Ewing: You Don’t Need to Know Soccer to Bet Saturday’s World Cup Matches
Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sweden defender Pontus Jansson
- It’s OK if you have little to no soccer knowledge. You can still have success when betting the World Cup.
- Math is your friend. Use consensus projections to make value bets.
- Tunisia (+931), Korea (+528), and Sweden (+630) are the best Saturday plays using my method.
I know nothing about soccer.
That hasn’t stopped me from betting on every World Cup match. It has gone about as well you might expect. Through Friday, June 22, I have compiled a 8-18 record.
But wait, there’s a twist. I’m +8.57 units despite being ten games under .500. What kind of sorcery is this?
If you haven’t noticed, the dogs have been barking in Russia.
Mexico (+675) over Germany, I had it.
Japan (+470) to win vs. Colombia, you bet.
I was also among the 20% of bettors who thought Croatia (+320) could topple Messi and Argentina. A $100 bettor tailing my picks would be up $857 for a 33.0% return on investment.
Here is each bet I placed:
So, what’s my secret? Math. To make my selections I’ve created a consensus World Cup projection based on predictions from ThePowerRank and FiveThirtyEight. If one model is good, two is better.
After determining each team’s chance to win, and the likelihood of a draw, I calculate the implied probability for each event based on the betting odds. If the consensus projection is greater than the implied probability, I place a bet.
Mexico +717 to win, 12.2% implied probability.
Consensus projection (538 & ThePowerRank) for Mexico win is 19.9%.
Some value on El Tri.https://t.co/05dpkOsIuc
— John Ewing (@johnewing) June 17, 2018
See, math and betting can be fun! Now the part you’ve been waiting for … here are the plays I’ve made for Saturday using the above method.
Belgium vs. Tunisia
8 a.m. ET
Nearly 80% of moneyline tickets are on Belgium, but Tunisia has moved from +1327 to +931. The implied probability of a Tunisia win is 9.7%. The models give the underdog a 12.1% chance of pulling the upset.
Play: Tunisia +931
Mexico vs. Korea
11 a.m. ET
Mexico shocked Germany in the opener. Is this a letdown spot for El Tri? Korea (+528) has a 19.6% chance of knocking off Mexico according to the consensus projections.
Play: Korea +528
Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET
Germany (-200) is the biggest favorite on Saturday. Despite a disappointing result in the team’s first game, almost 70% of bettors are backing Die Mannschaft. There is only a 19.1% chance that Sweden drops Germany, but at +630 (13.7% implied probability) there is value betting the underdog.
Play: Sweden +630