Betting on the World Cup Championship Game: Tips and Advice
by Trevor Whenham - 7/9/2014
Betting on the World Cup final is different than betting on any other game in the tournament. Significantly different. Those who are aware of those differences have the best chance of avoiding costly mistakes and of making the best decisions that they can. Here are five of those biggest differences and what they mean for bettors:
Intense public attention: Attention only intensifies as the tournament advances. People who don't care about the elimination rounds can't help but take note of the finals - and many of those people will be compelled to bet on it, too. The more intensely the public is interested in something, and the more they bet on it, the more you need to be aware of how they are betting and what it means for your search for value. The betting public, to be kind, is not particularly sophisticated. They bet based on biases, media perceptions, or the color of uniforms. They are thankfully, though, predictable. If you like the same team as the public then you will really have to look for value. If you don't then you are probably pretty happy.
Only one game: The World Cup final is, in many ways, like the Super Bowl on steroids. One of those ways is that bettors have nothing left to save themselves for. When this game ends, major soccer on this scale is four more years away. People who have made money in the tournament so far are looking to lock up one last score to really make it a memorable tournament. People who have lost so far are looking to recoup those losses in their final chance. People make different betting decisions in this game than they would in any other. There is no tomorrow - at least in terms of World Cup betting - so people get reckless. That means that betting volume is very high and that people make bets that they might not normally make during the rest of the year. This only increases the need for bettors to be aware of how the public is betting.
Teams are in top form: For the most part, a team that has made it this far in the tournament is in very good form and will be ready to play close to their potential. There are obviously exceptions - Brazil made it to the semifinals, suffered an injury and a suspension, and promptly forgot how to play the sport. Generally, though, there are no flukes in the finals - it is tough to get there, and teams have earned their berth. That means that there are not likely to be dramatically large gaps in talent between the teams. If you see the final as largely lopsided, or if you expect one team to be much more prepared and set to play, then you probably need to look again at the game. That's not to say that there can't be a team that is better than the other. It is just a mistake to totally discount any team that has made it this far in the tournament. Perceived gaps between teams are more often due to your own biases than the reality of the situation.
Little to really separate squads: The flip side of the last point is that there is very little to separate finalists most times, so handicapping the championship game is a very difficult task. You can't question the motivation of teams, their effort level, or whether their best players will be on the field. You have seen how the teams react to highly-intense situations, and you know how they play against very good teams. Early in the tournament handicapping can come down to glaring differences. At this point you often need a magnifying glass to spot the difference that will ultimately decide the game. That means that bettors who want to thrive in this spot need to be very patient, detail oriented, and choosy.
You must manage pressure to bet: The World Cup championship game is very often the best game of the whole tournament. It's obviously the most important one. The problem, though, is that most years it is far from the best game of the tournament to bet on. For many of the reasons we have discussed it can often be among the worst. Bettors, then, need to have a very clear idea of why they are betting on the game and let that guide their betting decisions. If you are interested only in making the highest value bets possible then the best move may very well be to look elsewhere. If you just want to be a part of the spectacle, though, and to have a rooting interest in the game, then betting is the perfect thing to do. Just make sure that your bankroll decisions mesh with your goals.
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