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2014 French Open – Murray’s Powers Of Recovery To Be Tested By Verdasco at Roland Garros

The screw is starting to turn in the French Open. The final matches of the fourth round take place today, with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray taking on Dusan Lajovic and Fernando Verdasco respectively. A place in the last eight is up for grabs.

However, one man whose fate has already been decided is Swiss star Roger Federer. The 32-year-old will not be in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the first time since 2004 after his five-set defeat at the hands of Ernests Gulbis on Sunday.
Djokovic in cruise control

Conversely, Novak Djokovic has already sealed his place in the last eight following a bloodless straight sets victory over Jo-Wilfried Songa, setting up a quarter-final clash with Milos Raonic tomorrow.

Djokovic is long odds on to see off the Canadian – 1/9 with Bet365 is the best price available at the time of writing – and also heads the outright tournament betting at a top-priced 11/10 with Betfred, though he’s generally an even-money chance.

The 27-year-old, who has yet to taste victory in the French Open, is clearly in excellent form and is 8/11 with Paddy Power to see off Raonic 3-0 in the sets betting, which is an appealing option as far as odds on shots go.
Nadal nailed-on for further Roland Garros success?

However, he could be displaced as tournament favourite if Nadal comes through his tie with Lajovic. The Spaniard has triumphed at Roland Garros on no less than eight previous occasions, and can be backed at 6/4 with 888sport to enhance that already tremendous record this year.

Nadal is widely expected to brush Lajovic aside – indeed, he’s as short as 1/150 in the match betting and just 1/5 with Paddy Power to prevail in straight sets.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is 20/1 with Paddy Power to end his French Open hoodoo this time round. The Scot showed courage aplenty when getting the better of Philipp Kohlschreiber in a thrilling third-round bout which went right to the wire.

Verdasco the victorious?

However, the 27-year-old’s powers of recovery will be fully tested when he clashes with Verdasco who, in contrast to Murray, had a relatively easy time of things in the last round, outpointing Richard Gasquet in straight sets, dropping just eight games in the process.

The Spaniard is a 13/10 chance with BetVictor to get the better of Muzza, who is clear favourite at a standout 4/6 with Stan James. It is poised to be a close call, but from a betting perspective Verdasco makes plenty of appeal given how hard a match Murray had in the last round.

French Open Round 4 betting advice:

Fernando Verdasco to beat Andy Murray – 13/10 (BetVictor)

World Cup dark horses: can Belgium win in Brazil?

Can you name a famous Belgian? After the World Cup the likelihood is that you will be able to name several.

With a squad boasting some of the best young players in Europe and what looks like an easy draw in the group stages, Belgium have been tipped as one of the teams to watch in the later stages of this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku make the Red Devils a match for anyone and at the time of the draw, in October last year, Belgium were the fifth ranked side in the world after dropping only four points in qualifying.

They have slipped to 12th since then, but after a stellar qualifying tournament and with Man United starlet Adnan Januzaj now in their ranks Belgium will not be daunted by the task at hand.

Players to watch:

Almost too many to mention. They have possibly the best goalkeeper in Europe in Thibaut Courtois of Atletico Madrid, and a decent deputy in Simon Mignolet of Liverpool. At the back are the Man City and Arsenal captains, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, plus Toby Alderweireld of Atletico and Spurs's Jan Vertonghen. In midfield there's Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Man Utd starlet Adnan Januzaj and the much-maligned Marouane Fellaini. Up front is Romelu Lukaku. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for coach Marc Wilmots.

Why they could win it:

This exceptionally talented group of players has untold potential and has not been scarred by failure at previous tournaments – partly because their predecessors didn’t qualify. It is also a squad with strength in depth, with the likes of Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele ready to come off the bench.

They have plenty of goodwill on their side. Last year noted that it had "become cool and hip to like Belgium". Former World Cup winner, Marcel Desailly, has tipped them to reach the final. "When you talk about Belgium, there is a smile on the face," he told Laureus. "I am sure Belgium will perform and will be the surprise of the World Cup."

Were they to win it, it would be the tournament's biggest shock in 84 years, says Sam Pilger of Bleacher Report. "But don't dismiss it happening."

Why they might not:

Belgium undoubtedly have a 'Golden Generation' on their hands. But things do not always go according to plan... as weary England fans can attest.

Despite remaining unbeaten in qualification Belgium have not overcome many heavyweight opponents. Last year they lost to both Colombia and Japan in friendlies and in March drew with Ivory Coast. "To live up to its new-found box-office billing, Belgium's hip must match the hype," warned even before those games.

They are also without Cristian Benteke, ruled out through injury, and that puts a lot of pressure on Romelu Lukaku to deliver. If he fails, do Belgium have a Plan B?

How far can they go:

The Red Devils should win a weak group featuring Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Unfortunately they will then have to play one of the teams from Group B, Germany, Portugal, Ghana or the US. Beyond that, they are likely to encounter Argentina or France, but a place in the last four is not out of the question.

New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings – 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1 – Betting Preview and Prediction

The New York Rangers’ wait is over. They now have an opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals after seeing the Los Angeles Kings dethrone the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Will the Rangers take a step closer toward bringing the Cup back to New York for the first time since 1994? Or will the Kings show no signs of fatigue after winning their third Game 7 of the Playoffs, and win Game 1 of the NHL Finals?

