig) attached to both the over/under bets. As with the moneyline bet, you may see these odds written in American odds, decimals, or fractions.
Bet on Who Will Win the Tournament
As with betting on who will win a particular match, you can bet on who will win the overall tournament. You would place a moneyline bet based on odds set for each player.
Prop Bets in Tennis
There are a few common prop bets in tennis. As a reminder, prop bets are bets where you have a defined outcome. For example, the coin toss at the start of a game: is it heads or tails? Betting on that aspect of a sporting event is a prop bet.
One common prop bet in tennis is number of ace serves. These are especially fun with players known for their wicked serves, like Serena Williams. In major matches there’s likely an over/under set for number of aces.
Other prop bets in tennis include total number of games played and player to win the first set.
Other Things to Know
Sports betting is legal throughout much of the world, including Europe, and you’ll frequently see tennis odds and preview posts from European sources. European sources will almost always express odds as decimals or fractions.