How to start betting on ATP

How to start betting on ATP

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that once football is over, I focus on tennis, namely ATP men’s tennis. Tennis (ATP) is the purest sport on the planet. There is no coaching, just you and your opponent. If you’re in a jam, you can’t call the booth and get the next piece. You have to figure it out for yourself and then execute. It’s glorious. I am truly in love with the game of tennis.

OK…get distracted now. I’ve been watching tennis for a long, long time, but I’m aware that there are still so many new people on “Gambling Twitter” seeing tennis picks posted daily. If you’re new to the game, here are some tips to help you feel comfortable betting on tennis by at least following along or maybe even involving yourself in your own study. Let’s start with the pure basics first.

tennis score

First, it helps to understand how tennis is scored. There are four major championship tournaments per year: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. These events are a best-of-five sets. The rest of the tournaments that are not Grand Slam events are best-of-three sets. There is usually a lot more volatility in a best-of-three than a best-of-five simply because of the shortened matches.

In a best of three, a player must win two sets to win the match. In a best of five, a player must win three sets.

In a set, there are games. The first player to six games wins a set, or in the event of a tie, both players win six games each, then the first player to win a seventh game after a tiebreak wins the set.

In a game, there are points. Tennis scoring is fun. While other sports in the United States are your typical numerical point system, tennis does not. Four points win a game: 15, 30, 40, game. If there is a tie at 40 (two), the next winning point is an advantage, and if the “ad” player wins the next point, then it’s play.

Rafael Nadal is one of the biggest tennis stars. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)

The most common betting options

Define spread

In a best of three, the set gap option will be 1.5 sets, which means a player must win in a row in two sets (-1.5) or the underdog will win at least a set (+1.5).

In a best-of-five, the set spread will be 2.5 or 1.5. The 2.5 is most often in matches with the biggest names such as Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev or Rafael Nadal. For a favorite to win -2.5 sets, they must win in three consecutive sets. For the underdog to cover +2.5, they must win at least one set. Similarly, for a favorite to win -1.5 sets, they must win the match in four sets or better, 3-1 or 3-0. For the underdog to cover +1.5 sets, they must win at least two sets in a match.

Spread of the game

Similar to football, tennis offers an array of games. Regardless of the number of sets won or lost, a player must win or lose by a certain number of games in a match. The funny thing about tennis: a player can actually win matches and still lose a match. In a best of three game spreads are usually 1 to 7 and in a best of five, 1 to 10.


As with other sports, you just need to pick a winner. In tennis, you can see crazy prices for favorites – over -10,000 – because of anyone in the top five. That’s why playing tennis is kind of the norm. There is such a lack of talent, especially at the majors, that playing certain favorites is common practice.

ATP stats to use for betting

One-on-one story

I personally don’t use stats, certainly not the way I use data for the PGA or football. There is one site that I use, however, and that is It provides a head-to-head history of all players. This is really important because in tennis you tend to see frequent rematches just because of the longevity of players in the game.

Beyond a simple one-on-one story, you can see how a player performs against similar opponents. Let’s say someone plays Reilly Opelka. You can check to see how this player fared against other great servers such as John Isner, Marin Cilic or Milos Raonic. Maybe an opponent is left-handed? You can see how a player did against other lefties.

The most common thing you want to know is a player’s performance on each surface. In tennis, there is clay, hard, indoor hard and grass. There are players considered specialists on a particular surface who may not perform as well on other surfaces. You can find recordings of each surface on the ATP site.

Recent form

An important factor in the game is rhythm. Tennis is played 12 months a year and players get injured or decide to take a break. I’m more inclined to support a player coming back from a rest period because he will have fresh legs. I’m also more inclined to wipe out someone who is coming back from injury due to lack of training.

If a player reached the semi-final of a tournament, then won the next event, then ran deep into the next, I’ll be looking for a fade opportunity because – even in a best-of-three – that’s a lot of miles in the field. Fatigue in this game will have its effect.

General Tip: Don’t Chase Favorites

In tennis, it’s so easy to want to shoot the favorite to win a match if they lose the first set – or, in a best-of-five, lose the first two sets. If you have a pre-match bet, don’t “double down” or over-commit by taking a live line.

There are so many more factors that come into play. Is this a best-of-three? The best of five? Game of the day? Night game? What surface? Is fatigue a problem? A blind bet on a favorite to recover from a deficit is almost never a good idea. Don’t feel the need to expand further. It’s about cashing banknotes.

Last tip: just ask!

I love talking about tennis. If I can get a person interested in the game, then I feel validated. If you have any questions and want to learn, I’m always happy to help. My DMs are open and I mostly live on Twitter. If you want to know more about the players, ask questions about a game or anything else, I’m here.

Welcome to the world of tennis. It’s a fabulous world to live in.