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Buying Points in Sports Betting

Sports Betting: Buying Points on a Bet

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

In sports involving a point-spread (football and basketball), we can actually buy points to move the point-spread in our favor. Naturally, you will have to pay for the privilege. And the amount you pay can sometimes be steep, enough to make it bad-value play. Other times, it is a move that should be considered.

It’s worth noting that while there are some general rules of thumb when buying points, there is still some variance as to how each sportsbook handles it. With some books, you can only move the number a few points. Other books will give you free-reign and allow to move the line more than two touchdowns in football (5Dimes) and 15 points in a hoops game. In addition, the price you pay for moving points can also vary from book to book.

In football, particularly, there are key numbers--common margins of victory. So it’s one thing to move a point-spread in a football game from +9 to +9.5. But when trying to get off numbers like 3 or 7, the price for moving the line will be steeper, since so many games are decided by margins of 3 and 7.

Let’s say you want to bet on the Boston Celtics. The line on Boston is +4, meaning you tie if they lose by exactly 4. Generally, you would be betting on Boston on a -110 money line. If you were to buy a half-point and make Boston +4.5 instead of +4, the price would go from -110 to -120. If you bought another half-point to +5, you would pay -130.

In football, however, you need to keep your eye on those key numbers. Let’s say, for example, that you like the Baltimore Ravens at -3, but you want to actually win the game if the Ravens happen to win by a field goal. So you buy a half-point to make the Ravens -2.5. At -3, the Ravens were -110, but buying that critical half-point on a key-number like 3 will cost you and make the new line Baltimore -2.5 at -135. That little half-point would cost you a full 25-cents on the line. Again, check with your book for the exact breakdown.

Buying points preys on the part of our mind that takes the close losses hard. We’ve all lost bets in agonizing fashion, by a lousy half-point. Those losses just resonate deeper in our subconscious. We are more liable to remember the times we were “that close” than the games where we just got hammered and by halftime knew the bet was a loser.

It might plant a misconception in our heads that most games are close enough to the posted point-spread that buying a half-point or a full-point makes a lot of sense. Then we tend to forget about the other games, the vast majority of bets, that didn’t come down to a point or a half-point. And while the price for moving the point-spread might not seem that steep, it’s designed that way. Any seasoned sports-bettor, however, will tell you about the pitfalls of consistently relinquishing odds.

It would be one thing if the books charged the same for all point-moves. If it only cost 10-cents on the line to move the spread off key numbers, that would be awesome, but it’s not the case. At the end of the day, buying points and maneuvers like that are designed to insulate you from undue risk. But this is sports-betting. There is risk involved. Relinquishing the equity of your potential payout by minimizing risk sort of strikes against the spirit of sports-betting. At some point, you just have to take a stand.

And there are alternatives. Line-shopping is one potential idea, having several sportsbook accounts open where it won’t be so uncommon to find a half-point or a full-point of variance among the different books in your favor. You can also try to master the art of line movement and just wait for the line to move organically. It’s important to remember that all that shines is not gold in sports-betting. The book doesn’t offer buying points as a service to you. It’s a way to get your money or it wouldn’t even be available. That’s not to say there aren’t isolated instances where it’s a good option. Making it a regular staple of your wagering, however, is an iffy proposition.

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