Many experienced gamblers see underdog betting as a good strategy that can be applied regularly given the profits that it can bring if it works out. To explain this concept in simple terms, it means that you decide to bet on a team or player that has a smaller probability of winning.

In this article, I will answer the questions about this betting strategy and explain the benefits and drawbacks of using it regularly. Moreover, based on my experience with different bet types and sports, I will illustrate how underdog bets work and how to use them with the biggest benefits.

What Is The Underdog?

An underdog is a team or a player (depending on the kind of sport) that is believed to have lower chances of winning, at least according to bookmakers. For example, in a match between Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, nobody argues that The Chiefs is a favorite, while Los Angeles Chargers is a clear underdog.

Given that underdogs have a lower probability of gaining a victory, the odds of their win are higher. This correlation makes betting on them quite popular with those searching for big wins and those who are not afraid of risk. The fact that there is a favorite and underdog practically in each betting event was the reason for underdog sports betting to appear.

Where Can I Bet On The Underdog?

Practically everywhere. Indeed! From my experience, as soon as online crypto sportsbooks accept bettors from your jurisdiction, you can use them for betting on underdogs. Yet do not let an abundance of choice make you forget about betting safely. Make sure to select trustworthy betting sites that are licensed by reputable jurisdictions and have decent customer protection policies.

Finding Value In Betting On The Underdog

Despite that tempting moment that the odds are higher when you bet on a weaker team or a player, you might have many doubts if this strategy is worth it. Especially if you are a newbie. I was puzzled by the question “Is it better to bet on the underdog?” for quite a long time when I placed my first bets.

The benefits of this betting method are not obvious; it is true. I did a lot of research to convince myself that I should opt for it, but the experts on the topic have shown me how the risk can pay out. Today, I have listed the most valuable underdog betting tips for you not to miss a chance to give it a try!

Scan The Markets To Conduct Thorough Bet Analysis

To ensure this betting strategy pays off, you cannot just select a random event and place bets. No. Such a bet fails in 9 cases out of 10. What should be done is thorough research of available events and their odds. Use the Kelly formula to calculate your chances of a successful underdog sports betting. Make sure to do the calculations for all suitable markets so as not to miss the lost lucrative opportunity. Once your calculations show good chances of a successful outcome, you have found your event.

In case, you are not familiar with Kelly Criterion formula for the calculation of bet size, it is as follows:

f= (bp – q) / b 

  • f = bet size
  • b = decimal adds
  • p = probability of winning
  • q = probability of losing

Assess the Likelihood Of A Particular Outcome

Numbers are good, but I would not rely on them alone. Use your knowledge of the selected sport, a team, or a player to understand if the underdog has a chance of becoming a winner. Frankly, each team has the teams they can defeat easily and eternal rivals who cause them a lot of trouble. Being aware of such nuances is crucial for an underdog betting system!

Evaluate The Significance Of A Game

Always pay attention to the significance of the game. It can be a final, a match in a championship, a qualifier, or a friendly game, and it truly matters what kind of game it is. Events that will have a higher value for both teams often get lower odds for the underdog than games with lower importance. Moreover, there is often a lower probability that an underdog wins a finale or a qualifier, as a favorite will put all its efforts into winning.

Games of lower significance, on the contrary, offer higher chances that underdog bets would work, as favorites are more relaxed and less result-focused. Moreover, the odds for an underdog in such events are often higher. Win-win situation!

Utilize Betting Tools Effectively To Enhance Strategies

Even experienced bettors struggle with finding an appropriate event for underdog betting. Therefore, it is essential not to ignore the opportunities that different betting tools can offer. Luckily, there are plenty of options online, so do not hesitate to look for them and apply them to your everyday betting. I personally visit websites with statistics to have a low-down on team’s achievements and challenges. Lately, I have started using AI as well. 

One piece of advice from a bettor with several years of experience: do not trust just one tool. Compare what different services say to maximize the effectiveness of this strategy.

Underdog Betting By Bet Type

How to bet on underdog wisely? I always recommend studying the examples of each bet type for the start. All types of bets have different features and work in a slightly different way. Thus, what is good for Moneyline bets, might be completely wrong for Over/Under bets.

Another point is that whenever you can choose types of odds, then stick to the European or American format. Those bets are easy to read and allow to see a favorite and underdog at a first glance:

  • With American odds, you need to pay attention to “+” odds, as they indicate an underdog.
  • For European odds, a team or player with higher odds is always an underdog according to a bookmaker.

Now let’s look at the examples of an underdog betting strategy for the 4 most popular bet types!


The Moneyline bet is clearly one of the easiest to understand and use. All you need is to pick the winner of the event.

To see how moneyline works for underdog betting, let’s take a soccer game between Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers with the following odds in the American format:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: -120
  • San Francisco 49ers: +230

If you bet $20 on San Francisco 49ers (which is an underdog in this match), you can win $46 if San Francisco 49ers defeats Kansas City Chiefs. At the same time, if you bet on the favorite in this game, you will gain only $22.

It might be a good idea to place three or four bets on underdogs in different games at the same time. With such a strategy, you have good chances of gaining a big enough win to cover the bet loss in other matches and even having a pure profit.


Spread betting is slightly more complex to understand, but it is also more beneficial for underdog betting, as bookmakers give extra points to the underdog. However, the odds might be slightly smaller for this bet type.

Same game, but slightly different odds:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: (-3) -120
  • San Francisco 49ers: (+3) +170

Those numbers in brackets show the point spread offered by bookmakers. Here is how this spread works. Let’s say the match was over with a 1:1 score. It is a draw for teams, but for spread bettors, San Francisco 49ers is the winner because the bookmaker gives this time +1 point, so the final score for this type of bet is 1:2.


