NBA Quarters Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 11/29/2007
When it comes to betting the NBA, too many bettors limit themselves to only thinking about which team will cover the spread on the whole game, or whether the whole game will go over or under the total. That is obviously a viable way to bet on The Association, and for many people it is very effective. However, by limiting yourself to just the NBA odds on the whole games you are almost certainly missing out on profitable betting opportunities, and you are not getting all of the possible return out of your handicapping effort. To maximize your efforts, you should really be looking at betting NBA quarters and halves.
The basics of these bets are as straightforward as they would seem. The books set lines for each quarter and half of a game. Just as you can bet who will win the full game and by how much, you can bet on who will 'win' each quarter or half, too. There are lines, totals and money lines set for each period of the game. The lines aren't all set at the beginning of the games. For example, the lines for the second half and third quarter are available at halftime. There are a couple of details that you need to be aware of as you make these bets, and most are available from the book you are using. For example, overtime scoring is included in second half bets, but not in fourth quarter bets at most books.
Many of Doc's preferred books offer quarter and half bets, including Pinnacle, 5Dimes, Bookmaker, and Sportsbook.com. Though the lines are generally close to the same across the board, it is just as crucial to shop around to make sure you are getting an advantageous line. You can occasionally find a half point difference in the line, and you can frequently find differences in juice that will make a long-term difference to your bottom line.
Just as is the case with the variety of full game bets, the ways to use haves and quarters to your advantage are only limited by your imagination. Here are a few possibilities to get your mind going on the options:
1. Doubling up - If you have done your handicapping and found a clear edge for one team, the quarter or half bets are a way to increase the size of your bets if things are going well. The advantage here, as it is in all cases with this kind of bet, is that you are able to see how the game develops before you make a decision. Say, for example, that it is your expectation that one team's stifling defense will be able to render the other team's star virtually useless. After you have seen a quarter or a half you will know if you are right or not, and you can increase your bet if you are right. It's like being able to double down after your cards have been dealt to you.
2. Cutting losses - In a perfect world we would all be right all the time, but of course we aren't. Sometimes we think that a game will play out one way, but it ends up virtually exactly opposite. In these cases, the quarter or half bets may be a way to cut your losses. If you have bet on one team and they are seemingly hopeless, you could bet on the other team in hopes of canceling out your initial bet. The risk, of course, is that you can lose both bets. That means that you have to be careful when you use this bet, but when used properly it can be a bankroll saver.
3. Following trends - If you look at NBA box scores closely, you will notice that it's not that common for a team to win all four quarters in a game. Over the long run, you can achieve an edge by understanding how quarters and halves generally work, and then looking for situations where the line works to your advantage. For example, if a team gets way ahead in the first half, it is very common to see that the team that lost the first half by a wide margin win the second half by a small margin. It can often be attractive, then, to bet on the team that badly lost the first half if they are underdogs or even small favorites. The advantage of looking for trend plays like this is that you don't have to handicap the particular games, or even watch the games, because the trends are generally applicable in all games, not specific to the particular teams.
4. Taking advantage of game developments - Say, for example, you are watching a Lakers game. The Lakers are winning and Kobe Bryant is having a good game. Heading into the second half, though, you notice that Bryant has just two fouls left, and he is playing aggressively. It's reasonable to think that Bryant will either foul out, will play less aggressively to avoid that fate, or will sit out for a long period. In any of those cases it may be reasonable to think that the opponents will be able to do better because Kobe won't be at his best. You may, then, be able to take advantage of the situation by finding a line that makes the opponents attractive. There was no way of knowing before the game that Bryant would get in foul trouble, but once you have that information you can often use it to your advantage.