College Basketball Second Half Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 11/19/2009
Betting on the second half of college basketball games isn't a primary way of betting for many bettors, but smart bettors know that, in some circumstances, it can be a powerful tool in your toolbox as you try to make a profit. If you aren't familiar with second half bets, which are also known as halftime bets, they aren't too difficult to understand. Soon after the first half of games end, oddsmakers post a line and a total on just the second half of the game. They could just be half of the full game lines, or they could differ greatly from that based on what happened in the first half. Here's a look at three possible ways you can use the bets, and what you need to keep in mind as you do so:
Watch the first half before deciding - If you aren't sure of how a game is going to turn out, second half bets let you watch the first half before making a decision. Some people would argue that what happens in the first half is less important than the fundamentals and statistics of the two teams coming into the game. I don't disagree with that, but that doesn't mean that watching the first half before making a bet can't be useful. For example, if two teams have very different styles of play and you aren't sure how they will react to playing each other then watching the first half will give you a clue. It could also be useful if a player is returning from injury or making his first start and you aren't sure if he is ready for the experience. Whether you are examining those angles or another one, the most important thing to remember is that you have to have a theory before the game starts - a sense of how you expect the game to start, how it could vary from your expectations, and what it could mean to the outcome of the game if any of the variances happened. If you have a sense of what is going to happen before the game starts then you can compensate for what has really happened, and then make your own line or total for the second half. Only then can you truly tell if the second half lines offer any value. Otherwise, you're just guessing as to whether the second half lines make sense, and guessing isn't profitable.
Hedging and middling - Second half bets can be useful when used in connection with bets you have already made on the game. In some circumstances the second half line may be set so that you can bet a middle - two bets in which the best case scenario is that you win both bets, and the worst case is you win one and lose the other, thereby almost breaking even. It's a dream scenario for bettors. You may also be able to use the second half bets to hedge a bet you have already made. Say, for example, that you made a bet on the underdog, but an injury to a key player makes you doubt that they will be able to cover the spread like you thought it would. Betting on the favorite in the second half could be a way for you to minimize your risk and get out of the bet you made. It isn't always possible to hedge in this way, but if the numbers work out then it could be worthwhile. The important thing in these situations is that you double and triple check the numbers to make sure that you aren't doubling your risk when you mean to reduce it.
Soft numbers - There is a perception that second half lines can be soft because oddsmakers have to make them quickly, and on busy days they have to set a lot of lines in a short amount of time. Though that can be the case in some circumstances, it would be a costly mistake to underestimate the ability of oddsmakers in all cases. On most games the lines are going to be pretty good, and they are going to have an edge over most people because they have more information and research behind them as they set the lines, and because they know how the bettors bet on the game, can anticipate how they will bet on the second half. There are situations where you can still benefit from a soft line, though - games where you have done your homework and have a strong sense of the outcome, and where the betting volume and public interest are low. The incentive to set strong lines isn't as high when few bets will be taken on a game, so if you are very familiar with the teams you may be able to spot a mistake and capitalize on it.
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