Goalscorer betting markets are one of the most popular markets in football betting. One of the key reasons this market has taken off is because in some matches the teams likely to win are such massive odds on that there is very little value in backing team-based markets. The goalscorer betting market however, remains good value despite some team outcomes being very one sided as this market is based on individual players.
In the last two decades the goalscorer market has really grown, with so much information now available on players in and around Europe, there has never been a better time to add this market to your betting choices.
To help develop a strong understanding of this betting market, this guide has been split into 2 main parts:
- Part I - Goalscorer Betting Markets Explored
- Part II - Research and Strategy to Increase Chance of Winning
Once you have read this goalscorer betting guide thoroughly, you should have a stronger understanding of what is involved, making you well equipped to make your first wager on this popular betting market!
Table of contents:
What are Goalscorer based markets?
So what exactly are goalscorer based markets? Well, with most football betting you're backing a team, whether it be to win or lose, to score a certain number of goals or not etc. However, with goalscorer markets you're backing an individual player, not a team. You might back this player to score, not to score, how he will score, even when he will score, the list goes on. Some bet types are worthwhile, and others you just shouldn't go near regardless the odds, and we will take a look at these factors in detail later on in this guide.
Part I – Goalscorer Betting Markets Explored
Popular Goalscorer Markets:
Let's first explain the most popular goalscorer markets that are available and how they work.
Anytime Goalscorer: This market may well be the most popular and involves betting on any player in your chosen game to score at anytime during the match. This has the advantage that it doesn't matter when your player scores as he has the whole 90 minutes to do so. What is great about this choice is that as long as your player doesn't get substituted then your bet lasts the whole game.
Odds for bets like these will be shorter, with most forwards being even money or just odds on if you are backing the home side's players. However, midfielders for example could still be as high as 3.00 to score at anytime and even more depending on whom the team are playing. What is important to remember is the bet is for 90 minutes plus injury time only, never for extra time or penalties, however a penalty during normal time will count.
First Goalscorer: There are usually better value prices in first goalscorer bets because it is that much more difficult to predict. In essence you are picking what player will score the first goal in the match. Here even strikers can be a good price of around 2.80-3.50 depending on the game. For midfielders this can be much more starting from 5.00's and defenders into the 10.00's and so on. You can research when player's score in a match historically, however this most likely won't produce a statistically significant pattern. Therefore First Goalscorer bets are best left to teams who rely heavily on one stand out player to get their goals. So in summary the value in price is fantastic but it is a much harder market to predict.
Last Goalscorer: Here you are betting on who will be the last goalscorer of the game. Odds for these markets are like the first goalscorer markets and offer very good value. Research can help your chances to a small extent but it's still a very risky bet, and probably more risky than trying to select the first goalscorer due to end of game variables. For example, later on in his Man Utd days, Wayne Rooney would often start games up front but then be told to drop deeper as the game progressed, making him less likely to score at the end of games. Also substitutions occur towards the end of games, and a striker returning back from injury, who you know won't start the game could come on deep in the 2nd half for a run out with fresh legs. If so your research could pay off to put him down as being the last scorer of the game. Of course the match could end with no goals, or the first goal could be scored very early on with not much more action towards the end of the game. Again the price is reflected in the risk of this market, and is most likely a market you're best avoiding.
Not to Score: This is a fairly new market, and this type of bet has exploded in the last decade. This bet is based around picking a player that won't score during the game. Obviously if you pick a non striker the prices could be big odds on, so in theory much less risk to pick a centre back that hasn't scored in a year, but then again your odds could be as low as 1.10, and then when that player rises up to convert a corner from his head your bet won't look so clever.
For this bet to work in your favour it is best to stick with a striker not to score. Whilst there is more risk involved, there is also more value, and this market is about research. Is a striker out of form and struggling to score goals? Lacking confidence, rusty after an injury? Or the classic case of a striker on brilliant form who comes up against a bogey team that he just can't score against. Then this is when this market comes into play.
2 or more goals and 3 or more goals: If you want your odds to rise to more than 10.00 this is a good market to get involved in. True there is more risk here as what this bet consists of is backing a player to score 2 or more goals - also known as a brace, or 3 or more goals - known of course as a hat trick. On the face of it this bet may be off putting for some punters but again research goes a long way. Look at previous head to head records; does a player have a special team to play against when they are simply on fire? Also, if the likely winning team is playing a really weak side like San Marino, it's actually quite likely the lead striker may get a couple of goals.
