Full Game vs. Half Bets: Pros and Cons

Full Game vs. Half Bets: Pros and Cons
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Today we’ll examine the pros and cons of betting on a full game versus a half time wager. There are several reasons to do either one which we will dive into in this article. There is value in both and what we will attempt to do here is give examples of when you should consider betting one or the other.

Full Games Bets are the Norm

The type of bet you’re making also has to be taken into consideration. Are we talking about money line, spread or totals? Most people make full game wagers, especially individuals that aren’t used to online sports betting. The reality is, most local bookies or friendly bets involve full games. That is the reason that half bets are considered props.

The value in betting the full game can be found in the opening line. At most major sports betting sites, the lines for NBA games come out somewhere between 7-9 am eastern standard time. There are a few books that have NBA betting lines available early (some the night before, others very early in the morning). If you can get an opening line at its cheapest price, obviously there’s a lot of value in that. You can get in early on a half bet as well but they come out much later in the day.

It’s easier to bet on full games versus halves for a few reasons and the research is the first one that comes to mind. Full game statistics are readily available for all teams. Not to say that first and second half stats aren’t available, they’re just harder to find. The more homework required, the more difficult the decision. Not to say that homework isn’t required to bet on full games.

What I am saying is if you bet on the NBA, you usually have an idea of what the landscape is. You know more or less the team records, who’s good at home, who’s on a winning or losing streak… If someone asked you those exact same questions for first and second half stats, you would not be able to answer them without some research.

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First and Second Half Bets Have a Lot of Value

I’ll start off by saying I bet a ton of second halves. I’d love to say that it’s because I have a better read of the game but the truth is, it’s simply my preference. I like to watch the first half of a game and make an educated decision based on what I’m looking at.

In my opinion, halftime lines are the easiest to attack because sportsbooks don’t put nearly as much time to put up a line. Not to say they don’t know what they’re doing but as someone who has worked as a manager in a sportsbook behind the scenes, it’s kind of obvious. Are oddsmakers watching every game in detail when they make a halftime line? Of course not, especially considering there are several games happening at the same time. If you really pay attention to this over a long period of time, you’ll see that first half lines tend to be way sharper than the second half.

The other thing that plays a major factor in second half bets is public perception. If the Lakers are playing the Suns for example, if the Suns are up at the half, most people will automatically want action on the Lakers. This takes me back to my original reason for liking second half bets. If I’m watching the game and I can see that the Lakers didn’t come to play while the Suns have it going, immediately I’m looking for a line by oddsmakers that I can exploit.

It’s not that I think I can outsmart them, it’s that I know for a fact that they have to take public perception into account. This last point is not some revelation, it’s actually part of gambling 101. The most popular teams have inflated lines. It is much easier to exploit this in the second half.

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As for first half bets go, I love these as well, they just require more work. While you might think having to watch the first half of a game is “work”, I’m a basketball junkie so I’d watch regardless even if I didn’t have money on the game. As far as the research required to bet on the first half, as with any sports betting research, you’re looking for trends.

The Miami Heat are the perfect example of that. They are one of the best teams in the NBA in the first half at home. They are number 1 in offensive rating and number 8 defensively. They are none of those things on the road. Even at home, they are not the same team in the second half as they are in the first. The Milwaukee Bucks are another example of that but in a different way. While the Bucks are always good, they are practically unbeatable at home in the first half. That is by far the wager that has made me the most money the past two seasons.

In conclusion, betting on halves versus full game really is situational. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It comes down to the line that is available and whether or not you see an angle you can exploit.