"What's worth doing is worth doing for money" - Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street' (1987).
Ever noticed how the odds offered for Eurovision reflect the polls? Years like 2011 offer a headache to bookmakers but they somehow still manage to pull it right out of the bag - about an hour before the final kicked off, the odds for 'Running Scared' from Azerbaijan shortened enough to make them hot favourites. I re-blogged an article from ESC Nation (http://www.escnation.com) last year about where the best odds could be found to really win some decent money. With some countries still left to release their songs, and the online polls yet to take off, perhaps it is times like this to have a look at the odds...
By using the site 'Odds Checker' (http://www.oddschecker.com/tv/eurovision/winner) it is possible to see which countries are currently pre-Eurovision favourites.
At the time of posting (roughly 12pm GMT) Norway are current favourites. They have odds as low as 7/4 without even confirming their winner. Azerbaijan, the undisputed strongest nation in the contest from the last 5 years, have given us their artist, but you can still find them sitting 3rd in the list with odds ranging from 7/1 to 9/1. We all know that Azerbaijan will come out with a stormer and the fact that they have friends across the whole of Europe means even if they come out with utter dribble, they are likely to find themselves in the final whatever. Long-time friends like Malta and the cluster that sit around the black sea will always ensure their continued success as long as it's something good. That's not to say I'm against diaspora voting, it's been happening in the contest for decades - there's a reason why the UK and Ireland have always shared the points, while the same remains for the Scandinavian block, the ex-Yugoslavs, the former Soviet countries, and so on and so on. They share culture!
So what about pre-contest poll favourites?
Well the polls are still in the early stages. Without all the songs yet entered this year some sites won't even bother allowing for polls as they mean little without everyone. One of my favourite sites for polls and statistics is the one carried out by ESC Stats (www.escstats.com). Current leaders are Hungary, and it cannot be denied that 'Running' is a very good track. Perhaps the best offer of 14/1 at current are cracking odds. And what about Paula Selling & Ovi, who when they last competed for Romania came 3rd. They're back again with 'Miracle' and again, it's a good track. You can find them at 11/1 if you fancy it. How about the UK? 'Children of the Universe' has so far thrown everyone by surprise - the UK might really have something going this year. At 14/1 to take the crown - are these bad odds for a country with a recent history boasting quite a few bottom 5 finishings? Greece rounded up their final last night by selecting 'Rise Up' by Freaky Fortune ft. RiskyKidd. Greece are renowned for storming the top 10, and undoubtedly are one of the best nations of the 00s. At the bottom of the pile is Belarus with 'Cheesecake' - which you can currently get for 150/1. Belarus don't have the best record in Eurovision - and 'Cheesecake' certainly isn't great either. But hey ho, could be worth a crack.
Keep an eye on the odds. Have a look at what different things you can bet on. San Marino or Montenegro to qualify will probably be worth a bet or 2, and how about who to make the top 10? It sounds quite an obvious one, but Malta were offered very nice offers last year to make the top 10 with Gianluca's 'Tomorrow', and those who predicted Anouk's 'Birds' for the Netherlands to make the top 10 quite early on in the Eurovision season also saw a nice return on the money.
It won't be surprising to hear that the odds change all the time. Once all the countries have released their songs, and the polls take off, and semi final places are decided, the odds will change, potentially dramatically. I think the overall theme of the contest this year is that there isn't one song setting the world on fire. If we have another year like 2011 then the odds could be quite fun!
Remember folks; take gambling seriously!
And on one final note... the odds don't really make up that much part of Eurovision. If you like a bet then have a crack, but don't take them too seriously. I always feel too much attention is placed on what the bookmakers are doing, but in reality it's a never-ending cycle. Some Eurofans argue that the odds have ruined previous years contest and have made the final result inevitable. I say bollocks. It's the super keen fans like ourselves which define the odds by obsessing over the polls. And to that I say "whoops". But hey, what would the Eurovision season be without a bit of friendly debate, endless stats, and the opinions of a nobody like myself?
Catch me on Twitter: @escunofficial