PA Images/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: English players Harry Maguire, John Stones and Harry Kane
- Bettors holding World Cup future tickets might be asking the question: Should I hedge?
- We dive into the data to explore the best hedging strategies for France, Belgium, England and Croatia.
There are just four teams left in the 2018 World Cup. If you are holding a future ticket on France, England, Belgium or Croatia, now might be the time to hedge. But what is the right strategy? Here is a look at potential hedging scenarios submitted by readers.
We should stress to everyone kind enough to send in questions and to others holding similar tickets that there is no right answer. Our goal is to give you a sense of your options and ultimately tell you what our staff of experts would do if they were holding your ticket.
The final decision is in your hands. Good luck!
Reader question: $200 on France before the Cup at +750. — Nick V.
The setup: France -123 favorites to advance vs. Belgium.
For your head: Right now, France are +200 to win the whole party. That implies they have a 33.3% chance of winning. At +750 odds they had an implied probability of 11.8%. You’re already way ahead on this one. You could also look at it this way: To get +750 odds on a two-leg parlay you’d need roughly +192 on each leg. Les Bleus will obviously be way shorter than that in both matches (if they get to the final).
For your heart: Les Bleus are the deepest squad left, they have no real injury concerns, and they haven’t really even hit their stride yet. Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud give France a versatile attack, and their midfield is made to stop players like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. There aren’t many teams that can handle Belgium’s creative players, but France are not a good matchup for the Red Devils.
Our advice: Just keep reminding yourself that this is a +EV move and let it ride.
Reader question: Holding a Belgium 14-1. Haven’t hedged at all throughout the tournament. — Sterling G.
The setup: Belgium +108 underdogs to advance vs. France.
For your head: At the moment, Belgium are being given a 47 to 48% chance of advancing by sportsbooks, and FiveThirtyEight is right in line with those numbers. If we are to believe the odds, the Red Devils — if they pull off the upset — will likely play England in the final. The odds suggest that will be dead even, as their odds to win the World Cup are so tight. So ask yourself this: If somebody gave you 14-1 odds on two coin flips, would you take that bet?
For your heart: Belgium have more than a puncher’s chance in this one. France have yet to really look convincing in any match; they had some lapses against Argentina and were gifted a goal against Uruguay. Sure, France have a great defense and they can adapt to any style, but Belgium have scored at least two goals in every game except one (when they played their B team against England) in the World Cup.
Our advice: Let it ride.
Reader question: I’m wrestling with what to do about England. My ticket is +1800, and I’m leaning toward letting it ride vs. Croatia given that Croatia has played 120 mins twice in a row, then probably hedge the final.
p.s. I’m a recent college grad and this is only $10 to make $180, but it would make a big difference to me, haha. — Dylan D.
The setup: England -148 favorites to advance vs. Croatia.
For your head: According to FiveThirtyEight.com, England are the most likely team (57% chance) to advance to the championship game. The betting markets (59.7% implied probability of winning) and the prediction models favor the British. We all remember what it was like to be a recent college grad. And $180 buys a lot of top-shelf ramen (old habits die hard). Let it ride.
For your heart: These are not your father’s Three Lions. Harry Kane hadn’t been born the last time England reached the semifinals of a World Cup. Disappointment has haunted the English since their World Cup win in 1966, but this squad is different.
Our advice: England are the superior side, and as you said, Croatia have played back-to-back matches with extra time and penalties. It is fair to wonder what they have left in the tank. Let your bet ride. The most likely championship game is France-England, and if you choose to hedge on Sunday, you’ll still be able to lock in a nice profit.
Reader question: I have Croatia outright winner at 30-1. Is there any call to action to hedge as early as semifinals? — Nikola P.
The setup: Croatia +133 underdogs to advance vs. England.
For your head: Underdogs do not win the World Cup. Since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1998, the biggest longshot to win the World Cup was Italy (+1000) in 2006. Over that same span, only teams seeded eighth or lower in the tournament have gone on to win. Hedge immediately!
For your heart: This is the year of the upset. Pre-tournament favorites Brazil and Germany will be watching this match from home. Bigger underdogs (Korea +1850, Mexico +717, Japan +470) have already pulled upsets. Why not Croatia? Let it ride.
Our advice: It is the World Cup. Anything could happen, but Croatia are unlikely to advance. At 30-1 odds you have a lot of wiggle room. Lock in a profit now. If the Croatians find a way to advance, you’ll have another easy hedging opportunity in the final.