Water Polo Betting

Officially the oldest Olympic Games team sport, water polo was developed by Scottish swimming coach William Wilson in the late 19th century. In 1877, Wilson wrote a set of rules for team water ball game, which he called aquatic football, and the first match took place in the River Dee in Aberdeen. The sport became known as water polo because the first games used a soft ball of Indian rubber called a pulu and, over time, water polo became the accepted name for it.

Brute strength characterised early water polo matches and the sport remains a physical one in the modern era. All players must tread water throughout the game and cannot touch either the bottom or the side of the pool, which is 30 metres by 20m and at least 2m deep. Water polo teams have seven players – six field players and one goalkeeper – and, at the elite level of the sport, matches consist of four eight-minute quarters with two minutes between quarters.

In which countries is water polo popular?

The most famous Hungarian sportsperson of all time would have to be Ferenc Puskas, who scored 84 goals in 85 football games for Hungary, leading the Mighty Maygars to Olympic Games gold in 1952 and FIFA World Cup silver in 1954.

But football, while popular in Hungary, is not the European country’s national sport. That honour goes to water polo and, when one considered the Hungarian team’s record in international competitions, it is easy to see why the country loves the rough, seven-a-side aquatic game.

Hungary has won the men’s water polo gold medal at nine Olympic Games, including back-to-back-to-back successes in Sydney, Athens and Beijing between 2000 and 2008. Hungary has won three Olympic Games silver medals and three Olympic Games bronze medals as well to dominate the overall table.

The most famous water polo match of all time took place between Hungary and the Soviet Union during the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games tournament. Tensions between the two teams were very high even before the competition began. The Soviet Union had taken advantage of its control of Hungary to study and copy the training methods and in-game tactics of the reigning Olympic Games champion. And the Soviet Union had crushed the Hungarian Revolution not long before the Hungary side embarked on its long journey to Australia.

There are good reasons as to why the match ended up being known as the Blood in the Water game. The Hungary team, incensed by what had happened in its home country just a few weeks earlier, taunted the Soviet Union side throughout the match. Hungary was leading 4-0 when Soviet Union player Valentin Prokopov punched Hungary superstar Ervin Zador, causing blood to pour out from a cut under Zador’s right eye. Fearing a riot, Australian police entered the arena with one minute to go on the clock. Officials called off the games and, eventually, declared Hungary as the winner. Zador and some of his Hungary teammates sought political asylum in the West after the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games concluded, fearful of returning to live in Soviet-occupied Hungary.

Hungary’s water polo side has fallen on hard times in the last few years but the international scene remains strong, with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Serbia, South Africa, Spain and the United States of America prominent.

How prevalent are water polo betting markets?

Water polo punters are not limited to the big international tournaments such as the Olympic Games and the world championships, the latter of which have settled into a two-year cycle on even-numbered years, because bookmakers bet on a wide range of club competitions as well.

For example, it is possible to bet on matches in the strongest European domestic leagues, which include the ones in Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Spain. Also, bookmakers bet on games in the LEN Champions League that has, in recent seasons, been dominated by Italian representatives, most notably the Pro Recco team.

Because water polo is a middle-ranking sport in terms of betting turnover, bookmakers do not go over the top with offerings. However, match betting, line betting and total goals betting are available on most competitive games.

Water polo betting is the domain of bookmakers whose focus is on continental Europe, with the exception being when the Olympic Games take place. Every four years, bookmakers all around the world fall over themselves to bet on the full Olympic Games program, which means that water polo gets attention from organisations that overlook it usually.