Live betting allows wagering while a game is unfolding. Also called “in-play betting,” this form of gambling gives bettors a chance to take advantage of live odds while watching everything from a random tennis match to the Super Bowl.

Sportsbooks release new point spreads, moneylines, props, and totals (and more) throughout games which make it possible to bet during a timeout or even in the middle of the action. The odds adjust extremely quickly while live betting, making it an intense and exciting form of gambling.

How To Place a Live Bet

Nowadays, bettors can wager on a game that’s already in play whether it’s the first quarter or the bottom of the 9th inning. These options come with vigorish that looks different from what you’re used to, and live betting as a whole demands a different mindset than pre-game wagers.

Compared to other types of sports bets, live betting is fairly new so technological advancements are constantly being made to give the bettor more options. Most sportsbooks have a separate "live betting" or "in-game" betting section to find these odds. 

What Types of In-Game Bets Can You Make?

In-play betting has exploded in popularity and oddsmakers have responded with a growing list of options to bet games live. Keep in mind that once a game starts, certain pre-game opportunities will close and you won't be able to access them during the game. For instance, if the Saints are -4 favorites over the Panthers and you’re considering the Saints -7.5 alt line, there’s no guarantee that number (or other totals, player props) appears live. 

Popular in-play bets 

  1. Baseball

    Player props like strikeout totals will always be popular with bettors but even more granular live options are available such as betting on the result of the next pitch (Ball/Strike/In-Play). The live run line prop is also available with vigorish that reflects the game flow.

  2. Football

    Live football markets include a variety of player props, but the good old fashioned live point spread and alt-point spread markets are some of the most popular and lucrative among seasoned bettors who are highly aware of "back-door covers." Bettors can also get action on 3-way moneylines (with an overtime option).

  3. Hockey

    Hockey's version of baseball's run-line, the puck-line, is a fun option for live bettors but so are individual player prop like shot on goal, saves, and points. "Who will score the next goal?" live props are also entertaining, as are props related to goals scored in the current period of play.

  4. Basketball

    Because scoring happens so frequently in basketball, the live moneyline, point spread and totals are almost constantly adjusting. Player props like points scored are also constantly moving with each basket. This creates opportunities for savy bettors to recognize when a player's over/under props are likely to hit.

How Are Live Odds Calculated?

Prior to a game, oddsmakers use sophisticated computer models and statistical research to set lines. Once the game begins, live lines are updated depending on the flow of the game. For instance, the Bills may have been a 7-point favorite over the Patriots when the game kicked off, but as the Patriots jump out to a 6-0 lead, oddsmakers might adjust the live point spread to Bills -2.5. Similarly, if the closing over/under for that game was 44, and the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown, the sportsbook will adjust the new live total higher.

Keep in mind, when betting into a live market, you may be receiving odds from computer algorithm rather than a human oddsmaker. This is an important distinction because a computer doesn’t account for a things like injuries or momentum the same way a human would. In fact, a computer may not account for a college football team’s starting left tackle getting hurt at all because computers can’t watch football games. Obviously as bettors, we prefer to be receiving live lines from computers because it gives us more opportunities to find an edge. Bettors may never know for certain if a live line is being watched closely by human at the sportsbook, however it’s more likely that a human is involved in a large-volume event like the Super Bowl compared to a random MAC football game on a busy Saturday. Sportsbooks don’t always have the bandwidth to give each game individual attention when a lot of events are happening at once so they’re theoretically more vulnerable in those situations.

As is the case with calculating odds prior to a game, a lot of factors go into odds calculation for live betting. The current score and how much is remaining are two of the biggest factors, along with the perception of the teams prior to the game starting. For example, if a huge favorite jumps out to an early 10-0 lead with with 8 minutes left in the 1st quarter, bettors can expect that live point spread to look different than if a shaky underdog is in that same situation. Public betting patterns also influence live betting adjustments. For instance, if a sportsbook hangs a Bills -2.5 number during the first commercial and a lot of money quickly comes in on Buffalo, we might see that line quickly adjust to Bills -3.5 during the commercial break as spotrsbooks adjust for liability. Momentum, weather, and many other factors go into setting live lines as well.

The Pros and Cons of Live Betting

Live betting is a very useful tool for seasoned bettors but should be used cautiously by new bettors. Because of live betting’s increased vigorish and gambler’s tendencies to be less rational in fast-paced environments, live betting can drain a careless bettor’s bank account quickly.

