Curling is a winter ice sport that most people are familiar with (if they know of it at all) from its recent reintroduction to the Winter Olympics. The game is most popular in Canada, but also enjoys healthy participation in the United States, Scotland, and many countries in Europe and Asia.
In this sport, teams of four players each slide rocks down a field of ice – known as a sheet – towards a target at the other end – known as a house. Teams alternate throwing eight rocks, after which the team with the rock closest to the pin (at the center of the house) earns one point for each of their rocks that is closer to the middle than the best rock of the opposing team.
Scoring constitutes the conclusion of an “end,” which is similar to an inning in baseball. A typical match takes eight ends, though championship play features 10 ends of play. In case of a tie, the teams will play an additional end to decide a winner; unlike in many sports, it is considered sportsmanlike to concede if a game is out of reach, so many contests do not go the complete distance. At the conclusion of the game, the team with the most points (or “rocks”) is the winner.
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Curling bets are usually placed in one of two ways. First, it is usually possible to simply choose who will win a match. In this case, you’ll see odds that are determined by the relative strength of the two teams. For instance, you may see a match in which one team is given decimal odds of 1/21.50-2000.50-2.000.50 , and the other is offered at 19/102.90+1901.901.90-0.53 . Betting $100 on the first team will earn you $50 in winnings should they be victorious (so you’ll now have $150 in total), while betting on the underdog will earn you $190 should they win ($290 total including your initial stake).
However, there is a second way in which bets might be made on this sport. Some bookmakers offer spread betting, in which the favourite is handicapped by a number of points in order to offer similar odds on both sides. For instance, you may see a line that looks like this:
In this game, a bet on Canada will only pay if they win by four rocks or more. Meanwhile, a Germany bet can win either if they pull the upset, or if they lose by three or fewer points. Both bets are likely to pay out at slightly less than even money.
History of Curling
Curling is one of the oldest sports in the world that is still being contested today, having been invented in medieval Scotland. It isn’t clear exactly when the sport was first played, but evidence in stones, art, and literature date back to at least the early 1500s. The world’s oldest clubs date back hundreds of years, with the Kilsyth Curling Club in Scotland being formed in 1716 and still existing today.
Over the centuries, the quality of the stones, the ice, and other equipment gradually improved, changing the game from one that was largely about a mix of strength and luck to one decided by skill and strategy, leading the game to become known as “chess on ice.” The game is named after the motion of the stone on the ice – players rotate the stones, causing them to travel in an arc, or curl, as they move down the sheet – though it is also known as the roaring game due to the load and distinctive sound the rocks make while in motion. The World Curling Federation is currently the chief governing body in the game, and was formed in 1966.
Major Curling Events
These days, there is a full range of events, with competitive teams participating on the World Curling Tour (at events known as “bonspiels”) and elite teams competing at the Grand Slam tournaments. However, usually only a few of the largest events manage to attract interest from most betting sites. They include the following:
Winter Olympics: This is the contest that commands the most attention from the world at large, and is the only exposure many people have to the sport. Though it was contested in 1924 and 1932, the sport only returned to the program as an exhibition sport in 1988 and 1992; it then joined the official medal program in 1998. Since then, both men’s and women’s competitions have been contested, typically with fields of ten teams playing a round-robin of ten-end games, with the top four making the medal round. An added two-player discipline known as mixed doubles will also be added to the program in 2018.
World Championships: Each year, the top nations attempt to qualify for this tournament, which is contested in a format that is almost identical to that of the Olympics, but with a slightly larger 12-team field. Both Men’s and Women’s championship play tends to draw betting attention, though there are many other world championships: mixed, mixed doubles, senior and junior events are also contested at a very high level of play.
The Brier: The majority of curlers worldwide are Canadian, and as such, the Canadian championships are among the most prestigious events in the world. The men’s championship is known as the Tim Hortons Brier (though the sponsor has changed over the years), with teams qualifying out of every province and territory in order for a chance to win the title that was first established in 1927.
The Tournament of Hearts: This is the women’s Canadian championship, and carries the same prestige for female curlers as the Brier does for their male counterparts. Established in 1961, the event is now called the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, or often simply “The Scotties” after the current sponsor for the event.
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