World Cup 2022: How to profit wagering on the World Cup

The World Cup is to football betting what the Kentucky Derby is to horse betting. Tens of thousands of people with no interest in sports will test their betting savvy due to the enormity and significance of the event. Let’s explore three betting strategies for those who don’t regularly bet on football.

Red cards

“The beautiful game” – as English commentator Stuart Hall has described it – lends itself to advantageous in-play betting opportunities more than other sports due to the pace of play.

Our first two strategies involve live betting situations. Football is unique in that teams play shorthanded for extended periods after a player is disqualified from a game due to a red card. But how can punters profit from being shown a red card? There is a situation with two specific criteria that has proven to be a profitable angle. First, the team that receives the red card is the superior team. Although superior is a subjective term, we will define it as a team favored by 1 or 1.5 goals on the two-way line preflop. (Football is often reserved for three ways – a draw being one of three possible outcomes.) A two-way line includes a goal handicap. For example, in Group D on November 22, Denmark take on Tunisia. Denmark is at -1 goal -125. Denmark fits our parameters for a “higher side”.

The second criterion is that the superior team leads the game by one goal at the time of the red card. This situation calls for an in-play bet on the BELOW. The superior team, now caught playing 10v11, will almost always change their strategy to adopt a much more defensive posture. The reason the one-goal lead is essential is that the superior team can guarantee three points if they can just maintain the current score. A bonus to this angle is that the price of the game will move to the Over at the time of the red card as the imbalance would seem to suggest that more goals would be scored. Hypothetically, Denmark leads Tunisia 1-0 and receives a red card in the 40th minute. Just before the red card, the price on the total could be below 2.5 -115. The red card will move the odds to Under 2.5 +120. The red card creates a better price for the undersides and in these situations the conditions are less likely to score.

Goal differential

The World Cup begins with group play. The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four teams. Each team plays the other three teams in its group. Three points are awarded for a win and one point is awarded for a draw. The two teams with the most points in each group qualify for the 16-team knockout stage. How does this structure create betting opportunities? Let’s focus on the last game of the group stage and identify profitable situations.

For this drill, let’s use Group B, which includes England, USA, Wales and Iran. Suppose the following:

England beat Iran 3-0

USA beat Wales 2-1

England beat USA 2-0

Iran beat Wales 2-1

Going to the last two games of the last group day, England have six points and will qualify. Wales have zero points and are eliminated. The United States and Iran both have three points and face each other. In the 80th minute, the score is at 1. However, due to the better goal differential of the USA (-1) against Iran (-2), the Iranian side is eliminated with a draw. This means that they must do everything to score a goal. The Iranians will send more players forward when they gain possession, leaving themselves vulnerable to one against the Americans. Iran is also likely to pull their goalie and send them into the attacking area when they have a corner kick, creating an empty-net situation similar to hockey. The betting opportunity here is to play the MORE. The 80th minute total of the scenario above would likely be 2.5 out of +140 or better. Be aware that some books will not offer game totals after the 85th minute, while other books will keep totals until stoppage time.

Instant Gratification – Football Style

In recent years, we have seen the rise of “instant gratification” betting. Baseball has the YRFI / NRFI (yes, first inning / no, first inning). Basketball has the first team at 15 or even 10. Football has a yes/no score in the first six minutes. It took us years to get hockey totals in the first period and today we have a goal in the first 10 minutes and now in the first five minutes. The football version of this is “will there be a goal in the first X minutes”. Usually it can range from 22 minutes to 32 minutes depending on the game.

Here’s what’s unique about football: the clock is always ticking. No matter what. If there is an injury in football, basketball or hockey, or any other sport with a clock, it stops. Not soccer. Not for injuries or anything else – replay reviews (VAR), drones and smoke bombs have all caused delays at recent football matches. But delays where the clock kept ticking. The adjustment is for the referee to approximate the game delay time and add it at the end of each half.

If you bet no goals in the first x minutes, these delays all work to the advantage of this bet. Consider “no first goal” bets when the teams are of similar strength. Unlike our red card situation where we were looking for superior teams, identify games that are a “pick” or where a team is favored by half a goal. The greater the gap in the quality of the teams, the more likely it is that goals will be scored.

Enjoy the World Cup and have all your bets monetized!

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