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how to bet on world cup

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This is how to bet on World Cup matches and markets in the UK in five easy steps:

  1. Open a betting account – First you must take a decision as to where to bet on the World Cup. Take a look at our recommended betting sites and choose one of them. Click to register and enter your details.
  2. Make a deposit – With a betting account open, you’ll need to place some money before you can place your first wager. Go to the Banking section, select a deposit method, how much money you want to put into your account and confirm the transaction.
  3. Find World Cup betting markets – Go to the soccer betting section of the bookmaker’s website and find the World Cup sub-section. This will display all the World Cup markets that are available.
  4. Add to bet slip – Once you have found a bet that interests you, click on the odds to add it to your bet slip.
  5. Place your bet – With the World Cup wager on the bet slip, all that is left to do is to select your stake. Double check that all the information that you have entered is correct and place your bet.

How to Bet on World Cup Winner Outright

Paddy Power how to bet on world cup

No matter how long away the tournament is, you will be able to bet on which team will win the next World Cup. Whether it is wise to do so is another matter. The team that are rated as the World Cup favourites by football betting sites, will be based on a number of factors.

Chances are, it will be one of the traditional big football nations. They will likely have a crop of players that are likely to be very competitive in the tournament when it next comes around. The identity of the host nation can also be a factor.

Yet the World Cup winner odds are always likely to see a major shift when the draw for the tournament is made. At that stage, punters are able to analyse which teams have an easier path to the final and which ones have a tricky route.

So, unless you see a team with particularly healthy odds, we would advise caution when it comes to betting on a World Cup winner before the draw is made. Taking a punt each way is a smart option, as it means that you will get paid half the odds in one portion of the bet, if your teams reaches the final.

Betting on World Cup Qualifiers

You don’t have to wait until the tournament starts to make money from betting on the World Cup either. Before the action begins in earnest, there are qualifiers around to globe to decide which teams make the cut.

This gives you the option of having a bet on World Cup qualifiers. In many parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia and South America, the qualifiers start almost three years before the actual tournament finals takes place, so you have a long time to profit from this type of betting. The South American qualification process is particularly interesting, as all ten teams on that continent face each other in one big group.

Europe and other parts of the world tend to see their teams split into smaller groups. This means that in South America, you get to bet on encounters between Argentina and Brazil, who are generally leading contenders to win the World Cup. Other major nations such as Uruguay and Colombia are involved, so you get a real sense of how they might fare should they reach the tournament.

North & Central American Nations Host Next Finals

CONACAF will be a qualifying region to watch for the 2026 World Cup, as three of the biggest nations – Canada, Mexico and the United States of America – from that area, automatically qualify as hosts. There will be two rounds of knockout games to determine who makes the third round group stage. The winners of the groups qualify for the World Cup, while two of the runners-up will feature in the inter-confederation play-offs.

These play-offs will see nations from every confederation bar Europe compete. In total there will be six teams, with two places at the World Cup up for grabs. With numerous matches being played over the coming years, along with a range of betting markets based around who will qualify and win the individual groups, the qualifiers provide lots of opportunities.

How to Bet on World Cup Games at the Finals

The 2026 World Cup will see a change in the format of the competition. FIFA have decided to move away from the 32-nation tournament of recent years and expand to 48 teams.

These nations will be split into twelve groups of four. The top two from each group go through to the knockout stages automatically and will be joined by the eight third-placed teams with the best records. In theory, this change could see less ‘dead rubber’ final group games, as there should always be at least one team in the final matches in with a chance of a third-placed finish.

In total there will be 104 individual matches, up from 80. This includes an extra knockout stage, with a Round of 32 now preceding the Round of 16.

With the possibility of more meaningful group games and an increased number of matches in the knockout rounds featuring extra time and penalty shootouts, the 2026 tournament could be the best ever for bets on games.

Betting on the World Cup Group Stage at the Finals

The group stage provide scope for outright wagers, as well as match betting. You can bet on which team will win each group, or name the top two finishers.

With third-placed teams having a chance to progress, the To Qualify market could be one of the most popular betting opportunities. Having a bet on World Cup groups can be profitable, at a stage of the tournament where results are perhaps more predictable.

Betting on the World Cup Final Itself

After the groups get you warmed up, it’s the main event of the knockout stages leading up to the World Cup final. The main difference at this juncture is that additional time and penalties come into the equation.

When you bet on football matches in knockout stages there are essentially two main result-based markets to consider. The first is the match result, which just concerns the regular 90 minutes and injury time, which can of course end in a draw.

