I've always said, betting on bookings makes you a horrible human being. When you need one more card for your bet to win with 5 minutes left you find yourself wishing some pretty dark things on players' health I'll be honest. But betting on cards / bookings can be a great little trick to win you some cash, particularly if you know your info. Follow our guide below and use some of our suggested sites for research, and you won't go far wrong.
1) Learn all you can about the referee
As much as the stats on teams can be important when betting on bookings, there is one man/woman who can change absolutely everything and that's the referee. If they're lenient, they're lenient and if they're strict, they're strict. Their style is unlikely to change unless there are outside factors that you can't possibly know (i.e. if the ref had a bust up with his mrs last night!). Knowing the Mike Dean's, Felix Brych's and Javier Fernandez's of the refereeing world will put you in a pretty strong betting position.
Another factor to consider however is the ref's performance in a specific competition. Martin Atkinson is a completely different referee in the Champions League than he is the Premier League so just bear that in mind before committing to your bet.
2) Know the teams This goes without saying really, but knowing your stats on the teams plays a huge part in deciding whether or not to place a bet. However, just looking at average card stats and hoping for the best isn't good enough. The real skill here is knowing what's at stake for both sides. If they are both normally obedient sides but there is a lot to play for and it's a local derby, this isn't likely to go the way the numbers are showing. Any side can become dirty when their very survival is at stake, so always look towards a higher level of bookings towards the end of the season. Take the 19-20 Premier League season as an example, albeit incomplete. In August there were an average of 32 booking points (we'll get onto booking points further down) per match compared to 45 per match in March. This isn't necessarily the same every season, but it gets my point across. When teams have more to play for and more on the line, they're more likely to throw in dodgy challenges.
3) Players / bad influences
We all know the kind of player I'm talking about here. Not only are they a "free booking" for you in some games, they also rile up the opposition and not only get bookings themselves, they generate bookings for the other team too. Knowing whether these players are in the starting lineup should definitely be a factor that you consider when placing your bet.
4) Know the markets
Let's get the first point out of the way and the question I'm asked every single time someone bets on bookings:
What does booking points mean?
Some bookies offer betting on cards (a yellow is 1 card, a red is 2). Some bookies offer betting on booking points (a yellow is 10 points, a red is 25 points). It's that simple. Just check the rules of the bookmaker you're using as these aren't always true, but in 95% of cases they are.
And another point on cards and bookings is that it's not all about the totals. Nowadays with bet builders and more markets like team cards, handicaps and card timings, there's a lot to consider. I don't need to tell you that if you're betting on a card in the first 26 minutes then to check those stats, that's just common sense, but do consider that there are other markets not just the totals.
Another market becoming really popular at the moment is player cards, especially in bet builders. When doing these, don't just consider who gets booked the most but think about who they will come up against. A left back will always come up against a right winger and if that right winger is pacey and dramatic, he's likely to draw a few fouls.
WhoScored.com - a great site for in depth stats on the big leagues. You can drill into fouls per game, tackles per game, cards, everything you will need. It doesn't cover the lower league stuff but has some really decent stuff for the mainstream games
Soccerway.com - a favourite of mine for quite a few things actually, but particularly useful when it comes to referees. If you go on there and search for Mike Dean for example, you can see all of his previous games, filter them by competition and see the number of yellows and reds per game on one screen. Really useful to have in your locker
Soccerbase.com - head to the referees section here and it's a great starting block to see who the strictest and most lenient refs are in each competition. It doesn't give you a match by match view like Soccerway, but you can drill into that after you've found a ref who has caught your eye