2018 World Cup Betting for Soccer Newbies

Kevin Stott

Monday, June 11, 2018 7:26 PM UTC

Monday, Jun. 11, 2018 7:26 PM UTC

The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins Thursday in Russia, so let’s try to simply explain the various types of bets and markets out there for the novice looking in at this quadrennial soccer tournament and all of its funky betting numbers.

Straight Bets and Parlays

Straight bets and parlays (or accumulators) are simply the two different types of bets gamblers can make outside of Futures bets, Props bets and In-Game wagers which we’ll briefly touch on below. A Straight Bet involves just one team (or Total) winning the game or match while a Parlay involves 2 or more elements combined together and having to get them all right to win the bet, although a parlay with a tie (Push) on it should generally be graded down a notch (Example: A 4-teamer with a Push and 3 Wins becomes a 3-teamer).

Futures Bets (Betting a Side to Win Entire Tournament or Group)

A Futures Bet is a wager made on a team usually before a tournament (or season) begins and usually just has one winner (the tournament’s champion), although each of the eight World Cup Groups have Futures odds posted for each of the four teams within to win the group.

Here are the current Futures odds from Bovada for the entire tournament (above) as well as for Group A (below). In this example, Uruguay is the favorite to win the group with backers having to bet $140 to win $100 (-140), while Russian (+180), Mo Salah and Egyptian (+700), and Saudi Arabian (+5000) backers would get well more than plus-money (above Even) should one of those three perceived underdog nations win the group (The top two teams from each Group will advance to the Knockout Stage).

Live Bets (or In-Game Wagers)

This still relatively new individual-game-is-a-stock-market style of wagering spurred by The Digital Age and the advent of Smartphones, Live-Betting (or In-Game wagering) involves betting on a game once it has already started with adjusted lines depending on what has happened score-wise and time-wise up to that particular point in time.

For example, and using the standard three-way marketplace, should Russia take a 1-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the match, the price for Russia (-250) to win will go up drastically while the Total —set at 2½ — will also have to have its’ moneyline odds number adjusted to account for an early goal in a 90+ minute match. This often quick-draw type of betting often means being there first and having an idea of what you want and how to safely or aggressively position yourself considering any wagers already made.

Props Bets

Props Bets or Proposition Bets (or Specials) involve very specific occurrences or breaking a match down into a half or a specific number of minutes. Examples of the many Props bets offered up in Soccer include Anytime Goalscorer, First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, First Substitution, Will There Be a Penalty Kick? Corners Over/Unders, Brazil Specials, Mexico Specials, and on and on and on as well as the numerous specific team Props offered up including Team Totals (for First Half or Full Game). Here are just some of the Intertops props offerings for that first World Cup game Thursday:

Beware of ...

... the reality that the results of bets on most matches are determined in the 90 minutes of Regulation Time and added Injury Time and not any Overtime or Penalty Kick scenarios, applicable in the Knockout Stage where a winner (and maybe Overtime and/or a PK Shootout) is required to send a team on to the next round and where a Draw is possible in Regulation Team while a team can win (or lose) beyond that point.

A good working example of this comes from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (pictured) when Luis Suárez, Diego Forlan and Uruguay advanced past Ghana in a dramatic Quarterfinals match, winning 4-2 on Penalty Kicks in Johannesburg after a 1-1 Draw in 90 minutes (+ Injury Time) and a scoreless Overtime, meaning Draw bettors (+200) were the only ones who were able to cash their tickets on that day.

Three-Way Moneyline Market (Betting a Side or a Draw)

There are usually four basic ways to approach betting on an individual soccer match, and two of them are fairly hard to find unless utilizing an Offshore sportsbook with a dedication to the world’s most popular sport. The two most booked and bet methods are betting a Side or a Draw—the game to end in a tie — in the Three-Way Moneyline marketplace (as pictured below) from Intertops with their current (Sunday) odds for the first dozen games in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which begins on Thursday with host nation Russia facing Saudi Arabia from Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

As you can see, Russia (Team 1) is priced at -250 for this match, meaning that a prospective bettor would have to bet $250 to win $100 on Russia (-250 moneyline odds). If choosing to back underdogs Saudi Arabia (Team 2), a bettor would win $750 for a $100 wager at those +750 odds while a gambler wishing to bet a Draw (or a tie match) would win $320 for a $100 bet (+320) if this opening match ends deadlocked.

Totals (Betting the Number of Goals Scored)

Betting on the Total simply means wagering on if there will be more (Over) or less (Under) than the posted number of goals (Total) for the game. Some Totals are set at flat numbers of 2, 3 and even 4 and 5 and can result in a Push where the bettor would get his or her money back should the total number of goals scored in the game land right on the posted Total. For example, a 2-1 final score in a game with a Total of 3 would result in a Push, or the gambler getting their bet refunded.

Looking again at the Russia-Saudi Arabia match on Thursday (FOX, 11 am ET/8 am PT), we can see a Total (Goals) of 2½ set with the Under priced (juiced) at -143, meaning the bettor needs to bet $143 to win $100 if backing the Under. If taking the Over (2½), a $100 bet would win $110 (+110) if the game sees 3 or more goals scored.

Two-Way Moneyline Market (No Draw Involved)

The Two-Way Moneyline is a seldom seen market which takes the Draw out of the picture for the bettor. Once in awhile, you’ll find Two-Way Moneyline market odds with “PK” (Pick ‘em) next to team’s names, which can be a safer approach with a Draw result refunding both sides.

A working example from the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, favorites Madrid were priced at -150 with Liverpool at +130 in the Two-way market.

And with Madrid winning 3-1 in Regulation Time at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, Madrid Two-way line bettors (-150) won, but got much less profit (-170) than if they had taken Los Blancos on the Three-Way line (+120), risking a possible Draw after Regulation.

Goal Line Market

The Goal Line market is also fairly rare bet (in the US, but more popular in Europe and somewhat Offshore and Online) offering involving laying or taking a certain number of goals (1, 1½, 2, 2½, etc.) and then having to beat the Final Score (in Regulation Time) with your plus-goals or minus-goals wager applied.

For example, using (Russia) minus-2 and (Saudi Arabia) plus-2 from the Alternative Odds menu from Intertops, we see that you can bet Russia and lay 2 goals and get +330 or bet Saudi Arabia +2 goals and lay -182 odds. If Russia would win by 3 or more goals, then a $100 bet would win $330 (plus your $100 back. Should Russia win by only 1, tie or lose, then the Saudi Arabia +2 would win, while a 2-goal Russian victory would result in a tie for both betting scenarios and a refund to the bettors laying or taking 2 goals.

Double Chance Betting

A fifth and extremely seldom employed or booked type of betting in the US — but more popular overseas and in places where soccer betting is more popular — is Double Chance Betting, where the gambler can take two of the three potential scenarios in the Three-way market (at higher odds and a better chance of cashing) but at much more of a premium.

Again using the Russia-Saudi Arabia Group A lidlifter as an example, a bettor could take Russia (Team 1) and a Draw (Team X) at a steep -1250 ($1,250 to win $100), either Russia (Team 1) and Saudi Arabia (Team 2) to win outright at -556, or Saudi Arabia (Team 2) and a Draw (Team X) priced at +135 — the obvious rarest of potential occurrences in oddsmakers’ eyes here.

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