The Boston Celtics trailed the Golden State Warriors by double digits in Game 1 of the NBA Finals before storming back and earning the victory. Justin Thomas was barely in the picture entering the final few hours of the PGA Championship, before a stellar finish and a collapse by Mito Pereira handed Thomas his second Wanamaker Trophy.
For fans, the finishes were thrilling. For some live bettors, the finishes were lucrative.
Cashed $40K off a live bet for Justin Thomas to win the PGA Championship 🤯
— br_betting (@br_betting) May 23, 2022
I’m no expert when it comes to in-game wagering, so I sought out the advice of those more qualified to offer insights about successfully wagering during games. An early point from an expert mentioned a key difference between live sports betting and pre-game betting that recreational bettors often miss.
Andrews shared the example of a football team opening a game as a 7-point favorite. Let’s say the opposing team receives the opening kickoff and drives for a field goal. If the line dips to -4, still favoring the team that opened -7, recreational bettors may rejoice at the discounted price for what they deem the superior team.
That’s not sound logic, Andrews says. Given a current score of 3-0 and the time elapsed, laying the initial favorite at the new line of -4 isn’t good value, despite what a casual fan may believe.
“A lot of people misunderstand it and say, ‘I’ll just wait for a time in the game when this team is at a better price. I’ll catch that, and I’ll have a better line than I would have if I bet pregame,’ and it’s not the case,” Andrews said.
I can immediately think of a few friends who follow that (incorrect) line of reasoning during the NFL season. I’ve even been guilty of thinking that way myself.
“Those are two totally different bets based on the information we know about the game state and the score,” Andrews said.
Thinking ahead of the action
A better understanding of how time elapsed impacts a spread is a good starting point as you venture toward becoming an improved in-game bettor. Thinking ahead, and not being a prisoner of the moment, is also an important skill when live betting.
“When I’m live betting, there’s only one thing I’m worried about, and that’s where the market is going to move after this bet,” Teddy Sevransky said in a WagerTalkTV discussion. “What I’m trying to do is get the best of the number, for whatever team I’m on, by trying to assess what the next live line is going to be for that game.
Sevransky tries to think one step ahead. With live betting, that means analyzing what’s likely to happen during the next play or series of plays and how it can impact the spread. If you’re able to calmly and logically evaluate in-game moments, you may have a knack for live betting.
Wes Reynolds, who hosts shows on VSiN, told Sports Handle in 2018 that bettors will benefit from “reading the market” and not focusing solely on playing certain types of bets.
“I think you also want to be unpredictable as a bettor … You want to be unpredictable where it’s like, ‘I’m not always going to take that position in this situation,’” Reynolds said. “And it’s the same thing with people that are favorite players. Don’t always play the favorites. You got to read between the lines. I think reading the market is so important. Do not necessarily listen to when people say, ‘Okay the wise guys are on these plays and the public are on these plays.’”
Andrews advised focusing on one game at a time when live betting, as it’s tough to track multiple events closely. While watching one NFL broadcast, Andrews recalled, he noticed an injury to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before the status of Big Ben was addressed on the TV broadcast. Andrews quickly bet on Pittsburgh’s opponent.
“I saw Ben Roethlisberger throw a pass and then grab at his elbow as they went to commercial break. … They came back from commercial break and they showed Ben on the sidelines going into the blue tent, and everywhere the line started to drop,” Andrews said.
How to react quickly
Considering several factors when placing bets is much easier pre-game, with hours or even days to review data and expert analysis. When it comes to live betting, the lines change often, leaving minimal time to react.
Andrews recommends using odds screens, which are available via several different websites, to track live betting odds across mobile sportsbook operators. Finding value at different sportsbooks is an important aspect of successful live betting.
Live Betting with Captain Jack! https://t.co/wgza6aAWAz
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) June 16, 2022
“That’s sort of the key in beating in-game markets,” Andrews said. “These lines are up really quick, and they’re gone really quick. Sportsbooks don’t have time to price discover. They don’t have time to wait for some sharp money to bet into it. They don’t have time to react to what the rest of the market has. These lines are up for just an instance.”
One way to give yourself ample time to react to an in-game line and odds shop is betting during commercial breaks. Andrews stressed that sportsbook operators have access to live game feeds, while bettors may watch on TV or via a streaming service. Those feeds are typically delayed a few seconds or more behind the live action, giving sportsbook operators a head start on gathering play-by-play information and setting lines. Betting during commercials helps the bettor bridge that information gap.
“I always tell people, if you’re going to bet in-game, do it during a commercial break,” Andrews said. “You know you have at least two minutes, and in some sports it’s as much as three minutes and 30 seconds, the commercial breaks. That’s plenty of time for you to look, shop around quickly, place your bet, and make sure that it gets accepted before anything happens on the field that you or the bookmaker wasn’t prepared for.”