What are booking points and how do they work?
When it comes to sports betting, one of the greatest things is being able to bet on a variety of different markets. If you’re still sticking with outright markets and choosing an individual or team to win an event, you’re severely limiting the experience. Nowadays, if we take football as an example, it’s possible to bet on goals, corners, individual players, fouls, and booking points. As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this last one is our focus for this guide!
What Are Booking Points?
In our experience, the reason people get so confused with booking points is that it’s something that takes place away from the sport itself. When somebody scores a goal, this directly correlates to the goals section of the betting market. With booking points, it’s actually a system devised by bookmakers to make the market more interesting. Rather than betting on three yellow cards and one red card, for instance, we bet on a certain number of booking points, with points being awarded for each card in the game.
If you’ve been avoiding this market because of the points system, please know that it’s actually incredibly easy to learn. Fortunately, most bookmakers use the same scoring system too.
The Booking Points System
With all bookmakers, they assign 10 points to a yellow card and 25 points to a red card. Therefore, a game where five players receive a yellow card has 50 booking points. If you put £10 on 50+ booking points, you’ll win. Easy, right?
The only potential difficulty comes with multiple yellow cards and the consequent red card. Don’t worry, this is easy to calculate too. If somebody receives two yellows and a red, the bookmaker counts the second yellow as a red card. Therefore, the first yellow counts as 10 points and the second yellow (effectively a red card) counts as 25 points. In total, 35 points are added to the game’s total.
As mentioned, most betting markets in this area ask players to choose the total number of booking points in the game. Therefore, all cards in the game contribute to the overall booking points. In some cases, you might see bets for 40+ booking points for a specific team; bear in mind that only cards for this team will contribute to the total rather than both teams.
Using a Booking Points Calculator
Just like any other market, there are research opportunities when betting on booking points. For example, we like to use betting points calculators. Here, you’ll find all the pertinent statistics you need to make strong decisions in the market. For example, we can see within seconds that Arsenal have received 227 cards in their last 76 games. Amongst this 227, this includes 4 red cards – one at home and three away.
As you research different teams, you’ll see that some receive more cards and booking points than others. If two teams with a record for lots of booking points are playing each other, this could be a chance to go high and win some good money. On the other hand, two teams with cleaner records might lead you to an ‘under’ booking points market.
With the right calculator, you’ll learn the exact records for the two teams involved in a fixture. Although we can never guarantee an outcome following form alone, it’s always a great place to start.
Common Booking Points Markets
You now know all about how booking points are calculated, but how do you put this to good use on a betting website? Here are some of the most common booking points markets:
Most Booking Points – Here, you’ll choose between two teams in a single fixture according to who you think will get the most booking points. For example, let’s say that it’s a feisty Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers. If you choose Celtic to have more booking points, you’ll need them to get more yellow and red cards. Of course, a red card is worth 25 so a straight red will outweigh two yellows from the other team.
Home/Away Booking Points – Sometimes, you want to bet on an individual team without worrying about what the other team is doing. This market allows you to choose a home or away team to finish with a certain number of booking points. Will you choose to go under 20 points? Over 30 points? Or for an exact number? Be careful, you’ll need the precise number of booking points to win this last bet.
Total Booking Points – This time, we’re choosing a number of booking points for the whole fixture. Do you think there will be more than 50+ booking points in the game? If so, feel free to bet this way. These days, bookmakers break down this market into multiple sections so you can choose the exact number of booking points you desire.
Half Booking Points – We’ve seen total booking points, and this next market is exactly the same but for the first/second half instead of the whole game. If, at half time, you predict a fierce second half, go into this market and choose one of the options. Since it’s more common for cards to be awarded in the second half, you need to pay attention to the odds and choose carefully.
Other Card-Related Markets – These are the main four options for booking points, but your experience with cards doesn’t need to end here. You’ll find the following markets too:
- Card handicaps
- Total team cards
- Total cards
- Specific players to be booked
- Time of first and last card
- Specific players to be sent off
- Total match cards (odd or even)
Benefits of Betting on Booking Points
Why should you consider betting on booking points?
1. No Importance on Match Outcome
We know that some bettors are sick and tired of losing money on match outcomes; just when a team goes on a winning streak, they decide to go and lose as soon as we have money on them. With booking points bets, the score and outcome have no relevance at all. It doesn’t matter if a League Two team pulls off an upset against the Premier League winners in the FA Cup. As long as you predict the number of cards correctly, this is all that matters.
2. Lots of Markets
As we saw in the previous section, we can bet on booking points in several ways. Fancy a particular team to get more cards than the other? Think a particular player will get sent off? Believe a game will be particularly hot-tempered? Just imagine having access to these markets back in the ‘Keane v Vieira’ days.
3. Keeps Games Interesting
Sometimes, even the most avid football fans get a little bored watching one-sided games. By betting on booking points, you can actually make events more interesting. Even if a game is 4-0 at half-time, your own bet could go all the way to 90 minutes, and you have a reason to keep watching.
4. Complement Normal Betting
Finally, this isn’t something that replaces everything else you enjoy about betting. If you still want to bet on outright markets, there’s no reason why you can’t continue. With booking points betting, you have a way to spice up the betting experience and give yourself a chance of winning even when no other bets go your way.
How to Place a Booking Points Bet
In terms of logistics, there’s no difference between placing a booking points bet and any other bet. Scroll through the markets, make a selection, and then place a stake in the bet slip. However, there’s a difference between placing a bet and placing a bet that has a chance of winning. With booking points bets, we have an opportunity to research before placing any money. Pay attention to the following when looking at a fixture:
- Team/Player History – How common are bookings for the two teams involved? Are there particular players that get booked most weeks?
- History of Fixture – Even with months in between each occasion, certain fixtures generate more cards than others. Fixtures like Arsenal vs Tottenham and Arsenal vs Liverpool tend to generate lots of goals. On the other hand, there are some fixtures known for lots of booking points.
- Line-Up – The last thing you want after choosing a player to get sent off is for them not to be in the line-up. Make sure you know the line-ups and that the players who get booked most are present if you go for high booking points (the opposite, if low points!).
- Event Importance – Put it this way, a friendly game isn’t going to generate as many cards as a competitive Premier League game. The same goes for testimonials and charity games. Of course, derbies tend to have lots of bookings.
- Referee – Finally, look at the referee and how many cards they give on average per game.
If you keep all this in mind, you can have fun with booking points bets (and hopefully win too!).
Carl Hughes - Editor
Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".