How to Middle NFL Halftime Lines

How to Middle NFL Halftime Lines

While the popularity of teasers and parlays has grown over the past several years, NFL bettors still predominantly bet on the spread when placing a wager. With more and more sportsbooks offering live, in-game odds in addition to both 1st and 2nd half lines, bettors have more options than ever. But is there any value betting on these NFL halftime lines?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with halftime betting, many sportsbooks will post odds for the 2nd half of games once they’ve approached the half. This creates a unique betting opportunity for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that you have only around 15 minutes to handicap each game and shop for the best line. It also creates potential surebet or arbitrage opportunities.

For example, let’s say the New York Jets are 14-point underdogs against the New England Patriots but enter halftime with a 14-7 lead. A sportsbook could then post a 2nd half line in which the Pats are 10-point favorites. A bettor could sit back and ride out their current bet — not a bad idea considering you would have a 21-point cushion to work with. However, a risk-adverse bettor could set up a low-risk situation by placing a bet that runs in direct contrast with their original bet.

If that bettor took New England -10 for the 2nd half, they would guarantee that at least one of their bets will win. If New England outscores New York by more than 21 points in the 2nd half, that bettor would win their halftime bet but lose the bet on the game — risking the vig or juice on the bet. If New York either maintains their lead or is outscored by 9 or less, the bettor would win their wager on the game but lose their 2nd half bet. However, if New York is outscored by between 11 and 20 in the 2nd half, that bettor would win both of their bets.

Also known as hedging, placing bets on the opposite side after you have already placed a wager on one side can be used to either cut your losses, or guarantee a profit. Many bettors will want to let their bet ride when it’s looking like an easy winner at halftime. Others know that football is an unpredictable game and will try to minimize risk. Either way, it’s important to figure out whether or not your potential halftime hedge falls between key numbers.

If you’ve already bet Team A at +11 for the game and have the option to take their opponent at an adjusted +3 for the 2nd half, you have created a 14-point middle. This covers key numbers like 3, 7, 10 and 14 and would certainly be worth considering. If your middling opportunity is between 3.5 and 6.5, there is a reduced chance of hitting your middle since it does not contain any common point differentials.

Another advantage to halftime betting is that no sportsbook can watch every game and adjust their lines accordingly. Instead, the halftime lines are typically based on a comparison of the game lines, so if you are watching an event where the score is not indicative of the play, you may be able to take advantage of the soft lines to find a value play.

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David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

    07/26/2013 at 1:51 pm


  • Charles V
    07/26/2013 at 2:00 pm

    Would this be as effective in NBA halftime spreads?

  • Jimmy the Greek
    07/26/2013 at 2:35 pm

    I have often tried to middle a game with very little success. There is also a theory (with some math backup) that says if the game goes significantly under/over in the first half then you should bet the same way the second half. It seems counter intuitive but it appears to work more often than not.

    I’m not clear if it’s the powers that be, etc. that create this issue of middle’s not coming through, but I believe if you see a good middle opportunity (whether you are in the original bet – or just a theoretical bet) then you should bet the opposite way. In the above example, you would take the Jets +10 and you’ll win more than you will lose.

    • Kerry Nettles
      07/29/2013 at 7:00 pm

      I mostly like betting ht lines when I first see the original line. And I most certainly will middle bet after watching the first half of a game. Or maybe even load up more on my original bet

  • Mike the BB Odds Analyst
    07/27/2013 at 3:05 pm

    Non-middling strategy but Basketball and HT related.

    Look for a fave team that is struggling at half time. e.g prematch A Team -6, 1H score 35-44 favors B team, which you could see more often on young team of NBA, really explosive on 1H. Betting +3 to +4 to A team at HT is always a +EV. Further, a low scoring first half favors the prematch fave team. I dont have much stats to present here, just instinctive theory coming from In-play basketball trader.

  • shaun
    07/28/2013 at 4:31 am

    I usually bet on totals in the second half when a situation described above presents itself. The thought behind it is that since, the favourite team is behind in the first half it would try to score many points to catch up with their opponents while the opponent would need to score to keep the lead intact. Thus lots of points would be scored.. so it makes sense to bet on over for the 2nd half total.

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