The Pluses and Often Bigger Minuses of In-Play Sports Betting

In-play is here to stay but make it a snack vs. your entire daily sports wagering diet.

A guide to live betting: Pros and Cons

Here’s admitting I was never the first guy to embrace Netflix or need to have the latest version iPhone.  Am even a bit embarrassed to say I won’t let go of my AOL account even though I have two Gmails.  Some of us are just skeptical., slower to accept or perhaps scared of things that might become a bit addictive.

That list could also include in-play or in-game wagering if it follows the current tidal wave trend it’s on both technically and within bettor application.   Simply "having A bet on the game" has become passé and boring.  Perhaps it’s been encouraged by our daily fantasy wagering generation, but many sports bettors now require more stimulation within each game to stay engaged.  That’s where the option of in-play wagering, along with its growing sophistication and acceptance, comes in.

The Big Plusses

Get used to it. 

Whether attached to the monthly list of new legalized U.S. sports wagering outlets or the long-accepted bank of preferred offshore wagering sportsbooks, the popularity of in-play wagering is on a dramatic climb.

I believe it’s most due to the naysayers (like me), who have found it easier within better software programs to link-in.  Within fractions of a second, a bettor can tap a constantly adjusted line or total focused upon a team or both teams within a quarter or even a specific play. It’s like playing a slot machine, only with some actual thought involved.  A quick transaction for hopeful skill beyond the constant reality of only luck. 

What has made it possible are the teams of smart software analysts at each sportsbook, utilizing the best computer software possible, adjusting algorithms for optimum opportunity toward their house advantage. Long gone are the early days of a man making a subjective decision at a central terminal, for an in-play line.

In-play’s peak activity is focused upon either "big games" or times where there is very little or no competition. Think Sunday Night, Monday Night or Thursday Night Football. Or maybe the feature Saturday Night NCAA College Football game. By the time Super Bowl rolls around this year, many to most bettors will likely have in-play it locked on their screen beyond the usual menu of 500 proposition wager options. 

What potentially can be a plus is also resigning yourself to losing a specific wager you initially placed on the game itself.  A concession to concentrate on a few "mini-wagers" within the outcome. I use the word potentially carefully, because a bettor can often duplicate his losses several times by repeating mistakes. Hedging is one thing, but chasing is another animal altogether. This is a common live betting error instead of being patient for another game opportunity.

For example, say the L.A. Rams are -11 vs. the Buffalo Bills. At halftime, the Bills (+11) are out to a surprising 21-7 lead.  There is no reasonable confidence within a typical NFL game of covering any potential wager you might have made on the Rams -11. So a few dollars during the game can help to mitigate the losses from the initial likely losing wager.

The popular halftime wagering line at a Bovada, BetOnline or Diamond Sports is a good place to start searching for alternative action. But act fast as the NFL halftime window only allows an approximate 10 minutes, much shorter than a typical NCAA college football game. There are also a bevy of alternate bets available including 3rd and 4th quarter wagering lines. Add in which team will score first in the second half, will it be a touchdown or field goal, etc. In the early games, many end at the same time on Sunday, allowing for several spontaneous wagering choices in addition to in-play wagering.

Along with football, other leagues have also seen increases with in-play betting, including NBA basketball.  By next season it is anticipated Major League Baseball bettors will be embracing the concept, with this year’s playoffs and World Series as the first real test. 

Quite interesting, the sport that will likely gain the most potential from in-play wagering will be golf. Which is why the PGA has come forward to accept recent U.S. sports wagering legalization and become more aggressive looking into wagering sponsorships. Keep an eye on the upcoming highly anticipated Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson Match Play, set for November 23rd in Las Vegas. Here’s predicting that as the birth of serious stroke by stroke, hole by hole, in-play wagering action for golf. 

The Bigger Minuses (-)

Hate to be a killjoy or party-pooper to all this fun, but a serious red flag to all bettors planning to make in-play wagering a MAJOR part of their wagering diet.  A few basic reasons:

As pointed out through many sources, this is not traditional "dime line" or low-margin wagering.  Most often the juice or vigorish is highly inflated here and titled toward the casino or in-house advantage.  Understandable, since there is no possible way to even out action, plus there is the most minimal time frame for each wager.

**A huge caution here OR a potential opportunity. I have noticed that an unusual high percentage of in-play wagers are favorites or (-) spread bets. No specific data, but the lower the odds, the likelier the winning advantage. It simply seems that "sharps" quickly detect an advantage within a very narrow time window and seize the opportunity. A small percentage of underdogs do cash, but to go against most favorites is highly discouraged. 

Overall, it is unwise to make a major diet out of in-play wagering. Think of it as your appetizer or a possible salad within your wagering meal. Mostly, because they are difficult to plan out far in advance, require the most spontaneous decision process and likely are prohibited by wager requirements if you are indeed a larger bettor. 

One thing for certain, with our quicker finger action on the keyboard or more certainly the cell phone, they will become more and more part of our daily wagering routine in the months and years ahead. Like a healthy food diet, good exercise within your wagering habits and proper bet planning is recommended. It is OK to enjoy a bet snack here and there as life is short.

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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