The tournament of all tournaments for the beautiful game is here, and legal North American sportsbooks are ready for an onslaught of interest in World Cup betting with the United States, Canada and Mexico being among the 32 nations competing.
TheLines.com has assembled everything you need to know to be better informed about betting on soccer, and specifically, the World Cup. Like everything on our site, the content is completely free. A total of 10 members of our staff have worked countless hours since summer to bring you this complete guide.
We only ask for one thing in return. If you find it informative or helpful, sign up for at least one of the offers available in your state below. Each one provides either a deposit match, free bets or risk-free bets. That’s right. Our only request is for you to go score some free stuff.
Enjoy the tournament.
- Stephen Andress, Managing Editor
TheLines.com is also hosting a free World Cup Challenge every day there is a game throughout the tournament. Play for your chance to win Amazon gift cards, and be on the lookout for an even bigger contest at Play.TheLines.com prior to the Knockout Stage. BetMGM is also hosting a free $250,000 World Cup Bracket Challenge.
Click on the banner to compare odds across sportsbooks in your state for each country’s best odds to win the tournament.
FIFA World Cup Tournament Format
To win the FIFA World Cup, the champion must first advance from the Group Stage, where only two of four teams in each group will survive. Each nation plays each other once, for a total of three matches in group play. A win is worth three points, a draw one point and a loss zero points.
The top-two in points in each group advance to the Knockout Stage and Round of 16. If there is a tie in points, goal differential is the first tiebreaker. During the Knockout Stage, each match is single elimination, with the winner of each group playing a runner-up from another group in the Round of 16.
From this point on, if a match ends in a draw after regular time (90 minutes plus stoppage time), the soccer equivalent of overtime takes place. This is called extra time. In extra time, it is not sudden death/golden goal/next goal wins. Two 15-minute halves are played in full during extra time. If the match is still tied after that, a penalty kick shootout determines which team advances.
Group Stage Odds
Click on the banners to browse odds within each of the eight groups of four in World Cup betting.
Individual Game Previews
Dan Tracey dives into the first game for each North American team and also provides a full rundown for every country’s first match, including time, date and TV channel for each. Click on the banners below to navigate to those World Cup betting posts.
World Cup Deep Dives
World Cup Props
Browsing props within a single sportsbook app can be time consuming. Finding one you like and then trying to make sure another sportsbook isn’t offering better odds on the same thing is even more time consuming. We have you covered for the World Cup. Simply type a country or player into our Prop Finder Tool and immediately see what the odds are across sportsbooks in your state for every prop available.
TheLines World Cup Podcast With Josh Lander and Dan Tracey
Here is the full playlist with every World Cup podcast episode over on our YouTube channel. The first episode is embedded here.
Soccer Betting 101
Even at a basic level, betting on soccer is very different than betting on most American sports like football, basketball and baseball.
For starters, the standard soccer moneyline bet is a three-way moneyline that includes an option for the match to end in a draw, not a two-way moneyline. Therefore, if you pick a team to win, and the match ends in a tie, your bet loses. However, you get better win odds than the traditional American two-way moneyline. You can see an example here with the U.S. men’s national team’s third group play match:
If you want to bet on a traditional two-way moneyline where a draw is a push and you get your money back, just know you have to click deeper into your sportsbook to find it.
This also applies once we reach the Knockout Stage, where you’ll want to seek out “Team To Advance” options. In the knockout rounds, if a team needs more than 90 minutes to get an eventual game-winning goal, a draw is still graded the winner on three-way moneylines.
Here you are betting on the total number of goals in regulation time (90 minutes). Most American sportsbooks are giving you a standard line like Over/Under 2.5 goals; however, every once in a while you will see a split Over/Under in soccer betting.
For example, that might look like Over/Under 2, 2.5. In this bet, whatever you wager is split evenly between those two bets. So if you bet $100 on Over 2, 2.5 goals (-110), $50 is bet on Over 2 goals (-110) and $50 is bet on Over 2.5 goals (-110). It is not a parlay, and you do not need both to win or you lose your entire $100. It is two separate bets.
World Cup Betting Odds By Team
Special thanks to Alex Blowers, Dan Tracey, Marco Cerino, Giovanni Shorter, Matt Burke, Brett Gibbons, Brett Collson, Ben Fowlkes and Josh Lander.