For the third-straight time, the Rangers will begin a series away from home. The Rangers are 4-1 in their last five road games, and are looking to steal at least a game in Los Angeles before going back home for Game 3.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be the focal point of the Rangers. Arguably the best goalie in these Playoffs, Lundqvist could be in for another acid test against the hard-charging Los Angeles offense. The Swedish netminder enters the series with an NHL-leading 2.03 GAA and .928 SV% in this postseason, and his ability to shut down any given team’s offense will be a big factor from Game 1 onwards.

On offense, Martin St. Louis will be the man to watch, as the veteran leads the Rangers in these Playoffs with 13 points (six goals and seven assists). However, Rick Nash has broken out of his slump, and that means a more dangerous offense for the Rangers. After scoring zero goals in the first two rounds, the bruising forward came alive in the conference finals against Montreal, scoring three goals and registering two assists in the six-game series.

The Rangers are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Betting on the Los Angeles Kings

After surviving three Game 7s as the lower-seeded team, the Kings will finally enjoy home-ice advantage and will begin the Stanley Cup Finals at home, where they are 3-1 in their last four games.

When the Kings won the Cup in 2012, they did so as a defense-first team, with Jonathan Quick anchoring the club’s suffocating defense. However, things have changed, and the Kings are returning to the Finals backed by goals.

Los Angeles is the NHL’s top scoring team in these Playoffs, with an average of 3.48 GF/G. The Kings’ top line consisting of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown has rekindled its lethal touch, scoring five goals in Los Angeles’ last four games. The Kings’ second line, however, is just as dangerous, if not even deadlier. Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli produced 11 goals and 10 assists in the series against the Blackhawks.

The bulk of the Kings’ offense has come from the second line, but with the first line starting to pick up its production, Los Angeles will be a better team than it was in the Western Conference Finals, which is saying a lot, considering the Kings were matched against the defending champions in that series.

The over is 6-0 in the Kings’ last six games.

Writer’s Prediction

Henrik Lundqvist is going to be a tough customer in the net, but the Kings (-155) will get to him and the Rangers in Game 1.

Do NBA Betting Systems work?

Pretty much every NBA bettor is looking for a way to win more money. And the common advice is to keep up on injury reports, study in-depth stats, consider key matchups and focus on one or two divisions.

But while all of this is certainly good NBA betting strategy, some people are looking for a shortcut...a way to cut down on the amount of time it takes to make winning picks. And for these bettors, systems are often a very attractive prospect.

Some NBA betting systems involve looking across the league in search of one key aspect. For example, a certain strategy may call on players to only bet on home favorites who are coming off of two straight losses. Other systems can require more complicated mathematics that are supposedly guaranteed to work.

In either case, it's worth looking at a few simple examples of NBA betting strategies, discuss if you should ever pay for a system, and talk about the overall effectiveness of these strategies.

High Totals System sports betting authority Allen Moody came up with this system, which is quite simple to learn. With High Totals, you need to find non-conference games where the over/under is 220 points or higher; then you bet the over. Sound too good to be true? Well Moody says that this system went 31-18 (63.5%) from 2004-05 to 2008-09.

The Martingale

Widely used in casino games, the Martingale is also used by sports bettors because of its simplicity and perceived success rate. The main idea behind the Martingale is that you're doubling wagers every time you lose. But after each win, you return to the original wager amount.

For example, if you were to bet $11 to win $10 and lose, you'd double your next wager to $22. Assuming you also lose this one, your next bet would be worth $44. If you won the $44 bet, you'd return to the $11 wager with a profit of $7 ($40 - $22 - $11 = $7). In theory, this is a profitable long-term system; however, if you were to go on a lengthy losing streak, it would devastate your bankroll.

Betting Against Favorites after Blowout Wins System

Okay, so there's no pretty name for this system, but it's worth covering nonetheless. You start by searching for home favorites that are favored by 10 points or more in the spread. From here, you look to see if they won their last game by 15 points or more. Assuming the team blew their opponent out by 15 points or more, you bet on the underdog.

According to SportsInsights, home favorites of 10 points or move who are coming off 15-plus point wins are just 110-149 (42.5%) against the spread since 2003. Anybody who would've bet the underdog every time in these situations would have had an excellent 57.5% win rate.

Top Ten Contenders for the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot Top Goal-Scorer Award

10. Daniel Sturridge (England)

We reckon the Liverpool man will finish as England’s top scorer and is the in the form of his life. Expect his goal-dance to see plenty of action.

9. Sergio Aguero (Argentina)

Coming back to full fitness just in time and we can see him getting into gear in Brazil.

8. Diego Costa (Spain)

A man in form and with a point to prove in his native Brazil.

7. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia)

Another striker in a good run of form and with matches against Iran and Nigeria we can see the Man City scoring a few early on.

6. Thomas Muller (Germany)

Can always be counted to score crucial goals and group games against Ghana and the United States could work in his favour.

5. Neymar (Brazil)

Needs to step up and perform in front of millions of fellow Brazilian and we tip him to do just that.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

A season that has seen the Real Madrid man win the Balon d’Or, top the La Liga goal-scoring charts and help his side to the ‘Decima’ may just end with a Golden Boot.

3. Robin Van Persie (Holland)

In good form for the Dutch national team and we rate him a very good bet to score quite a few in Brazil.

2. Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Maybe this is the time Messi leads his side to World Cup glory, in Brazil of all places, expect a bag of goals.

1. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

Our bet to finish top scorer is a player who Jose Mourinho doesn’t see worthy of a first team berth. Expect a blistering group stage display with buckets of goal against Algeria and South Korea.

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