Booking points is one of those betting terms that experienced bettors know a lot about, but newcomers may find it hard to figure out. Betting on yellow cards and red cards in a football game might not sound particularly glamorous. But, as we’ll explain below, it can prove very lucrative.
In this guide we’ll take you through the ins and outs of booking points in football betting. You’ll see what the value of a booking is compared to a red card, how booking points work in practice, and why punters bother with them.
Once you’ve read this article you’ll be able to head to the Paddy Power sportsbook and bet with more knowledge and more confidence.
- NEW TO PADDY POWER? PLACE A £5 BET ON SPORTS GET £20 IN FREE BETS!
What are booking points
Booking points accumulate during a football game based on the number of yellow cards and red cards shown by the referee. Bettors can wager on how many booking points will be tallied during a game. You can bet over a set number, or under it.
The aim of betting on booking points is to judge how many yellow and red cards will be brandished over 90 minutes. If you think it could be a dirty game then you might go quite high. However, a friendly match between two uneven teams might result in very few cards being shown, and therefore the bar for booking points starts low.
How do booking points work?
Here’s how booking points work at Paddy Power:
Yellow cards are worth 10 points and red cards worth 25 points. A single player can therefore earn as many as 35 booking points in a game, if they are booked and then get sent off.
If a player is shown a straight red they only pick up 25 booking points.
Booking points accumulate over 90 minutes and are tallied at the full-time whistle. Cards for managers, coaches, and substitutes do not contribute towards booking points.
The market for booking points works as an index, where you bet over or under a set number of points.
Here are examples of booking points football fans will likely come across:
You bet under 40.5 booking points on a game between England and Germany. Both teams pick up two yellow cards apiece for separate players. The game finishes with four yellows = 40 booking points. Therefore, you win your bet.
You bet over 60.5 booking points on a game between Northern Ireland and Spain. The hosts pick up three yellow cards, while a Spanish player is booked and then sent off. Combined, the game yields 65 booking points. You win your bet.
How many booking points is a yellow card?
In booking points betting, a yellow card is worth 10 booking points. If a player gets a second yellow card then they pick up a maximum 35 points. However, if they are shown a straight red card then they are only awarded 25 booking points.
Best games to bet on booking points
Gauging whether to bet high or low on booking points all depends on the game you’re planning to wager on. Even dead-rubbers or pre-season friendlies can descend into bloodbaths. However, it’s generally accepted that local derbies generate more booking points than friendlies.
Here are some of the best games for booking points and which way you might want to go:
- North London Derby – The perennial battle for north London bragging rights doesn’t really affect anyone else outside of a handful of post codes but Arsenal and Tottenham fans certainly care. This is a spicy match. Between 2020/21 and 2022/23 the average match booking points in the NLD was 52.5. Going high is usually a good idea.
- El Clasico – Another big rivalry over in Spain has a wonderful reputation for boiling over. Weirdly, games between Madrid and Barca generate more booking points when one team loses heavily. Evidently the losing team can’t quite handle the shame. Between 2021/22 and 2022/23 Clasicos averaged 57.5 booking points. However, in the two games during this period that ended 4-0 (one to Madrid, one to Barca) there were 110 and 80 booking points earned respectively.
- Old Firm – Another fierce rivalry, games between Celtic and Rangers between 2021/22 and 2022/23 averaged 50.1 booking points. Impressively, there wasn’t a single red during this period and only once did the booking points stray into the 100s. In fact, on three occasions there were just two yellow cards shown in the game. Be wary of this fixture as the hype can sometimes distract from what is not a particularly dirty encounter.
- Liverpool vs Man Utd – They say Liverpool and Manchester United have a fierce rivalry but gone are the days where players get out of control. Between 2020/21 and 2022/23 games averaged 43.5 booking points. Take United’s 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool out of the equation, which generated six yellows and a red, and the recent average drops to 36.6 points. This is not a dirty fixture, despite what the Premier League odds may suggest.