Live Sports Betting

Updated on February 20, 2020

One of the most significant developments in sports betting in recent years has been the emergence of live betting. This was once a fancy aside at some sportsbooks which has now grown into a must have for operators across the industry.

Live betting affords users the opportunity to still get in on the action after the contest has already gotten underway. New markets and odds will appear throughout the contest, both of which move really quick.

That’s a good part of the appeal, as you have to be in tune to take advantage of opportunities as they pop up. While some bettors will look to take advantage of as many in-game wagers as they can handle, others will take a more targeted approach and only pounce in certain spots.

If you’re looking to get started with live betting on sports, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to walk through everything you need to know right here, beginning with the best places you can get in on the action.

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What is Live Betting?

Live betting refers to wagers that can be placed after a contest has already begun. Also known as in-play or in-game betting, it’s a feature that has become tremendously popular at legal and regulated sportsbooks across the US.

Once upon a time, bettors who didn’t place their wagers before a game began were out of luck. They would need to shift their focus to other events on the docket. Live betting has changed that.

In live betting, markets and odds are made available after a contest gets underway and throughout the proceedings.

For an example, let’s consider a random NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The Packers are installed as 3-point home favorites at kickoff, and the total is set at 39.5 points for what’s expected to be a pretty low-scoring affair.

Unfortunately, you weren’t able to get in any wagers before the final whistle blew. You settle in slightly after the game begins and notice that the Bears have taken a 7-0 lead.

You log into your sportsbook account and find that there are live betting opportunities for the game. Since the underdog Bears have taken the lead, the odds reflect the new information.

You still like the Packers to win the game. Since they’re now trailing, you find that the moneyline odds are even more appealing than they were at kickoff. You place a wager on the Packers to win at the current odds and watch the action unfold.

Lo and behold, Green Bay battles back to win a defensive-minded affair by a score of 19-15. You have yourself a winning ticket, thanks to the live bet you were able to place after the game began.

We’ll walk through a number of other examples as we continue, but that’s the gist of it. Live betting opportunities will vary, but you’ll generally find standard pregame wager types such as spreads, totals, and moneylines, as well as team- and player-based prop bets.

Live betting has been a game-changer for both sportsbooks and bettors, to say the least.

How Does Live Betting on Sports Work?

For traditional sports betting, you need to have your wagers placed in advance of the start of a game. That’s not the case with in-game betting. You can place your bets after things get started all the way through to the latter stages of the contest.

In-game wagering can be used on a standalone basis when you don’t have time to get bets in before the action gets underway. Additionally, you can use live betting as a supplement to open up even more opportunities for a contest you have already placed wagers on.

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Let’s suppose that you have your eyes on an upcoming NHL game between the visiting New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The hosts have been playing well of late and are expected to win. Here’s what the moneyline odds look like before the puck drops.

  • New York Rangers +130
  • Toronto Maple Leafs -150

You’ve got a wager in on the favored Leafs and settle in to watch the game. Once the game begins, the Rangers come out flying and go into the 1st intermission with a 2-0 lead.

A victory for Toronto is no longer looking like a sure thing, and the live betting moneyline odds have adjusted accordingly.

  • New York Rangers -130
  • Toronto Maple Leafs +110

You now have a choice to make: do you place another bet on the game based on the new information, or do you take a pass and let the chips fall where they may?

After mulling it over, you decide that you like Toronto to come back after the slow start. You place a new moneyline bet at odds of +110. If your call turns out to be right, you’ll be in line for an even better return on this game than you were expecting.

The Leafs come back to tie it up in period two, so you’re looking good. After a back-and-forth final period, Auston Matthews slaps home a rocket with less than two minutes to go. The Rangers continue battling, but Toronto hangs on for a 3-2 win.

You now have two winning tickets – your pregame moneyline bet, and the in-game wager you placed. Live betting won’t always work in your favor, but it certainly does open up additional opportunities for you to consider.

Examples of Live Betting

We’ve covered live betting from a team-based perspective already. You’ll find new opportunities on moneyline and totals after the game gets underway, and even the point spread in certain situations.

Those won’t be the only kinds of opportunities you’ll come across. Here’s a few more examples of what you might see.

  • NBA: Total points scored in second quarter.
  • MLB: Which team will score three runs first?
  • NFL: Margin at halftime?
  • NHL: Final margin of victory.

Live betting goes beyond the results of the game as well. There will be player-specific opportunities sprinkled in, as well as in-game scenarios to consider.