Live Betting Benefits

Before live betting existed, if a sports fan was running late or didn’t realize a game had started already, it was a real bummer because they weren’t able to get action for that contest or had to hope for a decent halftime line. A major benefit to live betting is the ability to get action down at virtually any time during a game.

Live betting can also create strategic hedging opportunities whether your pre-game bet is making you feel like a genius or a fool. For instance, if a better is on the Texans moneyline vs. the Colts and Houston QB CJ Stroud gets hurt and they’re convinced Houston is doomed, a Colts live moneyline bet could recover some losses. For an example of how professional bettors live bets to create strategic “middles,” see the “Best Live Betting Strategies and Tips” section below.

Live Betting Drawbacks

One of the most frustrating aspects of live betting, even for professional bettors, is that lines can move so quickly it seems impossible to bet them. For instance, the Chiefs are way behind after the first quarter and you try to grab the +340 live moneyline, but when going to lock in your bet an error message appears saying the bet wasn’t accepted and now the odds are +300. Then when you try to lock that bet in and another error message appears saying the odds are now +250.

It’s also important to give the vigorish extra attention while live betting. Most bettors are used to seeing vigorish around -110 for point spread bets, but while live betting it’s common to see spreads with vigorish around -130 or worse. Because you’re essentially paying a higher tax on live bets, a few bad bets in a row can quickly put a dent into your bankroll. Live betting is also not a good mix for people who struggle with impulsivity because the fast-paced nature of the betting doesn’t give bettors a lot of time to think rationally.

What Are The Best Sports For Live Betting?

The beauty of live betting is its ability to make something as simple as a corner kick in soccer, extremely entertaining. Each sport presents its own unique menu of live betting options and since in-play betting is so fast-paced, the best sport for live betting is the one you’re most familiar with. Baseball bettors aware of a batter’s tendencies, like how often they swing at the first pitch, can wager on whether the next pitch will be a strike, ball, or hit in play. Perhaps a baseball fan is aware that a certain starting pitcher has a habit of throwing well the first few innings before falling apart as fatigue sets in. With this information in mind, they might be interested in betting the the over on the live over/under or getting a juicy price on an underdog who is they feel is about to take the lead.

Basketball bettors who understand game flow might be able to get an edge by betting over on a player prop by realizing the game has a chance of going to overtime. Or perhaps there’s a live points player prop for a 6th man on your favorite team and you know that team’s coach has a tendency to put him in late in games. Similarly, someone who has been watching NHL games their whole life will be better able to hit a live prop bet by predicting if a disparity in shots on goal is likely to continue into the 3rd period.

Best Betting Sites for Live Betting

Live betting is a common feature at sportsbooks, but remember, every shop with live betting capabilities is offering their own unique lines so it’s a great idea to shop around and use multiple sportsbooks to get the best deal on every live wager. Each sportsbook’s live betting options may differ and the look and feel of their live betting screens is very different.

Best Live Betting Strategies and Tips

  • Be aware of delays: Many television feeds are delayed considerably compared to others. Be aware of this and don’t get caught betting with stale information. To play it safe, wait until commercial breaks or timeouts to bet live.
  • Prepare: Just because it’s in-play betting doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Have potential game scripts in mind prior to the action. For instance, “If the Chiefs get down early, I’ll be looking at the moneyline” or “If any Jets offensive linemen get hurt, I may fade them.” Planning ahead helps you be more decisive (and less emotional) in the moment. But remember, you don’t have to live bet every game and there will always be in-play opportunities tomorrow.
  • Act quickly: Live betting has the intensity of an auction. Opportunities vanish fast, so act quickly when favorable lines appear.
  • Manage game flow: Remember in the NHL it’s common for goalies to be pulled late in the 3rd period and, in college football, starters are rested in blowouts. In MLB, lineup turnover is crucial for live betting, so if it’s a tie game in the 9th inning and the Yankees 6-7-8 hitters are due up, that’s less favorable than if it was the meat of their order.
  • Middle it: If your Indiana Pacers moneyline bet is cruising toward an easy win, you can create a “middle” which is a hedging opportunity where both the original bet and the hedge bet can win. For instance, live betting the Celtics +14.5 while the Pacers are crushing them protects you from a Celtics comeback and creates a scenario (Pacers win by 1-14) where both bets cash.
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