Halftime is a short window that provides the teams rest and recovery as well as an opportunity to adjust their game plans and schemes. At the sportsbook, a whole new game happens during those hectic 20 minutes as the bookmakers set a new line and total for the second half while the bettors race to put down new bets on these briefly available numbers. This article will provide information on how these lines are created and strategies on how to bet them.
One common mistake new bettors make is thinking the second half line that the sportsbooks create are based solely on what happened in the first half of the game. The sportsbook is also considering the original numbers on the side and total as well as their liability on either side or total from pre-match bets. In addition, the sportsbook will consider what side the public is likely to back and will shade against that with an extra half point or extra vig. Please keep in mind that any overtime (college or pro) applies to the second half wager. The NCAA overtime rules are exciting for fans and viewers, but a nightmare for ‘Under’ bettors!
The NFL 4th quarters are often times much shorter than they appear, as the team with the lead will run the clock down with each play and continue to possess the ball in no hurry to score. Often times the difference between winning or losing a NFL over/under wager will come down to if the final 2:00 is being played out by the losing team passing the ball and attempting to score or the winning team taking a knee. Be aware of these shortened game situations when making bets at halftime.
Don’t get trapped by the thinking that the second half will be “more of the same” or “team A can’t stop team B”. While this may be the case in some matchups, often the teams and coaches are able to make adjustments and the second half plays out very different. This can happen more often in college football as coaches and players are not as fast to adjust in-game as the pros and will wait until the break to make changes to the schemes and coverages.
One of the biggest differences between novice and pro bettors is the ability to “get off a bet” or “set up a middle” during these halftime periods. When holding betting tickets on a side or total from pre-game wagering, the halftime wagering window allows bettors to manage their bankroll and risk at this time. Here are some examples:
Getting off a bet: The home team Seattle Seahawks are a touchdown favorite over the visiting Detroit Lions. You hold a SEA -7 ticket from pre-game wagering. The first half was an uninspired 13-10 advantage for Seattle. Perhaps you expected the Seahawks dominant running game to give Detroit problems but instead the Lions seem to be holding up well and you no longer like your position. In this example you could “get off” your Seahawks bet by taking Detroit +4/+5 for the second half.
Setting up a middle: The New York Jets are playing at the Buffalo Bills on a cold November Sunday. The line is Buffalo -3.5 and over/under 41.5. You hold an Under 41 ticket from pre-game wagering. The first half is a favorable one for you as both teams miss red zone opportunities and settle for field goals, the Bills lead the Jets 9-3 going into the break. Lots of new bettors will like their position and ride it out, attempting to win their single bet. However, savvy bettors will take the second half over the total, for this example we will use 20. You now hold two tickets, one of which is guaranteed to win, but they can also both cash. In this example there is also a 9-point window to win both the over 32 and under 41.5. This is called “hitting the middle”.
Another tactic for the NFL is to keep a note of each team that is due to get the ball first coming out of halftime. Then when considering halftime wagers, also consider your options on what lines you think will be available if the first team to possess the ball does or does not score. Halftime betting used to play a much bigger factor in managing your bankroll as it was the only time to make new wagers during the game. Today with the surge in live or in-play betting there are many opportunities to make new bets throughout the game. Sometimes the line will drastically change from the halftime offerings early in the 3rd quarter.
Halftime betting is an exciting way to effectively manage your bankroll and add new opportunities to profit that didn’t exist on the pre-game card. You will be just like the coaches in the real locker rooms – scrambling through data and first half analysis for the hidden gems! Good Luck on your bets!