The punting markets were a bit placid during December and January.
In a slight departure from our normal methodology, we are going to start off this look at February betting markets with a look at international sporting events.
Right near the beginning of the month, the NFL will present Super Bowl LII (52) on February 5 in Australia. This year’s contest is between the villainous New England Patriots, led by pusillanimous ball-deflating quarterback Tom Brady and scofflaw Coach Bill Belichick, playing against the lily white purity of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles were the most dominant team in the NFL during the regular season and they proved that that dominance was spread out across the entire team when they lost sensational sophomore quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending injury when he tore his ACL during an early December against the Los Angeles Rams, yet the Eagles still managed to advance through two rounds of playoff gridiron to wind up in this year’s Super Bowl.
The early markets show the Patriots as 4.5-point favourites, but since the Super Bowl is played on neutral ground, 4.5-point under doggery is not insurmountable.
The National Basketball Association is in its winter grind as teams try to win in order to gain entry into the playoffs in May and June. The NBA has an affiliation with Australia’s NBL, so there is great interest in seeing U.S. players come to Australia for professional development that, until the past several years, necessitated playing in Europe or China. The reverse is true, too, as NBL players look to make the jump to the NBA.
At any rate, the NBA and NBL seasons run concurrently, so on a weekly basis, there are thousands of markets for punting and given the number of fine and fiercely competitive Australian bookmakers. There will be plenty of top-flight NCAA college games, too, as teams jockey for position and a ticket to March Madness next month.
The National Hockey League is in much the same mode of play as the NBA, with teams engaging in a test of endurance and will to determine the playoff contenders several months hence.
The PGA Tour has a full calendar for the month of February, with the Waste management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic. Some of the growing contingent of Aussie professional golfers will be represented in one or more of those events.
Soccer will be well represented in the month of February, as professional and amateur leagues around the world and in Australia seemingly never rest. In the EPL, it seems like Manchester, England is the hot spot at the moment, as both City and United are atop the standings, although City has a clear upper hand.
Finally, there is one more international sporting event of major magnitude going off in February.
That would be the 2018 XXIII (23) Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 10 – 26. Approximately 50 Aussies will head north to try various winter sports disciplines, such as figure skating, cross country skiing, snowboarding and speed skating.
Australia will also have some sliders in the games, with John Farrow heading down the track headfirst in the skeleton and feet first in the luge by Alex Ferlazzo.
We know we are not the only ones feeling revved about the second season of the AFLW. The women’s version of the AFL had a sensational debut last year and anticipation surrounding the off-season moves and additions makes it anyone’s’ guess as to whether the Adelaide Crows can back their premiership for last season, or if one of the Victorian or Queensland representatives can knock the Crows from the peak.
There is also quite a bit of buzz surround the short-format footy that is set for a debut, as the AFLX will take the place of some of the JLT Community series when it starts in the middle of February.
Taking a page from seemingly every other sport that has adopted a short-format version of the game, the AFLX will be played with seven players per side and a rectangular field.
The AFL competition proper does not start until March, but if the new format receives the reception anything close to that given to Limited Overs cricket, there will be hundreds of new punting markets at which to look.
The NRL will begin to emerge from its long slumber, too, as trial games get underway in the lead-up to the 2018 Telstra NRL Premiership competition. Squads from Queensland and New South Wales will be looking to wrest the title away from the Melbourne Storm, which seemingly has increased its intensity during the offseason.
Later in the month, Super Rugby will start its 23rd season with Raelene Castle taking over as the competition struggles to keep spectators in the seats and players out of jail, but the level of play should be a notch or two higher now that the Western Force has been culled.
Motor racing fans have the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour as one of many compelling racing events in February. Saving the best for last, high level thoroughbred racing is back with a vengeance.
There are five Group 1s during February, commencing with the C F Orr Stakes at Caulfield on February 10, followed by the Lightning Stakes at Flemington and Caulfield’s big day nearer the end of the month, when the Futurity Stakes, Blue Diamond Stakes and Oakleigh Plate lead a card that also features four Group 2s and two Group 3s.
In Sydney, Rosehill will host two Group 2s that same weekend, with the Silver Slipper Stakes and the Millie Fox Stakes.
Even Launceston gets in on the action with the Group 3s Vamos Stakes and the Launceston Cup.
The rest of the February thoroughbred racing calendar is crammed with Group 2 and Group 3 racing, so watch your form books to find autumn carnival opportunities galore.
As we normally disclaim, we cannot possibly cover all the punting markets, domestic and international, that are on the slate for February, so keep visiting the online bookmakers’ websites and mobile apps and you will doubtless find keen opportunities in all manner of codes.