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Getting a Good Draw
by Nick Parsons

For all those who are anti-Soccer, the World Cup could not have started any better, with all the hype resulting in two uneventful draws. Mexico played spoiler with a late goal against hosts South Africa, while a talented French national team showed no life at all in their 0-0 tie with Uruguay.

Only other people who were probably happier with these results were those who bet on draws.

Earlier this week, ESPN columnist Chad Millman pointed out on his twitter account that sportsbooks were not receiving many bets on draws even though European sharps often bet on them. To experienced sports bettors this isn’t breaking news.

The 2010 World Cup is expected to easily generate over $1 billion dollars in betting and most of those individuals betting are not the guys who are grinding out value plays in 3rd Division Czech soccer for a living or MSN their friends inside info on the Slovenian Cup.

They are looking for excitement.

And simply put: betting on draws is boring. Its like betting on the under in a big basketball game.

But regardless of the sport, the old saying holds true, “there is never a bad bet, just a bad price.” And with the extra money pouring into sportsbooks, there is no a better time to find value in draws.

During World Cup time people overvalue underdogs in the group stages, even though very few favorites concede losses early on. When upsets do happened they usually come in the form of draws.

The 2006 Champions Italy had 2 win and 1 draw, with 2nd game against the United States ending in a draw. Most considered that to be a big upset. Runner up France did not go 3-0-0 either, but avoided a loss in the group stage with 1 win and 2 draws.

Anyways other than the results from Day 1 here are some quick facts on draws.

- Since the World Cup expanded to 32 teams in 1998, 41 of the 144 group stage matches played, have resulted in a draw. 1998 had 16 draws, 2002 had 14, and the last World Cup had a total of 11.

- In the last three World Cups, there have only been two groups that have not produced a draw. Group A in 2006, consisting of host country Germany, Ecuador, Poland, and Costa Rica, and Group H in 1998 featuring Argentina, Croatia, Jamaica, and Japan.

- In the 2002 World Cup, hosted in Korea and Japan, every single group had at least one draw.

- 1998 had 16 total draws and two groups had 4 of their 6 matches result in a tie: Group B (Italy, Chile, Austria, Cameroon) and Group E (Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium, and South Korea). Belgium and Chile had every single one of their group stage games result in a draw. Chile advanced to the playoff round with their 3 points, Belgium did not.

- Every single African team in this year’s World Cup, had at least 1 draw during qualification.

- Spain, England, Netherlands, and New Zealand are the only World Cup teams that did not experience a draw during qualification.

- 5 time World Cup Champions Brazil had 7 of their 18 matches during qualification result in a draw.

- Just because a team has clinched a spot in the playoff round after two games, do not automatically assume that a draw or loss will occur in their next game because they are resting players. In 2006 Germany, Portugal, Brazil, and Spain all qualified after game 2 and managed to produce a win in ther final group stage game.

- Brazil vs North Korea is the highest priced draw so far with most books listing it at +900, while South Korea Greece is the lowest at +190.

By Nick Parsons intern: Myles Valentin

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