Tennis betting is rising in popularity in part due to the widespread legalization of sports wagering across many states. With the addition of live or in-play tennis betting that interfaces with most mobile sports wagering platforms, more people than ever before are seeing the money that can be made through smart bets.
Alongside regular tennis games, you can also place bets on tennis tours or major tournaments. This guide will break down everything you need to know about how to bet on tennis in Illinois.
Tennis betting 101
All tennis betting odds will be represented with either “+” or “-“ symbols. The former is used with odds for underdogs, or those less likely to win a particular wager condition. The latter is used with odds for favorites, or those more likely to win a wager condition.
Odds are typically represented by factors of 100, with a few exceptions. They show you how much money you stand to win or lose. For example, tennis odds of +500 tell you that wagering $100 will let you win $500 if your player is successful.
On the flip side, odds of -400 tell you that you would need to wager at least $400 to win $100.
Sports bettors can make a wide variety of wagers based on type. Each wager type has different win conditions and can be better or worse for your goals depending on how well you know the sport or whether you’re just making wagers for fun.
How do odds work in tennis?
Let’s break down how betting odds work for some of the most popular tennis sports wagers.
Outright bets (sometimes called “to-win” bets) are wagers that simply require you to predict who will win a tournament. If you believe that Serena Williams is going to win the next tennis tournament, you can put money down on her performance and you’ll get a payout if she’s successful.
Match bets are a little different. Rather than predicting who will win an entire tournament, these wagers just require you to bet on who will win an individual match.
Then there’s handicap betting. It’s tennis’ version of spread betting. In a nutshell, oddsmakers produce betting lines with a set number of points or sets. The sports bettor’s job is to predict whether:
- The favorite player will win by more than the handicap amount
- The underdog will either win the match by any amount or lose by less than the handicap amount
For example, say that you find a betting line for two players with a handicap spread of 5.5. Player A is the favorite and Player B is the underdog. The odds will look something like this:
- Player A – 5.5 (-200)
- Player B – – 5.5 (+300)
In this case, bettors wagering on Player A would need that player to win by at least six points to take home money. Bettors wagering on Player B have more victory conditions in exchange for wagering on the underdog. All Player B has to do to give a sports bettor a payday is to win the match by any amount or lose by five points or less.
Game spread bets can also be fun choices. With these wagers, you bet on how many games a particular player will win compared to another player in a single match. Remember that, in tennis, there are multiple games in a single match.
One betting line with a spread bet may give Nadal a spread of -1.5 while giving Djokovic a spread of +2.5. In this case, you can bet on Nadal and wager that he will win at least two more games compared to Djokovic.
Set spread bets are somewhat similar. They have you wager on who will win the most sets in a match. For those not aware of tennis terms, a set has at least six games. Whichever player wins the majority of sets in a particular match wins the match.
You may also find over/under bets. These are similar to handicap bets in that you look at how many games or sets will be played. You put money down on whether a particular player will win or lose by a certain number of sets or games.
As you can see, betting in tennis can be technically complex but also a lot of fun. The intricacy and complexity of tennis sports betting means that experienced wagerers stand to make a lot of money if they study the game closely and learn what profitable tennis betting lines look like.
Live betting on tennis matches
While all major sportsbooks offer the above sports wagering options for tennis, many are also now offering live tennis wagers.
Live wagers allow you to place bets in the middle of a tennis match, either while using an integrated live stream interface on your sportsbook or by visiting a retail sports betting location. Algorithms automatically create or update wagers and odds in the middle of matches, allowing sports bettors to put money down as events unfold.
While you can’t adjust any wagers you place after finalizing a bet, this can still be a really fun way to enjoy online tennis betting in the moment. Basic live bets include:
- Match bets
- Handicap bets
- Prop bets (more on those below)
- And more
In general, the most profitable bets are those that provide some possibility of underdog payouts. Smart sports bettors can watch a tennis match unfold and realize that an underdog may have more of a chance of victory than initially calculated by oddsmakers, quickly putting money down and taking big profits thanks to in-play betting.
Tennis betting futures
Alongside the above-mentioned wager types, tennis sports bettors will be able to place wagers on futures lines. In a nutshell, this means wagering on the winner of an entire tournament, such as the Australian Open.
Futures odds are usually represented with high values (like +2000 or -3000) to represent potentially high payouts if you place an early wager and are correct. Naturally, the further out you place your wager, the greater the likelihood of a big win.
However, it’s tougher to accurately predict the winner of a big tournament far in advance. You can place futures bets as the season progresses and as a tournament draws closer to an end. Odds are updated all the while and gradually become lower as bettors are able to make more accurate predictions.
Futures betting is popular because of its potential payout but it’s also somewhat risky. For example, you might place a wager on Serena Williams winning the next Women’s Tennis Tournament, but if she sprains her ankle in the middle of the season, your wager will be lost automatically.