  • NBA: Zion Williamson – Over/Under 23.5 points
  • MLB: Outcome of next at-bat – walk, on-base, or out?
  • NFL: Next play – run or pass?
  • NHL: Connor McDavid – Over/Under 1.5 points

Offerings will vary at different operators, and also keep in mind that the markets and odds move really fast. For something such as the next NFL play or outcome of the next MLB at-bat, you need to be ready to react in an instant.

As such, mobile or online access is a must to take full advantage of all that live betting has to offer.

How do the odds change when betting live events?

As mentioned, odds move fast when it comes to live betting. So how exactly do sportsbooks pull it off so quickly?

At most outfits, calculating odds is a tag-team effort between a dedicated team of sportsbook staffers and computer algorithms. On staff, you have folks that are referred to as traders, while the person in charge is generally labeled the bookmaker.

As you would expect, software and computers are top notch, so the algorithms are constantly running and figuring out probabilities. Those are translated into odds, and that’s what makes it onto your screen.

Just like with pregame odds, when the sportsbook releases live betting opportunities, the odds will reflect the likelihood of an event happening. For team-based odds, the big favorite is more likely to win. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they always will.

How the odds change when betting on live games

When it comes to live betting based on player performance or other game-related props, pay close attention to what the odds are telling you. While longshots can come in and open up the possibility of fantastic returns, be sure to pick your spots wisely.

Approach live betting with a similar mindset to how successful bettors approach pregame: bet on what you know, stick to your bankroll, and don’t take chances on things you feel uncomfortable with.

How to Handicap Live Betting

When handicapping in advance of a game, you generally have the luxury of time to dig into the information you deem most important.

For example, College Basketball bettors may take their time analyzing recent play, power rankings, true shooting percentages, defensive efficiency, and home/road splits.

Since the in-game betting markets move so quickly, you won’t have much time to dig in. Opportunities can disappear in an instant, so those seconds you spend searching the web to find an answer may wind up being for naught.

For bettors who lean more towards gut instinct on their wagers, this isn’t much of an issue. When they see an opportunity they have a good feel for, they’re ready to go.

Folks that are more analytical in nature can have a slightly tougher time adapting for live betting. However, there’s a simple solution here: stick to what you know and the opportunities you feel comfortable with.

There is no rule saying you have to place a wager on every live betting opportunity that appears during the game. In fact, that’s a recipe for draining your bank roll quickly.

In short, you can still use an analytical approach to live betting. The knowledge you have acquired along the way will allow you to spot opportunities that make sense for your betting approach. Take advantage of the good ones that come up, and pass on the others.

Sports That are Tough for Live Betting

Live betting can be challenging when you first begin. The quick pace of the action takes some getting used to, as does knowing what to expect in terms of wagering opportunities as the game unfolds.

As such, it can be tough to live bet on any sport the first couple of times. Practice makes perfect, so those who stay focused can get past the learning curve quickly.

In terms of which sports are tougher than others, the major North American team sports are pretty equal. That said, it really comes down to what you know.

For example, if you’re a strong NFL and College Football bettor that doesn’t know much about MLB, don’t dive into MLB live betting and expect to pick it up right away. Instead, learn the MLB game from a pregame perspective, and then expand into live betting when you’re ready.

If you’re a strong basketball bettor with both NBA and College, then you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see if live betting is for you. Jam-packed slates of games will provide you with tons of possibilities, but only focus on those that you already have a good handle on.

When it comes to a sport that you know next to nothing about, you shouldn’t be live betting. While daytime Tennis or Soccer games can be tempting for those looking to pass some time, there’s no reason to put your hard-earned money at stake if you don’t fully understand what you’re getting into.

In short, if it’s a sport that you already have a great understanding of, you’ll be able to work live betting into the arsenal quickly. For sports that you’re unfamiliar with, it’s not wise to start your learning experience with live betting.

In-Game betting leads the way for US sports betting

Live betting, also known as in-play or in-game betting, has become one of the most popular features at legal and regulated online sportsbooks in the US. In a nutshell, these are wagers that you can place after the action has already gotten underway.

Opportunities will vary, and markets and odds move quickly, but that enhances the appeal for many live betting enthusiasts. In general, you’ll find in-game opportunities that are game-specific, as well as prop style bets revolving around team or individual player performance.

As with any new type of bet that you’re unfamiliar with, there is a learning curve that comes with live betting. In the beginning, it can make sense to follow along as the action plays out without actually placing any bets.

This will give you a sense of how the markets and odds move, and also let you know what to expect in terms of opportunities. When you’re ready to give it a go, stick to sports you’re familiar with. If you want to expand into a new sport from scratch, live betting isn’t the way to break in and learn.

Live betting provides users with the opportunity to place additional bets on games they are already engaged with. Its popularity continues to grow, so the future looks quite bright for this sports betting niche.

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