Before the internet age you could walk into a betting shop and place a wager on a very limited number of sports. Perhaps you would place a football bet or back a horse or greyhound, you might go left-field and back a rugby team or a snooker player, but in general your options we’re restricted.
The rise of online betting has changed all of this. Now you can simply log into a betting site and within a click or two you can bet on tens of different sports you would never have thought of before, some you may not of even heard of. Within these sports you can also bet on up to hundreds of different markets too, but how do you know how to bet, where to bet, or what to back?
This is why we’ve created a sports betting guide section for BettingWebsites.org.uk where you can find everything you need to know about a sport before you bet on it.
We are a UK website and so the sports we’ve listed on this page are those that would be more unknown to a British audience. We haven’t covered the traditional sports like football, horse racing, rugby, tennis, snooker, darts, etc., as there are a million guides out there on how to bet on them. Rather here we are trying to give you insight into those 20 or 30 bookmaker markets you might not have a clue about.
Even if you do know a little bit about some of the sports on this page our comprehensive guides will still be useful to you as we cover each sport in great depth.
If you fancy branching out and backing a Futsal team, a chess game, handball match, Aussie Rules, lawn bowls, etc., then we’ve got you covered. There is no reason to just place a random wager for the sake of it, if you fancy trying your luck on some more obscure sports then it helps to brush up on the basics first.
In our sports guides you will find everything you need from how the games are played, major competitions, history, trivia and facts and most importantly how to actually bet on them.
Sports Betting Guides
Alpine skiing is essentially the competitive version of something that has been done for hundreds of years; namely using skis as transportation devices to move users from one location to another.
The sporting version involves numerous different disciplines taking place on ski slopes, asking participants to either head downhill as quickly as possible or else to pass through numerous different marker points in a slalom fashion. The Winter Olympics is the best-known competition to offer skiing, having done so since 1936.
Is there a game as popular in one country that struggles to garner the same attention anywhere else as much as American football? It was borne out of rugby, with a slight rule change designed to give it its own spin. It’s also still a relatively young sport, with the ball used in today’s matches only introduced in 1934.
The Super Bowl, which is the event that even the least sporty of people will likely know the name of, started being played in 1966 when the winners of the American Football League and the National Football League went head-to-head to decide who was the best.
The aim of Aussie Rules Football is to score more goals than the opposition, but once you move past that the rules become a tad more complex. As an example, pitches that are used for Aussie Rules games don’t have an specific dimensions that must be adhered to, meaning that the game is often played in the likes of cricket grounds and other areas with an oval pitch.
The game began to take on real significance with the formation of the Victorian Football League in 1896.
To many, badminton is seen as something of a less demanding racquet sport than the likes of tennis because of the floaty nature of it. That would be hugely unfair to its players, however, with the sport demanding immense fitness of its competitors.
References to a sport similar in nature to modern day badminton can be found as long ago as 1863, with the sport’s official rules being drawn up 10 years later. In its essence, it is a game that sees either 2 or 4 competitors go head-to-head to win points by hitting a shuttlecock across a net and into the outlines of a court.
From the same genus as field hockey but with random similarities to association football, bandy might have been one of the most popular winter sports before ice hockey came along.
It involves 11 players taking on another 11 across 2 halves of 45 minutes trying to outscore the opposition. There’s a goalkeeper and the offside rule applies, but unlike football it takes place entirely on ice and involves the use of ice skates and sticks.
There can’t be many sports that are predominantly loved by one country and under-appreciated practically everywhere else despite having a final called the ‘World Series’, yet that’s what you’d have to admit is the case with baseball.
America’s national sport involves two teams with rosters of 25 each go head-to-head over 9 innings, with more being available in the case of a tie. The first game that lovers of the sport nowadays would be able to recognise as having similarities to it took place in June, 1846.
Few games are as thrilling, end-to-end and full of entertainment as basketball, with the fun of the sport heightened by the fact that it can all come down to what happens in the final few minutes of play.
There are 5 players in each team with another 8 available off the bench as the match wears on and the idea is to score more points than your opponent during the 4 quarters of 12 minutes each. Thanks to breaks, time-outs and other moments during the games, they tend to last closer to 2 hours.
Beach soccer is a variation of the world’s most popular sport, association football. If there is a surface you could possibly kick a ball on then there will be a variation of the sport to go with it. In another century I’m sure there will be a world cup of moon football.