Other futures bets may concern the performance of players, such as whether a particular player will win a set number of games, whether a player will win a Player of the Year award, and so on.
Prop betting in tennis
Then there are prop or proposition bets. In tennis, as in other sports, prop bets involve placing a wager on a specific event within a game. These can be creative wagers and are great ways to win money without having to bet on the outcome of the game, tournament, or something similar.
Prop bets can include things like:
- Which player will last longest in a given tournament in a head-to-head matchup wager
- Whether there will be a tie-breaking in the match
- How many total games will be played in a match
- Whether a player will be eliminated by a certain round
- And so on
There’s no real limit to the creativity you might see on display with tennis prop bets. So be sure to check the prop betting markets with your favorite sportsbook to see what they offer during the season!
Tennis betting rules
These comprise any specific tennis betting rules, including suspended matches, ball served, first or second set, and match completed.
Most sportsbooks abide by a set of tennis betting rules that cover niche circumstances such as when a player is suspended from a tournament, when a game doesn’t take place and bets have already been placed, and more.
While the exact rules will vary from book to book, many follow rules like these ones:
- Walkover wins, which occur when a player advances because their opponent pulls out of a tournament match before the match begins. All bets are void in these cases
- If a player retires because of an injury during a match and the opponent advances, bets are also void
- Moneyline bets are considered begun or “in action” as soon as the first ball is played for many books
- However, many other sportsbooks may require at least one tennis set to be completed before moneyline bets are in action
- Bets are generally still valid if rain or other weather conditions cause a tennis match to be delayed or change venue
- And more
Betting on tennis Grand Slams
Tennis’ Grand Slam events — the French Open, US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon — are the biggest tournaments of the tennis year. All of these are contested over the course of two weeks and each contains five categories.
- French Open — Played in May and early June each year in Paris on clay courts. Popular winners of this tournament include Rafael Nadal.
- US Open — Takes place in New York on hard court surfaces. It’s one of the oldest tennis tournaments as it first began in 1881.
- Australian Open — The first Grand Slam tournament each year. Played on hard court in Melbourne Park in Melbourne around mid-January.
- Wimbledon — First played in 1877, it’s played on grass and begins in July in Great Britain.
Betting on ATP/WTA tennis tours
You can also bet on ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) or WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tours. The primary ATP Tour consists of three levels called the Masters 1000 Series, 500 Series, and 250 Series. Each of these tournaments allows you to place wagers on match outcomes, futures bets on the overall tournament outcomes, prop bets, and more.
Some of the most important tour events to find betting lines for include:
- ATP Finals – held in November in Italy (ATP)
- Paris Masters – held in November in Paris (ATP)
- Dubai Tennis Championships – held in February in Dubai (ATP)
- Swiss Indoors – held in October in Switzerland (ATP)
- Sydney International – held in January in Sydney (ATP)
- WTA Finals – held in October in China (WTA)
- Dubai Tennis Championships – held in February in Dubai (WTA)
- Pan Pacific Open – held in September in Japan( WTA)
- WTA Elite Trophy – held in October in China (WTA)
- Italian Open – held in May in Italy (WTA)
Betting on Davis Cup/Fed Cup
Some US sportsbooks will also include wagering opportunities for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments. These are international team events that are held annually (Davis for men and Fed for women).
The top 16 teams compete in these tournaments through four rounds until they get to the final. Futures bets and other types of wagers are extremely popular for these events.
Tennis betting FAQ
What is spread betting in tennis?
Handicap betting in tennis is essentially the same thing as spread betting in other sports markets. With handicap betting, you bet on whether an underdog player will either win the game or lose by less than a certain amount or whether the favorite player will win the game by more than a certain number of points.
What happens with bets in a suspended match?
In most cases, suspended matches result in bets being refunded or voided to all sports bettors.
How do I find the best tennis betting lines?
It’s a good idea to shop around for high-quality betting lines by checking out different sportsbooks. Books may get their odds from different sources or have different information, resulting in slightly variable potential payouts for certain wagers. Check out all the available sportsbooks you can sign up for and place a wager on the most profitable betting lines you can find.
How do different surfaces affect tennis betting?
There are three different tennis playing surfaces: grass, clay, and hard court. Each of these can affect player performance, as certain players may do better when they play games with a certain type of surface, compared to others.
All of this can affect the odds for a match outcome or a prop bet’s win condition. So learn what playing surfaces different players prefer and use that information to determine whether a particular betting line is a good bet.
How does serving work in tennis?
Serving means hitting the tennis ball over the net first in a round. A player must serve the ball by tossing it into the air and striking it with their racket. The ball has to land in the service box that is opposite the round server to count. Players often prefer serving since it gives them the chance to set the initial tone for the tennis match. Who serves is determined by a coin toss prior to the round.