“So,” a friend asked recently, “got World Cup fever yet?”
“Um, I think I’d prefer to be stricken with typhoid fever.”
Frankly, I’d rather watch paint dry and grass grow … while getting a vasectomy … than watch a soccer match—it is that painfully boring.
That said, I understand the World Cup’s massive appeal, particularly in these parts, where every sportsbook in town is taking action on the monthlong event that kicks off June 12. So I asked LVH Superbook boss Jay Kornegay for his list of props. After he emailed a dozen pages, I picked myself up off the floor and went looking for an expert who could make sense of it all. Enter Scott Spreitzer of Pregame.com who has been betting and handicapping soccer for a decade. Here then are some betting tips from someone who clearly finds beauty in a nil-nil tie:
Playing Favorites: When it comes to football, basketball and baseball, consistently betting big favorites will send you to the poorhouse—quickly. Not so in the World Cup, Spreitzer says: “I always tell people don’t be afraid to lay a price in the World Cup. There are reasons why teams are 3-to-1 favorites in these matchups, and that’s because they’re so much better than their opponent.” Spreitzer has already put his money where his mouth is, laying minus-350 with host country Brazil over Mexico on June 17. “Brazil will have no problem at all escaping with a three- or four-goal win in that game.”
’Dog Hunting: The one underdog Spreitzer is eyeing in the early going? Cameroon, which is catching about plus-250 in their June 13 opener, also against Mexico. “Even though Mexico is athletic and quick, Cameroon is a little quicker, and they’re really good at countering. … Should Mexico win? Probably. Should they be this big a favorite? Absolutely not.”
The Fab Four: According to Vegas oddsmakers, only four of 32 countries have a realistic shot at winning it all: Brazil (5/2), Argentina (9/2), Germany (9/2) and Spain (6/1). Would Spreitzer take those four favorites over the field? “Believe it or not, I would.” Is there any long shot worth betting? “Belgium is the most talented team outside those top four, but they’re inexperienced. So I’d say France at 22-to-1 and Colombia at 25-to-1.”
What About Team USA?: Before wrapping yourself in Old Glory and betting $100 on your country to win the Cup, ask yourself this: Would you wager $100 on the Jaguars to win the Super Bowl? Because with Team USA’s odds at 100-to-1—offshore, it’s as high as 200-to-1—that’s basically what you’d be doing. “I like what [Team USA] has done, but they’re so far from having a legitimate shot of winning the World Cup,” Spreitzer says. “You might as well just throw the hundred bucks in the fireplace.”
Good thing I asked!
Matt Jacob appears Thursdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.