Water Polo, which is an Olympic event, is not a sport that most North American sports bettors know much about – or really care to do so. In some parts of the world, though, it is a very big deal. During the Olympics it is also a pretty good opportunity for bettors to make a profit. It is played in a tournament format, information about teams is relatively easy to find, increasing popularity means increasing betting volume, and there is value to be found among the odds – all good news for bettors. If you are looking to cash in betting on water polo, here are six factors to consider in your sports handicapping:
Learn the rules – During the Olympics there are so many sports to choose from that it can be tempting to bet on all of them – even if you know absolutely nothing about them. You need to slow down and take the time to learn the rules of the sport on at least a basic level before you get started with betting. Though you don’t technically need to know what baulking or sloughing are to bet successfully on water polo, taking the time to study the rules will give you a basic understanding of the sport, and that in turn will lead you to understand the sport better and ultimately make better decisions. Learning the rules shows respect for a sport, and the more you respect a sport the more likely you are to be successful betting on it.
Who are the world powers? – Once you understand the basics of Olympic water polo the next step is to look at which countries are the teams to beat. First, which ones are the traditional powers – the countries that always are competitive and which take the sport very seriously? Are those water polo teams still as competitive as always, or have they failed to keep up to their reputations recently? Next, which countries are taking the sport seriously now and showing success as a result? If teams have invested heavily in the sport and have shown continued progress then they could make a big breakthrough at the Olympics – and that could be profitable for astute sports bettors.
Who will the public back? – This is really just an extension of the last point. The public is generally predictable in betting – they like the favorites and the teams with good stories. That’s especially true when when they are betting on a sport that they don’t follow closely – as is the case for most bettors with water polo. By predicting what the public is likely to do in their betting you can spot the opportunities for value and the spots where that value is likely to bet out of existence.
Follow the World League – In many Olympic sports it is very hard to get a sense of how teams match up with each other because they don’t play fully competitive matches against other national teams. They may play exhibition games, but when games don’t really matter you can’t trust the effort or the results. In water polo, though, there is an international league for national teams that is played annually which offers tremendous insight. The World League starts with regional tournaments played as qualifiers. The top eight teams from those tournaments qualify for the Super Final – typically played in June. Those eight water polo teams play a round robin format followed by semifinals and finals. The action is very intense, and winning is prestigious. That means water polo bettors have a very recent sense of which teams are elite, which are in top form, and what that might mean for the Olympic tournament.
Does the format favor one team over another? – Teams are split into two groups during the Olympics, and play round robin action in order to qualify for the medal round. Because of this the draw can have a huge impact on how the tournament turns out. Which group a team ends up in can have a big impact on how they fare in the tournament. If they face easier opponents then they stand a better chance of advancing than if they face tougher teams. The difficulty of the groups can also determine where teams rank, and who they play in the medal round as a result. Many bettors will only look at how good water polo teams are, so considering their opponents and tournament path can give you a simple edge as a sports handicapper.
Don’t forget the women – Most people will consider men’s water polo primarily – just like they will consider the men’s side of most Olympic sports over the women. The women are every bit as attractive to bet on as the men, perhaps even more so. They also play in the World League, there are fewer teams to choose from in the Olympic tournament, the gap between the best teams and the worst is wider, and the betting attention is far less. In fact, if you were only going to bet on one tournament for the smart sports handicapper the women would likely be more attractive than the men in many cases.