Ian Wright for Arsenal had an uncanny knack of scoring goals against Everton for example, and so on. It is questionable if this market would have long term pay outs, but on some chosen weekends this is certainly an option to consider.
Team Goalscorer – (First, and Last): These are very similar bets to the standard First Goalscorer and Last Goalscorer bets, the only difference being you are selecting from just one of the two teams, which in effect makes this option slightly less risky. When selecting the team's first goalscorer, you're most likely to have success going for the most prolific goalscorer in the team. However when selecting the team's last goalscorer, it becomes a little trickier as various factors might influence a players chances. For example, if a team has a superstar striker who scores 50% of the teams goals, he might seem an obvious choice, however he might also be the first player the manager bring off early if the team have a good lead in order to rest him for the next game. In truth both these bets have a strong element of risk, and this is reflected in the long odds, but if we have to pick a more predictable option then it would have to be first team goalscorer.
Combination Goalscorer Markets:
Along with the basic goalscorer markets are the combination markets, with the title saying it all, you are combining another event to happen alongside a goalscorer market, this will offer far greater odds but also far greater risk.
Scorecast: A scorecast bet is choosing the first goalscorer of the match alongside the correct score. So for example you bet that Sergio Aguero will score the first goal when Manchester City play Norwich and that the correct score will be 4-0. It is a single bet but also in effect an accumulator. As for Aguero to score the first goal he would be odds of 3.50 but you also have the correct score to predict, and 4-0 is odds of 10.00, therefore £10 on this bet would win £450. The odds available in this choice are massive but it is extremely difficult to predict as you are combining first goalscorer with what the final correct score would be.
Two important points are that if the first goal is an own goal, then that doesn't count and the bet will be on who gets the 2nd goal of the match. Also, if your player doesn't play in the game then your bet turns into a single, which is the correct score. The best type of match to look for with this type of bet is to pick teams who often win 1-0, and then pick their most prolific goalscorer. This might increase your chances a little on a market that really should be avoided at all costs.
Anytime Scorecast: Much like the original scorecast but you give yourself more chances as you are backing the selected player to score anytime during the match. So Aguero anytime plus City to win 4-0 would now pay around £190 for a £10 stake. Still great odds but trying to pick the correct score is really what makes this combination bet still so difficult.
Wincast: For this market we take away the correct score element. The bet therefore involves selecting the player to score the first goal as well as which team will win, therefore the most difficult element of this bet is selecting the first goalscorer. This does still reduce the risk much more compared to the scorecast bets but at the same time the odds come down too. This bet makes most sense when there is an obvious winning team who also has a prolific goalscorer playing for them. This is a popular bet as the odds are enticing and the punter still has a chance of winning.
Timecast: Timecast betting is becoming more popular, although I'm not sure why as your chances of winning are very small. The idea is to pick the time period in which the first goal is scored, as well as the player who will score that first goal. For example you might pick Richarlison for Everton to score first between the 1st and 19th minute. If he then scores in the 20th minute your bet would rather cruelly lose. Also, if he scores in the correct time period, lets say the 15th minute, but a different player has already scored, then the bet would also lose. Notice you need two events to come off, and both are difficult to predict, making this bet one to avoid in our eyes.
First Half Scorecasts: This selection is like the original scorecast however the choice is narrowed down to the first half only. So you need to pick the first goalscorer of the game and then predict the half time correct score. If the match is 0-0 and no goals are scored, your bet turns into a single predicting the first half correct score result. Odds for this market are very big as in effect you are betting on only a 45-minute market. This can work to your advantage however as limited time reduces the number of possible scoreline outcomes. For example it's highly unlikely a game will be 3-1 at half time, a score like 1-0 becomes far more likely, which at least narrows down the variables a little.
Specialist Goalscorer Markets:
Now we have covered the basics of goalscorer markets, bookmakers also offer some more specialist variations on how a goal will be scored, and the timing of goals. There are many more markets that have sprung up in the last decade which include the following:
To Score in both halves: This market involves selecting your chosen goalscorer to score in the 1st and 2nd half of the game. It doesn't matter if they don't score first or last, or what time period, as long as they score a goal in each half. This market is really effective when you choose a big odds on favourite to win a game against much weaker opposition. In most cases with the team to win the game at odds of 1.10 or below other markets must come into play to increase value, and this is one of them. Plus there is more likelihood that a striker can bag a few goals in these types of games. Make sure you pick a player who rarely gets substituted though, for example Cristiano Ronaldo usually plays the full 90 minutes even if his team are comfortably winning.
