What is Live Betting and When Is it Useful?


Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

Jul 15, 2020, 10:55 AM EDT
  • Live betting has become an increasingly popular way to bet on sports.
  • Danny Donahue explains what it is and ways to take advantage.

When it comes to sports betting, timing is strict. As soon as the ball is kicked off, the puck has dropped or the first pitch has been thrown in a game, betting odds are immediately taken off the board. Even if the first play or pitch has no effect on the outcome, if your bet isn’t already in, you’re too late.

Enter live betting.

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So What Is Live Betting?

“Live” or “in-game” betting is appropriately named. It refers to betting on a game that is already underway, but hasn’t yet been completed (if only that were an option). For the most part, sportsbooks post lines during stoppages in play, like during commercial breaks and timeouts, or between periods, innings and quarters.

The purpose of making a live bet can vary depending on the situation. You might find yourself in the scenario mentioned above — wanting to get down on a game but being just a tad late to place the bet. In that case, you’d wait until a live line was posted, and assuming no major game changes had happened to that point, you’d probably be able to get a similar number to what was available prior to the game.


You may also have a pregame notion of how the game will play out. If you expect, for example, a slow offensive start followed by a bunch of late scores, it’s possible that you’d find no value on the pregame over/under, but would find value in the live over sometime toward the middle or end of the game.

Similarly, if the team you expect to win a game goes down early, live betting allows you to place a bet on that team to make a comeback at a much better point spread or moneyline than what you would have been offered before the game.

With The Action Network App‘s live win probability feature, you could even compare your book’s live odds to the expected outcome of the game and find some mid-game value.

Take the following as an example.

In the 2018-19 AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs closed as 3-point favorites at home against the Patriots. It was the visiting Pats, however, who got out to an early two-touchdown lead.

After giving up the second touchdown, the Chiefs had moved from their pregame line of -3 all the way to +6.5. They’d go on to lose the game in overtime, 37-31, meaning all KC -3 bets placed before the game were lost.

Any savvy bettors who saw value in Kansas City at +6.5 late in the first half and expected a comeback, though, escaped with a half-point victory as the Pats didn’t need to kick an extra point in overtime.

So just because you’re a bit too late to the ticket window or not finding pregame value on a certain game doesn’t mean you need to give up. Live wagering keeps (almost) every game available for betting once it gets underway.

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