A guide to betting on cards in football matches

A part and parcel of football is players getting cautioned or even sent off. This is a small part of the bigger game, but when a player receives a red card for a serious misdemeanour on the pitch, then that can have a major impact on the game.

A team who may have been on top in the fixture may suddenly find themselves with their backs against the wall, playing with a man less than their opponents. So cards do have an impact and there are betting options available on this area of football.

Understanding the cards

There are a whole host of ways that players can find themselves receiving a yellow card in a football match.

Yellow cards are cautions for minor indiscretions like a clumsy tackle, time-wasting or celebrating a goal by ripping off your shirt. But two yellow cards in the same match and the player is shown a red and sent off.

A mistimed tackle or a tug on the shirt of an opponent is enough to get a player into the referee’s book. With the arrival of VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee) the game has gotten even more nit-picky and players can now be cited without the referee on the pitch having seen an incident.

The one thing no player wants to see the referee brandishing is a red card. Players can receive a straight red card for a more serious foul like deliberately bringing down a defender who is clean through on goal.

A straight red card means no prior warning (a yellow card) was issued and that means a longer match ban.

It’s important of course to get a little understanding of what cards are given out for by a referee in a football match. That is to help understand the likelihood of how many may be given in a game. Also, there’s a train of though that a defender getting a yellow card early in a game could potentially be less inclined to be as fiercely competitive as without one. So cards have impact.

Bookmakers offering betting on cards in football

Because football betting is such a major part of any bookmakers sportsbook, you are likely going to find football card betting options wherever you look. At least at the major bookmakers like Betway and 22Bet will have card markets.

One way to approach card betting is to wait for live in-play action and being able to watch a game live at the same time. This way a real feel of the game can be taken and that can be a valuable thing for card betting.

If you are watching Liverpool v Manchester United for example, then you can see which defender is having early trouble shutting down attackers, or which midfield is starting to put in some feisty challenges.

An analytical look at card betting

The event of a red card being shown in a match is rare in the grand scale of how many games are played in a season. Just as an example, in the completed 2018/19 English Premier League, more than half of the twenty teams finished with one or two red cards for the season only. There were 47 red cards in the course of the season from 380 matches.

At the 2018 World Cup, there were only four red cards from the 64 matches that were played in Russia and just one of those was a straight red card. That is roughly one every eight games, so very infrequent. So while there is a proposition market of a Red Card being shown in a game, such as available at bookies like BetLion, it’s worth remembering that they don’t happen too often.

But yellow cards do happen more frequently. In fact, it is hard to not find a game which does not have at least one yellow card issued by the referee.

So no proposition market on a yellow card being shown in a match is going to offer any kind of value. That’s because it’s so common. However, you can back, with what would be a bold pick, which player is the first to be shown a card in the game.

Let’s explore card betting markets.

Types of Card Betting markets

Here are the common Card Betting markets available in football betting.

First Team Booking: There are three options available in the First Team Booking market. Either team can be selected to receive the first warning or a No Booking option (which covers the entire match).

To Be Shown A Card: This is a player-based market so the punter has to correctly predict which player is going to get a card (either red or yellow, it doesn't matter). It’s an unpredictable market and you are not only dealing with the 22 players starting the game, but substitutes too.

First player Booking: This is a similar market to the above but with a major condition on it. Who will be the first player to go into the referee's book? Again, it is 22 players that start the game plus it’s viable for a substitute to come and be the first to get a yellow card.

Build a Bet and Totals: A couple of variations of playing a Card Betting wager in a game could be through a bet builder or a total market. Bet Builder tools allow punters to create their own bet from pre-determined markets and in there it could be the number of cards shown in a match. Similarly, it may be possible to find a Totals (Over/Under) market on the number of cards shown in a match.

Player To Bet Sent Off: This is a market which is even more unpredictable than picking which player is going to get a yellow card. Who will get a red?

The unpredictability of card betting

As can be seen in some of the card betting markets above, Card Betting markets in football are extremely unpredictable. Some relative reasoning may help narrow the markets however. Perhaps a team has a player who consistently gets more yellow cards per season than his teammates.

That is the kind of thing a punter could look to make a selection in a To Be Shown A Card market perhaps. Defenders are generally a bit more prone to receiving bookings in matches because they are the ones doing the bulk of the tackling and physical work. Therefore you will find defenders and defensive midfielders as the shorter-priced options in the player Card Betting football markets.

At the end of the day any football betting market where you have to pick the First player to do something is tough. They are massively unpredictable markets and that is immediately recognisable in the long odds that are on offer on even the favourites in such markets.

Football card betting summary

Most of the card betting markets that are available for football betting are not the most viable or bettor-friendly ones. There’s no statistical reasoning that points to a particular player being the first to get booked in a fixture for example. So this is an area where more viable straight propositions bets in card betting, for shorter odds, may actually be the better route to explore.

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