He’s a professional sports bettor and handicapper and a well-known name on Sports Betting Twitter. He appears as a guest on VSiN and on one of our favorite sports betting podcasts, Bang the Book. Reynolds is also a contributor to The Action Network and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (You can follow him @WesReynolds1).
Reynolds was generous with his time in a recent conversation with Sports Handle about in-game or live sports betting, which is popular in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular here in the U.S.
He offers insights here about in-game NFL betting with examples in baseball, too. We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two. (This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.)
In-Play Sports Betting Strategy: Live Wagering on NFL, Baseball, Developing Good Habits and Beyond
Sports Handle (SH): All right, in-game wagering, something you’ve come to avoid or embrace?
Wes Reynolds (WR): I’ve really come to embrace it, and as time goes on probably will embrace it more because in terms of betting, especially with football and basketball where you are trying to beat the 11 to 10 (-110), it’s harder to do nowadays. There’s not as many line discrepancies.
But, the books don’t necessarily have the edge on the players anymore in terms of getting information. A wise veteran once told me, you don’t have to bet every game, but the books have to put a line on every game, and now you can bet in-game, too.
SH: Can you give an example using totals of a good approach to in-game betting?
WR: Say you’re looking at a game and think that ‘this total is too high even with two high-scoring teams playing’. Certain bettors are going to say, ‘Oh you got two high scoring teams. It’s going to be a shootout.’ So they’re going to immediately bet the over when the lines come out, and you’ve got sharper bettors who are going to try to take a position on that total, knowing that people are going to bet it.
You can bet it and come back on the other side, or wait for a play in-game. For example, let’s say it’s the Patriots and the Saints. The total’s at 56 or 57. Suppose both teams score on their first drive. So it’s 7-7, nine or ten minutes into the first quarter. Well, obviously that total is going to increase. Both these teams march down the field so now the in-game total might end up being 59.5 or 60 or something like that.
In-game options gives you a chance to maybe narrow down your card and wait for better numbers after the game’s started, because usually it’s public bettors are doing live betting. They’re going to bet on what they’ve just seen, just like in pregame wagering they would what they’ve seen last week. When it’s 7-7 several minutes in the game, well they’re going to be like, ‘Aw man, I better get in on this over. This is going to soar way over.’ And maybe sometimes they’re right.
But other guys are looking to say, ‘Okay how can I get to the under here?’ Because people are going to bet that number up enough that some guys might not have been interested in the pregame number, but that may change after kickoff. I’m getting however many points more than the original number was on the game. So some of those guys too might even have a position on the game already and that gives them chance to work a middle.
SH: One thing you touched is that basically all the lines have tightened. Have you noticed with pricing on in-game wagering, is there more differentiation to potentially exploit, due to the speed of things?
WR: There’s a little bit of differentiation when you look sometimes. I’ll use baseball for example, maybe one shop will have an in-game total of 7.5 juiced to the over. And then another might have 8 with it juiced to the under. There’s a little bit of differentiation and they’re going on the action they’re getting, plus what the other [books] are doing. I think the sharp books on pregame or halftime-type wagering are also going to be the sharp books on in-game wagering. More often than not.
SH: What are some in-play football bets, generally speaking, you’ve found yourself gravitating toward?
WR: If I like an underdog, getting 7 for example, and then all of a sudden they go down 7 points. Maybe the other team started with the ball, or maybe the dog turned it over or there was defensive touchdown on the other side.
Well I may not have taken the 7 pregame, but now I can take maybe 9.5 half or 10 on this team. Those are things I’m looking to do because you look to try to middle it, and you use that for little different edges and that’s the thing about betting nowadays is you’ve got a full menu. You’ve got live betting, you’ve got quarter wagering.
And the one I mentioned earlier when you have a total and the both teams score on their first drives where it’s like, ‘Oh man the defenses aren’t going to stop anybody.’ I’ve seen it so many times where it’s a high total and then it’s 7-7 right away, and then the scoring gradually will slow. Or it’ll be a real high score in the first half and then it’ll be 10-3 in the second half. Those are ones I like to bet.
SH: To what extent does coaching or the head coaches factor into this equation for you?
WR: I think you have to look at that. And you have to look at the circumstances of the game, whether you’re watching live or you’re following it online or something. How did they score the touchdown? Did they march right down the field or did they get a 40- or 50 yard pass interference penalty to help them move out. You have to put all that stuff into context.
