In this brief guide, our betting experts will cover the basics and answer the question: what are booking points in football betting? Additionally, expect us to shine a spotlight on the bookmakers who adopt booking points and the rules behind betting on the market.
- What are Booking Points in football betting?
- Booking Points Rules
- Things to remember when betting on Booking Points
- What are the best games to bet on cards?
- The top five most cards in Premier League history
- An analysis of bookings in the Premier League in 2022/23
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Booking Points in Football Betting?
Booking Points is a football betting market representing the number of yellow and red cards a team receives in 90 minutes. Bettors can bet on how many booking points a referee will give out in a single match by choosing under or over a bookmaker’s set line.
When opting for booking points, the aim is to predetermine whether or not you think a game may have an additional bite or if the match-up is set up to be a drab, lifeless affair. For example, if you were to access Sky Bet and place a selection on The Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers in Scotland, most would be leaning towards a higher number of booking points than usual.
Booking Points Rules
The Booking Points rules are simple to understand. A yellow card earns 10 points, and a red card equals 25 points. If a player rubs the referee up the wrong way and earns two yellow cards leading to a red card, that will result in 35 points.
If a bettor were to bet on Rangers 20+ Booking Points on Sky Bet in The Old Firm derby, this would require either two yellow cards or a red card from those in Blue. If someone places a wager on Under 20 Booking Points for Celtic on William Hill, the home side is only allowed one yellow card in the game – any more, and this would be a loser.
What to remember when betting on Booking Points
Like most football betting markets, any booking points picked up in extra time do not count. If a Champions League knockout tie ends with 30 Booking Points after 90 minutes and a player picks up a yellow card soon after Extra Time begins, the match Booking Points total will remain at 30.
Only cards given to players on the pitch count towards the Booking Points total. Any cards brandished to managers, coaches, or players on the subs’ bench will not be recognised by Sky Bet or William Hill unless stated otherwise.
What are the best games to bet on cards? The Battle of the Bridge
Fixtures that boast head-to-head data packed full of booking points is often a good indicator of what might transpire in the next meeting, especially if said match is a derby shrouded in rivalry. This could be, for example, borne from the location of both clubs (Newcastle vs Sunderland) or a sporting rivalry due to intense, historic clashes (Man United vs Liverpool – with locality thrown in the mix, too).
The Battle of the Bridge, as it is coined, is the perfect example. Chelsea vs Tottenham made up a London Derby at Stamford Bridge in 2016. What ensued in those 90 minutes was nothing short of box office. It was crammed to the brim with Booking Points, handbags, and a title slip.
Tottenham had the Premier League title in their sights. And Chelsea hadn’t lost this London derby in 26 years. “It was always going to boil over,” said Blues captain John Terry. “A couple of times, it got out of hand, but players are fighting for points and titles. It’s emotions – that’s football.” It was set up to be a feisty, fiery clash to remember.
Twelve yellow cards (120 Booking Points) arrived in the match.
I think that’s the toughest game I’ve seen in twenty-four years for a referee.Dermot Gallagher
The man in the middle, Mark Clattenburg, navigated a testing 90 minutes. Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino would go on to let a 0-2 lead slip, drawing 2-2 with their London Rivals. That handed the title to a 5000/1 league-leading Leicester outfit and meant, in turn, that Spurs somehow ended up in third behind Arsenal at season’s end.
Despite being one of the dirtiest card-laden games in Premier League history, it doesn’t even feature in the top five fixtures for Booking Points received in a single game by both teams.
The Top Five: Most Cards In a Single Game in Premier League History
- Brentford 1-2 Aston Villa (December 17th, 2023) – 10 Yellow cards, 0 Second Yellow cards, 2 Red cards
- Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (September 30th, 2023) – 10 Yellow cards, 1 Second Yellow card, 1 Red card
- QPR 1-0 Chelsea (October 23rd, 2011) – 9 Yellow cards, 0 Second Yellow cards, 2 Red cards
- West Ham 1-5 Leeds (May 1st, 1999) – 7 Yellow cards, 1 Second Yellow cards, 2 Red cards
- Manchester City 2-0 Nottingham Forest (September 23rd, 2023) – 11 Yellow cards, 0 Second Yellow cards, 1 Red card
Intriguingly, three of the top five fixtures are games in the current 2023/24 season. Furthermore, the Wolves 2-4 Leeds is recent fixture from 2022/23.
Could the introduction of VAR be to blame here? There’s now more forensic analysis on fouls and potential red cards than ever before. Don’t be surprised to see more and more games similar to the above as VAR’s presence grows.
