How to Bet on the World Cup

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. The World Cup is the biggest sporting tournament on the planet and a great opportunity to win some money on dozens of different sports betting markets.
  2. All online and high street bookmakers offer special World Cup promotions before and during the tournament, so shop around for the best deals and most attractive odds.
  3. For this guide we've used Bet365 to show how easy it is to bet on the World Cup. See our full list of UK Betting Sites and the latest new customer offers.
  4. The easiest bet to make is simply to put money on the country you think will win the World Cup. Brazil? Argentina? England? Put your money where your mouth is!
  5. Other popular World Cup bets include Top Goalscorer, Top Goalkeeper and which teams will finish bottom of their group.
  6. Be sure to do your homework before you bet. Did you know that it's still quite rare for a team to win a World Cup in their own country.
  7. Remember that, while it can be great fun and even a good little money earner, betting on the World Cup can become addictive, so always bet responsibly.
  8. The Latest World Cup Odds are here so take a look at match by match odds, and then think about who you think will win in Brazil.

Betting on the World Cup

The World Cup is the biggest sports tournament on the planet. Billions of people tune in to watch the greatest players battle it out for the ultimate prize in world football and the tournament is famous for producing major upsets. The World Cup is also a sports betting enthusiast's dream: there really is no limit to the number of betting markets available, with in-play betting making the action even more exciting.

But before you put any money down on the World Cup, it's a good idea to take the time to learn a little about how betting on the event works, especially if you're completely new to sports gambling. Here's what you need to know:

Where to Bet

Once World Cup fever takes hold, you really won't have any problem finding a place to put money on the tournament. All high street betting shops will offer a good range of betting markets and will screen matches so you can watch the action unfold.

But the best place to bet on the World Cup is online. Not only do online bookmakers offer the best range of betting markets, you can also bet in-play and cash out on your bets. Check out our guide to the Top 10 Sports Betting sites ( and make use of some great introductory offers, including free bonus money when you open an account.

If you do choose to bet online, be sure to open more than one account. This way you can be sure you're always getting the best odds. After all, why would you back Wayne Rooney to score at 3/1 when another bookie is offering odds of 5/1?

Understanding the Odds

The odds (also known as the price) show how likely the bookmakers think an event is to happen. That is, if an event is unlikely to happen (Costa Rica to win the World Cup), the odds will be long. But if something is very likely to happen (Brazil to win their group), the odds will be short.

The odds also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. On most sports betting sites, the odds will be expressed as fractions. Or they could be expressed as decimal points or even in the American style. In all cases, however, you should be able to change the settings to suit you.

Here's what each of these mean:

1) Fractional Odds

On UK-based sports betting sites, the default setting for displaying the odds will be as fractions. Odds displayed this way show you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. The first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.

So, if the odds for a country winning a the World Cup are 6/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £6 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this).

This works on a ratio basis. So, if you are extra confident and place £10 at odds of 6/1, you will receive £120 in winnings. Or, if you place £5 at odds of 6/1, your winnings will be £30, plus your initial stake.

Sometimes you will see that the second number of the fraction is larger than the first. This is an 'odds on' bet and signifies that the bookies believe that the chances of a particular prediction coming true are greater than 50/50. This is quite common mis-matched football games, such as World Cup group games. 

The principle remains the same, however: the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction

For example, if you put £2 down on odds of 1/2, your winnings will be £1. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £60 at the same odds, you will win £30, plus your initial stake.

2) Decimal Odds

Since the majority of sports fans are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry! This system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.

The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned

So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.

A Further Note About Odds

Some online bookmakers will also display odds in the 'American' style. While some US sports betting fans prefer this system, to avoid any unnecessary confusion, you should switch the odds to either the fractional or decimal system.

If you're still confused about the odds on offer, then click on the bet you want to make and type in the amount you want to bet. With most online bookmakers, you will then be shown how much your stake will return and, using this information, you can decide whether or not you want to go ahead with the bet

Popular World Cup Bets

1) Outright Winner

The easiest way of betting on the World Cup is to simply put money on the country you think will win the whole tournament. Then, if they do end win, so do you, at the odds you put your money down at.

