Live Betting 101 – A Guide to Finding Value in Live Sports Betting Markets

Live Betting 101 – A Guide to Finding Value in Live Sports Betting Markets

A Guide to Live Betting on Live Sporting Events and Sports Betting Opportunities From a Unique Market

If you have some experience with betting on sports, you probably know that live betting on in-progress contests is one of the most fun approaches. There can also be some phenomenal value grabs mid-game, so learning how to tackle live bets is a very worthwhile pursuit for a serious, or prospectively serious, bettor. The thing is, even though this is a great market, we can’t write “best bets” articles or previews as we would for the moneyline or spread for a certain game because, inherently, we don’t know what kind of live-betting opportunities will exist until the game begins to unfold. 

What we can do is endeavor to explain the mindset and methodology that can help you find some live-betting success. We might dive into some pre-game live betting primers for individual matchups later on, but for now, let’s start with the building blocks; understanding how live betting works, and where the value lies for you, the bettor. So without further ado, let’s start from the ground up and dive right in.

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The odds you see before a game represent the probabilities of different outcomes. However, as the game begins to play out, the reality is often different from those expectations. Live betting is playing with a dynamic set of odds that continuously moves to reflect the ever-changing probability of different outcomes and events.

But the raw probability isn’t the only thing that moves live odds, or even pre-game odds. If 80% of the bets are on one side of a spread, for instance, it’s going to move towards that side, even though the money movement doesn’t change the actual probability as determined by whatever model sets the initial line. This situation where the odds offered to us are not aligned with modeled probability is called an inefficient market, and that’s where we make money.

These inefficiencies exist in pre-game markets, and in that context, they’re well-understood, but they also happen in-game. The difference is that they appear in an instant, and disappear just as fast, but the inefficiency can be even more drastic and unjustified. People can be very reactionary, and when they see something that doesn’t click with their initial expectations, they’ll throw their money the other way to hedge. 

A Live Betting Example

Let’s look back to this year’s Divisional Round for a great example of finding value from an overreaction. The Green Bay Packers were approximately 10-point underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers, depending on your sportsbook of choice. This translated to a moneyline of about +375 for the Packers, or -500 for the Niners. 

San Francisco not only coming off of a first-round bye, but they had also rested most of their offensive starters in Week 18, so there were some rusty cogs in the machine. This was not factored into the odds, but maybe should have been, as the Niners got off to a sluggish start. In the third quarter, the Packers scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead. The live odds swung dramatically, with the moneyline set at -110 for both sides. I pounced on the 49ers end of that number, seeing an opportunity created by overreaction.

The Niners scored less than two game minutes later, reclaiming the lead. The Packers struck back, but the score after my live wager was 17-8, in favor of San Francisco. The bet cashed, and serves as a solid example of this concept. 

Spotting an Opportunity

While you can’t ever know what the live odds will look like before the game starts, you can sometimes tell when an opportunity might arise mid-game. For instance, we talked about how the Niners’ uncharacteristically slow start wasn’t a shocker given their recent schedule. Conversely, teams coming off of a short week can struggle to start their next game, even if they eventually pull away.

Other teams are rightful favorites, because they’re serial winners, but they’re also second-half teams. The dynastic New England Patriots of the 2010s come to mind; they were no strangers to falling behind early, even though they usually came back to win. They would often enter games as major favorites, but smart bettors would have their eyes open if the Pats surrendered an early score; the odds could change in a big way. This is something you can apply to any coach who is known as a great in-game adjustor, as opposed to a master game planner. 

There are more ways to scope out a great live-betting opportunity, and definitely lots of ways to find one in-game, but these examples should provide you with a solid foundation to at least start thinking about live betting. Stay tuned for more installments of this new series, as we’ll get into more ways to find value on game day and have lots of fun doing so.

This is an article written by Will Schwartz

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