College Football 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 a ticket in which a team failed to cover the point spread by a half point. It is 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.
Picture yourself on a Saturday during the college football season. Games start at noon eastern and finish up in the early morning hours of Sunday. You have invested so much time and money into the early slate and were feeling pretty good about your card. Unfortunately, your biggest bet of the day lost by a half-point and completely turned your day from a profitable day to a miserable one. Now you are looking to recoup some of that lost money back, so you turn your attention to the late night Pac-12 game between the Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are laying 12.5 points, and the last thing you want to have happen is another loss via the hook. So what do you do? You pay a premium to buy a half point and are now laying just 12 points. Sure, the Ducks win the game outright, but by 10 points only. That extra half point you bought didn't even come into the equation, and you paid an extra 10 or 15 cents to do so. That's bad bankroll and key number management.
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 14.5 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 -120 to move the line to (-14) and -130 to move it to (-13.5). 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 college football 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. The most important key numbers are within football betting. It doesn't matter whether it's the NFL or college football, games land on the key number of three more than any other number. What I mean by "land on three" is the difference in the scores, whether it bet 50-47, 30-27, 17-14 etc. So many football games end on a game-winning field goal, which makes three the most important number. The next "key" number in the college football is seven, since that is the difference in games decided by a touchdown and extra point. Four, six, 10, 14 and 17 are the secondary key numbers.
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 three and seven for the standard 10-cent price. The value of turning a three-point line to +3.5 for the underdog or -2.5 for the favorite is too much for the sportsbooks to handle. Most books don't even allow you to buy off of three in college football because of the statistical advantage. For the books who do allow this, they will likely charge no less than 20 cents. So, a standard -110 line at -3 would become +3.5 or -2.5 (-130) depending on the book you are playing at.
The problem with betting college football is that point spreads of 2.5 or 3.5 normally don't stay available for public consumption too long. These lines are almost always bet to the key number of three or else they go the other way and get bet off those numbers to two or four. In terms of bookies, they generally have a lot of risk when taking wagers at 2.5 or 3.5, so to be safe they normally move their lines to three 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 four, six, 10 and 17 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 getting key numbers is vital when being on football, 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 football games are really close at the end, not many games are decided by two points. If you have a two-point underdog and buy a half point to move your line to +2.5, you are not getting good value for the price you pay since games are so rarely decided by two points. It's the same scenario for buying a half point to move a 5.5-point favorite down to five.
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 possible 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 Football 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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