Betting guide

Dave Tindall's essential guide to beating the bookies

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Punters have never had it so good with more World Cup betting markets than ever on offer for the extravaganza in South Africa.

But more choice inevitably means more ways to blow your money. So we've outlined our 10 top tips to make sure you give yourself the best chance of emerging after a month of action as a winner.

1) First things first, make sure you write down every bet you make. If, like me, you've got about 20 internet accounts, it's easy to forget just who you've backed and where. I once spent virtually a whole day trying to locate some golf winnings. Avoid any similar hassle, WRITE THEM DOWN!

2) Consider having a bet that encompasses all 64 games - i.e. the total tournament goals or red cards. By having a betting interest in every game - and that's what a lot of punters want - it avoids the ridiculous situation of trying to liven up one of the lower key games by having a few punts and later realising you've just lost £50 on Algeria v Slovenia.

3) Avoid backing long odds-on shots. The World Cup is littered with favourites being held or beaten by minnows and continually backing big-priced favourites will soon empty your pockets. Don't forget Cameroon beat Argentina in the first match in 1990, Italy were held 1-1 by Bulgaria in 1986 and mighty Brazil needed an own goal to help them score a narrow 2-1 win over Scotland in the France 98 opener.

4) Keep a close eye on the latest news. Bookies often price up matches a long way in advance so by noting incidents such as Didier Drogba being injured or perhaps Wayne Rooney suspended, you can get on hopefully before the bookies/fellow punters realise and the price is cut.

5) Take note of possible tactical switches by coaches that can lead to players starting in different positions than normal. In 1998, I got wind that Dutch midfielder Philip Cocu would be starting up front for Holland against South Korea. Lo and behold, Cocu rifled home the opener in the 37th minute and the 20/1 gamble was landed.

6) Don't blindly back the draw in the first round of games. It's a common and valid assumption that teams often go into the opening game with the thought that they must avoid defeat. That could translate into an early spate of draws but checking back on previous World Cups shows that you'd lose money blindly backing stalemates.

7) Keep on eye on who is likely to take their team's penalties. You may be aware of first-choice penalty takers but if they're off the pitch then who would step in? Could it be the centre-back - a 50/1 shot to score the first/last goal?

8) Take extra care when betting on the final round of group games. It may actually suit some teams to finish runners-up in their group to ensure an easier draw in the knockout stages. Although we can't say anyone would actively 'throw' their final game, it's certainly possible that such a team would field a weakened team, using the excuse of "resting star names". And if both teams go into the final group game needing a draw to ensure they both go through then don't be surprised to see a tepid 0-0.

9) Don't bank on the heat and humidity being an issue as at previous tournaments - it's the winter in South Africa. Altitude could come into it, though, with Jermain Defoe recently admitting after his first game in South Africa: "It felt a lot harder in terms of breathing and getting your recovery."

10) Note the teams who do well in penalty shoot-outs. If extra-time doesn't produce a golden goal - it probably won't as teams are too scared to commit players to attack - then bookies will quickly issue prices for both teams to win the dreaded penalty shootout. For whatever reason, some teams can take them and others can't. So DO back Argentina and West Germany and DON'T back England and Holland.

For Sky Bet's latest World Cup betting odds, click here.