Betting games at halftime is one of the most under-appreciated and under-bet options available to sports bettors. Just think about it – before you have to make a bet on a team you get to watch them play half of the game. What happens in the first half isn’t necessarily an indicator of what will happen at the final whistle, but you do get to see the pace of the game, the health of the players, how players are reacting to the conditions, and so on. When used properly that’s a huge advantage.
You obviously need to treat halftime bets (or the equivalent for sports that don’t use two halves) differently for each different sport. There are some general rules and considerations that are consistent to all sports, though. Here’s a look at ten things to consider when making halftime bets regardless of the sport:
Flow of the game – Is the game being played in a free flowing, comfortable way, or is it being played in a really choppy, sloppy fashion? The more that players are able to just play in a free and natural way the more advantage the team with greater skill will have.
Pace of the game – It’s far from uncommon to see two teams play that prefer to play at very different paces of play. One team is going to be able to determine the pace that the game is played at – or at least will have more of an impact on it than their opponent. The team that is able to determine the pace of play will have a huge advantage – they will be more comfortable, and they will have their opponents off their game.
Weather or conditions – If the game is being played outdoors then the weather can have a big impact on the game – especially if the weather is extreme and one team is more suited to tolerating the conditions than the other. If the game is being played indoors then there typically won’t be much of an issue, but there are times when something isn’t quite right – a building too hot during a hockey game for example – and that could have an impact on a player.
How even has the action been? – Each team will have lulls and surges during a half of play, but over the course of the half you will be able to tell if the two teams have been reasonably well matched, or if one team is clearly the better and more dominant squad on this day.
Is there still life in the losing team? – Sometimes the team that is losing at the half has all but given up and it is clear that they are just playing for the final buzzer. Other times, though, you can tell from how the game has played out that the losing squad is still very much alive and there is no reason why they can’t close the gap and take the lead by the end of the game.
How do the teams typically adjust? – Some teams and coaches are very good at figuring out what they need to do better and understanding what they need to do to get a better result in the second half. Other teams really struggle to learn and adjust in the middle of a game. There are a number of factors that can influence that – age and maturity of the team, caliber of the coach, style of play, and so on. By looking at how teams have adjusted in the past you can get a sense at how well they will be able to make the adjustments they need to make now. If one team is much better at making adjustments than the other then they could have a big edge.
Is there one or two matchups that are making all the difference? Will they continue to do so? – Quite often a game can be turning out like it is just because of one or two matchups that are totally lopsided in favor of one team. In football that could be a defensive lineman who is making a turnstile of an offensive lineman. In basketball it could be a big man who is able to do what he wants because the opponent can’t guard him. If a matchup has clearly been the difference then you need to determine whether there are reasons to believe that that will change, or if it will continue to be the determining factor in the game.
Any injuries? – This one is obvious – any injuries that happen in the first half can have a big impact on what happens in the second half.
Any penalty issues? – If a player has been ejected in the first half then that can have a big impact on a game. There could also be issues if the referees are really calling game tough, or if a player is in penalty trouble. The more teams have to adjust in response to the referees, the less they can focus on what they do best.
What is the public thinking? – This is a big factor in any bet you make, so it is obviously a factor here. The public isn’t going to be particularly sophisticated in their analysis of games at the half. They will attach too much significance to some things that have happened, and not enough to others. They will give too much credit to the reputations of the teams and what was expected before the game started. Because oddsmakers don’t have time to adjust halftime odds significantly so if it is a game that the public will be interested in they have to compensate for the public biases. That can create opportunities if the public doesn’t have an accurate read on the game.