If you want to bet on the ultimate result, which could involve extra time and penalty kicks, then you’ll need to bet on the To Qualify market. Alternatively, there’s the outright World Cup winner if you place a bet on the World Cup final.

Popular Markets at the World Cup

Here are some of the most popular sports betting markets that you can bet on during the World Cup.

  • 1X2 Betting – The most common bet in football. You wager on the result of a single match within 90 minutes, plus any added time for injuries and stoppages. You can bet on team 1 to win, or team 2, or the draw (X).
  • Anytime Goalscorer – Bet on a player to score at anytime during a World Cup match.
  • BTTS – This stands for Both Teams To Score. You are betting on whether both teams will find the net, or not.
  • Correct Score – With this type of bet, you are trying to predict the exact correct score in a match.
  • Double Chance – Essentially you are betting on a team not to lose with this bet. Your bet will be successful if the team you back double chance, either wins or draws.
  • Draw No Bet – This wager gives you some insurance if the game is drawn. The bet is successful if the team you back draw no bet wins, but if it is a draw, the bet is made void and you get your stake back.
  • First Goalscorer – Bet on which player will score the first goal in a game.
  • Half-Time/Full-Time – Often know as a ‘double result’, this wager tasks you with predicting the half-time result and then the full-time result.
  • Handicap – If the betting odds for the match result are a little too one-sided, a handicap can help. One team starts with a certain advantage and the other is given a handicap, which they must over to win the bet. So if a team had a handicap of -2.5, they would have to win by three goals or more.
  • Over/Under 2.5 Goals – Bet on how many goals there will be in a game. Will there be over 2.5 (three or more), or under 2.5 (two or less)? Other over/under totals are available to bet on.

Special World Cup Odds

Every World Cup sees a number of awards given out, based on player performance. You can bet on which key players will be given these individual honours.

  • Golden Boot – Which player will be the top scorer at the tournament finals.
  • Golden Ball – Awarded to the best player in the World Cup.
  • Golden Glove – This award is given to the tournament’s top goalkeeper.
  • FIFA Young Player Award – The World Cup’s best young player is given this honour.

General World Cup Betting Strategy

Read up on the following tips and strategies, that will help you to understand how to bet on the World Cup.

Keep Up With World Cup Trends

How entertaining a particular World Cup will very much depend on the tactical trends of the time. Sometimes a tournament will come around at a time when defensive tactics are favoured. Football can be a low-scoring sport if managers choose to play cautiously.

This was especially true in 1990 when the World Cup averaged an all-time low of just 2.21 goals per game. In recent years, attacking adventurous play has been favoured, with the 2014 tournament averaging 2.67 goals, 2018 seeing 2.64 and 2022 averaging 2.69. It would see likely that this trend will continue into 2026, so keep that in mind when betting on goals in markets such as over/under 2.5.

The Draw is All Important

A team can be the best in the World Cup, but if their draw is too tough, it’s unlikely that they will emerge as the outright winners. At any World Cup, nations such as Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Spain tend to be strong and are all capable of beating each other on any given day.

It therefore stands to reason, that any side that are tasked with having to play too many of their main rivals, will slip up at some point. Study the draw and FIFA World Rankings, for what they’re worth, so you can give favour to teams that have an easier route to the final. The winners of games that are very tight and tiring, are at a disadvantage in their next outing.

Make the Most of Every Advantage

A tournament as big as the World Cup creates such interest, that punters have a number of betting advantages, that they not have for a lesser competition. For starters, bookies will offer special betting promotions that will give you more of a chance of making a profit.

Shop around and take advantage of these, at a number of different bookies. You’ll find that the various sportsbooks will have a range of unique bet types available for the World Cup, so it will pay to have more than one betting account. In addition, there will be a huge amount of media coverage of the World Cup, which will include betting tips that you can follow.

Where to Bet on the World Cup in the UK

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to sports betting sites offering World Cup betting. The bookies know that punters are desperate to place their wagers and fight for their attention, trying to offer the most enticing betting odds and special promotions.

Most of our recommended betting sites will do a great job of covering the World Cup. In particular, we would point you towards Paddy Power, who always have a fine range of sports betting options, very competitive odds and generous betting offers.


We hope that you enjoyed our guide to how to bet on World Cup matches and markets. It’s a tournament that provides a huge amount of soccer games for punters to bet on. Even in the years before it starts, there are plenty of betting opportunities available, so why not check some of them out today?


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Can I bet on the World Cup in-play?

Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.

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