WHY CATS DON'T LIKE SOCCER...BUT DOGS DO
NOTE TO READERS: THESE OBSERVATIONS ARE TAKEN SOMEWHAT RANDOMLY FROM PAST "BOB AKMENS SPORTS WORLD SOCCER REPORTS"
There are some basics about betting soccer we should cover in case you don't know them.
First and foremost – soccer is played on a major-league level year-round somewhere on this planet. It is absolutely and positively the most popular sport on earth – except in our own great country of the United States. Seasons in the various countries overlap, so soccer literally never ends. The closest is every 4 years when the World Cup occurs (like the Olympics in other sports). But even then, some soccer leagues still play on. Over the years, I’ve picked up soccer clients in more than 50 different countries!
How much money can you make betting soccer? Well, consider this: the World Cup every 4 years makes our Super Bowl look like a little-league game as far as coverage and betting worldwide. It’s estimated that 2-billion people followed the last World Cup Final match. World Cup soccer matches are essentially one all-star game after another, because the national teams that compete are comprised of players from all sorts of different club teams and they play together very infrequently.
And, as any good handicapper knows, it’s much harder to win a bet on any all-star game than it is to win a bet on a matchup where the two teams meet each other fairly regularly. Yet, in 2006, John at www.thesportseye.com monitored my World Cup soccer releases, and he still has those results up at his site. My record in those tough-to-win-matches? 20-4. 24 plays. 20 wins. 4 losses. As a matter of fact, in the 30 years I’ve run a sports service, my longest streak of consecutive winning plays happens to be in soccer: 18 wins in a row.
Any mathematicians among you can easily figure out the odds against winning 18 straight yes-no (win-lose) propositions: you do a simple regression and multiply each probability by 2. For instance, the odds of winning a single game (or, of getting heads or tails on a single coin-flip) are 1 out of 2; or to express it in odds against, 1-1, even-money. Your odds are theoretically just as good to win or lose, get heads or tails on that single flip.
For two coin-flips (or two bets)?. Multiply by 2, and you get odds of 2-1 against; for 3 flips, 4-1 against, and so on. Now, if you have some understanding of soccer betting, technically it’s a bit more complicated regarding probabilities because you also have the possibility of a draw (what we call a tie). But to simplify matters, I’ll treat soccer bets as yes-no deals: you either win or you don’t win. And by the time you come to 18 straight wins, the odds against that happening are exactly 131,072 to 1. And if you factor in that you could have a draw as well as your team losing, the odds get even longer against you winning 18 in a row.
But I did that and all my soccer clients got all those plays along the way and even I find that amazing (and after all these years betting, almost nothing impresses me). But never forget that such probability assumes chance only – no assumption is made that the person making those bets makes anything other than a chance coin-flip or a chance pick on a bet.
I, as a professional handicapper, most assuredly do not rely on chance – I handicap. And more specifically, I develop and implement computer-models which analyze probabilities, and thus give me a much, much better result than that of leaving results to mere chance.
By the way, every English-speaking country other than ours usually calls a soccer team a “club;” and what we call “games” are usually called “matches,” most of the time I will, too, but sometimes I’ll revert to “team,” or “game” out of habit.
1) Best online bookmakers (for American clients) to use and who I use most of the time for soccer:
BOVADA (just click on their banner on the bottom of any of our pages)
BETONLINE (just click on their banner on the bottom of any of our pages)
WAGERWEB (just click on their banner on the bottom of any of our pages)
2) Two kinds of bets I release - just like in American sports: sides & totals
a) Sides: unlike an NBA game where you have a spread so you either take the favorite or the dog, soccer lines are 3-way-action, just like boxing matches: the home team to win, the visiting team to win, and the game to tie (called a draw in soccer - just like boxing). I only give out sides to win - I do not pick draws. So when I recommend a side, I believe that team will win the game.
There are two 45-minutes halves in soccer (and games are 99% of the time over in 2-hours, a blessing compared to a 4+ hour baseball game), and unless it's a major tourney (like the World Cup) there is no OT, but your bets will be predicated on the result at the end of 90 minutes of action even if there is a tie-breaker (but this is rare and you won't encounter it very much).
Odds are like in a baseball game. For instance, the home team might be -1.30 (e.g. you put up 130 to win a 100 profit), the visiting team +2.10, and a draw (a tie) maybe +2.20. I almost always limit the maximum line I'll lay for either a side or total to -2.00.
Here's an important point: if you bet a team to win - they must actually win the game for you to win your bet. If that game ends in a tie, you will lose your bet. The reason for this is because you could have bet the "draw" (the game to end in a tie), so a tie on the field is not a push as we have in American sports for this reason. To repeat: your team must win the game for you to win the bet.
Note that there is a significant exception to this rule: if the line you’re given says something like “pick -1.20” (the word "pick" is part of the line), that line works like a line you’d get on an American sport like baseball or hockey. If you bet that kind of line (again, where the word “pick” is part of the line quoted you), if that game ends in a tie (or in soccer what’s called a draw; e.g. 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, etc), you will push your bet (just like in an American-sports game) – you will not lose that bet. Again, if your line is “pick” with some odds after that word, you will only lose that bet if your team actually loses that game; if the game ends in a tie, you will push and have your bet refunded (just like in American sports). And naturally, if your team wins the game straight-up, you have a winning bet. So be on the lookout for lines like that - I like them.
