“About To Kick Off” (CC BY 2.0) by domfell
The FA Cup – the oldest cup competition in the footballing world – means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it’s all about the glory, the clichéd romance of a cup run, or the chance for smaller clubs to lock horns with footballing giants. To others, it’s a welcome distraction from a punishing league programme, while to a few it’s an unwanted distraction from the life-or-death struggle of relegation, promotion and title aspirations. It should also be viewed as an opportunity to take on the bookies and make some decent returns.
There are several reasons why betting on the cup is a good idea, particularly in the in the early stages. The games are so much more unpredictable than league games. In the league, it is obvious the manager will put the best starting 11 on the field, players that the bookies know like the back of their hands. More often than not, there will be history between the two teams, recent matches that once again the bookmakers can use to build up as detailed a picture of what is likely to happen as possible. Of course, that’s the same as what every punter does, but the bookies have so much more data – including state-of-the-art big data statistics – and analytical tools at their disposal.
In the cup, however, a lot of that goes out of the window. Suddenly, teams, players and managers alike are thrown into something of an unknown – as are the bookmakers. They will be playing against a team who ply their trade one, two, three, even four or more leagues below them. They will be playing against players, managers, line-ups and tactics that they will have perhaps seen in action once, twice at the most.
Added to that, there is the fact that many of the so-called big teams choose not to play their strongest sides. Just look at Klopp’s failed experiment against Plymouth, where he chose to field the youngest side in the club’s history. Once again, this causes uncertainty and evens up the playing field not just on the pitch but between the punter and the bookie.
However, this being the FA Cup, it is still advisable to bet with a little protection. As opposed to a simple acca, something along the lines of the racing enthusiasts’ favourite, the Super Yankee or Canadian bet is ideal. For those unsure of exactly what one of those is, 888sport have put together a handy Canadian betting guide. When placing a Canadian bet, if an upset occurs (or doesn’t!) you won’t be left high and dry – very much unlike the acca.
Of course, it’s all well and good the bookies are in the dark when it comes to team selection, but that is not so great if you are equally clueless regarding the strength or otherwise of the starting 11. There are two ways around this. First of all, club football forums are not merely the place for circular arguments regarding their greatest number 10. Cut through the chatter, and more often than not there is some valuable information that can be gleaned that can give you an advantage when it comes to who may and may not play.
The other method is to wait until an hour before kick-off and place your bet as soon as the team sheet is out. With Twitter, you will get the news at the same time as the bookmakers, so move quick and you could very well steal a march on them.
Despite some managers in recent years taking the competition less than seriously, the FA Cup remains one of the greatest sporting competitions on the planet. If you can make a little bit of money on it as well – all the better.