Soccer World Cup Odds and Betting | Complete Bettor Guide

Soccer World Cup Odds and Betting

The FIFA World Cup is the premier competition in international soccer. It’s taken place every four years since 1930 and is usually the most watched televised event in the world. Besides being an exhibition of some of the finest athletes globally, the World Cup also symbolizes the solidarity and harmony shared between the world nations. 

There aren’t many other events of this kind where cultures come together in such a manner. The book Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski even undertook a study that concluded the month when the soccer World Cup takes place is one of the happiest isolated periods that the world undergoes. 

Of course, few things can be as fun as betting on a sport to enjoy the full extent of its ups and downs, and this guide explains how you can get involved in the World Cup action. Before we move into soccer odds, let’s understand how the tournament is structured. 

Thiago Silva controls the ball against Switzerland

 Soccer World Cup Format

Group Stages 

Other than the host nation, 31 nations qualify for the World Cup group stages. The national teams are divided into eight groups of four.

Teams play three games in the group stages, with the top two in each group qualifying for the knockout stage. If the second and third-placed teams are tied on points in the group stage, goal difference will be the differentiating factor. If the goal difference is the same, the team who scores more goals will go through. If this also happens to be the same, the head-to-head record will be looked at.


Sixteen teams qualify for the knockouts, beginning with the Round of 16, followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final. If a game does not end in 90 minutes and added time, there will be an extra-time period of 30 minutes. If the game still doesn’t conclude, it will go to penalties. The losing semi-finalists also participate in a third-place playoff match.

The tournament winner is handed the prestigious trophy and gets a star on top of the national team’s badge on the jersey. 

Understanding Soccer World Cup Odds Formats

The soccer World Cup offers different betting formats because it’s a truly unique tournament.

Before we head into the types of bets, it’s important to categorize the types of odds: American, decimal, and fractional. American odds are whole numbers prefixed with a minus or plus sign. Decimal and fractional are self-explanatory, but we will explain the nuances below. Most betting sites in the US will provide you with all three options. Here are some examples for each:

American odds: If Brazil are -800 to beat Japan, this means a stake of $800 would win you $100 if Brazil won, or $80 would win you $10. On the other hand, if Japan are +600 to beat Brazil, you would win $600 on a successful $100 bet.

Decimal odds: The decimal odds equivalent of the Brazil (-800) example from above would be 1.125; an $800 stake multiplied by 1.125 would pay out $900, which is a $100 reward. Decimal odds always give you your total return, including your stake, as opposed to the other two formats, which merely inform you of the reward.

Fractional odds: The fractional equivalent of the -800 and 1.125 is ⅛. If you have ⅛ odds on Brazil to beat Japan, you will win a dollar for every eight you bet or $100 for every $800.

Types of Soccer World Cup Odds and Betting

Now that the formats are clear let’s look at the types of soccer World Cup odds and betting that you can enjoy. 

Match bets

Match result or three-way moneyline bet: This is like the beginner level of betting and is a good way to start your betting hobby. You just have to bet on which team you think will win the match. Soccer matches have ties, which make this a little more tricky, unlike most other major sports. The bets are only applicable for regular time in most cases. 

Draw no bet: This bet works as a safety net if you think the underdog can beat the favorite and is also a good way for beginners to learn betting. It is less risky, which might appeal to some bettors. This option secures your stake in case the match ends in a draw. Let’s take the Brazil and Japan example once again. If Japan is +500 to beat Brazil, your only chance at a profit is if they win. However, if they’re +300 on the Draw No Bet, you have assured no losses if they manage to hold on for a draw.

Both teams to score: This one is simple. You bet on both teams to score in the match. Soccer World Cups don’t always offer the best games in terms of goal scoring because teams don’t want to lose, and the option of extra time and penalties is still on the cards. This is why it usually has high odds. 

Double chance: This type of bet is like a combination of the first two bets listed above. You bet on a team to either win or draw the game. It can be ascertained that most of the bets on this list will come with significantly lower odds since it is a safer bet. 

Prop Bets

Prop bets are short for proposition bets and are called that because you are usually betting on the answer to questions like these: Will a particular player score by x minutes of a game? 

Will there be five yellow cards? As such, they’re exciting and most compatible with live betting.

First/last player to score: This one is fairly straightforward. Sportsbooks give you

odds of a player scoring either the first or last goal of the match. This requires some expert knowledge, but stats insights and the odds should indicate who’s most likely to score and when. 

 To get booked: Here, you will be provided with differing odds for specific players to either pick up a yellow or a red card. There are certain players on every team with a bad disciplinary record, which shouldn’t make it too hard to guess, but the soccer World Cup has also provided some big surprises over the years with famous names, which could rake in big rewards in the latter stages of the tournament. 

