The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins in just over 24 hours when host Brazil takes on Croatia. Throughout the tournament Crossroads will be providing supplemental gambling material, updated daily, via the most excellent websites sportsbook.ag and fivethirtyeight.com.
Nate Silver and Co. posted one piece comparing the probabilities implied by their Soccer Power Index to those implied by the betting market, on each team’s chances of winning it all. Which is awesome, but come on FiveThirtyEight, what about the games themselves? We degenerates have it hard enough as it is without having to personally check every line with your own prediction. Therefore, Crossroads is proud to provide the 2014 FIFA World Cup Gambler’s Guide.
The gambling guide will cover every 90 minute game line in the opening round, comparing the break even percentage needed to cash in Vegas with Nate Silver’s Soccer Power Index estimations. If Nate Silver thinks a result is more likely than other gamblers, you may want to consider betting “against” the market to cash in that positive expected value. For more on Silver’s algorithm (which actually is kinda complicated), click here. For even more, click here. And to view the guide in its own window, click here.
Nate Silver’s Grantland-esque website FiveThirtyEight debuted today. It includes an interactive graphic (utilizing seven different predictor variables) featuring every team’s chances to reach every round of March Madness, including their odds of winning it all. How do those odds stack up to the current (as of 11:59 pm Eastern Time) odds given by Sportsbook.com? Best of all, which teams make for the best bets, even if they are unlikely to win the championship, because Vegas is giving them even longer odds than they deserve? Find out below!
Positive Expected Value Bets to Win the NCAA MB Tournament
Break Even Percentage
FiveThirtyEight Percent Chance to Win
Bet Expected Value
For a bet of Arizona’s odds to be profitable (in the long run), it needs to cash 11.11 percent of the time; Nate Silver and his team estimate that the Wildcats’ true odds lie at 13 percent. That gap produces the largest positive expected value in the field. Which teams should you avoid putting money on to go all the way?
Worst Expected Value Bets to Win the NCAA MB Tournament
Everyone loves Michigan St, and that is precisely why they are overvalued. The Spartans are good, and it is entirely possible they could win; it is even possible that Silver’s methodology has sold them short, perhaps by not accounting for Tom Izzo. But it is also true that at the five-and-a-half-to-one odds currently offered, the Spartans have to win 15.38 percent of the time for this bet to be profitable. Even if their true probability of a championship is around ten percent, or even 12 percent, it would still not be a good idea to put money on Michigan St. With the fabled winning streaks, Syracuse and Wichita St also make appearances on this list of worst bets in the tournament.
This is not to say that these teams are guaranteed to lose. But if you place bets with a negative expected value, while you may win one or two, over time you are guaranteed not only to lose, but to lose money.