Best Winter Olympic Bets
by Trevor Whenham - 2/9/2010
The Olympics are finally just a couple of days away. I'm quite excited about the prospects of betting on the Games - mostly because of the novelty of it all. I mean, how often do you get to bet on biathlon? It will obviously be easier to bet the individual events when we get closer to them and we can get a feel for how things are going. Even now, though, there are bets that stick out as particularly attractive. Here are seven of the best bets I see on the board right now (all odds are from 5Dimes with the exception of the short track speedskating from Bodog):
Lindsey Vonn - Vonn, an American downhill skier, is an absolute machine. She's as close to unbeatable as you can be in skiing, and she quite likely has the best shot of winning of any competitor in any big field event in the entire games. She's a solid contender in the Super G, and the prices are decent there - about +150. Her strength, though, is the downhill. The approach, as far as I'm concerned, is just to find the best price you can and go for it. She's at -140 on 5Dimes, and I've seen her as high at 5/6 elsewhere. That's a ridiculous price for an event like this, but she justifies it. The problem is that there isn't anyone else in the field who emerges as a clear second choice, so you would have to cover a whole lot of options to give yourself as good of a chance as you do with Vonn.
Men's Biathlon - Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is the Tiger Woods of biathlon. He already has five Olympic gold medals to his credit, and he won four gold medals at the last world championship. He's one of the two favorites in each of the four individual events in Vancouver, and is better than even money in all them (much better in most cases). My inclination would be to bet him to win all four events. If he gets two golds you would make a nice profit, and anything better than that just adds to the payday. If you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket then there is another option. Emil Hegle Svendsen is Phil Mickelson if Bjoerndalen is Tiger. He's a younger competitor, but he's red hot this year, and is one of the few to have beaten Bjoerndalen more than once. He's one of the top two choices in every event as well, and both are better than even money, so you could conceivably bet both in the hopes that one wins. If they combined to win three of four medals - a distinct possibility - then you would make a nice profit. You'd come out of it okay if they only won two.
Women's Biathlon - Helena Jonsson isn't as dominant as Bjoerndalen, but she's favored in all three of the women's individual events. She's at +230 or better in all three events, so she would only need to win one gold for you to profit from betting on her in all three events. I think that that is worth the risk.
Men's Curling - At the risk of oversimplifying, this is just a two-team race. Canada is overbet at -170, but the British offer huge value at +375. If you want to make one value bet then the Brits are where you should look. The Canadians are the deserving favorites, though, so I would be inclined to work both teams into a bet - something like 2.5 units on Canada and a single unit on the Brits to give you a profit either way. There's the chance you could lose it all, but there isn't another team in the class of these two. Not even close.
Women's Curling - Everything I said about Canada and Great Britain for the men can be said about Canada and China for the women. If one of these two teams doesn't win gold it will be an upset - a pretty significant one. Canada is at +160 and China at +210, so it would be easy to play both as still come out ahead.
Men's Hockey - Like the curling, I only see this as a two-team tournament. Canada is the home team favorite, and the deepest team in the world. Russia doesn't have the same depth, but they do have three of the purest scorers in the league. No other team can come close to competing with those two squads if either one is at their best. Sweden isn't as talented as they have been, and the Americans have talent but no depth. Canada is at +110, and Russia is at +250. Unless you want to take a stand on one or the other, I'd be inclined just to bet a combination of the two, with slightly more on the Canadians to even out the potential returns.
Men's 500m short track speedskating - Canada has traditionally won a lot of medals in short track speedskating, and have been focused on doing the same on home ice. The best place for us to capitalize on that is in the shortest sprint for the men. Canada has the two favorites in this events, and both are priced well enough for us to capitalize while taking both - Charles Hamelin is at 2/1, and Francois-Louis Tremblay is at 3/1.
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