When you decide to apply an underdog betting strategy for Over/Under, the most important thing here is to consider how equal the teams are. If they are equal, the probability of a high total will be lower than when a favorite plays with a team from the bottom of the table in the championship.

Let’s see the difference in odds for matches between Kansas City Chiefs/San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs/Los Angeles Chargers.

Odds for the Kansas City Chiefs/San Francisco 49ers game are as follows:

  • Under 3: -120
  • Over 3: +210

Odds for the Kansas City Chiefs/Los Angeles Chargers game are as follows:

  • Under 3: -140
  • Over 3: +180

As you can see, it is much better to opt for a match between more or less equal teams when you decide to apply the underdog betting strategy to Over/Under bets.

Prop betting

Prob betting is an excellent option if you would like to take a step aside from winners and losers and concentrate on other aspects of the game (e.g. the number of yellow cards or the team that scores the first goal).

Let’s focus on the first goal scorer in the Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers game. Given that Jamaal Charles plays for Kansas City Chiefs and scores frequently, it is an easy assumption that the Chiefs will score first. Bookmakers seem to believe the same thing, so the odds for the first team to score are as follows:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: -130
  • San Francisco 49ers: +160

If you plan to use the underdog betting system, you can place a wager on the San Francisco 49ers. Since Frank Gore is in good shape, there are quite good chances for the San Francisco 49ers to open the score!

Underdog Betting Example by Sport

Now that you know how to bet on the underdog depending on the bet type, it is high time to explore the differences between this betting strategy for most popular kinds of sports. If you are a newbie, this difference is truly subtle, and you might decide that many sports are suitable for wagering on the underdog. Yet everything is not that simple, so it is better to know what you are to deal with when betting on basketball, football, hockey, or tennis.


If we talk about basketball bets, the privilege of it for underdog betting is the possibility to wager on the winner of a quarter and not on the entire game. Why is it worth using? Quarter winners are not always obvious; favorites can often have an unsuccessful part of the game. As a result, the probability of the underdog winning and making your bet work out is quite good.

Another feature of this quarter betting on underdogs which I love the most is that it gives live betting advantages over traditional betting types. Depending on how the first quarters go, you can adjust your future bets and make corrections to your strategy to ensure a profitable outcome.


Given the features of American football, including its high score potential and the fact that a lot depends on whether the game is home or guest one, underdog sports betting can be an excellent option. I like placing point-spread bets for this kind of sport, as bookmakers tend to be quite generous in terms of points for underdogs. From time to time, it is truly beneficial. Especially if those are two quite strong teams playing and the lack of just several points does not allow the underdog to gain a victory.

NFL matches are often packed with different actions, clashes, fouls, etc. Prop bets might be an option for consideration as well. Underdogs can often surprise you by being a first scorer, having the bigger number of touchdowns, or fewer fouls.


When it comes to hockey betting, I always recommend using Under/Over bets, as ice hockey matches are quite unpredictable, and they can often result in big total scores, even when two strong teams are playing. This characteristic feature of matches in the NHL makes betting on underdogs an excellent option. Prop bets are often selected by experienced bettors who use underdog betting strategy. However, make sure to be well informed about the changes in teams and injuries which are quite common in hockey, as they can influence the chances of both favorites and underdogs to gain a victory.


When it comes to baseball bets, the most important thing to keep in mind when applying the underdog betting system is that the score is usually not that big as it is in basketball or football. As a result, you should think carefully about the type of bets you would like to use for this kind of sport.

Moneyline and prop bets are perfect for baseball. However, I would abstain from placing handicap bets on underdogs in a baseball match. Why? The reason is quite simple. In MLB, same as in soccer, point spreads are usually extremely small, and they do not give you the necessary flexibility. Under/Over bets are not extremely successful either, as the total score is quite low and odds are small as well.


I often enjoy underdog sports betting on MMA, as this is an individual sport that brings many “buts” into the event. Thus, even though favorites and underdogs are often obvious, there is always a chance for an unexpected twist, which makes wagering on underdogs beneficial.

As the outcome of the event depends on only two people, there is always a possibility that the favorite has a bad day, a bad shape, or struggles with some issues in personal life, which can lead an underdog to victory. Thus, even those fighters who have won 5-10 events in a row can suffer a defeat at some point. 

Therefore, background research on fighters and their shapes at the current moment is crucial for this type of betting and cannot be ignored under any circumstances!


Tennis competitions are similar to MMA in the context of how to bet on underdog. Just remember that those are two individuals competing, and any day could turn out to be a bad day for those athletes ranked high. A unique feature of tennis that you should never forget to consider when placing bets is that matches are played on different surfaces. It can be grass, clay, or hard court. Some favorites are excellent on grass surfaces, but they are not that good on hard courts. That is when underdogs can take a shot and win!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Underdog Betting


  • Higher odds than on favorites
  • Betting lines are lower, so you can have better value opportunities
  • Big payout potential when obvious underdogs win
  • Excitement is higher when the bet works out


  • Can be risky, as the underdog’s winning probability is lower than the favorite’s one
  • Less information and expert opinions about underdogs
  • A fear of losing can influence your betting decisions


Underdog betting is certainly one of the strategies that are worth trying if you are a new or seasoned bettor. Yes, it implies some risks, and bets are not always winning ones. Still, the big win opportunities that you can get and the excitement from winning often compensate for the risks implied. Given that you follow my underdog betting tips and would make wagering decisions based on analytics and not premonitions, this betting system can turn out to be quite beneficial!