World Cup Wagers: Day 1

It turns out that I did not win the billion-dollar Powerball earlier this month – a real bummer. But I will not let losing those long odds keep me down. The World Cup is upon us with a month of tantalizing matchups that will capture global attention.

This will be the first World Cup with legalized sports betting for many states across the country. Industry experts project $1.8 billion to be bet in the U.S. during the tournament.

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A tiny, microscopic portion of that $1.8 billion will be coming from me. As long as I am putting a couple of bucks on these matches, I figure I can share my bets with you. Each day of the World Cup, I will publish the three bets that I am playing that day.  

Feel free to hop on the bandwagon with me or get in my mentions about how dumb my picks are. Either way, know your limits, enjoy yourself, and strap in for the wonderful return of the World Cup. 

My bets for Day 1 are going to be a little different than subsequent days. With just one match on deck, I will include a couple of the futures bets that I like to start the tournament.

Four favorites to capture glory

I am placing four futures bets on the overall tournament winner: Brazil (+375); Argentina (+500); Germany (+1000); and Uruguay (+4000). These are the four nations that I feel the best about heading into the tournament, and I like the offered odds. 

Brazil is due for another World Cup victory. This generation’s attacking core is primed to thrash all but the best of opponents. 

Argentina has the greatest player of all time and perhaps his best supporting cast. 

Germany features a menacing trio from Bayern Munich. Under German coach Hansi Flick, the former Bayern manager, this group accomplished a “sextuple” winning six major trophies in one year’s span. 

Our longer shot play, Uruguay, arrives with an excellent mix of young and old. Their potential path on the bottom half of the Knockout Stages bracket provides a clear runway to a deep run. 

Here’s how I am going to mix my bets in order to create some hedges that one of these four will win it all.

Brazil 🇧🇷 (+350)2.0 units7.0 units4.0 units
Argentina 🇦🇷 (+500)1.5 units7.5 units4.0 units
Germany 🇩🇪 (+1000)1.0 unit10 units7.0 units
Uruguay 🇺🇾 (+4000)0.5 units20 units16.5 units

By placing bigger wagers on Brazil and Argentina, I can afford to take the bigger swings on Germany and Uruguay. Plus, the diversification should give me plenty of rooting interest throughout the tournament. 

The one big risk that I am taking is that all four could conceivably end up on the same side of the knockout stages bracket. The best-case scenario would be for Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay to win their respective groups with Germany placing second behind Spain. 

That being said, I may cash out Uruguay early after updated odds are produced following the group stage matches. If I can earn 5 units on the cashout, it will let me ride Brazil, Argentina, and Germany for free the rest of the way. I will be sure to provide an update at that point in the tournament.

Netherlands/Senegal to top Group A

In Group A, my bet is that the Netherlands will win the group with Senegal placing second (+200). 

 In the buildup to the tournament, I declared Senegal as my dark horse team to win the group and make a run to the quarterfinals. However, the injury to Sadio Mané caused me to reevaluate. Without the threat of Mané, Senegal may not have the same firepower to go toe-to-toe with the Netherlands. But there is still plenty of quality across their starting XI. The 2018 World Cup was the first time since Spain 1982 that no African team progressed to the knockout stages. I would not expect that to become a trend. Senegal is best positioned among all this year’s contestants to march on. 

The Netherlands has topped four of their last five World Cup group stages. The one blemish, in 2006, the Oranje finished even on points with Argentina but placed second on goal differential. When the Dutch make the tournament, they simply take care of business in the opening rounds. 


  • Netherlands/Senegal Straight Forecast (+200) – 1 unit

Qatar’s opening night

I could not go all futures bets on the first day. My first match-specific wager is that Qatar will manage a draw against Ecuador (+190).

There is historical precedent for an opening night draw. Like Qatar, two other countries in recent times have hosted a World Cup despite lacking a rich soccer history. In 1994, the United States managed a 1-1 draw against Switzerland and South Africa drew Mexico by the same scoreline to open the 2010 World Cup. 

Qatar’s national federation has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Maroons are ready to hit the ground running in this tournament. The national team has been pulled from their club teams and trained together for the last six months. While Ecuador was able to squeeze in a quick tune-up match, a 0-0 draw with Iraq, they will not enter the World Cup with the same level of cohesion as the Qataris. 

I will just bet the draw. If you are looking for an additional play, bet on both teams scoring in this one. It provides a hedge against a 2-1 win from either side.  


  • Draw (+190) 1 unit
  • Both Teams Score (+115) 1 unit
Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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