Betting 101: Exploiting the LIVE betting market during football games

·Betting analyst
·4-min read

The most popular wagers are those taken before a game, either against the spread or on a game total. However, there’s one market you should be paying a little more attention to, the live betting market.

If you are the type to have multiple screens up to catch every game, rewinding to catch every snap, or if you are like me following play-by-play on the Yahoo Sports scoreboard, then the live betting market can be an option for you. Heck, even better, if you are fixated on just one game, live betting is something to consider.

What is in-game wagering?

Similar to taking a spread or game total pre-flop, in-game wagering gives bettors the opportunity to place a bet on a game that has already started.

Some live betting options include halftime wagers, betting each quarter, and even betting on each drive. For the most part, stick to what you know, ATS and the OVER/UNDER. Focusing on these two things can offer some money-making opportunities.

Think weather is a factor? Consider an in-game UNDER. Think a favorite is playing sloppy? Consider an in-game underdog ATS. See two teams playing little-to-no defense? Consider an in-game OVER.

Leveraging live-betting opportunities

Turnovers, special teams touchdowns, defensive touchdowns, huge offensive plays — all of these in-game situations are events unlikely to occur throughout four quarters of football. These types of plays in turn run up a scoreline, and you can look to bet the UNDER in those cases.

Here are two examples, one in college football and one in the NFL.

College football: TCU at Texas (Over/Under 67)

Live: UNDER 73.5

Early into the second quarter, 33 points had already been scored (TCU was up 17-16), with all signs pointing to a shootout. However, consider how the points were scored.

Right out of the gate, the Horned Frogs returned the kickoff 87 yards, setting up a quick touchdown in less than a minute. Three drives later, Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson broke off a 41-yard run, which helped the Horns to seven points. Quarterbacks don’t typically make those types of run plays.

On the next drive TCU fumbled, setting up a field goal for Texas, followed by a muffed punt that set up Texas for another three points.

That’s 20 points scored from unlikely scenarios, which jolted the live total from the opening 67 to 75.5. I missed out on the 75.5 but took 73.5 knowing that these situations were unlikely to be replicated through four quarters.

Only 19 points were scored in the second half. Final score: Texas 32, TCU 27.

NFL: Cardinals at Rams (Over/Under 54.5)

Live: UNDER 66.5

Arizona took control of the game in the first half, which quickly spiraled into a higher point total on the live line. On the second drive for the Rams, Matthew Stafford threw an interception in their own territory, resulting in a touchdown for the Cardinals. Then ... chaos. There were back-to-back touchdowns scored from each team. That’s three straight drives of touchdown plays.

That was followed by a Rams fumble on their own 25-yard line, giving another seven points to the Cardinals. That was 31 points scored, 14 from turnovers. With about eight minutes left in the second quarter, you started seeing the action calm down. Rams punt. Cardinals punt. Good opportunity for a live bet.

For one, a high frequency of turnovers is unlikely to occur in the NFL. Both teams and players make adjustments. Two, it was soon to be halftime, a good spot for those adjustments to be made. Three, you can see defenses settling in. After these points were scored, there were back-to-back punts followed by back-to-back field goals.

Only 20 points were scored in the second half. Final score: Cardinals 37, Rams 20.

(Things to consider before firing on a similar situation: Both TCU-Texas and Cardinals-Rams were conference/divisional matchups. I'm more inclined to wager in-game if this is the case as these matchups tend to be more competitive. Also, both games had teams entering their respective matchups with respectable defenses. For these reasons, an UNDER made sense.)

Both are examples of how you can exploit the live market. Sportsbook computer models don’t see how points are being scored. Instead, they use an algorithm that calculates the frequency of scoring among other things.

This is why I not only watch games on television but I also follow scores on the Yahoo scoreboard. Watching on television gives you the visual aid of game flow but it can be distracting with the crowd, the commentary and the excitement it brings.

Following on a scoreboard allows to see things in detail, with stats from each team and each player.

Do situations like this happen often? No, but you can use these as an example of what to look for — anomalies that are unlikely to occur through four quarters.

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