Buying Half Points in the NFL

The concept of buying half-points in betting is one that people are usually either for or against. Some bettors are consistently buying half-points anytime they place a wager on a game that uses a half-point spread and will buy up if they like the underdog and down if they like the favorite.
Earlier I weighed in on buying half pointd in sports betting in an article called, naturally, Buying Half Points and my opinion was that football gamblers are typically better off staying away from them. But that was basically just an educated opinion, but now we have five years worth data to look at and see how the results play out.

The Magical Number Three

Three is a common number for sportsbooks to use, as there have been 241 games over the past five years with a consensus closing line of three. By contrast, there have been a combined 165 games over the same five-year span with a line of 2.5 or 3.5 points, so we can see that three is definitely much more popular.
Sportsbooks will let bettors buy NFL games to three, although it cost you more than the traditional -120 when you buy a half-point. If you want to buy a 2.5-point underdog from +2.5 to +3, sportsbooks will charge you -125 or even -130 for the previlaledge of doing so.

Is it worth it in the long run? Sometimes, sometimes not.

Using our Stat Attack For Pro Football 2011 databse, we’d see that there were 61 teams who closed at +2.5 points. Of these 61 teams, three of them lost by exactly three points.

So assume we wagered on the underdog in all 61 games and won 33 and lost 28. We would win \$3,330 and lose \$3,080 giving us a profit of \$220.

If we were to buy the half point our record would now be 33-25-3. We would have won \$3,300 and our 25 losses would be \$3,125 at -125. If we do lay -130 our losses increase to \$3,250. So by buying the half-point at -125 our next profit becomes \$175 instead of \$220 and we’re left with \$50 if we lay -130.

If we look at the games where the number was 3.5 we’d see that out of the 104 times there were eight when the favorite won by three points. Here, we’ll assume we;re taking the favorite.

If we were to go 56-48 on these games we would win \$5,600 and lose \$5,280 for a profit of \$320. If we were to buy the half-point we would still have \$5,600 for our winners, but our losses drop to \$5,000, giving us a profit of \$600. Even laying -130 would leave us with a profit of \$400, so while buying from 2.5 to 3 was a losing proposition, we see buying from 3.5 to 3 has been a bit more profitable in the long run.

There are some bettors who always insist on buying off of the number three. If they like the favorite they will buy iy down to 2.5. If they like the underdog they will buy to 3.5.
In the past five years there were 241 games with a spread of three and 19 times the favorite won by three.

Keeping with our 54 percent winning percentage, we’ll assume we went 120-102-19 betting every game for a net profit of \$780. If we were to buy the half point each time our number of wins would climb to 139 and our losses would stay the same.

If we lay -125 on these games we would actually come out ahead \$1,150, which is \$370 better. If we are forced to lay -130 our net profit drops to \$640, which is worse.

We are assuming a 54 percent winning percentage, which gives us a profit. If we were to go 50 percent, or loss without buying the half-point is \$1,100. Buying a half-point at -125 would give us a loss of \$875, so again we’re better off with the half-point. Laying -130 however, gives us a loss of \$1,430.

Buying Off Of Other Key Numbers

Buying off of the other key numbers of four, six and seven has been a horrible proposition over the past five years. There have been 69 games where a team has been favored by four points and only once has the favorite won by four. Six was almost the same, as of the 66 games just one saw the favorite winning by six points.
But the biggest surprise of all was in the 89 games where the favorite was favored by seven points. Not once did they win by a touchdown, so buying off of seven was essentially throwing money away.

Again using our 54 percent winning ratio, betting games where the line is four, six or seven we would be 120-102-2 for a profit of \$780. If we were to buy a half-point in each game we would only pick up two additional wins, but we would show a net loss of \$240 if we were laying -120. Since many sportsbooks make you lay -125 when seven is involved our loss would likely be greater.

Finally, there were 90 games with a spread of 6.5 or 7.5 and the favorite won by seven points five times. Using our 54 percent ratio, if we bet all the games we would be 46-39-5 for a profit of \$310. If we bought a half-point in each game, we would reduce our losses by five and our profit would be \$350 if we were laying -125 and would be reduced to \$180 if we were laying -130.

Summary

There is something to be said in buying half points in some cases, while in others it will hurt you. We’ve seen some examples where it’s the bettors’ interest to buy them and others will it’s definitely not.
If you are going to buy half-points make sure you’re not laying more than -125 on the numbers three and seven and be sure to shop around for the best number possible. It’s possible to find Team A -7 (-115) at one sportsbook whre you would have to lay -125 to buy down at another.

Finding the best line is crucial to sports bettors who want to come out ahead in the long run.