Kiwi gamblers back Paul the Octopus

ABOVE: Paul the Octopus conveys his World Cup picks to humans by opening one of two flag-painted boxes before each game.

Responding to popular demand, the TAB has opened betting on whether Paul the Octopus can correctly call the winner of Monday’s World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain.

From his tank in  Oberhausen, Germany, the eight-armed oracle has so far predicted the winners of six straight games at the soccer tournament.

But would-be betters should be aware that the Dutch-Spanish clash will represent uncharted territory for Paul. So far, the psychic octopus has only had the opportunity to predict the outcome of games involving his adopted country.

Queuing up
265 Kiwi punters had placed bets on Paul the Octopus in just the first three hours, senior TAB bookmaker Mark Stafford told Private Bin.

By a slim margin, the major are betting that the canny cephalopod *will* correctly predict the outcome of the game, Mr Stafford said.

At time of writing, the payout for correctly backing Paul to pick the winner was $1.75; for Paul striking out, $2.00.

Size bet
One of Mr Stafford’s colleagues told a Wellington-based website that the TAB was willing to accept a “size bet” on Paul the Octopus.

The bookmaker clarified that in terms of an actual game, $15,000 was deemed a “size bet”.

But in terms of octopus futures, $500 is the “size bet” threshold (the largest bet so far is $50, Mr Stafford said).

Another interesting World Cup bet being offered by the TAB: $1.75 for New Zealand to be the only unbeaten team in the tournament (that is, for Spain - beaten in the group stage by Switzerland - to win the final)

Death threats
Meanwhile, angry Argentinian and German fans have called for Paul's head on a platter - or at least his tentacles in a paella. 

But his German keeper, Oliver Walenciak, maintains the deep sea seer is safe in his Oberhausen aquarium.

"There are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive," Herr Walenciak told the Daily Telegraph.

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