Though it first began to be played competitively in Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the rules of the game were formally codified. Beach Soccer Worldwide is the main organising body, with FIFA having taken over the running of the main tournament in 2005. Unsurprisingly, Brazil are the sport’s most successful team, though random nations like Iran are also competitive
Beach volleyball is, as the name suggests, an offshoot of standard volleyball that is specifically played on sand. There are some variations between the two sports, with the most glaringly obvious one being the fact that beach volleyball teams only have two players in them compared to the six on each side in normal volleyball.
The rules are pretty much still the same, with sets played to 21 apart from the final set that goes to 15 and teams needing to win two sets to win the match.
To some, biathlon might look like something that they’d expect to see in a James Bond film, given that it requires competitors to ski for a certain distance and stop to shoot targets a number of times during the course. Usually it’s four times, with biathletes shooting from either a prone or standing position depending on the event.
There are numerous different types of biathlon event, including individual races and mass starts.
How many sports are as quintessentially English as lawn bowls? Walk around almost any park in Britain and you’ll see the well manicured grass and curious gulley that makes up the pitch on which the game is played. The Southampton Old Bowling Green dates back to 1299, giving you some indication of just how long this has been an English pastime.
Players take it in turns to roll their balls at a jack elsewhere on the green, earning a point each time the bowl ends up closer to the jack than one of their opponents. That, in essence, is it; though obviously the sport’s proponents would tell you there’s far more to it than that.
Chess is one of the oldest and most challenging games around, it has been around in various guises for over 1500 years and is still revered as one of the most intellectual pursuits there is.
It differs itself from the majority of sports because it one that is about mental prowess more than physical. Football might be a sport where tactics are talked of, but a football match can be won because of physicality as much as anything else. The same cannot be said of chess, which requires players to be focussed throughout. Developed in India, it has grown and changed since then to become a series of fascinating encounters.
With so much strategy involved it can be difficult to predict, but if you like to bet on the sport of Chess make sure you know what you are doing and where the best places to wager are.
Cross-country skiing involves competitors travelling courses of different lengths that take in numerous different terrains. Sometimes they’ll need to travel uphill and sometimes across the flat, replicating the courses that travellers would have had to use in the days when skiing was done for the purposes of transportation rather than amusement.
There are different types of cross-country event, with the most prestigious tournament being the Winter Olympics.
Curling comes from the same family of sports as the likes of boules and lawn bowling, with a target at one end and a thing to try to hit it with being sent from the other.
The major differences are that this is played on ice, with large granite stones being the things that are being delivered at the target, whilst people with brooms run alongside them and try to steer the direction that they go in and stop them from over-shooting or under-shooting their mark.
Few sports are as different on the competitive level as they are from the entry-level as cycling, with young children learning to do it from an early age but the professionals operating in a different stratosphere.
Cycling also breaks down into numerous different sub-categories, with road cycling and track cycling having their own variations within them. From the Tour de France through to the Summer Olympics, there are loads of cycling events to bet on during the year.
Cyclo-cross is essentially a mixture of normal bike racing with off-road racing around a course that’s normally about 3 kilometres in length. Of that, around 90% of the course is rideable but the other 10% sees competitors have to dismount their ride and carry it briefly.
They can have assistance during the course from people that can give them a spare bike and clean and maintain the main bike whilst they’re using the spare.
Will sports fans in a hundred years look back at eSports with the same sense of reverence that football lovers discuss their favoured game today? If the amount of money involved in the discipline is anything to go by then it is certainly entirely possible.
For want of a better phrase, eSports are essentially competitive computer games, broken down into 5 different types: fighting, first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, sports and multiplayer battles. The result is that there are no set rules nor ways of playing, but there is one thing that matters above all else: winning.
Floorball is one of many sports that comes from the same genus as hockey, essentially being like an indoor version of bandy.
Two teams of 6 players, one of whom is the goalkeeper, take each other on over three periods of 20 minutes each to see who can score the most goals. It’s a fast-paced, exciting game that lacks the physical battle of ice hockey but is nevertheless a thrilling watch.
Futsal is essentially a small version of five-a-side, but played with very specific rules that make it a fast and frenetic sport to watch and play. Having started life in Uruguay and on the streets of Brazil, it has since gone on to be the only version of five-a-side officially approved by FIFA.
