Big vs. Small Soccer Leagues Betting: Pros and Cons

Soccer, Leagues, Players, Fans, Stadium

Most soccer gamblers target big competitions such as the Champions League, the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, and other popular contests. That’s understandable, but most bookies offer hundreds of smaller leagues nowadays and provide excellent opportunities too.

In this post, I explain the main differences between betting on mainstream vs. obscure soccer leagues to help you decide what’s better for you. Both have pros and cons, so read them carefully before making a decision.

Big vs. Small Soccer Leagues Betting Odds and Margin

The first key area we need to discuss are the odds you’re getting. Even the best soccer bookmakers online apply margin, also called vig or juice, to secure profit in the long. They offer prices with a lower implied probability compared to their expectations.

That’s why most people lose money from soccer betting in the long term. The higher the margin is, the more challenging it will be for you to make a profit.

The number is different for big soccer leagues compared to smaller ones. The battle for customers for mainstream competitions forces the betting sites to be more generous for the top European leagues, for example.

You can often expect margins in the 5-10% range, but the number is slightly higher for matches from non-European leagues and smaller competitions from the continent.

Futher Info:On top of that, soccer sportsbooks are confident in their estimates for the big soccer leagues because they invest a lot in getting the probabilities right. Their resources for smaller competitions are limited (more on that later), so they want a higher margin to make up for that.

It’s one of the few areas where we have a clear and objective winner – betting on bigger vs. smaller soccer leagues means a lower margin for the bookies.

Coverage and Betting Markets in Mainstream vs. Obscure Soccer Leagues

Another reason to go for a big soccer league instead of a small one is the coverage and betting markets at your disposal. Just look at some of the top bookmakers, such as Betway Sports, and you will see hundreds of markets for the popular leagues.

You can bet on player props, all sorts of totals and spreads, stats, and anything you could imagine for every game from the EPL, UCL, or another big competition.

Again, the resources invested in an attempt to grab the biggest slice of the action make a difference here. The bookmakers are constantly pushing each other with more opportunities because that’s how you get customers and keep them.

Note:The competition is not that fierce for smaller soccer leagues, so you can only expect traditional betting markets such as match winner, BTTS, one or two totals line, and a few handicaps.

On top of that, you often can’t use features like bet builders and Cash Outs for smaller leagues. Your options are limited, so that’s another advantage of betting on mainstream soccer competitions.

Bonuses and Promotions for Big vs. Small Soccer Leagues

Earning extra cash via bonuses and promotions is always part of the equation. The good news is that you can use most offers for mainstream and obscure soccer competitions. I’m talking about regular promotions like welcome bonuses, loyalty programs, and similar.

The difference comes from the one-off opportunities available for the bigger soccer leagues. Here are several examples.

  • Enhanced Odds/Odds Boosters: You can often find enhanced odds for popular matches from mainstream competitions like the Champions League and the English Premier League.
  • Moneybacks: Another regular promotion among the top soccer bookies are moneybacks. You can get losing bets back under certain circumstances. For example, many betting sites will refund your correct score wager if the match is goalless.
  • No Vig/Zero Margin: You can sometimes find markets with zero margin, which is obviously great.
  • Early Payouts: Many bookmakers will settle your bet on the match winner as successful if your team is up by two goals at any given moment, even if it eventually doesn’t win.

These examples clearly show that betting on big leagues offers more extra cash. The difference is not huge, but you can improve your return of investment over a long period.

Value Betting Opportunities in Small vs. Big Soccer Leagues

If you stop reading this article right now, you will be convinced that gambling on mainstream soccer competitions is better than targeting smaller leagues.

That’s not precisely true, though. I’ve mentioned a few times that even the biggest soccer betting sites don’t invest much in their preparation for obscure competitions.

The volume and potential profits are simply not big enough to justify large spending. Furthermore, making a mistake in a smaller soccer league will go largely unnoticed, and the bookmaker won’t be punished too hard for such errors.

It’s the opposite for popular leagues because a single mistake could be disastrous. Gambling sites spend a ton of money on sophisticated software and qualified people to avoid that.

They evaluate the probabilities for each match almost perfectly. If you add the margin, it’s close to impossible to find value based on errors by the sportsbook.

Tip:Your main source of profitable opportunities is related to the mass bettor. When the public backs a certain side with enough money, the bookmakers react and adjust their odds. This is the most common reason for good soccer bets in big leagues.

For smaller ones, you can be better than the bookmaker. If you find the right sources and invest enough time in preparation, you can learn to evaluate matches from obscure leagues better and punish every mistake.

The ceiling of your profits is also higher. Keeping a ROI around the 5% or 10% mark is pretty much the maximum for big soccer leagues, but the best gamblers on smaller ones often work with 15% or 20%.

It’s a massive difference, but it could lead to another issue I discuss in the next section.

Betting Limits in Small and Big Soccer Leagues

All bookmakers have limits, which usually vary depending on the event’s popularity. You can place enormous wagers on the leading soccer leagues, especially on the traditional markets.

Important:The limits are considerably smaller for non-mainstream competitions. They are still big enough for most people early on, but the big issue comes from the individual limits that bookmakers apply to successful gamblers.

You won’t get much action if you’re flagged as a specialist in a particular minor league. It’s much harder for such a problem to occur if you target bigger competitions.

You have to work around the issue with multiple accounts in different bookmakers, and it’s a battle that costs extra time.


Casual soccer bettors should probably stick to the bigger leagues. It’s easier to prepare for them, the odds are consistently higher, and you can access more markets, promotions, and features.

At the same time, you’re unlikely to find value betting opportunities as often as you could if you go the extra mile for smaller leagues. The potential profits are higher, but you have to work for them really hard by digging for information from under-the-radar sources and tackling limits.

I don’t think any approach is objectively better than the other; it really depends on your goals and what you can invest. The good news is that the best soccer betting sites cover big and small leagues.

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Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.