Although not shown in the table above, we’d like to mention two other matches in the top ten. The Merseyside derby is one of the fiercest in world football. It’s that very meeting across Stanley Park which commands two spots (105 and 125 Booking Points):
- Liverpool 3-1 Everton (March 25th, 2006) – 9 Yellows, 1 Second Yellow, 1 Red Card – 105 BP
- Liverpool 0-1 Everton (September 27th, 1999) – 5 Yellows, 0 Second Yellow, 3 Red Cards – 125 BP
No one needs telling that Booking Points are commonplace between Merseyside’s blue and red factions when loading up Sky Bet and William Hill. Still, the above two are handy reminders of how a local rivalry can spill over from the crowd.
An analysis of bookings in the Premier League in 2022/23
It’s essential to research any football bet, of course, with Booking Points being no different.
Which sides in England’s top flight are the dirtiest? Which squad are saints? What players are in a position to pick up a cheap yellow card the most? We run through last season’s campaign to shed light on the teams and players worth looking out for.
Most bookings in the Premier League in 2022/23
As Leeds United faltered in their aim of avoiding the drop to the Championship, the referee’s notebook would often house a Leeds player or two on a weekend in the top flight. The 89 cards in the 2022/23 season stood them head and shoulders above the other 19 Premier League sides.
Six other teams received 80 or more, though fellow relegated sides Leicester (63) and Southampton (73) weren’t as familiar with Premier League referees and Booking Points as Leeds.
Leeds did their ‘best’ work on the road, averaging 2.47 yellow cards per90 compared to the 2.11 average figure at Elland Road.
It was Wolves who, as a team, were handed the most red cards in 2022/23 with five. Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leeds, and Tottenham received the second-most on three.
The fewest cards in the Premier League
Knowing which sides to avoid is as important as being aware of those topping the ill-discipline charts. If you were to bet on 20+ West Ham Booking Points in 2022/23, the law of averages would’ve not been in your favour. The Hammers ended the season with 44 yellow cards in 38 matches. That’s just 1.16 cards per90 on average.
Manchester City were right down there, too, boasting a 1.16 cards per90 average as they dominated possession and territory in almost every game. When you’ve always got the ball, there’s little chance of you receiving a yellow card.
Of course, the same isn’t said for West Ham. Yet, different styles of play will encourage fewer or more cards than other sides. David Moyes’ West Ham often drops deep, soaks up pressure, and plays on the counter, leaving few opportunities in transition and the press to pick up a cheap yellow.
In terms of red cards in 2022/23, six teams avoided a strawberry all season long. Arsenal, Bournemouth, Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and West Ham didn’t see one player take his marching orders.
Players who received the most cards in 2022/23
Although Leeds United were shown the most cards in the Premier League in 2022/23, not one player features in the top ten for yellow cards received.
Joao Palhinha’s 14 trumps the rest, whilst Ruben Neves (13) and Joelinton (13) get within touching distance of Fulham’s central midfielder. The latter managed 65 fouls for Newcastle throughout the campaign – the joint-highest number along with Moises Caicedo on the coast in Brighton.
Despite the 140 Booking Points, Palhinha (48) registered 17 fewer fouls than the league’s foul leaders. Foul numbers can be handy when researching a potential football bet. Regular culprits are always likely to tempt the referee into making a decision. Palhinha (48) and Caicedo (100) also made the most tackles in the Premier League, highlighting how much they’re involved in breaking up play in the centre of the park.
One solitary player was on the wrong side of multiple red cards in 2022/23. Casemiro’s two sending-offs were straight red cards for Man United. Said two cards saw him end the season with the worst disciplinary record as far as early baths go.
Home/Away Card Averages
Nottingham Forest topped the Premier League in terms of yellows received with 49 in 19 fixtures – 2.58 per90. Wolves (2.37), Tottenham (2.26), Chelsea (2.11), and Leeds (2.11) were the only other clubs to average more than 2.00 cards per90 in front of familiar support.
Marco Silva’s Fulham racked up an eye-watering 53 yellow cards in 19 away games (2.79 cards per90 average). Interestingly, when playing at Craven Cottage in the 2022/23 season, the Cottagers ranked a lowly 16th for yellow cards, with their average drastically dropping to 1.42 cards per90.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Booking Points is a yellow card?
A yellow card is 10 Booking Points.
How many Booking Points is two yellow cards to the same player?
A player shown two yellow cards and a subsequent red is 35 booking points. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is 45 BP (x2 yellow cards + 1 red card).
How many Booking Points is a red card?
A red card is 25 Booking Points.
What is 20 Booking Points in Football Betting?
A team must receive two yellow cards (10 BP each) to reach the 20+ Booking Points total.
Which bookmakers use Booking Points?
Sky Bet and William Hill are the leading bookmakers who use Booking Points, as do Betfred and 888.