To Score in the 1st Half, or 2nd Half: These are two options, which narrow the window for your chosen player to score, therefore increasing the odds and the risk. You can select your chosen player to score in the first half, or you can select him to score in the 2nd half. Usually the odds to score in the 2nd half are slightly shorter as games become more stretched as time goes on, however the way the first half plays out can hugely influence the chances of a player scoring in the 2nd half making the 2nd half slightly less predictable. For example if your players team races off to big lead in the first half, they may then take their foot off the gas in the 2nd half, thereby reducing the selected players chances of scoring in the 2nd half.
To Score from outside penalty box: When this market was first introduced it was thought much more of a novelty one that would not last, not so, and this is a much more popular market now. The bet is simple, the chosen goalscorer must score their goal from outside the opposing teams penalty area (box). This market can be good for midfielders who are free kick specialists or love to shoot from distance as opposed to some classic centre forwards and will offer good value.
To score from a header: The aim of this market is to pick a goalscorer whose goal must come from a header. The good thing here is that the chosen player will have the full 90 minutes to complete the bet unless substituted. The bad thing however is the selected player could score 6 goals, but if they are all scored using his feet, the bet still wont win. It is good to do research in this department, for example how tall is the player, if they are over 6ft and his team are decent at set pieces, a header could be scored from a cross or a corner. How many people have lost count on the amount of times Peter Crouch at well over 6ft scored goals from his head for example? Also some players have the ability to jump higher than others, for example Tim Cahill was never the tallest player in a game, but his jumping ability lead to numerous goals being scored via a header. These are the kind of players to focus on when using this market.
To score from a direct free kick: Another specialist market is scoring a goal from a direct free kick. There have been some wonderful players down the years that when they step up to take a free kick you can almost feel they will score, or at the very least get it on target. This market offers great value but requires a lot of research on what players this market could best impact, however it's still a huge risk even when selecting the very best free kick takers, as they might only score between 1 and 5 direct free kicks in a season. Therefore, as well as picking a player who is skilled at taking free kicks, it might be best to wait for when that player is playing a team that commits a lot of fouls, therefore giving him a greater chance of scoring from a free kick.
To score in stoppage time: This can mean stoppage time at the end of the first half, although mostly is directed to stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes, where as much as 7+ minutes can be played. The odds can be fantastic for this market even if the world's best striker is playing because in effect this market has an average time of 4 minutes. The bet then is will the goalscorer get a goal in 4 minutes? Usually the answer would be no, but at the end of the game, and if the favourites are losing or drawing and attacking then there is an increased chance they can score and that their star player can get the winning goal. It has happened countless times, but the odds can still be as much as 30.00 to win as nobody knows what type of match will occur before the whistle blows. Therefore if you're planning to use this market as a pre-match bet, it really is best not to bother, as it's a pure gamble, just like the lottery.
To score most goals: This is actually one of the more predictable goalscorer options, but only in certain fixtures. If you're going to select a player to score the most goals, you want to feel that player might get at least a couple during the game. Therefore you need a fixture where the match is very one sided, and the stronger side has a prolific goalscorer. Factor in those two elements and you have a decent chance of success. For example if England were playing San Marino, and you knew Harry Kane was going to be starting the match, then it's actually fairly likely he will score the most goals. Yes, the odds will equally reflect this, however there is no points betting on something that doesn't look likely to win just because the odds are longer.