And that’s the thing is I wish I was more of a academic type math guy that some of these sports bettors are, who can deal with all these algorithms and probabilities, and I wish I was more like that, but I’m not. I’m more of an instinct guy and I look at the process. I don’t just look at the number ’cause I think it makes a very big difference if a team gets an 80 -yard drive and 30 or 40 yards of it are off some BS pass interference penalty, rather than, ‘Okay they’re just marching down the field gaining yards every play.’ Eight yard game here, then they run the ball for 5 yards. Fifteen yards pass over the middle.
SH: Do you have some general advice for newcomers to in-game/live betting?
WR: Don’t necessarily go off what you saw last because you’re going to be paying a premium anyway. They’re obviously baking that into the line. Maybe stick to limited amount of games. Focus on sides or totals and looking at what your opinion was; always write down what your opinions are on games.
Let’s take the NFL for example. Write down the opener on a sheet in notebook or if you want to type in a Excel spreadsheet, what was the opening line and what was the closer on Sunday? And take that into account when you’re doing in-play betting where it’s like, ‘Well this total opened 37.5 and now it’s closing at 41 on Sunday.’ So obviously they’ve had to have taken some action on the over.
And then now, if you have an in-play line that’s substantially higher than that, you’re looking to try to get line value. Keep mental notes and you can find winners when you see where these lines have opened and then were they’ve closed.
Because sportsbooks are going to use those as their guide in terms of what they’re going to offer on a live betting menu, in terms of overexposing themselves on a game if they’re really exposed on a side, or really exposed on a total. They’re either going to really trust their opinion or they’re going to want to get out and limit liability, which is more often than not. They want to limit liability as much as they can. So always keep that in mind.
SH: We talked about changes in the spread and totals in-game, based on circumstances early, a little bit on quarters. Do you go deeper on in-game opportunities and look at discrete drives or plays? Basically props in-play, for example, will Le’Veon Bell catch a pass on this drive?
WR: If you really have an edge then you should bet it. You’ve got to trust your instincts, but I got to tell you, I don’t have time to get into as many of those prop markets as I would like to. Obviously people do them for the Super Bowl because it’s the Super Bowl.
But you got a full menu in terms of betting and I think if you’re new to it you don’t want to get into these advanced things until you learn how the basic stuff works. We all have good runs and we all have terrible runs, where it’s like, ‘Man what am I not seeing, where you’re going with the traditional spread or over, under markets or moneylines. Do I need to maybe look at something different? Do I maybe need to look at the first quarter?’
SH: Sounds like you might have a bit more friendly advice.
WR: I think you also want to be unpredictable as a bettor… don’t be a guy necessarily that always thinks the sharp plays are always the dogs and the unders. More often than not would I say I play more dogs and unders than I do favorites and overs, but it’s not that big of a difference.
You want to be unpredictable where it’s like, I’m not always going to take that position in this situation. I’m not going to be just a certain type of player. 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.’
Really look for yourself, look at the market, look and see if you’re getting a tell within the market and ask yourself a question. You can even do it out loud where it’s like, ‘Why do they have it at this number and this book has it at this number?’ And there’s any number of reasons it could be. Maybe a book caters to more public bettors and pumps the favorites or maybe they have a different exposure at book A versus what they will have at book B.
SH: To finish up, can you talk a bit more about market and line movement?
WR: There’s any number of reasons books move lines, so don’t just always look at the line move and assume it’s the bettors causing that line to move. Bookmakers can take down and put up lines whenever they want.
So sometimes it’s not a player’s action moving the lines, it’s a bookmaker that’s moving the line. And it could be totally artificial. That’s a thing too about reading the market that you always try to learn. It takes a lifetime to master I guess, to look and see, ‘Okay why did that line move? Did somebody really come in heavy on this side or are they just moving it to get out ahead of people?’
That’s in a way of what I do and that’s why I think the live betting provides a good thing. But a lot of it is timing. Go back to the example where the two teams score right away… some are going to bet the over but maybe I don’t want to go right away and bet the under. Maybe instead of betting that under at 59.5, all of the sudden they move that thing to 60. Now I want to bet it. I like it at this number but not at this number. It’s a waiting game — sometimes you’ll miss an opportunity and sometimes you’ll get an opportunity.