College Basketball Betting Tips: Should I Buy Points?
It doesn't matter if you are a novice bettor just learning the ropes or a professional bettor that's seen everything in their 25 years in the business, at one time or another (more like several times in your life time) you will have to throw away an NCAA Basketball Picks ticket in which a team failed to cover the point spread by a half point. It's one of the more frustrating losses in the industry, right next to the classic ninth-inning bullpen collapse in baseball. Some would say losing a bet by the hook is the bettors fault, not the actual players or coaches in the game, and in some cases they would be right. Buying points while sports betting is both a blessing and a curse -- depending on if you know when to do so or not.
Imagine yourself at home on the couch waiting for the last West Coast game to tip off. You've had a terrible Saturday so far betting the early games, and your biggest bet blew up in your face and lost by a half point. You're starting to get angry and make rash decisions with your bankroll. The last game of the night is the typical WCC special -- Gonzaga versus Saint Mary's. The Bulldogs are laying 9.5 points at home. and you are desperate to make up some of the losses suffered just hours earlier. Unfortunately, the last thing on your mind is the half-point loss you just suffered, so you make the decision to by a half-point and lay nine. The Bulldogs end up winning the game 88-85, and that extra half-point you bought didn't even come into play. Instead of paying -110, you just paid -120 or -130, depending on the book, and put yourself into an even bigger hole for no reason.
I understand the thought process of buying points, and it does always seem tempting, but the reality of the matter is that buying points in bad spots is one of the quickest ways to drain your bankroll.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of "buying points," let me explain. Most sportsbooks will allow you to buy points in any sport that takes bets via the point spread. These points are sold in half-point increments (buying a half point is also known as "buying the hook"). Most sportsbooks also charge on a 10-percent price for each half point bought. For example, if you like the favorite laying 7.5 points at -110 (-110 is the standard juice on a point-spread wager, meaning you must bet $110 to win $100), then you will have to lay at least -120 to move the line to (-7) and -130 to move it to (-6.5). While it doesn't seem like much to lay an extra $10 on a $110 bet, you will quickly notice that this extra juice adds up in a hurry over the course of a full NBA season. Not to mention, the extra points that you buy aren't going to affect the spread enough to give you a proper return on your investments.
If you want to be successful handicapper who wins more bets then they lose, it's vital to understand the concept of key numbers in sports that allow point-spread wagering. While most handicappers worry about key numbers in the NFL and college football, the NBA and college basketball has a handful of key numbers of their own. For starters, the number seven is the most prominent key number. The reason for this is the act of fouling at the end of games. A team down by two possessions will be more inclined to foul, thus giving the leading team foul shots in order to extend the lead. Once the lead reaches three possessions with time running out, the losing team is likely to concede and let the clock hit 0:00. The next set of key numbers in the basketball is two, five, six and eight. The same principal holds true for each one of these key numbers regarding the fouling situation at the end of games, except for the number two. If a game is tied late, very rarely will it be won on a game-winning free throw.
Since sportsbooks are in the business of making money, there is absolutely no chance they will allow bettors to buy points off the key numbers of two and seven for the standard 10-cent price. The value of turning a seven-point line to +7.5 for the underdog or -6.5 for the favorite is too much for the sportsbooks to handle. For the books who do allow this, they will likely charge no less than 20 cents. So, a standard -110 line at -7 would become +7.5 or -6.5 (-130) depending on the book you are playing at.
The only problem with focusing on key numbers while betting the college basketball is that there are so many points scored throughout the course of a game that the lines are often vulnerable to different factors such as pace of play or teams hitting or missing every shot. Sportsbooks will take those factors into consideration before posting lines that feature key numbers. Very rarely will you see a two or seven-point spread. However, when you do, it is very unlikely that they move off those numbers unless there is very heavy action on one side of the number.
In terms of other secondary key numbers, shopping around for the best lines is always the ideal method. If you aren't afforded the luxury of being able to shop around, you may still be able to get half-points off five, six, and eight at a decent price. However, if you are in such a desperate state that you absolutely need to pay such a high-price to get a key number, passing completely on the game may save your bankroll from going up in flames.
While key numbers in college basketball are important, there are also a lot of numbers that I consider "garbage numbers," and buying points onto garbage numbers is a mistake that almost all novice bettors will make. While it seems like many college basketball games are really close at the end, not many games are decided by one point. If you have a one-point underdog and buy a half point to move your line to +1.5, you are not getting good value for the price you pay since games are so rarely decided by one point, It's the same scenario for buying a half point to move a 4.5-point favorite down to four.
Shop for the Best Numbers
I can't stress this enough to all novice bettors who are looking to make a name for themselves in the betting world. Shopping around for the best numbers is among the most important things you can possibly do to limit the losses and increase the bankroll. Having multiple options to place a bet with will allow you to compare lines and furthermore bet the best line available.
Shopping around for the best numbers will almost eliminate the need to buy points completely. The majority of sportsbooks often differ among their lines, so with a little due-diligence you can avoid that line of +7 and find it somewhere at +7.5.
The reality of the matter is that over the course of the college basketball season, you may net a few extra wins or avoid a few losses by turning them into pushes by buying points. However, the juice you pay will burn your bankroll in a hurry if you go on any extended losing streak. In all my years of betting on sports, I've come to believe that buying points is a losing proposition over the long haul and I would much prefer to have several different books in order to shop around for the best lines.
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