What is Tennis Trading?
Tennis Trading Strategies involve placing a back or lay bet on a tennis player before or during a tennis match with the hope that the odds will move in your favour so that you can lock in a profit by hedging your initial bet.
Trading Tennis on Betfair and other betting exchanges has become increasingly popular due to the large swings in odds that regularly occur in tennis matches.
Due to this popularity, you can get good liquidity on even smaller ATP and WTA events.
Pros and Cons of Tennis Trading
|Tennis is an all year round sport with a short break in December||Due to its popularity, you will be up against a lot of seasoned traders. As betting exchanges is a zero-sum game, for you to win, someone else has to lose.|
|It’s relatively easy to find matches with good liquidity on a daily basis||As a tennis match isn’t won until a tennis player wins a match point, beginner tennis traders often let their bets run, thinking their player will make a comeback. This is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided.|
|Odds movements in tennis are very mechanical||As there is an abundance of tennis matches played most days, there is a danger that beginner tennis traders will overtrade.|
|Most tennis trading strategies are easy to implement and don’t involve multiple markets|
|Due to the nature of tennis, you will often have multiple opportunities to exit your trade during a match as swings in odds occur frequently as players break serve or break back.|
Betfair Tennis Trading Strategies
Below is a list of some of the more popular tennis trading strategies used by Tennis Traders.
Back the Favourite in Tennis
The Back the Favourite tennis strategy involves placing a back bet on the pre match favourite either before the match starts or during the match when their odds have increased.
It is often better to wait until the pre match favourite goes a break or a set down before backing them as the odds of the favourite at the start of the match will have little to no value.
If you were to blindly back the favourite at the start of every match, it is likely that over the long term you would lose money.
Therefore the best time to use this strategy is when the pre match favourite struggles in the early stages of the match.
This strategy is best used in best of 3 set matches as in best of 5 set matches when a player like Djokovic or Nadal goes a set down, their odds will not increase dramatically as the market has faith that they will still end up winning the match.
This strategy requires patience as you will need to wait for the right matches.
A majority of the time, the pre match favourite will not struggle and will win the match in straight sets.
I would consider this to be a low risk tennis trading strategy if you backing pre match favourites above 2.0 in odds as this will mean you only need 50% of your trades to win to break even.
Anything above a 50% win rate will mean you are profitable.
15-40 Tennis Trading Strategy
The 15-40 tennis trading strategy involves waiting until a player has a 15-40 advantage on their opponent’s serve, then placing a back bet on the player that is at 40.
When this occurs, the player at 40 will have two chances to break their opponent’s serve.
If your chosen player wins one of the next two points, you will exit for a profit but if your player loses both points then it will be 40 all and you will need to exit your trade for a loss.
I have included this strategy not because I recommend it but because I know it is probably one of the first strategies many beginner tennis traders will read about.
The problem with the strategy is that it does not give you a good reward to risk ratio as when a player has 2 break points, the market has already priced in that they are likely to win the game and therefore even if they break, the odds on the player that breaks won’t decrease that much.
The other issue is that tennis players come back from 15-40 down a lot more than you would think.
Therefore, you will be taking a loss on a lot of your trades that are likely to eclipse any small winning trades you have with this strategy.
Similar to the basic lay the draw strategy, the 15-40 strategy may have worked in the past when the odds on the betting exchanges weren’t as efficient but I would not recommend any beginners try this strategy now.
Scalping (Back the Server)
Scalping in Tennis involves placing a back or lay bet on a player with the hope that the odds will move in your favour so that you can hedge out of your bet for a guaranteed profit.
A popular way to scalp tennis matches is to back the server at the start of one of their service games as we know that the odds on the serving player at the start of a service game will be higher than his odds if he manages to hold serve.
If our chosen player wins their service game, we will exit for a profit but if it looks like they will be broken then we exit for a loss.
To key to making the back the server strategy work is to do your research beforehand so that you are only backing players who have a proven track record on their serve.
You can use websites like ATPtour.com to look up player serve stats.
