No, Poland and Latvia Were Never Eurovision 2022 Favourites
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Eurovision social media has been hit by posts alleging that, in the past week, both Poland and Latvia have been favourites to win Eurovision. This is of course followed by comments saying that “odds mean nothing at this stage” or “how can you bet before you know the songs” and all that jazz.
But Poland and Latvia have never been favourites to win Eurovision. Let us explain this misconception and explain what you can do to follow odds more accurately.
The news that Poland and then Latvia were favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest were taken from screenshots on Eurovision World, with these countries supposedly at odds of single figures. Now Eurovision World’s odds tracker is a brilliant conglomeration of most of the Eurovision odds available across different betting providers.
A screenshot of Eurovision World from 7th January looked as follows:
Bet365, Ladbrokes and Betsson are conventional betting companies. As you can see from this list, they only offer a few odds at the moment on any of the selection. Bet365 only offers odds on the UK (41), Betsson only offers odds on Sweden (12) and Ladbrokes on a few of the traditional big hitters. The rest of the countries in the odds are being offered odds by Smarkets and the Betfair Exchange (and, from what I can make out, Smarkets is running a system where it tracks movements on the Betfair Exchange).
Both Smarkets and the Betfair Exchange, in short, work by following principles of stock exchanges, in that you are able to bet on an outcome happening (back) or it not happening (lay). That is why if you log in to the Betfair Exchange you will see multiple odds available, rather than just one.
Take this example on the Czech Republic taken on January 7th.
This demonstrates that today you can bet on the Czech Republic at 60s on the Betfair exchange. At the current time of asking 352 Swedish krona left there at that price. You can place a bet on the Czech Republic to win at 60s, but for a maximum amount of 352 kr, or perhaps a smaller amount. If you place that maximum 352 kr bet, and the Czechs win Eurovision then there is over 20,000 kr profit coming to you. Yes, it is a reasonably unlikely possibility, and somebody - whoever it may be, maybe multiple people - is currently risking that 20,000 kr on the Betfair exchange to try and win 352 kr from you.
But remember, they are individuals, not betting companies.
On the flip side, there are people who want to place bets on the Czech Republic to win out there, but they want better odds than 60s. One person (again, maybe more) would be happy to bet at 75s, and has left 160 kr on the Betfair Exchange to bet at that price. If you want to try to win that 160 kr (about £13) you could call this person's bluff and accept the deal, but you would be risking nearly 12,000 kr to make 160. Notice here how, if somebody accepts that 75, there is nobody on the Exchange currently wanting to bet on the Czech Republic to win at any higher price until 100.
This is the problem with the Eurovision market today. We are talking about amounts of risk that are high, at least for the casual punter, but with such relatively small amounts of liability that a small stake can easily cause a dramatic shift. For the Czech Republic example above it would take just over 1000 kr today to move them from 60s to under 50s. One big gambler could easily place a bet of that size, meaning this early Eurovision market (which currently has about £10,000 matched, likely to be less than 0.2% of what will be matched throughout the season) can be swayed by the movements of just one person. Dramatic shifts would not be expected for the Czech Republic going forward, as we know the song and artist already.
For Poland and Latvia song rumours and releases respectively caused at least one person to get excited and place some money on them to win. This took away some of the money on the Betfair Exchange and ultimately caused Eurovision World's tracker to describe them as favourites. Yet, if I go back onto the Betfair Exchange and check the betting history on each of these nations, I can see that they have never actually been a significant favourite price.
Below is the graph of Latvia’s betting history in the Eurovision 2022 win market on the Betfair Exchange. On these graphs the red line shows the change in odds and the black bars show the amount of money staked at those odds.
As one can see here, almost all of the money placed on Latvia so far has been well above favourite status, with most of the money placed at over 80s, making Latvia an outsider country. When the songs were revealed and there was the smallest flutter of excitement about Aminata’s return, that did get some bets placed at 80s, and 70s…and then inexplicably down to 14s (which I hope for that person was a mouse slip).
Latvia last matched as of January 6th at 50s. But note how the graph shows a straight line from 70s to 14s. That is because there was no money left in the market in-between those two values. For us in the betting community to leave significant money in the Eurovision betting market so it is populated at every step means we expose ourselves to thousands of pounds of risk and need to check on micro-movements constantly. That is something we who trade will do more as we get into May, we know the songs, artists and performances, and are trading our positions. That is not something we can sustainably do today, when volatility is higher.
Poland’s graph is similar to Latvia’s. Poland have been at 90s and 85, before a large bet saw it supposedly tumble down to single figures. You may spot that Poland matched at a low of 22s on this graph. While true, the amount that was matched was a humongous 4 kr, about 35 p. Ignoring that, no money has been matched on Poland to win the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest at any price below 65s.
So no, there is nothing that suggests that Latvia and Poland are favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest. The common consensus is that, even if Aminata's track is just a demo, it is unlikely to be dangerous enough in the televote market for victory. Nor has the chance of Ochman representing Poland been enough to cause a market shift - he will need a song to excite first.
Following this, I have some thoughts to help you who are following the odds this early to understand it all better.
Set up your own Betfair account. Even if you have no intention of using the Betfair Exchange to gamble you can use this rather than the Eurovision World site to check more realistic latest odds this early in the season. At this point what is more interesting is looking on the graphs of each country to see the prices matched at (visible by clicking on the graph symbol next to each country) or to look at the lowest lay price to see the odds that prospective punters want to bet on different countries at present.
2. It may also be smart to take away some of the natural rhetoric about who is placing 7th/8th/9th in the odds at this stage as well. With a market obviously cautious because most songs haven’t been revealed most countries are placed in that lull between 30s and 50s. A small movement here will cause a country to jump many places, even though the odds have only moved a couple of points. Look instead at how much that lay price (the odds in red) has shifted to get a realistic indication of odds movement.
3. And, if the people at Eurovision World end up reading this. Firstly your website and trackers are an amazing resource. If you can point them to track instead the most recently matched prices they would be a far better indicator of true odds today than they are right now. At least this early in the season.
The Eurovision market of early January 2022 is purely a trading market. No conventional bookmakers have batted an eyelid at the Song Contest so far (except for some Melodifestivalen betting). Until that time, which will likely be weeks away, understanding who the true favourites are will take a little more research than just a quick glance at the latest odds being offered.