Field Hockey isn’t a sport most North Americans spend much time thinking about or betting on. If it is played at all in North American schools it is typically a sport for girls while boys play football or rugby. On the world stage, though, field hockey is a very competitive and wildly popular sport for men and for women. That popularity offers real opportunities for betting success for those handicappers who are willing to do their homework and get to know the sport. Here are five keys to Olympic field hockey betting success for handicappers:
Understand the rules – You don’t have to be an expert in a sport to bet successfully. If you know nothing about the sport, though, then you are very unlikely to come out in the black. By spending a little time getting to understand the basic rules of the game you will learn to respect the sport, and will become more familiar with what it takes to win, and what has happened in the sport in recent years. The more time you spend getting familiar with a sport the better your chances of long term betting success.
Who are the world powers? – As in any sport, there are some teams that are traditionally dominant in the sport of field hockey. Identifying these world powers is a good starting point for your handicapping. Once you understand the power structure of the sport you will have a good sense of what the public will think and how they will bet. When you know the traditional powers you can see if they are as strong as they have traditionally been, or if there is reason to believe that they aren’t as good as they used to be or perceived to be. The second half of the equation is to get to know the teams that haven’t traditionally been strong but are improving rapidly and could be in better form than expected. Those teams are likely to be undervalued by casual bettors, and will be more attractive as a result.
What about depth? – Teams will play five tournament games in round robin action in about a week. The teams that advance to the medal round will be required to play two more games en route to gold. That’s a whole lot of action. In order to shine in the face of that challenge it’s not good enough to just have elite level talent. You also need to have enough depth to survive the setbacks and adversity that can be a part of the tournament. If you look back at most Olympic field hockey tournaments, you can often see that depth has been a huge factor in how outcomes were determined. By focusing on depth before the tournament starts and prior to betting, then you can identify teams that could be dangerous and those that could be vulnerable.
Does the format offer an edge? – There are 12 teams that qualify for the Olympic tournament. Those 12 teams are divided into two pools of six teams, and they play round robin games against each of the other teams in that group. From there the top four teams advance to medal action. With the stakes so high from round robin play the make-up of those groups can have a major impact on the outcome of the tournament. With only two teams advancing a particularly tough group could cause an elite squad to fail to advance, while a particularly soft group could allow a weaker team to get through. The public is more likely to focus on team strength and not matchups so this can be a way to get an edge as a field hockey bettor. You can also consider the order in which preliminary games will be played. Teams could easily look past weaker opponents if stronger ones loom, or they could become overwhelmed if they are forced to play stronger opponents in consecutive games.
Don’t forget the women – In many Olympic sports the tendency of bettors is to focus far more on men than on women and field hockey is certainly no exception. There is no reason for this to be the case, and you may find even better betting opportunities by looking towards the women. Betting volume will be lower, internation play is still intense so handicapping teams is easy, and the gap between the best teams and the rest can be even wider than on the men’s side. Keeping an open mind as a sports bettor can be very good for your bottom line.