As well as South America the sport is popular also in parts of Europe, Russia and Japan. Punters enjoy its high-scoring nature and the fact that it is relatively new, making it fun to bet on.
Gaelic football’s exact origins are unclear, as is the possibility of it and Aussie rules football having a common link.
What we do know is that the game involves two teams of 15 players taking each other on to score more points than the other, with points being awarded at a rate of 1 for kicking the ball over the bar and between the posts of the H shaped goal and 3 for getting it into the back of the net that covers the lower half of the H.
Handball involves 2 teams with 7 players on each attempting to outscore each other in 2 halves of 30 minutes each. It is played on a court that is 40 metres by 20 metres, with goals at either end.
Players can dribble the ball in a similar manner to basketball, though what adds uniqueness to the event is the fact that only the goalkeepers can touch the floor within their area. Goals can be scored from within the area but the ball must be released before the player hits the deck.
Harness racing involves horses racing against each whilst pulling a small cart known as a sulky that contains a jockey. The horses are usually Standardbreds and the race in 1 of 2 disciplines: pacing or trotting.
Trotting sees the horse move in the standard way with their legs working in diagonal opposites, whilst pacing requires them to move the 2 legs on the same side as each other at the same time. Popular in America, Australia and New Zealand, harness racing also takes place in central Europe.
Many believe that a sport similar to hurling has been played in Ireland for thousands of years, pre-dating the history of the country itself.
What we can tell you is that this sport sees two teams of apiece take each other on using sticks to move a ball around a pitch.
At the end of said pitch there’s an ‘H’ shaped goal that players get 1 point for scoring in the top of and 3 points for getting the ball into the goal of.
This Canadian export was a natural progression of the sport of hockey but played on a wintery day. A 1797 engraving showed people playing field hockey on a frozen river Thames, though the game’s real development began when British soldiers were sent to Canada in the 1800s.
The game that is widely considered to be the first true game of ice hockey as we understand it now took place in 1875 and the sport has evolved and been popularised ever since. The game is played over 3 periods of 20 minutes, with overtime being possible if there’s no winner at the end of that. Each team is made up of 6 players, one of which must be a goalkeeper.
MotoGP is the highest level of motorcycle racing in the world, essentially operating as the motorcycle equivalent to Formula 1. There are four different divisions of the discipline, which are imaginatively named MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE.
The latter is for electronic motorcycles, whilst the others are dictated by the engine size, amongst other things. MotoGP isn’t the only form of motorcycle racing in the world, of course, with numerous different types available.
NASCAR began life in 1948 but can trace its roots back to the days of prohibition era America. That was when bootleggers needed to drive faster cars than the authorities that looked just like a normal vehicle, creating the idea of ‘stock’ cars that were much faster than the norm.
Nowadays it’s big business, with 3 main series that are run over the course of a season but plenty more besides taking place throughout the United States.
Netball involves two teams with seven players on each attempting to win the match by scoring more goals than the other. Games typically last for an hour and are broken up into four quarters of 15 minutes each.
Players have specific positions that are denoted by initials printed onto their bibs such as GA (Goal Attack) and GS (Goal Shooter), the two of which are the only players that are allowed to score goals. Players can’t move when holding the ball and must pass within three seconds of taking possession.
Poker is a card game in which players bet against each other based on the strength of their hand. In terms of being a spectator sport, the most popular variation of poker is Texas Hold’em, which involves players being dealt 2 cards of their own and using them alongside 5 community cards to create a hand made up of 5 cards in total.
The most famous tournament that you can watch and bet on is the World Series of Poker, which began life in 1970 in Las Vegas.
Anyone who has ever been into the right sort of pub will know how to play pool, but what most may not realise is that the sport we play over a pint isn’t the one that the majority of competitions use as their basis. Instead, they opt for a variation of pool called 9-ball, which features 10 balls including the cue ball and requires players to hit the lowest-numbered ball on the table first.
The player that legally pots the 9-ball wins the game, with the possibility of that happening coming at any time during the game thanks to the fact that balls do not need to potted in numerical order.
Rallying is a very specific type of racing which involves the use of standard cars that have been adapted to cope with the surfaces that they have to race on. This is for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that rallies tend to take place on roads that have been temporarily closed to the public to allow the events to take place.
The races are usually point-to-point, as opposed to those disciplines like F1 that ask drivers to race on circuits. Rally drivers are joined in the car by co-drivers who help them navigate the courses.