Let's look at the odds offered by popular sports gambling sites like Bet365 ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. As you can see below, Brazil are the bookies' favourites at 11/4. In comparison, Costa Rica are the rank outsiders at 2,500/1. So, if you put down £40 on Brazil to win the World Cup and you are proven right, your winnings will be £110 plus your initial £40 stake. Latest World Cup Odds can be seen if you click here.

Note that these odds will not stay the same. It may be the case that one team loses a key player to injury in the build-up to the tournament, with the bookies thereby lengthening their odds. Or it could be that a team enjoys a very successful warm-up, meaning the bookies slash their odds.

The odds will also, of course, change as the tournament progresses and teams start showing their form. This can be a good time to make a bet if you've done your homework. For instance, Italy are famous for getting off to slow starts, so after a couple of games their odds may lengthen considerably, allowing you to cash in if they repeat the form of past tournaments and improving once they are beyond the group stages.

Most bookies will also offer you the chance to bet on a country 'each-way'. This means that you bet on them to either win the tournament or finish as a runner-up. In the example above you can see that Bet365 offers each-way bets at half odds. So, if you put money on Belgium to win outright you will be given odds of 14/1. If you bet on Belgium each-way, you will be offered odds of 7/1 and will win your bet even if they lose in the final.

2) Top Goalscorer

One other popular bet is Top Goalscorer. Here you simply put money on the one player you think will score more goals than anyone else over the course of the entire tournament. Below, for example, you can see the odds offered for Top Goalscorer ahead of the 2014 World Cup. As with Outright Winner, you are also offered the choice of making an each-way bet, meaning you will still win (although at reduced odds) if the player you pick only finishes second in the scoring charts.

If you do want to put money on this betting market, it's worth giving a little thought to it. You should bear in mind that, while strikers playing for the top teams are likely to play more games than lesser teams that may get knocked out early, in the past, players who have won the Golden Boot have not always reached the final. Look at the groups for starters: if the teams are evenly matched, the games are unlikely to be high scoring. But if there are obvious differences in ability, a player may score lots in the group stages and so end up as top scorer even if his team doesn't progress a lot further.

You should also bear in mind that bookmakers will not count goals scored in penalty shootouts as part of a player's total.

One good way of lengthening the odds you are offered on a Top Goalscorer bet and so increase the size of your potential winnings is to combine this bet with another.

Below is one example of how you can combine Outright Winner with Top Goalscorer. Note that you can pick a player from one country to score the most goals but back another country to win the tournament. Other possibilities include betting on the top goalscorer in the group stages. 

3) Match Betting

As well as betting on the outcome of the entire World Cup, you can also bet on the outcome of individual matches at any stage of the tournament.

In the Group Stages, this type of bet will be what's known as a three-way bet. That is, you can either bet on one of the two teams to win, or you can put money on the game ending in a draw. Here, for example, are the odds offered ahead of England's opening game of the 2014 World Cup against Italy. Again, the odds may change in the run-up to a match depending on factors such as injuries, recent form and even weather.

Predicting the final result is just one of countless bets you can place on a single World Cup match. In fact, most bookmakers will offer a huge range of betting markets, especially on games involving the big teams. One good way of making money from guessing the right score is to go for a Half Time/Full Time bet. Here's an example of the odds you could get before the England against Italy game:

Other popular match betting options include the number of goals scored, first goalscorer, number of corner and even number of red and yellow cards. Again, there really is no limit to the variety of bets you can make and if you can't see a possible outcome, most bookies will be happy to offer you odds on it happening.

4) Group Winners and Group Qualification

Betting on which groups will qualify from their World Cup groups is usually quite a safe way of making a bit of money. However, given that the favourites nearly always progress, the odds you will be offered on this type of bet will usually be small. Here we can see the odds offered on the teams to qualify from Group D at Brazil 2014, with none of the odds looking particularly attractive.

