Guide to betting obscure soccer leagues
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This is what it's come to. As we self-isolate and practice safe social distancing, us gamblers are desperate for a way to pass the time.

With every major league - and the majority of the less popular ones - shutting down for the foreseeable future, we're left with a select few leagues to satiate our appetite.

We've traded a packed Staples Center for a closed-to-the-public Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. We've exchanged Gleyber Torres home runs at Yankee Stadium for Delvin N'Dinga marshaling midfields in Antalya, Turkey. Jack Eichel shot totals have been replaced by both-teams-to-score props in the Chilean Primera Division.

As fun as it is to wager on teams like The Strongest in Bolivia or Homeboyz in Kenya based purely on name value, if we're going to bet on random soccer leagues for the next three months, let's at least do so in an educated manner.

Here's what to look for.

Reading the lines

First and foremost, you need to know what you're betting on. There are countless markets for soccer, but a lot less is available with the less mainstream leagues. We should focus on three markets: full-time result, game total, and the Asian handicap.

Full-time result is straightforward and pertains to the three possible outcomes for every match - a home win, away win, or draw. The game-total marker is straightforward as well, referring to the over/under. Using this evening's game in Chile as an example, hosts O'Higgins are +175 to win, visitors CD Antofagasta are +130 to win, and the draw is +230. The total is 3, with the over sitting at even money and the under at -120.

The Asian handicap refers to the spread of the match. The spread in this particular match is 0.0, which means a bet on either side would push if the game ended in a draw. If a team is favored at -0.5, they must win the match to cover, while a team getting +0.5 can win or draw to cash the bet. The same logic applies to -1/+1, -1.5/+1.5, and so on.

Spreads get trickier when you see something like 0.0, -0.5. In that case, for a wager of $100, half of it would go on the 0.0 and the other half on -0.5. If that team wins the match you win your full bet. If they draw, you lose half the bet while the other half pushes. And if they lose, you lose the full bet.

Look at the standings

This one may seem glaringly obvious, but it bears mentioning nonetheless. Look at where clubs sit in the table and how many games into the season it is. The bigger the sample size, the more valuable an indicator the table is. Another thing to look for in the standings is goal difference, which can help you differentiate between clubs with similar records.

O'Higgins are 16th in Chile's top division, but there have been just seven matches played in the new season. Antofagasta are fifth.

Check the fixture list

This can provide important context to both record and goal difference. Is a team that has a goal difference that's close to even padding its numbers against weaker clubs? Are a few lopsided results clouding the picture?

Six of Antofagasta's seven matches have been decided by a goal or less, but a 4-0 win boosts its goal difference to plus-5.

Recent form

Analyzing recent results for two clubs involved in the match you're betting on is important in order to get a feel for their current form. Are clubs mired in a slump or are they ripping through the competition and flowing with confidence? Is a particular side struggling to score, or allowing goals in bunches? These are all significant trends to look for.

O'Higgins have lost three matches in a row and have just one win from their last nine league fixtures. That certainly qualifies as struggling. Antofagasta have drawn three matches in a row, but they've lost just one of their last 11 in league play. Based on recent form alone, taking them at 0.0 on the Asian handicap would seem a safe play, giving you insurance if the match ends in a draw.

Home/away splits

Consider how clubs perform at home and away. Some teams have staggering splits, while the venue doesn't seem to matter as much for others. Some clubs allow very few goals at home and others struggle to score on their travels.

Antofagasta are unbeaten in away matches this season with two wins and a draw and unbeaten in five on the road dating back to last year. O'Higgins have lost three of four at home this season, the lone exception being a win over Santiago Wanderers, who sit bottom of the table. Their four home matches this season have produced 15 total goals.

Head-to-head results

Lastly, have a look at recent results between the two clubs in question. There are countless examples of teams struggling at a particular venue or against a certain opponent. Some teams just don't match up well with others. Form can often be thrown out the window if two clubs are rivals, and head-to-head history can be very telling.

In this case, Antofagasta have won five consecutive matches against O'Higgins and three in a row at Estadio El Teniente. The last four matches between the two clubs have produced 21 goals, with Antofagasta scoring at least three in all of them.

The pick

Considering the high goal output in recent meetings between these sides, as well as in O'Higgins' home matches this season, the over looks like a strong play here, as does Antofagasta on the Asian handicap at 0.0.

Applying this logic to any match you're handicapping should hopefully help us all make informed betting decisions during these dire times.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

Guide to betting obscure soccer leagues
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