Goalscorer markets to focus betting on:
After analysing the above, all markets are open, but you have to take away your hunch instincts and go with research no matter the market you are betting on. However, research can only increase your chances of winning with some of the markets we've covered, and it's those markets you should focus on. In the case of goalscorer markets, we would recommend focusing the following markets, as research can influence your chances of winning:
- Anytime goalscorer
- Not to score
- 2 or more (only against very weak opposition)
- 3 or more (only against very weak opposition)
- To score from a header (still risky but good for tall strikers or central defenders who score from set pieces)
- To score from direct free kick (still risky but good for set piece specialists against physical teams)
- To score most goals (good for prolific strikers)
Goalscorer markets to avoid betting on:
Why do bookmakers promote combination goalscorer betting? A win cast, where you back the first scorer and the correct result, being pushed in the shop window, showing very attractive odds. The reason is that in most cases the bookies will win and not the punter, and whilst the value looks good, the outcome requires just too much to happen and is in fact a good money earner for the bookmaker, otherwise they wouldn't go to such lengths to advertise it. Any market that requires a large portion of blind luck where research has little impact will be pushed by the bookies, and those are the ones to avoid. In the case of goalscorer markets, we would recommend avoiding the following markets, as they all require too much blind luck:
- First and Last goalscorer
- All combination markets
- All specialist markets except "to score most goals", "to score from a header" or "to score from a direct free kick" as research can actually help with those markets, although they are still risky.
Part II - Research and Strategy to Increase Chances of Winning
It cannot be said and repeated enough times that research when placing a bet is of the utmost importance. The history and patterns that repeat may stun you, and so they should, and like in anything you do, if you don't put the hard work in do not expect long term success. If you do put the work in though, what you end up giving yourself is a massive head start on most people and the key word here is ADVANTAGE. Make the markets work for you.
Team News: Perhaps the most important factor before placing a bet is team news. Even the best team in the world are going to struggle if certain players are missing. Whilst this article is about goalscorers, and your preferred choice could still be playing, but will the attacking midfielder that has provided 50% of the scorer's assists this season also be playing? Do your research and find out who's likely to be playing, it only takes a few minutes to do so, so there is no excuse, both goalscorers and creative players must be playing. The last thing you want is for your player to start on the bench and come on for a run around with 5 minutes left to play.
Recent Form: Form is critical when picking a goalscorer. It is cliché to say now but if a goalscorer has a poor period of form where they are just waiting for that goal to go in before regaining confidence, they are best avoided. Remember Fernando Torres at Liverpool who couldn't stop scoring? Then remember the same player at Chelsea, who couldn't buy a goal. Form changes and the player needs to be happy, and in a good set up to see the goals. So study the form, most strikers are not as consistent as Lionel Messi and will have patches of good and bad moments.
Player Fitness: Every player will face fitness issues, and before you back a player to score, make sure you are on top of the detail. Is your player returning from an injury? If so no matter how good they are, they won't be as sharp or fit as their 4th or 5th game in. The critical factor is not so much their physical fitness, but their match sharpness. They might still be able to run around all day long but if their first touch is a little off and they aren't yet timing their shooting like they normally would, those are the key factors which will hinder a player from scoring.
Player Transfers: Does a player have a good reputation and a club has just bought them? Then this may present a risk, as even if they have moved to a very attacking team, they may still take time to settle in to that teams style of play before they start scoring. Two good examples this season (2019/20 Premier League) have been Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe and Everton's Moise Kean. Both came with big reputations and can score many goals, but both have struggled to live up to their reputation. In this case you hold back until the first goes in and then follow that market in the ensuing weeks.
Opposition Strengths and Weaknesses: Last season the Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud struggled to score goals in the league, yet in the Europa League and Carabao Cup goals came a lot easier for the French international. We can argue that the pace of the game can be different but maybe he also had a little more time on the ball because the opposition were not at the same high frantic level as in the Premier League. So when you pick out a goalscorer, look at the quality of opposition they are going to face. Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo for example, a player who scores against most teams and runs rings around most defenders, however when up against Ashley Cole in his prime, Ronaldo would always have a very tough time.
Head to Head Records: It doesn't matter if you are betting for the first time or a seasoned professional gambler, you must do your research on the head to heads. The patterns are quite incredible and there are simply teams who hate travelling to certain stadiums. As for goalscorers, it is absolutely true that they love playing against certain teams and managers. It is mostly the set up from the opposing team that plays straight into certain players hands, and it can feel uncanny how many times one player can score against the same team, especially if they have not improved season by season.
In Spain there has been an interesting pattern that has seen teams from the Basque county such as Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna beat the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. They could be bogey teams but football is a psychological game and the Basque teams give everything at home to get the points. Time and again it has happened and yet when the Basque teams visit Barcelona or Real Madrid they are usually defeated by a cricket like score. Do your research, even the most famous teams with unlimited budgets struggle away from home against certain inferior opposition and that in turn is going to affect your goalscorer bets.
