The Right Way to Bet on Tennis

Woman Playing Tennis
It’s no secret that sports like football and basketball receive the lion’s share of gambling action throughout the sports calendar. With that being said, overlooked sports like tennis provide a tremendous opportunity for conscientious bettors to make a few bucks.

The reason why typical sports fan doesn’t bet on tennis is simple. They don’t understand the game and aren’t willing to put in the time to learn it. I also have to mention that typical sports fans lose money betting on sports. Get familiar with the way tennis betting works and you might find success where you least expect it.

Before Anything, Get Familiar With Tennis Odds

Just like all your traditional favorites, knowing the odds is crucial in the decision-making process. This is where you can find value.

While there are a few different ways odds are presented across the world, we’ll stick with the “moneyline” as that’s the most familiar in the US.

As in other sports, there are huge favorites (and underdogs) and the risk vs. reward should always be taken into account before placing any tennis bets. With that being said, once you know the odds, here are seven tips to help you win money.

1 – Find Your Specialty

Throughout the year there’s never a shortage of events. Sounds great if you’re a tennis bettor, right? While it’s always nice to have some choices, the real work is finding out which events and players you know best and capitalizing on that.

Unless you have an extremely in-depth model for analyzing trends and results, it’s in your best interest to focus on the events and players you know. You can do both, but choosing either men’s or women’s events can simplify things, and choosing between the challenger circuit or grand slams help refine your knowledge of the sport and tennis betting strategies that work best.

2 – Shop for Sportsbooks

This tip is something that you should be considering for every sports bet you place. Think of it like this—if you were shopping for a new TV and one store had it listed for a cheaper price, and it took no extra work to buy it, why would you pay more elsewhere?

Shopping around for the best odds is as simple as running through four or five online books. They’ll almost always have some variation in odds, and it can only help you. It won’t help your overall winning percentage, but it will give you a more favorable bottom line.

Tennis Ball and Racket on the Tennis Court

An example would be something like this: You want to bet on Roger Federer to win a match. Book A has him listed at -200, Book B has him listed at -215, and Book C has him listed at -185. There’s no reason to pay $200 or $215 for a $100 payout when there’s a book that will pay out the same if you risk only $185.

3 – Track It

This is another tip that isn’t specific to tennis, but it’s probably the most important aspect of sports betting to remember (yes, even more than shopping the books). Always track the in-flow and out-flow of the money you’re wagering.

The reason I included it on this list is because the nature of a tennis tournament is fast-paced and can involve many tennis bets of different odds.

For example, you might bet the spread on 10 NFL games at $100 per game. It’s not difficult to figure out your record, and thus, your total money in and out, because all bets are the same for the most part.

In tennis, you might often play moneylines, which can mean win and loss records don’t mean much. If you choose the right games, you might lose 60% of your tennis bets but still come out ahead in the money. Conversely, you could win the majority of bets but still lose money if a heavy favorite that you bet on loses.

Besides the importance of tracking your money when placing tennis bets, this is just a good habit to get into that will protect you from falling into a bad situation.

4 – Seek the Unseeded

This tip can result in making tremendous value tennis bets, but it takes a little legwork. While it’s true that tournament favorites perform exceptionally well historically, the lower seeds tend to get disproportionately favorable odds.

Rankings are set based on a player’s performance throughout the past year, so it’s not always apparent which players are on a hot streak (or cold streak).

Because the books take uninformed bettors into account, seeded players are often big favorites over unseeded players even when the matchup would not support the odds. If you’re able to do some research and find which seeded vs. unseeded matchups favor the unseeded player, you can find a highly valuable bet that gives you a good chance of winning.

5 – Know Your Tennis Servers

One of the more popular forms of tennis betting involves betting game by game. Just for all those who may not understand the terminology, matches are made of sets and sets are made up of games.

Tennis Player on the Court Holding Out Racket

Players rotate who is serving on a game-by-game basis. For some of the better servers in the sport, a game in which they’re serving means they have an overwhelmingly good chance to win. On the flip side, the players who aren’t strong servers are vulnerable to losing even when they do control the serve.

If you’re planning on live betting games during a match, do a little research to know where each player stands on their serving skills.

6 – Study the Surface

Even those who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the game are probably aware that tennis tournaments take place on a range of surfaces. Unsurprisingly, different surfaces (grass, clay, and hard court) play to the advantages of different players.

The best players are typically consistent across surfaces, but history indicates that even the top players in the game have preferences. It’s unlikely that different surfaces will result in an unseeded player beating a top-seeded player, but when players are closely matched, the surface can have a big impact.

The good news is you don’t have to do hours of research to find which players perform best on which surfaces. This information is readily available and should be looked at, especially when clay and grass courts come into play. You might be able to find a great value play if you’re able to find a matchup where an underdog has a significant advantage when it comes to the surface in the particular match.

7 – Learn the Styles of Tennis

Some players are masters at serving, some thrive by making opponents run all over the court, and others have length that makes them unbeatable at the net. Like all sports, some matchups favor a team, or in this case a player, that wouldn’t be considered the “better” team overall.

Group of People Playing Tennis Game

Knowing the nuances of players’ styles requires a good deal of research, but there’s so much information available that you can gain an understanding without watching hours of tennis matches.

Again, this is another strategy that can help you select underdogs (a.k.a. value picks) and give yourself a better chance of coming out ahead.


Tennis will likely never beat the NFL when it comes to sports gambling, but this can be a good thing if you know how to capitalize on an under-bet sport. Because it’s an individual sport, this can mean there’s a bit more consistency once you get the hang of it.

It’s unlikely that tennis will become the main source of your gambling income over the course of a year, but it can help make the late summer sporting calendar a little more exciting. You might even find you really enjoy the game. Take a few hours to research the players before the next big tournament and add a new game to your sports betting arsenal!