Rowing has been taking place as a competitive sport for men since the 19th century, though the women’s side of the sport wasn’t really allowed to develop until the 20th century.
There are numerous different disciplines within rowing, including different styles of rowing that need to be decided before the races take place. The most famous examples of racing events include the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, rowing at the Summer Olympics and the Harvard-Yale Regatta.
Ski jumping is one of those sports that looks like it’s difficult to do because it definitely is. It can also appear to be a little impenetrable for the uninitiated on account of the fact that the scoring is determined by the decisions of judges who look for things such as style and distance.
A sport made famous from a British point of view by Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, there are different types of ski jumps the competitors can take on based on the distance they need to cover.
On the one hand, speedway appears as if it’s just motorcycle racing. The reality is, though, that it is more complicated than that, if for not other reason that the motorcycles used aren’t allowed to have any brakes.
The surface that the races take place on has a top layer of loose dirt that allows the drivers to throw themselves around the corners in a powersliding motion that is a crucial part of the event’s excitement.
Squash was a sport that actually developed out of numerous other sports. The most notable was Real Tennis, which was all the rage in the 18th century. Another was fives, played in public schools on specially built courts. The third sport that helped to influence squash was one called racquets, which was a version of Real Tennis developed by prisoners in a jail in London.
The three sports were amalgamated to become the game that we know today as squash, which is played to 11 points using rackets and balls.
One of Australia’s key exports in a sporting sense, the Supercars Championship is a motor racing event that takes place on tracks throughout the country as well as in numerous international locations. Regulated by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, there are numerous different race formats that take place throughout the season.
The most common is a pair of 250 kilometre races that together make up the likes of the Adelaide 500, which attracts more than 250,000 spectators. The cars used are based loosely on their on-road equivalents.
Is surfing a sport or is it an art form? The answer you get to that question will largely depend on who you ask, but certainly those from the Polynesian culture that are widely credited with creating it in a first place might even go so far as to describe it as more of a religious experience than anything else.
Surfing requires competitors to ride waves on boards and do so in a manner that demonstrates bravery, ingenuity, creativity and strength in order to win points off the judges and win competitions and sponsorships.
Having started life as a pleasant game played in the parlours of Victorian England, table tennis grew and progressed to become an Olympic Sport in 1988. It requires either two individual players or two pairs to use bats, sometimes called paddles, to hit a ball back and forth over a net in order to become the first team to reach 11 points.
Points are awarded when players can’t get the ball back to their opponent legally, with players having the ability to win points at any point during a match.
Touring car racing is essentially a variant of the motorsport industry that sees modified road-going cars go up against one another in races. It is similar to the stock car racing of the United States, which quite literally uses the ‘stock cars’.
The biggest difference comes in the fact that the manufacturers are allowed to alter and change numerous aspects of the cars that they use, with the predominant feature that can’t be changed being the car’s silhouette, or body shape.
UFC isn’t a sport but rather an organisation within a sport in the same way that the Premier League is an organisation within football. The sport it’s a part of is mixed martial arts, which, as the name suggests, sees fighters employ different aspects of numerous martial arts disciplines.
It is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, thanks in no small part to the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Volleyball is a game that is confusing to follow for an outsider, but very much worth it in terms of visual rewards. Played to 25 points in a set and best-of-five-sets in a match, the game has been part of the Olympic Games’s roster since 1964.
It might seem like a relatively simple game to understand but in reality is actually hugely complex, with players having to shift positions on the court each time a point is lost and temporary roles such as the libero being part of the tactics.
Water polo is a game played between two teams of 7 players, made up of 6 outfield players and a goalkeeper. The idea is to score more goals than the opposition, with teams having 30 seconds to attempt a shot on goal before possession of the ball is ceded to the other side.
Players are not allowed to touch the floor of the pool, instead having to tread water to stay afloat. Matches consist of 4 periods of 8 minutes in length, though the clock is stopped when the ball goes out of play.
Professional wrestling as we know it nowadays is a mix of entertainment and performance, with the results of matches known in advance and dictated by the script writers. That doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch, though, given that the information on who will win is typically withheld from the audience.
The WWE is unquestionably the biggest promoter in the sport, having numerous different brands like Raw and NXT that are hugely popular. It also offers major pay-per-view events such as WrestleMania and SummerSlam.