One good way of increasing the odds and so boosting your potential earnings is to put an accumulator on. Simply pick the teams you think will finish top or qualify from two, three, four or even all of the groups. The more teams in your accumulator, the longer the odds you will be offered, though the more risk you will expose yourself to.

As well as betting on which country will finish top or simply qualify from a single group, the bookies will also let you put money on which team will finish bottom. This works in exactly the same way: simply predict who will do worse and back them at the odds given. It doesn’t matter if they then finish bottom with 4 points or no points at all, so long as they are fourth out of four, your bet will be a winner.

Here we can see the odds on offer for the four teams of Group D to finish bottom, with Costa Rica clearly the bookies' choice for having a bad tournament:

Again, you can turn this into an accumulator bet, putting money on how ever many teams you want to finish bottom of their respective groups. Remember, the more countries in your accumulator, the bigger the odds you will get and the bigger your potential winnings will be.

5) Other Types of Bet

Remember, the World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet and there really is no limit to the number or the size of bets you can make. All online and high street bookmakers will offer a huge range of betting markets and will also be happy to take bets on outcomes that they are not actively advertising. Here are just a few more popular World Cup bets:

  • Winning Continent: Fancy a South American team but can't choose between Brazil and Argentina? Then put money on the winner coming from South America. Alternatively, put money on a European team or even an African team to win.  
  • Stages of Elimination: All bookies will give you odds on when a team will get knocked out. So, if you think history will repeat itself and England will get knocked out at the quarter-final stages, put money on it before a ball has even been kicked.  
  • Top Goalkeeper: Perhaps not as exciting as the race for Top Goalscorer, an award is also given to the keeper who lets in the fewest goals. This can also be a good bet to make, particularly if you look at the teams a goalie is likely to face and how solid the defence in front of him looks.
  • Golden Ball: At the end of each World Cup, the Golden Ball is awarded to the player deemed to be the man of the tournament. It's worth noting that this isn't always the top scorer or a national captain, but is almost always a player whose country makes through to the final stages.  

World Cup Betting Hints and Tips

There really is no such thing as a certainty in sports betting, and this is certainly true when it comes to the World Cup. That said, there are ways you can increase your chances of beating the bookie, not least by having a good knowledge of past tournaments. Here are a few things to bear in mind before putting any money down:

  • Be sure to read up on past form as this can help you beat the bookies. Do some teams start slowly or start quickly and then fade? Look for odds where you could use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • Be wary of just putting money on the big names. Some big-name players are notorious for failing to bring their club form to the World Cup so may not be great bets to score lots of goals.
  • Remember that many opening group games are tight affairs and, even when teams are mis-matched, high scoring games are quite rare.
  • One fact that may be of interest is that the host nation has only won the World Cup on six occasions. In comparison, in 15 of the 19 past tournaments, the World Cup has been won by a team from the host continent.
  • Look into formations and line-ups when betting on a Top Goalscorer. Does a team tend to rely on one striker or, like Spain, do they share the goals around?
  • Don't expect any major surprises: only 7 different nations have ever won the World Cup.

Betting Responsibly

Betting on the World Cup can be hugely enjoyable and, if you bet wisely, profitable, too. However, like all types of sports gambling, there is a danger it can get addictive. So, be sure you always bet responsibly, only bet with money you can genuinely afford to lose and be wary of trying to bet more to win any losses back.

Important Information on Gambling

You must be 18+ to gamble 

Every new gambling account offer has "Terms & Conditions" that will apply - make sure you read these before opening an account.

See for help and advice on problem gambling.

Please gamble responsibly.



Further Sports Betting Reading

Alongside our helpful YouTube videos showing you can start making money from online betting today, we also have a comprehensive range of tips and advice guides for you to check out:

  • F1 is not only the world's most glamorous sport, it's also one of the best for betting. Read up on how to make money from motor racing with this guide (
  • It's not just the World Cup where you can make money. The Champions League is also a great tournament for gamblers. Check out this guide to European football betting  (

Further World Cup Reading


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