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NFL Tutorial: Making Halftime Bets on Football Games

While some people use the 15 minutes between the second and third quarters of an NFL game to get snacks and stretch their legs, others use it to hedge their bets. Betting on football isn’t just limited to the whole game, as wagers can also be placed on a given team at halftime.

What are Halftime Bets?

NFL betting at your favorite online sportsbook is pretty straightforward. You check out the odds, find lines you like, and make your wagers before the football game starts. For those who are looking for something different or want to recoup their funds from potential losing bets, there are halftime lines. These are odds released as soon as the first half is played. Some betting sites even release them earlier when there’s still time on the clock in the second quarter. Oddsmakers shift the spreads and total lines based on what’s already happened in the game, giving you a chance to pounce on new odds and make different picks.

How to Make Halftime Wagers

Once the sports betting site you’re wagering with releases its halftime odds, you would bet on them like you would any other bet. Generally, halftime lines are available for moneylines, totals and point spreads.

Let’s say you want to make a moneyline bet before the second half. Odds would look something like this:

Dallas Cowboys -125

Los Angeles Rams +200

Before the game, the Rams may have been favored. However, if they stumbled during the first two quarters, bookmakers will adjust the lines to reflect that, making the Cowboys the new betting faves.

That same game could have new totals odds as well:

42.5 OVER

42.5 UNDER

Before the game, the totals may have been set at 31.5. But, as the game progresses, oddsmakers note that Dallas is plowing through LA’s defense like a snowblower and has already scored four touchdowns. In turn, they’ll change the O/U line to reflect the current score.

For NFL spreads, the new betting odds would look something like this:

Cowboys -14

Rams +14

Prior to the game, the point spread may have been -7/+7 with LA projected to win by more than 7. Once Dallas went on its scoring tear in the first half, oddsmakers decided that the lines needed to be adjusted to create a more even betting plane.

In the above scenarios, one team has dominated the other. However, there will be times when the halftime odds won’t shift that much, if both teams are performing on par.

What’s the Difference Between Live Betting and Halftime Bets?

Live betting, or in-play wagering as it is sometimes called, allows you to bet on each drive. You can wager on whether it will end in a touchdown, interception or field goal. The difference between the two is that halftime odds cover the last two quarters of the game, whereas live odds only cover one play at a time. They are similar in the sense that both types of odds disappear quickly and it’s in your best interest to swoop down like a Philadelphia eagle and take the ones you like.

Halftime Betting Tips

When betting a halftime line, focus on key elements that transpired during the first two quarters. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Were injuries a factor? If so, how bad is the injury? Is the player expected to return to the game or is he being replaced by a less experienced guy from the bench who has yet to take his first NFL snap?

• Did penalties and/or turnovers have a major effect on the score and/or total? If a team is turning over the ball like it’s a rotisserie chicken spinning at a restaurant, you may want to think about backing the other side.

• Does one team have significant momentum? Did one team have a bad or uncharacteristically great first half? Once a squad gets going on the field, they could be unstoppable, keeping the other team’s offense in check or leaving their defense unable to score.

• Are one or both teams already adjusting to the opponent’s game plan? To what extent did the respective game plans play out? Look at the coaching staff and how they’re adapting to anything out of the ordinary like a special teams player scoring on a punt return or a quarterback getting sacked repeatedly.

• Is wind, rain or snow starting to influence the game? A cold-weather quarterback can adjust to the elements better than a warm-weather QB who is used to playing in a dome in the South. Both sides – you and the sportsbook – have an advantage since you’ve both seen the same game. The only difference is that they’re setting the lines and you’re betting on them.

Hedging Your Bets

You’ve probably heard the expression “hedge your bets.” The origin of the phrase actually comes from the old English saying “to hedge in a debt” and has been around since the 1600s when you’d have to bet on sports – mostly jousting because that’s all they had back then – in person because there was no internet. The saying refers to an actual hedge or fence that is designed to keep out intruders. In this case it is a betting strategy often associated with halftime betting because it involves placing wagers on different outcomes to your original bet to either minimize risk or receive a guaranteed payout. Hedging is a form of insurance because it can protect bettors against potential losses. You’re basically placing competing bets on the same event and hoping for different outcomes.

When to Jump on Halftime Odds

If you have the possibility of locking in a bet that will net you enough to break even, it’s worth taking halftime lines. Another time to take halfsies is if you missed out on great odds before the game started and have yet to bet on the football game.

Halftime lines give bettors a chance to double down on their winnings or at least hedge to recoup potential losses. A smart halftime wager coupled with your initial bet could see you reap some serious profit. It’s important to keep in mind that halftime odds are only available for a short time. Blink and you could miss the chance to take the stronger team straight up or the weaker team to cover.