Some books even offer you a choice, and because there are so many ties in soccer matches, I always – always – take the choice that let’s me push my bet if the game ends in a tie. The odds expressed on those two bet-choices can vary a good deal, but pushing on a tie is also almost always the better prop in soccer.
How big a difference can those lines be? Let me give you an example. Let’s say Paris is playing Lyon in the French Division 1 League (also known as Le Championnat). And on the 3-way bet, Paris is -110, Lyon is +230, and the draw is +160. That’s a range of lines that would be common in French play since French teams are very often involved in low-scoring games – and they also tie a lot. The other option presented to you is this: Paris, pick -1.45. I would jump on that line compared to Paris -110 where I must win the game to win my bet. Because if Paris & Lyon end in a tie, and I bet the line “Paris pick -145”, I’ll push my bet. So always look for the best line you can get.
b) Totals: Some - but not many - of your plays will be totals – and over the course of a year you’ll get somewhat more under plays than over plays with my releases. 90% of the time or so, the total line will be 2.5 goals with some sort of vig (also known as "juice," these are the odds attached to that goal-total spead)
Again, this is just like in baseball (or hockey) but in that sport, the line might be a low as 6 (when Maddux meets Clemens, for example) to a high 13 or 14 runs when Colorado plays at Coors Field. And there usually is a favorite and a dog with a totals line - just like in baseball. In bases, there's a 20 cent difference between favorites and dogs with totals - in soccer the difference is usually greater because of the limited number of potential final scores you can have.
Because soccer is generally a low-scoring affair, the almost universal total is 2.5 goals - over or under - but precisely because it's almost always the same total line (with some lines as low as 2 in low-scoring leagues and some 3's and even 3.5's in high-scoring ones), the vig attached to that total line is usually much bigger than in an MLB game. For instance, in Germany a Wolfsburg / Hamburg line on the over might be about 2.5 goals -1.55 (or higher) - because they’re both above-average scoring teams. If you like Wolfsburg and Hamburg to go over that line, in other words, to score 3 goals to more, you have to lay 1.55 to 1.00; you would risk $155 to make a $100 profit.
3) Ratings are simple for my soccer releases: single plays are 10* and double plays are 20*. You should be consistent with this and play 20* plays for twice the amount you play 10* plays. Not many 20* plays, though, come up.
4) Time differences: England, for instance will be 5 hours ahead of us (EST) or 6 hours ahead of us (EDT). Western Europe (where many of the rest of the plays will take place) is an hour ahead of English time and is called Central European Time (CET). So, if they have a 3PM CET Sunday game local time, it will start at 9AM EDT; an 8PM night game CET will start at 2PM EDT. That's why early games are given out the previous night, so check your email to see if any plays are released. If games start at about 1PM or later EDT, I may release them on the day of the game, trying to allow at least several hours before they start. The biggest factor in this is that I try to get weather reports because you generally don't want to play an over when it's pouring rain – or even an under-play because you get unexpected goals when someone slips. You really want dry field conditions.
5) Scores: Soccer is an international phenomenon and you can get free real-time scores as they happen at these 3 sites among many (the first is the best in that they're usually the most up-to-date in real-time):
6) Regarding lines to play: The line that I list in the reports is pretty much the line I will personally play. I can count on one hand how many times I have played an under 2 goals-line - maybe two hands – I detest playing an under 2 goals-line. It's a wretched line because you must have one of only two possible scores to win: 0-0 or 1-0 - you can win with nothing else. Whereas with a 2.5-goal-line, you obviously can win with 1-1 or 2-0 as well - and there are a lot of 2-0 finals. If I can’t find an under-2.5, virtually all of the time I will sit out that under-play.
To a lesser extent, the same thing applies to a line of 3 goals when I list a 2.5 line. Unders are naturally limited in the number of goals you can score and still win; overs are not so in that you can score 5, 7, 10 goals, etc - as long as it's 3 or more. So, sometimes I'll play an over 3 line instead of an over 2.5 line, but that's mostly a function of an appreciably decreased amount of vig – or absolutely no other line being available. Generally, you'll pay about 50 cents less for a 1/2 goal more; eg. over 2.5 -1.80 = about over 3 -1.30. But as I've told many people, because goals are scarce in soccer, if you play an over 3-goal line, your chances of pushing are probably slightly greater than your chances of scoring 4+ goals and winning - but still better chances than scoring 2 goals & losing.
So the bottom line is this: only the lines I quote in the soccer release-reports count as plays for the soccer service (as far as total goals go); if you deviate from those lines, you do so basically at your own risk. Thankfully, under-2 lines come up mostly in just a few leagues, which you'll learn in time: Italian, French, Spanish, etc - not usually in German, English, and many others.
Soccer can be, and is for me, a great betting sport. And do you know what I maybe like about it most? When the weather gets a little warmer in Europe as it gets nearer to spring, and my number of daily soccer plays increases, I might have 5-6 plays on a Saturday morning, all of which are already finals by about 12 Noon Eastern time! And if I’ve had a nice winning day, I have that much more betting capital to use right then and right there for all that juicy baseball, or basketball, or hockey, or football action which has yet to start on that same day. And that’s very pleasant indeed because I can compound my winnings that much faster!
I hope some of these details help you to become a better soccer-bettor – and naturally, I also hope you’ll join my soccer service!
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