Olympics mean it’s time for a punt
Innovative bets can add interest to the Olympic Games and the football season, says Chris Shillington
So, the Olympics have finally begun, and there’s plenty to keep spread betters interested. If there’s one thing that everybody is sure of at the Games, it’s that China ought to improve on the 32 medals that it won at Athens in 2004. IG Sport’s Total China Golds market bears out this theory, standing at 42.5 44. But is it realistic? The world championships suggested that China has shown little actual improvement, and much relies on whether talismanic hurdler Xiang Liu can lift his team-mates.
Elsewhere, the USA will arrive with the usual fanfare and a team packed with talent. Ex-Italian Olympic supremo Luciano Barra reckons the US will chalk up 49 golds, making IG Sport’s Total USA Golds market quote of 38.5-40 a very interesting price.
Let’s hope that the GB and NI team were watching Chariots of Fire and Rocky en route from London to Beijing Central. Their gold medal price of 11.7 12.2 suggests that they will struggle to meet sport minister Gerry Sutcliffe’s target of 41 medals at the games.
Of course, the main event in the games will be in the athletics. With 25 points awarded per gold, 10 per silver and 5 per bronze, the current spread on Team GB performance is 42-50.
Punters must make two decisions on this market: will clear triple-jump favourite Phillips Idowu once again let the big time get to him and will Paula Radcliffe’s Olympic bid be one month too early for her injury? If the answer to both of those is “yes”, then the 42-50 would look more a sell than a buy.
If running, jumping and throwing things is not up your street, you’ll be chuffed that the Premier League is five short days away.
Now I’m afraid to say there is some ridiculous guff out there along the lines of “Manchester United are great value at 11/8 to win the Premier League”. Don’t believe a word of it. The extreme popularity and longevity of these markets mean the various traders round the country do not get them wrong. Value hunters look elsewhere for bargains.
Among the more interesting markets is one that allows you to bet on how many points a team will beat another by in the league. For example, punters can buy if they think Spurs will beat West Ham by more than 14 points and sell if they think West Ham will stay within 12 points of Spurs in the final table. Considering West Ham scored three more points than Tottenham last term, there will be plenty out there who have an opinion.
Elsewhere, Total Season Points gives punters a great ticket to ride every game of the season. The team of most note has to be Everton. They got 65 points last season; so their current price of 55-56 looks on the low side of a Barry White tune.
However, the market that I think gives punters both a fighting chance and plenty of fun is the handicap market. For example Hull get a 56 point head start on Man United whereas Villa get a 28 point start. From there, the handicap winner gets 60 points for finishing first, 40 for second and down to 5 points for eighth place.
Teams of interest include Spurs, who are are 9-12 with a 24 point head-start on United, Blackburn 8-11 from a 36 point start and Newcastle 8-11 from a 34 point start. Plenty to mull, then, while you watch the Bulgarians take on the Romanians in the shot-putting.
Chris Shillington works for IG Sport