A Kiwi Guide to World Cup Betting

The golden season of the beautiful game called football is fast upon us. On June 14th, the global madness known as the FIFA World Cup gets underway.

Until the Final on July 15th, our days and nights will be filled with pubs and public squares filled with drinking, groaning and cheering fans watching as the quadrennial drama plays itself out to its inevitable conclusion.

For the sport bettor, this is Paradise. The intense fixation on each fixture, the speculation on players, penalties, injuries and all the rest add up to one thing: each punter believes he or she has a unique insight on who will score, who will win the match, and the ultimate Question of Question: which side will bring home the Cup to an adoring nation?

This article will serve as a beginner’s guide to betting on World Cup. It’s a fact that many Kiwis who have never bet on sports will place their first wager in the next month or so. And the technology of big data changes so fast that even veteran punters may benefit from a basic refresher course. So before the opening match, here goes!

Where Can You Bet?

There are literally thousands of sports betting sites around the world, and most of them are open to Kiwis. Indeed, New Zealanders are within their legal rights to patronise foreign sites rather than domestic ones. Unless you have an unusual mother tongue or affinity for an exotic nation, there are top flight sport betting sites in casinos recommended at Casino Kiwi. Explore and see what feels friendliest. For our part we will not play favourites and focus on features found on all the better betting sites.

What About Free Bets?

With the World Cup upon us, many if not most online bookmakers are offering new customers “free bets” to bring them in their virtual doors. These are comparable to free spins or welcome bonuses offered by casinos. The bet amounts tend to be modest, and there are terms and conditions attached, but professional punters scan the Internet for the best deals, so why not you? For New Zealanders, best to check the recommended sport books in our March 2018 article on the subject.  And check out this detailed, if dated, article about free bets from the Guardian.

Where Can You Best See the Odds?

Most sportsbooks will have the current odds on offer in well-organised tables. Check out the matrix and see the lay of the land for various nations and betting possibilities. Sometimes you can spot odds that seem, well, at odds with all the others. These can be opportunities to find a better than expected chance for a big win. So be ready to swoop in and grab the outliers.

Who Qualified?

No less than 215 football associations from every corner of the world registered for Cup play. Indonesia and Zimbabwe were disqualified, but the rest fought it out to qualify. 31 of the 32 teams in the competition qualified through a series of matches hosted by the six FIFA confederations in various regions around the world between 2015 and 2017. Russia, the host of the 2018 games, qualified automatically.

Who are the favourites?

At this early stage, even before the games begin, it’s no surprise that the 2014 finalists – Germany and Brazil – lead the pack as favorites, both with 5:1 odds against to take the Cup. Following close behind are the European powerhouse, France and Spain, at 6.5:1. (Often you will see fractional results represented as 13:2 or 13/2). Filling out the Top 5 at this early stage is Lionel Messi’s Argentina squad.  It would surprise no one if any of these five surge to take the Cup.

Who might be the underdog?

In its 88-year history, only 8 countries have won the World Cup. Brazil and Germany dominate, with Argentina and Italy frequent contenders. Still, punters are always on the lookout for the upstart side that could beat the odds and surge to the top. But this year, many pundits are pointing to three squads believed capable of going far, if not all the way:

  • Poland, led by Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, returns to Cup competition after 12 years in exile. Group H is weak. Odds against a Polish Cup range from 70 down to a surprising 33.
  • Mexico, perennial underdogs which for the last 6 Cups have failed at the Round of 16. Trial by fire against Germany on June 17. Odds against range from 100 down to 66.
  • Serbia, a formidable side with explosive offense led by captain Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea fame. Group E with Brazil. Odds against from 200 down to as low as 80.

Kiwi Crowd Favourites

New Zealanders may naturally feel some allegiance to fellow Anglophones. While the Kiwi squad failed to qualify, our neighbors to the west made it through.

While the likelihood of Australia taking the Cup is roughly on a par with kangaroos sprouting wings, diehard fans in Oz can plunk down their dollars on odds that range from 300 to 750 against.

England, on the other hand, is considered a serious contender and potential dark horse. Hoping to repeat the miracle of 1966, the Brits are expected to emerge from Group G with a tough Belgium side and be a factor throughout the tourney. Odds are currently in the mid-teens, with England ranked 7th in the odds tables, just behind the Belgians.

Other Bets on Offer

While some are content to bet on the Big Question of which side will take the cup, there is no shortage of bets, including some odd ones, to choose from. Here are some of your choices:

  • Individual Games: Win, Draw or Lose. Make sure to pay attention to which side is Home and Away.
  • Group Play: There is intensive betting for each group with a variety of bets on offer
  • Top Goalscorer: Messi (11:1), Neymar (12:1) and Griezmann (14:1) currently lead the way
  • Cup Winner/Top Goalscorer Double: Brazil/Neymar currently lead with odds of 25:1 against, but Argentina/Messi is not far behind at 33:1
  • Straight Forecast: a bet on which teams will finish first and second, in the correct order. Also called exacta or perfecta. Currently Brazil/Germany or Germany/Brazil are neck and neck.
  • To Reach: Round of 16 / Quarter Final / Semi Final / Final
  • Continent of Winning Team: South America and Europe battle it out
  • Lowest Scoring Team: Even supporters of Panama, Saudi Arabia and Iran have a chance to win a bet!