As you can see in the below screenshot, the top 5 ATP players in the Serve Standing leaderboard all won 80% plus of their service games.
Lay the Leader
The lay the leader strategy is probably the most popular tennis trading strategy that beginners and more seasoned tennis traders use.
The strategy involves waiting for a player (usually the pre match underdog) to break serve, then playing a lay bet on the player that broke serve with the hope that the other player will break back.
If a break back does occur then you will exit your trade for a profit.
You also have the option of having all your profit on one particular player e.g. if you laid the underdog after they break in the first game of the match and the favourite breaks back straight away.
Many traders in this situation will put all their profit on the pre match favourite and then let the trade run as a free bet.
If your chosen player doesn’t break back, there is a couple of exit strategies that you can use.
You can either exit your trade at the end of the set for a small loss or wait to see if your player breaks first in the next set.
If your player breaks first, then great, you will have a winning trade but if the other player breaks first, then you will be looking at a big loss on your trade.
The Lay the Leader strategy is used most often by tennis traders in WTA events where serves aren’t as strong and breaks of serve are more common.
I have frequently seen WTA matches where there have been 3 or 4 breaks of serve in a row.
Lay 1st Set Winner in Tennis
The Lay 1st set winner strategy is similar to the Lay the Leader strategy except you wait until the end of the 1st set before you enter your trade.
Most tennis traders using this strategy will wait until a pre match favourite has lost the first set.
They will then place a lay bet on the underdog with the hope that the favourite gets the first break in the second set.
If this occurs they will at least remove the liability on the trade.
If the trader is confident that the favourite will win the match, they may leave all their profits on the favourite.
However, if they have been watching the match and they have concluded that the match could go either way, they may decide to have equal profits on the favourite and the underdog.
Trading Tennis for a living, is it possible?
It’s not easy but it is definitely possible to make a living from trading tennis on Betfair and other betting exchanges.
The key to becoming a successful tennis trader is to start off small and to focus on gaining knowledge and experience before risking any of your hard earned money.
The best way to do this is by paper trading, to begin with. Once you have gained some experience, you can move on to using real funds but even then, keep your stakes low.
Even using small trades, you will be surprised how different you will trade when using real money vs paper trading.
Keep trading until you can be consistently profitable using minimum stakes (if you aren’t profitable using €2 stakes then you aren’t going to be profitable using €200 stakes).
Once you are consistently profitable using minimum stakes, I’m sure you will be thinking about upping your stakes.
However, don’t be tempted to increase your stakes drastically. Instead, gradually increase your stakes over time and never risk more than 1% of your bank on a trade.
If you have a run of losing trades then it’s a good idea to reduce your stakes.
Doing this will be helping to protect your bank, which should be your top priority as a beginner tennis trader.
Tips for Beginner Tennis Traders
- Do research on tennis trading online before opting for a paid course. You will be surprised how much you can learn for free on YouTube and tennis trading sites like Trade Shark Tennis.
- Once you have found out about a few tennis trading strategies, paper trade them to start with so you can get an idea of what to expect if you were to trade the strategy for real. A strategy might seem great on the surface and might produce lots of small wins but you need to experience the worst case scenario (every strategy has one) before risking your money on it.
- Work out the risk to reward ratio for every strategy you find. There is no point in using a strategy that earns you €1 9/10 if the tenth trade results in a €20 loss. My own preference is to find strategies that have at least a 1:1 risk reward ratio.
- Stop searching for the holy grail of tennis trading strategies. It doesn’t exist. There is no strategy that will result in you winning every single time. If there were, there would be a lot more millionaire tennis traders out there.
- If you are trading a match, then always watch the match too. You will usually get a good idea of the form of the two players from watching the first couple of games. I also find watching matches gives me a better opportunity to see if one of the players might be injured e.g. a player constantly stretching one of their legs or not being able to serve as fast as they usually do. If I wasn’t watching the match, then I wouldn’t pick up on these things.
Hopefully, it will help you on your journey to mastering tennis trading.