When Is the Best Time to Bet on Football?

Finding value is the most important aspect of betting. But what if you can optimize your edge by making your picks at the right time?

In this article, we will look at the benefits and downsides of various time frames in order to find out when the best time to bet is.

At the opening

Some players choose to bet very early in the week when the lines open up. These players often use statistical models in order to determine edges in advance.

When the market opens, the odds will often be inaccurate, and it is possible to take advantage of this – to a small degree. Because the market limits aren’t that high at the opening. The limits go up as the week progresses since the bookmakers know that they need the sharps to weigh in on the market so that they can adjust the odds.

If you are a hobby or semi-pro bettor, you can definitely get by when betting the opening odds early in the week. This is probably the area where skillful players can get the highest possible ROI per bet (on paper). Early odds are often flawed, so it is easy to spot value. However, since the limits are low in the early week, you will not be able to have a large enough turnover, and that makes this time difficult for pros and big sharps. Also, the bookmakers have a large wig at the beginning, which is gradually going down as the match gets closer and the odds get more precise.

You need a model or deep knowledge about teams to bet early. It can be difficult to get an overview of injuries and manager’s choices so early. Therefore, you need to know the teams well and have a solid idea of how they will line up based on your own knowledge.

TLDR: You can easily find great odds and obtain a strong ROI from betting very early, but you won’t be able to stake super high amounts


  • Highest chance of finding inaccurate odds
  • Being ahead of the market


  • Low market limits
  • No liquidity on exchanges
  • Larger wig
  • Lack of team news information

The day before

We generally believe that this is the best time to place bets.

When you bet the day before a match starts, you get the best of everything. The limits are decent enough for private players – you can bet tens of thousands the day before, so pros can get by here. Syndicates and groups will probably have to wait a little longer, but as a private player, the market limits are sufficient enough here.

The odds are more accurate than early in the week, but there’s still value to be found. You will also have some general team news available and some decent knowledge about injuries and absences.

Betting the day before the match also allows you to track your performance based on the closing line odds since the odds will probably move around a bit on match day. Therefore, you can measure your edge quite precisely compared to the market.

TLDR: Probably the best time to bet. Possible to find value in the odds, and market limits are higher than early in the week.


  • The best of both worlds: Some inaccurate odds, decent market limits
  • Betting with no rush
  • General team news available


  • Medium market limits
  • Odds more accurate than at opening

Right before kickoff

Some of the biggest players out there wait until a half hour before kickoff. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, this is when you can bet the highest amounts. Over the course of the week, the bookmakers have established some odds they are confident in, and the sharp bookies will let you place very high amounts on matchday. The wig also goes down throughout the week, so the best bookmakers will have lines with a 98% theoretical payback rate – it doesn’t get this high at other times.

Second, if you bet right before kickoff, you know exactly who is starting and who is out, and you also know about weather and field conditions.

The major downside is that the odds are quite precise at this time, so you really need some unique knowledge if you are betting at this time. You need to beat the market since the market has already weighed in with the wisdom of the crowd.

It can be more time-consuming than betting days in advance. If you want to bet right before kickoff, you have to prepare for it, you have to sit and be ready for the lineup and for the final odds. If you do that with several matches every weekend, betting will take up a lot of time.

TLDR: Betting at this time will allow you to have maximum turnover and volume, but probably a lower ROI per bet. Depending on your strategy, it can work, but you need to be really sharp.


  • Lowest wig / highest theoretical payback rate
  • Very high market limits
  • Complete certainty about lineup and field conditions


  • Very accurate odds (betting behind the market)
  • Inability to measure performance based on closing line value
  • More time consuming

Live betting

Live betting is super fun, and it is possible to find some major edges here.

If you are watching the game, you will see everything that’s happening. The bookmakers often have algorithms to calculate the odds, particularly in lower and mid football leagues, so if you are watching the game and you spot something interesting, you can strike and win. For instance, if a player gets injured, if the weather changes, if there is a team that is playing extremely well from behind, you might be able to bet before the bookmaker picks up on it.

It requires you to watch the matches with a lot of focus. It also requires you to be very quick at calculating probabilities in your head. You will need to have your laptop or phone near so you can place your bet immediately when you notice something.

Live betting can be time-consuming if you want to have enough volume. You will have to watch a lot of games. Rather than doing a 15-minute pre-match analysis, you have to sit and watch for 90 minutes.

The bookmakers have a higher wig on live betting since they typically turn down their theoretical payback rate by a few percentages. Therefore, betting exchanges work best for live betting. The limits will be lower than pre-game markets, but on the positive side, you can trade, and you can make every decision based on the action that is unfolding at the field.

TLDR: You can have a massive edge when live betting. It is fun. But you need to follow with focus, and you should probably have access to several bookies and exchanges to get high stakes into your bets.


  • Big edge for players with knowledge
  • Most fun way of betting


  • Very time consuming
  • Large wig / low theoretical payback rate
  • Lower limits than pre-game markets


So, when is the best time to bet on football? It depends on your personal preferences because each time has its own benefits and downsides.

For most players, it will be ideal to bet the day before the match. At this time you will find high enough odds that are frequently mispriced, while the limits are okay for private players, and 80% of the team news will be out.

If you want a high ROI per bet, but a low turnover, you can bet early in the week.

Betting at the last moment, right before the match starts, is the opposite – you can have a really high turnover since the market provides its highest limits and odds, but your ROI per bet will be lower since the odds are also more precisely priced.

Live betting is great if you want to have the highest possible edge and if you have some time to invest. Some players are extremely profitable in live betting, but you need to take away your weekends to watch matches.

Whatever you prefer, we hope that you have gained some insights from reading this article. Feel free to share it if you feel that others can learn something as well.

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