Eurovision semi-final 1 betting: Ditch the PIGS, grab the BAGS

Daniel Gould will update the site regularly with the latest details of what he has been betting on in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest. Here he starts by looking at the qualification odds in the first semi-final.

Speculators in the European credit markets have spent the last year betting against the debt-ridden PIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. My strategy in the first Eurovision semi-final also revolves around four countries, but I’m banking on their success. Let’s call them the BAGS: Belgium, Albania, Greece and Serbia.

In my opinion, these are the four definite qualifiers in semi-final 1. I hope to have placed five-figure sums on each of them by May 25th. This strategy stems from the crux of this semi: the general standard is so poor that the good songs will sail through whilst any of the weaker entries could also join them.

So, I’m taking short odds on the better efforts: I’ve backed Greece down from 1.15, Belgium and Albania down from 1.5, and Serbia down from 1.53. They’re all now lower in price as a result. Punting at these puny odds is not for everyone, and requires betting in bulk for big returns, but a 1.15 bet on something that should be 1.01 is good value. (Not sure what this means? Check out our guides to understanding odds and betting exchanges.)

The BAGS are head and shoulders above the rest, and Youtube evidence suggests their vocal abilities are not in question. I would be shocked if any of them failed to qualify. Serbia is least universal in its appeal, but can rely on neighbours/diaspora picking up their phones in Macedonia, Bosnia, Greece, France and Germany.

The other favourites have question marks. I have backed Slovakia at 1.5, but am not so keen at half those odds, given it lacks friends and a good draw. The Disney-esque ballad from Belarus could be murdered live by its young singers. The winning entry from Moldova’s National Final was vocally and visually a mess. The Iceland eurodance entry is a pale imitation of their 2008 effort that just scraped through to the final.

This brings us to the bigger-priced entries. One I am slightly interested in backing at smaller quantities to qualify is Malta. Its middle-of-the-road nature could see it drop like a stone, or more likely in my opinion, pick up lots of respectable scores from juries. So far, I’ve backed it to go through at 2.44.

At the moment, I’m not looking to get heavily involved in betting against any country qualifying. Ten out of 17 go through, and I can make a good case against 12 of them. Some will therefore qualify by default. Also, certain countries voting in this semi are notoriously maverick in awarding points: Albania and Malta especially.

If I’m actively opposing any of them, it’s Finland. Not enough friends, a poor draw and an entry that is painfully old-fashioned. It feels like a long three minutes – mainly because the bridge comes too soon and the song then repeats itself. I’ve been laying it at 2.26.

But my main focus remains taking the BAGS. The Betfair market on qualification from the first semi-final has been open for nearly a month now, and is starting to hot up.

You can also read Daniel Gould’s ongoing top ten tips for betting on Eurovision.

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