Sure, you've made your predictions, but are you ready to put your money where you mouth is? Ahead of tonight's semi-final, I'm going to take a look at some of the betting odds available for various outcomes, and see if I can identify where the value is.
The odds I quote below are likely to change in the run up to tonight, so, as always, oddschecker is your friend.
Firstly, who will win the semi-final? There seems to be strong consensus from the press corps that it's between Estonia and Russia, with Russia nosing ahead quite considerably in recent days. If you're in agreement, the best odds you can get for Russia to win the semi is 1.83, at William Hill - this means that if you bet £10, you will get £18.30 back (i.e. £8.30 profit). On the other hand, if you feel Stig and Elina's duet will top Polina's big ballad, you can pick up odds of 4 at either William Hill or Boylesports.
With two such clear frontrunners, perhaps the more interesting money is available for a top 3 finish - i.e. who will come 3rd? 3rd place in the semi-final can often be something slightly surprising that then fails to score highly in the final, and therefore the front runners here (after Russia and Estonia) of Georgia (2.25, 888Sport), Greece (2.25, unibet) and Romania (3.5, bwin) would all seem worth a punt. Albania have fallen from grace during the rehearsals, and their odds of 3.75 (bwin) for a top three finish seem rather stingy. On the other hand, if you want to win some relatively safe money, you could opt to bet on Russia or Estonia to come top three. At odds of 1.18 and 1.4 respectively, you won't be making much, but if you're confident, it's effectively a very short-term-high-interest rate account!
Bear in mind of course that you won't see any of your winnings for winner/top three markets until the full results are published following the final. If you want a more immediate return, the place to look is the qualification market.
Most of the bookies are offering qualification odds, though there's considerably less value to be had than in previous years. Finland are one who have really fallen in recent weeks, and you can get odds of 2 (i.e. doubling your money) at Skybet or Ladbrokes if you think they'll make it through. I'd also argue that Denmark (1.91, Coral) could be worth a punt - they've often done rather better than fans expect, particularly in semi-finals. The biggest outsiders in the qualifier market are Netherlands (3.6, Boylesports) and Moldova (3, various sites). They're a risk, but as I wrote in my prediction piece, I do think there's a chance either of them could make it - and anyone who was brave enough to bet on San Marino or Iceland last year made a tidy profit.
On the other hand, if you're a negative person like me, there's fun to be had in the not to qualify market. I'm still quite sceptical about Armenia, and there are odds of 3.75 (at Skybet) if you feel that six people all shouting different songs at the top of their lungs won't engage with Europe's voters. And if you're not convinced Belgium is really connecting, Skybet will similarly give you 3.5 odds. And if you're crazy enough to think Russia might somehow fail to reach the final for the first time ever, Skybet will give you odds of 26 to throw your money away.
If you're serious about your betting, it's worth already thinking about the final. If there's a song you have your eye on tonight and you think you might want to take a punt on it making the final Top 10, Top 4 or even winning the whole thing, it's worth placing that bet now. After tonight you'll have a much better idea of its chances - but so will the rest of Europe. The people who won big on the Common Linnets and Conchita last year were those who were brave enough to place their bets before the semi-finals. I'll be taking a closer look at these markets closer to the final, but if you think that, for example, Georgia or Greece might be an outsider for the top ten, it could be worth getting on the betting sites now.
That's just a brief overview of what's available tonight - do have a browse on oddschecker, and do feel free to post any betting-related questions in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.
(* no, I know they're not, but then neither's time. Go complain to Belarus.)