International Soccer Betting: Tips and Advice for Handicapping
by Trevor Whenham - 6/6/2012
Betting on major international soccer tournaments — like the World Cup and Euro, can be a whole lot of fun. It can also be nicely profitable. If you aren’t properly prepared for it, though, it can be a particularly easy way to decimate your bankroll.
Here are seven tips with advice to help you succeed with your handicapping on soccer’s biggest events — starting with Euro 2012 this month:
The majority of North American bettors have a point spread mindset. That’s how most football betting is done, and basketball as well. If people don’t spend a lot of time betting on baseball then they probably don’t use the moneyline very much from day to day.
In soccer, though, the moneyline is at the root of most betting.
The key for moneyline success for people who aren’t familiar with it is to focus entirely on value. It can be very tempting just to pick the team you think will win — easier to do than pick who will cover the spread.
If you are betting on strong favorites, though, then it can be easy to pick a solid majority of the games correctly and still lose money because the prices you are paying when you lose are too steep. Before you make any moneyline bet you need to make sure that the chances of the team winning are better than the odds would suggest. If that is the case then over the long-term you would be able to make a profit.
Moneyline betting isn’t harder than point spread betting, but it is definitely different and needs to be approached with awareness.
Don’t forget about the draw
I don’t know about you, but I hate the concept of a tie. No game should ever end without a winner and a loser — it just seems wrong.
Soccer fans don’t have that same issue, though.
In preliminary rounds a draw is completely acceptable and quite common. Besides being annoying, these draws can make things challenging for bettors — when there is a draw neither side wins. You can bet to include draws — so that the tie counts as a win from one team from a betting perspective — or you can bet on the draw as a possible outcome in the game.
You need to be aware of how the draw is being considered in any soccer bet you make, and you really need to respect the possibility that the game will end in a draw.
There are situations in which a draw will happen. Even more frustrating, there are situations in which a team will be completely content with a draw, and won’t play for anything more.
In the preliminary rounds teams are notorious for doing only what they need to do and nothing more. If they already have a couple of wins then they may not be motivated to win their third game because it can do little for them.
You need to know what the teams have to play for before you consider what to expect from them.
Don’t get seduced by the underdogs
In a lot of situations it can seem like the underdog is at such a massive price that it could be worth a gamble because the payoff would leave your bankroll bursting at the seams. When a very good team is playing a lesser team, though, the skill disadvantage can be massive, and it can be very tough to overcome. If both teams are likely to be completely motivated then it can be very tough for the underdog to win, and very tough to make money betting on those underdogs as a result.
Make sure reputations are current
There are situations in which a team can have a reputation that can far exceed their current capabilities — they did well at the last major international, for example, but have a different lineup now. The public will overcompensate for them, and open the possibility for real value on the underdog.
There is a long time between each major event, yet the public will heavily rely on what happened last time to determine what they expect this time. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you are betting on one team and then finding out that that team doesn’t exist anymore.
Make sure that you aren’t getting fooled by the past.
Style of play is crucial
In basketball you need to understand the tempo of the teams, and which one is likely to be able to dictate the pace of play. In football you need to understand how the offensive styles pair up against the opposing defenses and who has an edge as a result.
The same holds true here as well.
You need to look at whether teams favor an offensive or defensive style, how well they match up against the strengths of their opponent, how they fare against teams with a style like their opponent, and so on. This can be the biggest factor in the outcome of a game, and often the most overlooked one.
Go to the source
When the major events come around everyone is suddenly an expert. Every major media outlet has extensive coverage and analysis. It can all sound good, but much of it isn’t worth the time it takes to consume it.
Good information is crucial to good decision-making, so it only makes sense to seek out information from those that follow the sport all the time, not for a couple of weeks every few years.
Thanks to the Internet you can easily find great analysis with meaningful insights that will help you find winners and spot mistakes. Don’t get sucked in by the convenience and ease of the mass-market information. It will likely be inaccurate, or at least incomplete, and it will be what everyone is reading.
You can, and should, do better.
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