Tuley's Takes on Group Play finales

By Dave Tuley  (Point Spread Weekly) 

June 27, 2018 03:10 AM

LAS VEGAS – The Tuley’s Takes home office hasn’t been keeping banker’s hours the past two weeks. It’s more like Vegas outdoor worker hours. (For those who don’t know, that’s where landscapers, pool techs or any other professions who work outside start their day extra early so they can finish before the 100-degree heat makes working outside impossible.)

We were up before the 5 a.m. PT starts of all the early World Cup games, but it has been worth it as we’ve been making bank!!!

Our best bets posted in last week’s Point Spread Weekly went 3-1-1 for a net profit of 2.55 units, thanks especially to our pick of Nigeria plus 190 over Iceland last Friday. We started with a win last Thursday on Australia plus 0.5 plus 100 (even money, though hopefully you also found it at plus-money) before pushing on Costa Rica plus 2 vs. Brazil (a “bad push” if ever there was one as it was 0-0 until Brazil scored not one but two goals in stoppage time), then losing on the Mexico-South Korea Under 2.5 -135 (a really bad beat with an unfortunate hand ball that led to Mexico’s first goal on a penalty kick, and it still almost stayed under until a South Korea goal in stoppage time) and then the easiest win of all on the England-Panama Over 2.5 that was over (in all manners of speaking) after 36 minutes at 3-0 on the way to a 6-1 win by the Brits.

We trust our PSW subscribers also checked out our “Tuley’s Takes” Extra from the daily VSiN email and on the website, though we just broke even with those picks: Iran plus 1 vs. Portugal cashed on Monday as the game ended in a 1-1 draw but we lost with Australia plus 200 vs. Peru in 3-way betting on Tuesday.

Several longtime readers and otherwise more familiar with my recent work have asked me variations of the following question: “Mr. Tuley, I know you know your football, but how do you know so much about futbol?”

I invariably respond that even though I coached my son’s 9U team to a winning record the past two seasons, I don’t consider myself a soccer expert, but I did spend my vacation at a Holiday Inn Express. (Ugh…sorry about that, but I loved that joke in last week’s column so much that I had to recycle it.)

But, seriously, it’s just like handicapping any other sport and finding bets that have a shot to cash more often than the odds provided. In my humble opinion, the most beautiful thing about the beautiful game is that there’s a relatively narrow margin in final scores. A 3-0 score is a rout, but if not for such random things as a deflected kick or a blocked penalty kick, that same dominated game could very easily end 1-0. And just like hockey, a hot goaltender can have a disproportional effect on a game and – for my purposes as an underdog bettor – give an overmatched team a shot.

It can be tough at times as the best teams usually survive and advance even if it looks like they’re underperforming (for example, see Argentina and probably Germany), so we try to find underdogs that are capable of keeping the game close, even if they don’t pull the outright upset. We do this with a combination of watching the games as closely as possible to see what teams are able to create scoring opportunities as well as being able to get back to play solid team defense, plus looking at the shots on goals taken and allowed. I highly suggest reading each of Jeff Fogle’s game recaps in the VSiN City newsletter as he does a great job of capsulizing those stats, though I will say that stats are like bikinis (you know the old saying: “what they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital”) and I still like to trust my own eyes.

While I’m still proudest of that Nigeria plus 190 pick in 3-way betting as I felt I had the better team at plus-money against Iceland, the Australia plus 0.5 vs. Denmark and Iran plus 1 vs. Portugal wins were clearly taking advantage of the low-scoring tendencies in soccer.

So, let’s get back to the rest of the group stage games for Wednesday and Thursday. Lines are from the South Point as of Tuesday night:

Wednesday, June 27

Group F: 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT

Tuley’s Take: In last week’s PSW article, I mentioned how draws were off to a slow start but that I expected them to fare well later in the group stage. Well, I was certainly kicking myself Monday and Tuesday when three of the six games ended in draws and I didn’t have any of them (although, again, I did benefit from the Iran-Portugal draw). The Mexico-Sweden draw is plus 240 and that’s a fair price. I was first going to take the under (to make up for what I felt was an underserved loss in the Mexico-South Korea game) but while I feel that’s still a strong play, the line is down to 2 at several books and I feel the draw (most likely on a 0-0 or 1-1 score) is the better value, especially as Mexico knows it can advance just by playing to a draw. I will, however, go with the under in the Germany-South Korea match. It’s set at 3 and the only other games that closed at 3 were Mexico-Germany and Saudi Arabia-Uruguay and both ended 1-0. With the way South Korea protects the goal and the fact Germany’s offense has hardly been potent so far and it could very easily be sitting here with 1 goal and 1 point in the standings, that result seems way more likely than the 4 goals it would take for us to lose this bet. Best Bets: Mexico-Sweden Draw plus 240 and Germany-South Korea Under 3 plus 105.

Wednesday, June 27

Group E: 2 p.m. ET/11 p.m. PT

Tuley’s Take: The Brazil-Serbia game is another potential draw play as Brazil advances with a draw; however, Serbia is playing for the win and I really believe is capable of upsetting Brazil. Serbia looked like it was in control vs. Switzerland and gave away that game in a 2-1 loss, but I haven’t been impressed with how Brazil has played at all this World Cup. Besides the draw vs. Switzerland, remember that Brazil was held scoreless by Costa Rica until stoppage time. So many people are singing the praises of Brazil, but it’s really unwarranted. Serbia plus 1 EVEN price offers tremendous value as we also benefit if Brazil does get its draw (and I’ll also have a small bet on Serbia plus 600 in the 3-way result for kicks and giggles). I’ll pass on the Switzerland-Costa Rica game as I think the chalk prevails. Best Bet: Serbia plus 1 plus 100.

Thursday, June 28

Group H: 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT

Tuley’s Take: I’m also passing on the Japan-Poland game, especially so I can watch the whole Colombia-Senegal game, which looks like a shootout to me, so I’m going Over 2.5. Colombia rebounded from its 2-1 loss to Japan in the opener to pummel Poland 3-0. Senegal has been one of the most exciting teams to watch as they push the ball upfield and create scoring chances. I’m tempted to take them as 1/ 2-goal underdogs, but their attacking style leaves them vulnerable to counter-attacks, so that’s why I feel the Over is the better bet. Best Bet: Colombia-Senegal Over 2.5 -110.

Thursday, June 28

Group G: 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT

Tuley’s Take: I wish I had a big, climactic wager to end group play, but we have two anti-climactic games to choose from. Tunisia and Panama have both been eliminated and are playing for pride (I would only lean to the Over 2.5 as they’ve allowed 7 and 9 goals, respectively) while England and Belgium have both already clinched berths and are just playing for seeding. On a pure handicap, I would take Belgium -105 as it’s performed more consistently so far, but nearly as likely to end in a draw (which is why it’s set low at plus 210).

Note: I’ll again do a “Tuley’s Takes” Extra on the VSiN.com website on Friday for the round of 16 games that will take place Saturday through next Tuesday.

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