You can see an overview of the various betting markets at Oddschecker. This post uses decimal odds throughout – for an explanation of what that means, check out the much-missed Sofabet. We’ll be raising a glass to Daniel tonight as always!
So, what on earth do you do as a Eurovision gambler when the result of the contest is a foregone conclusion?
OK, that’s an exaggeration – but due to obvious circumstances, we’ve never seen as strong a favourite in the betting markets as Ukraine is right now. They’ve been trading at around even money to win ever since Russia first invaded, but those odds have shortened and shortened during the last two weeks of rehearsals and semi-finals in Turin (which may be something of an indictment of the other contestants!). At time of writing, the best price you can find for “Stefania” in the win market is around 1.33, or a tad longer on the Betfair Exchange. Of course, if you share the opinion that Kalush Orchestra are going to run away with it tonight, that’s still an instant return of 33% – one of the few interest-beating investments available right now…
Having such a strong market leader means the prices for the next contenders are longer than they would normally be. Second and third in line are the United Kingdom (!) and Sweden, and even they’re both priced around 8.0 in some places. Since it’s such an unpredictable year, if you don’t know who’s going to win but you definitely don’t think it’s going to be Ukraine, the obvious thing is to lay Kalush Orchestra in the win market on Betfair. Even at a price of 1.5, you would triple your money if successful, e.g. £10 returns £30 (including your stake).
And a few sites are even offering “winner without Ukraine” markets, which is quite a clever way of getting around the unpredictability of that particular score – you can safely bet on the “best of the rest”, but your bet is still valid if your choice ends up on top of the pile.
As often, anyway, the real interest lies in the niche markets below. For example, lots of sites have markets for Top 3, Top 4, Top 5, Top 10 and even Top 15 finishes. For example, since there’s a clear gap between the leading five countries (Ukraine/UK/Sweden/Italy/Spain) and the rest, there’s money to be made if you think you know who’s going to bulldoze their way into the Top 5 instead of one of those entries. Once a dark horse, Serbia has gathered real momentum during the time in Turin, and 4.0 feels rather short for them now. There’s also Greece (5.5) and Moldova (7.0), which could have a strong showing with juries and televoters respectively – and in a year where the votes are all over the place, that could be enough for top five overall.
In a similar vein, some countries with solid televoting support are longer than evens in the Top 15 market on Betfair – Armenia (2.18) and Lithuania (2.64) immediately catch the eye – and if this really is a year where the strongest songs swallow up a lot of the votes, 15th place might be achievable with a fairly low score (remember 2015?).
The grand final has lots of group bets that are interesting, too. Take the Top Scandinavian market, for instance: If you think Sweden are a little overrated and Jim and Keith from Norway are well placed to come out on top instead, there’s a price of 6.0 for that to happen (though I’ll eat a banana skin if it does). Top Balkan is a head-to-head fight between Greece and Serbia, naturally enough (sorry WRS), while Top Baltic is something of a non-starter. However, the Top Big Five market is especially interesting in a year when several of the major players have brought their A game. If you’re a firm believer that the momentum is with Spain – and the on-stage interview with Chanel talked quite openly about “SloMo” being a contender for victory, so maybe the organisers know something we don’t – you can get a price of 4.5 for them to finish higher than the UK and Italy (and France and Germany, obviously), regardless of how they finish in relation to the rest of the field.
Or you can go even more specific with a head-to-head bet, such as those offered on Betfair and other sites. Some of the match-ups are a little baffling – why “Norway vs. Netherlands” exactly? – but there is a market for “UK vs. Italy” that offers a more laser-targeted version of that Top Big Five consideration. If you’re sure you know the answer to the question “Who will finish higher out of Mahmood/Blanco and Sam Ryder?” – again, regardless of anything else that happens on the scoreboard – there’s a price of 2.06 for Italy or 1.75 for the UK, so take your pick!
And finally, the age-old question: Who will finish in last place? It’s refreshing not to be talking about the United Kingdom as one of the hot candidates here! Regrettably, another perennial contender – Germany – is first in line instead, with a price of just 2.2 – incredibly short in a 25-song field, really. For all I’m worried Malik might rack up yet another televote zero for the Germans, I am hopeful that the juries will recognise his song and his musician credentials to a certain extent. And like in the win market, having an overwhelming favourite means there are some tasty prices elsewhere. “A relatively friendless country that probably got through the semi-final thanks to some jury love” might be the criterion to look for here: step forward Switzerland (4.5) or Belgium (11.0) perhaps? Further down the market, you’ve got Azerbaijan at 26.0 and the Czech Republic at 41.0 – and we know from recent experience that Portugal can finish last in a grand final, so odds of 51.0 are attractive if you think the early-drawn Maro could be the unlucky one.
Wherever you place your money – or if you decide, like I mostly have this year, to stand on the sidelines and observe with curiosity – it’s going to be a fascinating night on the scoreboard and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out. Slava Ukraini and may the best song win!
All odds correct at time of writing. Remember to bet responsibly – and fingers crossed for a successful night!