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In-Game Wagering Changing The Importance of Pre-Game Lines

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Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 9.12.14 PM Ken Boehlke
Ken Boehlke is the co-host of Over and Under, CBS Sports Radio 1140's...
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(Listen to Over and Under with Jason Pothier and Ken Boehlke on CBS Sports Radio 1140 every Sunday morning from 8 to 10. Follow the show on Twitter @OAU1140 and on Facebook.)

In the past, sports handicappers were forced to gather as much information as possible before the game and make an educated guess as to which way it will go. Then they had to sit back and watch without another chance to jump in until halftime.

No longer is this the case. With the advent of in-game wagering, sports gamblers can bet on games at just about any moment during the first 95% of the action. The lines move rapidly as teams score, offering much wider spreads than available before the game.

Because of this, pre-game lines have become much less important and should simply be viewed as the first way to bet the game, rather than the only way.

For an example, let’s look at the mega comeback the Clippers put together to tie the series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers were laying 4.5 points at the time the game tipped off, but within the first nine minutes of game play, the Thunder jumped out to a 22 point lead, and the spread pushed all the way to Clippers plus double digits.

For pre-game bettors, those who bought a Clippers ticket before the game lost even after Los Angeles erased a 16 point deficit in the fourth quarter. But all in-game bettors who took the Clippers anytime after tip cashed. Plus if any brave soul opted to go for the moneyline, he or she probably cashed a ticket at ten to one or more.

Basketball is a game of runs. In just about every NBA game each team will score at least 7 unanswered points. Because the spread changes on every hoop, a gambler can sit and wait for the exact number they are looking for.

So rather than be held captive to the pre-game spreads bettors now have the chance to watch a portion of the game, and get a number they feel more comfortable with.

It also lends well to a style called “middling,” where a handicapper places wagers on both teams at different points in the game. The goal is to try to create the largest difference between the bets and hope the game lands on a number in which both bets win.

For example a bettor who took Thunder +4.5 before the game could have middled his bet late in the first quarter by placing a wager on Clippers +10.5. Therefore, if the game lands between Thunder by 10 or Clippers by 4, which it did, the bettor would win both bets.

The benefit to middling is the risk reward is off the charts. If two equal bets are placed at -110 each the handicapper has 10% of his original money at risk with the possibility to win just under 200%.

It’s all about timing. If you can pick the top of one teams run, and then middle it with the top of the others, you’ve got yourself the ultimate minimal risk, maximum reward bet.

Buyer beware though, it’s not as easy as it looks.

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