World Cup Betting Guide

By Martin Green14 May 2018
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We are now just a month away from the start of the World Cup, and the excitement is palpable among football fans and punters alike. Billions will be wagered as the tournament rumbles on, as this will be the most popular sporting event of the year by a considerable distance. Bookmakers are offering a huge range of futures and match betting markets, and there are some intriguing offers and prices to take advantage of at BMR’s green-listed bookmakers.

Types of Bets

The most obvious one is betting on who will lift the famous trophy in July, and many bookmakers have holders Germany as joint favourites along with Brazil. Bet365, which has a five-star rating at Bookmakers Review, is offering 9/2 (5.50) on Germany, and that is the price that most bookies have gone with. The majority of bookmakers are also offering 9/2 on Brazil, although 888 Sport and Unibet have a market leading 19/4 (4.75). Both teams are exceptionally strong all-around, but so are France, Spain and Belgium. France are best priced at 13/2 (7.5) with Bet365, Betway and Sportingbet, Spain are 7/1 (8.0) with 888 Sport and Belgium are 12/1 (13.0) with Sportingbet. Lionel Messi’s Argentina are also in the mix, but the 9/1 on offer looks a bit short on a team with an underwhelming midfield and defence.

You can bet on who will win or qualify from each group, who will reach the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final, which two teams will contest the final, the top goal scorer, the best team from each continent and the winning group. In individual matches, you can bet on the winner, but to get more value you can opt for things like win to nil, to win and under 3.5 goals, to win at half-time and full-time and so on. You can bet on who will score first, last or at any time, the correct score, the number of goals, whether both teams will score and many more options.

There is also handicap betting to allow you to get more value on heavy favourites. For example, you can back Germany -1 when they play Mexico to make the odds worth your while. With all these options, you are sure to find something you like, and an expert team of pundits will pick out strong bets in each game over at our sister site: There you can also compare the odds being offered by reputable bookmakers and find the most attractive prices on each outcome.

Best Bookmakers to Choose

You are always advised to use established, reputable bookmakers with five- or four-star ratings at Bookmakers Review. Our main five-star bookies for football are Bet365, William Hill and Pinnacle, and the latter also has very competitive odds. Four-star bookmakers include Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betway and 888 Sport. Other bookmakers will offer more competitive odds, particularly Marathon Bet and 188Bet. These are by no means on our red list of bookies to avoid, but they may not be as easy to use, offer as attractive bonuses or accept the same limits as our highly-rated bookmakers. Bet365 and Sky Bet are excellent options for in-play betting, while the big operators like William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet Victor have all manner of interesting special bets to choose from.

Historical Trends to Consider

The winner is not always the favourite, but it tends to come from an elite group near the top of the betting. Since 1986, the longest price on a World Cup winner was the 10/1 on offer on Italy in 2006, and long-shots never succeed. Only teams from Europe or South America ever win the World Cup, and the winner typically hails from the continent of the host nation. The only exceptions were Germany winning in Brazil last time around, and Brazil winning in Sweden in 1958.

That spells good news for the European nations this time around, as the World Cup is being held in Russia. Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history, closely followed by Germany, and it is no surprise to see them leading the betting. However, the Golden Boot winner rarely comes from the nation that wins the World Cup. No team has successfully defended the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, which does not spell good news for holders Germany. The average goals per game at the World Cup is 3.15, but for the modern era (1986 onwards) it stands at 2.45 goals per game, so under 2.5 goals could be a popular bet.

Betting Strategies

It may be advisable to keep stakes to a minimum in the first round of games in order to see how each team has adapted to conditions, and how reckless each team is in its approach to attacking. Then you can up your stakes as the tournament goes on, with historical data to back your choices up. Try to identify the teams that keep things tight at the back or take risks and bet on total goals markets accordingly. Consider win to nil or win and under 4.5 goals as options to get more value on favourites. Double or treble up on favourites to make accumulators to find more value. Do not be afraid to go against the betting public, as this is where more value often lies. Practice sensible bankroll management, do not bet beyond your means and make sure you have fun.