WHEN you’re betting on sport, excitement and incidents are key to an enjoyable experience, and water polo offers both in abundance. While it may not be your first choice for a bet, its growing popularity has seen an expansion in the markets offered. The attraction is obvious – clearly defined events occurring in a sport with a simple aim for both sides involved. It can be fast and furious and usually high scoring, just what you want when you’re looking for action-packed gambling fun.
Current water polo betting opportunities
Much like European football, there are a number of thriving domestic leagues and a Champions League for Europe’s elite men players. Italian side Pro Recco are the odds-on favourites, 4/6, to lift the Champions League title this season. They have a 100 per cent record in their group of eight wins from eight games. Joint second favourites at 6/1 are Budapest and Barceloneta. The top four from the two groups go into a knock-out competition to determine the eventual overall winners.
Water polo betting tips and strategy
The key position is goalkeeper, so always research the quality of the team’s last line of defence. Also, when picking a single water polo game to bet on, see how the two teams match up and whether they effectively cancel each other out. Checking previous clashes can be very helpful when deciding what to bet on.
A FINA World League clash in January between Greece and Spain in the women’s world league ended 7-4 to Spain. A relatively low scoring water polo match between two closely matched sides. In the reverse fixture six weeks before, Greece won 7-5, so the total score bet would have been a logical market to follow – known as over/under betting.
Popular bets and water polo betting sites
Betting on water polo is similar to soccer with game winning bets and total score predictions popular. Check betting sites such as Pinnacle, William Hill and Betfair to find out what odds they’re offering on water polo in 2019. When checking the water polo betting markets on sportsbooks like Pinnacle you have the choice of the straightforward 1×2 bet – home win, draw, away win. Alternatively, you can choose a total number of goals over/under bet for either side, or for the whole game. They also offer handicap bets where you can use your skill to predict the extent of the win/loss, with a positive/negative start for each side.
Other bookmakers for water polo bets like Bet365 and Unibet offer watter polo live in play betting – next scorers, total goals over/under.
Water polo news
Odds are not yet available for the world championships but Hungary, Serbia and Australia are sure to amongst the men’s favourites. Expect USA and Australia to be in the mix for medals in the women’s tournament. Late last year the sport’s rules’ governing body, FINA, confirmed a raft of rule changes at their convention in China. The move was backed by 161 delegates with only six opposing the changes.
The 12 new laws included allowing a player taking a corner throw to shoot directly, or swim and shoot without passing. Changes to the possession rules will also allow the goalkeeper to swim and touch the ball beyond the half distance line. Possession time will also reduce from 30 seconds to 20 seconds when a corner throw is awarded or a shot is taken that doesn’t change possession. Many of the rules come into play on March 1.
Where to watch water polo live: TV and online streaming
Live coverage of the sport is mainly available on websites such as len.eu for European tournaments and leagues.
In the USA, where college water polo dominates, cwpatv.com offers streaming services. In Australia ovoplay offers live coverage of both their men’s and women’s domestic league, while the international federation for water sports, FINA, offers a streaming service for international games, www.finatv.live/en.
This year the top target for those at the game’s pinnacle is to represent their country in the World Water Polo Championships. They form part of the World Aquatic Championships taking place in Fukuoka, Japan, the water polo running from 13–29 of May 2022.
Qualification finished earlier this year with 16 teams competing in the men’s and 16 in the women’s tournaments. The men’s top seeds are Serbia, Australia, Hungary and Germany, with defending gold medal winners Croatia amongst the second seeded nation
The sport is particularly popular in the Balkans, with half of all the Olympic gold medals going to European countries from this region. Hungary, Serbia and Croatia are sure to be competing for top world championship honours again in Gwangju in May.
Olympics water polo championship
Qualification for Tokyo 2020 were tough and limited to 12 men’s and eight women’s teams. There are places available for the host nation, and two men’s and one women’s spots will be claimed at this year’s world championships. The winners of each continent’s championships also made the cut so the pressure is on to perform at all major tournaments.
The reigning women’s Olympic champions are USA, the men’s Serbia, with both likely to lead the betting when the markets are drawn up closer to Tokyo. UK legal online sportsbook bet365 will be offering water polo betting markets via its mobile app closer to the championship.
Developed in the late 19th century the game’s rules were drawn up by the British swimming instructor William Wilson. He designed a team water ball game he called aquatic football which, in essence, was a test of strength where two sides wrestled for possession.
In 1885 the swimming association of Great Britain refined the rules turning it into the game of skill we recognise today – a seven-a-side game with goals at either end defended by the goalkeeper.
It was one of the first team sports introduced at the 1900 Olympic Games – but only for men. Women’s water polo had to wait another 100 years until Sydney 2000 to take part.
Water polo essential rules
There are four quarters to every game, each lasting eight minutes of playing time, and there can be lots of goals. All players must tread water and the keeper is the only player allowed to touch the ball with both hands.
Put simply, the two teams aim to score as many goals as possible in their opponent’s net with a 30-second window to shoot. If you don’t shoot in those 30 seconds, possession passes to your opponents.