Home/Away Record: Does the player you have picked have a clear bias in where their goals come from? Do you fancy them to score away to Southampton and then realise after you have placed the bet that even though they score 20 goals a season only 4 (20%) have come away from home. It happens, and players usually feel more in their element at home. At the same time, some players who are struggling are more than happy to be away from home and not have the pressure of glaring supporters feeling like they are on top of them, and end up performing better on the road. For the most part though if you are backing a quality player, especially a striker to score they should have the confidence to score frequently at home, albeit at reduced odds.
Weather Conditions: Picture a match, say an international, England are playing Kazakhstan and have the players to win the game 5-0. They are away from home and the weather is poor, but Harry Kane should still grab a hat trick. In the end England over power their opponents but make heavy weather of it (pardon the pun) and come out 2-0 winners. The weather, even in England can play a huge part to the outcome of a game and ultimately your bet. What if there are 30mph winds, the ball simply won't play properly. Heavy rain will come into play also, slowing the ball down and giving the players boots less grip making the players less steady on their feet, and players who normally would have scored in a game could just be off because of it.
Importance of Match: In theory every league game is important and so once you've whittled down your choice of goalscorer, that's all that should matter. But be aware. Think first. Does the team the player is with need a win? Have they escaped the relegation zone already? Have they won the league already? Is Top 4 a certainty? Do they have a more important Champions League matches coming up? All of this can impact your bet and make it less or more likely to win. Are you backing a player to score whose team are in good form, if so the importance of the next game is huge to keep that winning momentum going and it is highly likely the player could score and have plenty of chances to do so.
How does player score most of his goals?: In general bets, you are backing the goalscorer to get a goal, so even if it comes off of his backside you won't mind. However in some bets as detailed earlier in the article you can back the scorer to score with his head, direct free kick and outside the box. Is there a pattern with certain players? Do some simply love scoring with their head and feel much more confident in the box to do so? If you know these details you have an edge before the game has even kicked off.
Check Who's on Penalty Duty: Who takes the penalties for the team you are interested in? If it is the player you want to back you have even more chance of a goal and this is especially true now with VAR having the power to call back decisions and award penalties. An example from a West Ham game this season was Mark Noble. West Ham were playing Watford away, research showed that Noble had scored a few goals against Watford and two the last time they had met, one of which a penalty. Noble did then score again away to Watford, and his goal was also a penalty again, as he is the Hammers penalty taker. Showing that with a bit of research, odds of 6.00 start to look pretty good value. If you are unsure of designated penalty takers, which would be normal if not your club, a quick Google search should rectify this for you.
Check For Off The Field Problems: Football is a game of psychology and skill, with a helping of luck. Psychology because humans play it and we are complex beasts. It's not rocket science that if a player is happy at his club, has support of his teammates and manager, he is going to put in a good performance. However even great players can be affected by off the field moments. Have the paparazzi been harassing a player? Is he in the news for drinking at a club in the middle of the wee hours? Is his marriage breaking up? Whilst it is true that we can over think such dilemmas, they can come into play. The personal lives of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are private and should be, but at the same time, and this is an example especially with Sanchez who scored and played for fun at Arsenal, they have become shadows of the players they once were. It is worth keeping a check on which players who are physically fit and yet still not producing on the field.
Goalscorer betting markets offer excellent value because most games end with goals in them. If they didn't this wouldn't be a good market and not as half as popular. On average you can expect to see 2.5 goals a game, and around 2.80 goals over the course of a season for top tier leagues, and most of those goals will inevitably be scored by strikers.
What is so appealing about the goalscorers market is when you want to bet on the game but one team is 1.10 and the other is 15.00 to win, it's too lopsided and warped, and then there is this market which will still offer decent value.
In goalscoring betting the key word is research. Do your homework, and never go in blind. A hunch even if the bet wins, is just that and won't pay off long term. At least with research when you lose you can understand and even learn why it happened. Goalscorer betting markets have really increased over the years and there is no secret why, it keeps you in the game longer than the traditional win, lose or draw markets, which could be over within 10 minutes in some cases.
They say that history is destined to repeat and in football betting that is emphatically true. Now it is time to do the research and reap those benefits on one of the most exciting markets in the game.