Time of the first goal: Before the match begins, sportsbooks usually offer odds on players scoring in every 15-minute interval, and you’ll have to bet on which period the first goal will be scored.

World Cup Outrights And Futures

World Cup betting odds open up many months before the tournament is underway. The friendlies and qualifiers should give bettors a good idea of the teams who are in form and who aren’t.

Outright winners: You simply have to pick the team you think will win the World Cup. The odds will vary as the tournament progresses.

Group winners: When picking a group winner, look for sides with good soccer World Cup records like Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and France. Other big nations like England, Uruguay, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal are safe bets if they find themselves in easier groups on paper. 

To qualify: This type of bet is usually available in all tournaments involving knockout matches. Just place bets on the teams you think will qualify for the Round of 16, the semi-finals, and the finals.

Golden boot: Here, you pick the top scorer of the competition. This is likely to be a center forward from one of the nations mentioned that has a good history in the soccer World Cup. If the center forward is also on penalty-taking duty and has some easy group stage fixtures, this will be a massive advantage for the player. 

Unique Soccer World Cup Bets

Some of the more unique bets that are available for the soccer World Cup are listed below:

Continent of winner: The chances of winning big rewards are usually not very high on this since the winners of the tournament have only ever come from South America and Europe in its long history. 

Continent of Golden Boot winner: These could have greater odds since the top goalscorer can come from a nation that doesn’t necessarily win the tournament or even makes it to the latter stages. If a player scores many goals in the group stages, that might be enough to win him the golden boot award. 

Stage of elimination: These are also odds that offer great value, where you bet on the stage a team will get eliminated in. 

To be in the final/semi-final: Odds on which team makes it to the final or semi-final stage. This is hard to predict. 

Soccer World Cup Betting Tips

You’ve now understood how soccer odds and betting on the World Cup work. Now it’s time to make your strategy. Here are some general tips to keep in mind.

Teams that win the previous edition of the soccer World Cup tend to get knocked out in the early stages of the next one, and almost never retain their trophy. If an underdog knocks out a favorite quite early on, they often tend to go deep into the tournament. 

Sides from the same continent as the tournament host also tend to perform better than usual. The crowd finds it a lot easier to make the venue feel like home, which can only be a good thing for any team. 

As an extension of the previous tip, there’s never really been a soccer World Cup winner who isn’t from one of the traditionally big soccer nations. The other big international soccer tournaments like the Euros, AFCON and Copa America, tend to spring a surprise every now and then, but that hasn’t always been the case for the soccer World Cup. 

Tactics are important in individual matches, but the team spirit in the camp is far more important in international tournaments as there isn’t a lot of time on the training ground. If a team is having trouble in the camp, it’s best not to bet on them going far. There could be a big reward if you bet on their underdog opponents. 

When picking the top scorers, look for players who take penalties from one of the soccer giants. Players who win the golden boot don’t usually score over five goals. It was far more common in the past for one player to get a big goal tally. In 1958, France’s Just Fontaine scored 13, which remains the record many decades later. The last time a player took over the tournament in a similar fashion was when Brazilian forward, Ronaldo, scored eight goals in the 2002 World Cup. Getting such tallies is difficult because of the teams who make the last four only play seven games in total. 

Usually, the team with the best defensive record is likely to be the tournament winner. ‘Attack wins you matches, but defense wins you leagues’ is a soccer adage. The soccer World Cup isn’t a league, but the same adage is applicable here. 

As mentioned earlier, the soccer World Cup is a great cultural event to partake in but is an equally good time for bettors to make little gains and enhance the excitement of the tournament’s thrills and spills. There are many great sporting spectacles, but the soccer World Cup is unique even among them

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to bet on the soccer World Cup?

Yes, lawmakers in Ohio have legalized sports betting, so anyone in the state of legal age can sign up with a sportsbook and place wagers on sporting events around the world.

Is it profitable to bet on the World Cup?

Like with all sports betting, if you do your research and bet within your limits, then you have a reasonable chance of making a profit. The winners are rarely an unfancied nation, so still to betting on tournament favourites like Brazil, Argentina or England.

What is the most common bet on the soccer World Cup?

The most common soccer tournament bet is an outright, where you predict the nation that will win the World Cup. The odds change as the tournament progresses, so make sure you enter the market at the right time.

Are there prop bets at the soccer World Cup?

Yes, like in all other major sports, you can bet on some exciting proposition bets. These might be how many yellow cards are shown during a matchup, how many corners there will be and whether there will be a penalty in regulation time.