Tennis Trading Strategies: How to Use Back the Server Strategy

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One of the most popular tennis trading strategies is Back the Server. In this article, we explain what it is and how you can use it when you're trading tennis matches



So first things first, what is Back the Server strategy? 

It's a trading method for making small profits by backing a strong and reliable server

You're not looking for big price swings here. Unlike most other tennis trading strategies which rely on a break of service or losing the 1st set, this strategy is about capitalising on the small movement in players’ odds when they are no breaks of serve.

When service games go according to plan, in other words the server wins the game, what you'll notice is the odds for both players move a little between the start and end of the game.

These are the small price movements we’re looking to exploit with this strategy.

So if you Back the server before they serve and Lay them at the end of their service game (assuming they won it of course!) You’ll have made a small profit.

And if you keep making those tiny trades every time they serve, you will continue to make small profits which, after just a few games, could become a worthwhile sum.

One of the good things about this strategy is that when the server gets into trouble and you need to close your trade early, the losses can be small too.  But you need to exit at the first sign of trouble!

This makes the Back the Server trading strategy an ideal choice for beginners as it is a low risk method of trading.

But having said that, there are many traders who use this strategy exclusively all the time

They generate large profits by simply making many small trades but use high stake values. And because the losses can be relatively small too, when losses occur they tend not to wipe out a days work. 

Let's have a look at an example.

In this match between Tsitsipas v Nadal, Nadal is one game up in the current set.

What's been happening so far in this match is that both players have served extremely well. They're both holding their serves and the previous set was won by just one break of serve.

So what we do here, before Tsitsipas starts his service game, is place a Back trade on Tsitsipas and let the game to play out. 

When Tsitsipas wins his game we close the trade by hedging out (by placing a Lay trade).

Using a £10 stake, we just made a 10% return.  

In this match, because both players are strong and reliable servers, we do the same again but this time we Back Nadal.

And again, we make a small profit.

A more advanced version of this strategy is to Back & Lay both players at the same time.

So, if we were Backing Tsitsipas to win his service game we would also Lay Nadal at the same time (i.e. before the service game starts).

This increases the payout for each game. But beware, it increases the size of any loss too!

Always use the Hedging Calculator on our website to estimate your potential profit or loss prior to placing your trades 

When should you use this strategy?

When there is at least one player that has a very reliable service game.  Ideally, they should have a ‘service game won’ ratio above either 78% for men or 68% for women

If both players are strong servers, like Tsitsipas and Nadal, then you can Back & Lay both players at the same time

You need to be confident your trades will be matched quickly so only trade matches with high liquidity (e.g. over £500,000 matched)

What if things go wrong?

It is important to know when to exit a trade using this Back the Server strategy.  The time to hedge out is if the score gets to 0-30 or 15-30.

Being strong servers, most of the time they will level the game and go on to win it.  But the movement in their odds is greatest when they get to 30-40 or 15-40.  And if you exit a trade at these scores then your loss will be much higher.

Much better to hedge out for a small loss and wait for the next game.

In the video, I include the calculations from the Tsitsipas v Nadal match.

I hope this helps you


Please remember: These articles are written for all trading abilities.  If some of the terms used above don’t make sense consider enrolling onto our free tennis trading course for beginners.