The World Cup is just around the corner, and momentum is definitely building among the betting public. I expect that betting volume is going to be very high for this tournament because North American exposure and anticipation is as high as it has ever been, and betting options will be available in more places and in more shapes and sizes than ever before. While people are looking at futures and the first game odds, they likely aren’t looking at the huge number of prop bets that are available yet. That means that now is a very good time to look at these props because the value hasn’t yet been bet out of them. Here are five types of bets that are worth looking at right now (these props are taken from Bodog, but most books have a range of similar options):
Name the finalists – With this prop bet you can bet on the two teams that are going to meet to decide the champion. This can be a good way to find some value if you are a firm believer in one or more of the favorites. For example, Spain is at 7/2 to win the tournament, and Brazil is at 9/2. If you believe in both teams then you might find the 11/1 price that they will meeting the finals even more attractive than those single prices. It also allows you to leverage a belief in one of those teams to get higher payoffs with teams at longer odds. This is a good time to be looking at these bets because the public isn’t paying a lot of attention to them yet. If you like the favorites then the prices are only going to fall as the tournament gets closer.
Group exactas – This is a fun bet – you get to bet on the two teams that will finish atop each group and advance to the second round. The catch is that you have to pick them in the right order. This one is going to be particularly attractive in the groups with obvious winners – like Spain in Group H. By betting them on the exacta you are able to get far more attractive prices than you would by just betting them to win the group. As with the last bet, the appeal of betting this sooner rather than later is that the public hasn’t yet discovered it, so the heavy favorites haven’t been bet down as far as they soon will be.
Over/under in early games – The totals for the early World Cup games have been posted for a while now, but they haven’t been moving a lot, and don’t yet seem to have gotten a whole lot of attention. This is a good time, then, to pick them over before the masses does. There are certainly some set at levels that are interesting. For example, Brazil and North Korea have a total of just three for their game. Brazil is explosive, and North Korea is a total mystery, so this game certainly has the potential to be a high scoring one.If you believe that then you’d be much better served to get on it now than you would be to wait a week or two.
Team to place fourth – You can bet on the team to finish in each position in each group. Besides the winners fourth is most interesting to me because it involves the least variables to figure out. If you play out the games for a group in your mind and have one team that is clearly well positioned to finish last then you might find attractive value – especially if your last place team isn’t one that isn’t widely seen to finish last.
Group Stage total points – This is perhaps the most interesting of all the prop bets available. A total has been set for the number of points that each team will earn in group play. Teams get three points for a win and a single point for a draw. You can look at each group to see who you think is going to win each game, determine the number of points that each team will get as a result, and look for value – big differences between the posted totals and your prediction. This is the kind of bet that isn’t going to be popular until close to the tournament when people are really tuned into the games, so for now it presents an opportunity.