NFL Live Betting Strategies: 5 Tips for In-Game Betting

philadelphia eagles fans nfl react during game
Philadelphia Eagles fans, including Jamie Pagliei (C) react after the Eagles scored a late touchdown and 2-point conversion against the Raiders during their game at Allegiant Stadium. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

NFL betting doesn’t end at kickoff. In fact, for many bettors, the fun is just starting once the game begins. With live betting, you can continue to put money down –and continue to earn– as the game goes down, searching for value while watching the action.

Live betting has exploded in popularity, and an NFL Sunday is the perfect time to take advantage of a fluid, dynamic situation to find an edge.

Here are some tips on strategies to help you succeed in live betting on NFL games.

1. Watch the Game

It seems obvious, but many gamblers fall into this trap: IF you’re going to live bet an NFL game, you should watch the game. Especially in the 1:00 kickoff window, watching the game can give you a big advantage. There will be up to nine or 10 games going on simultaneously, and Vegas will update live betting odds based on statistical likelihoods and historical trends.

Watching the game can help you identify situations that are not like all the previous ones on which the historical data is based. History might say that a nine-point lead by the underdog could herald a potential upset, or it could be that they are settling for threes instead of sevens on potential scoring drives and wasting opportunities that they’ll regret in the second half after the favorite makes adjustments.

How many times have you said a team is “lucky to be this close” at halftime? Those are the live betting opportunities that oddsmakers might overlook in the fog of a busy NFL Sunday.

You can also get a heads up on injuries—both ones that will knock someone out of the game and nagging problems that could impact a star player’s productivity.

2. One Game, Many Books

While we recommend watching one game and using that as your live betting canvas, you want to be open to multiple sports books. Prior to a game, all NFL lines look very similar, as oddsmakers come to a consensus and gamblers looking for an edge bet any outliers back into line with everyone else.

During a game, there isn’t time for that consensus to be reached, and you can on occasion find significant differences in live betting lines from book to book.

Different books will also have differences in the prop bets available, so you’ll want to look at several to find the bet you want to make next.

3. Look for Comebacks

Not all leads are created equally. The better team on paper has a good chance of pulling away over a 60-minute NFL game, but that doesn’t mean that the underdog can’t strike first with an early score. Look for overreactions to an early lead.

For example, the 7-0 Eagles face the 1-5-1 Texans in Week Nine. Philly is a 14-point favorite, and a -900 on the moneyline, but it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the Texans get the ball first and hit a big play to go up 7-0.

The live betting odds may change to reflect an upset brewing, and that gives you the chance to bet the Eagles, who are still 14 points better than the Texans, at minus seven to 10 instead of laying two touchdowns, or to get a much lower moneyline on the birds. Look for times when regression to the mean can help you out.

Similarly, a big lead could be magnified by situations that aren’t going to repeat themselves the rest of the way. Did the team that’s on top get there with defensive or special teams scores? Those types of fluke plays don’t represent the better team. For instance, in the famous Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl comeback, Atlanta’s 28-3 lead included an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown.

4. Know Football Math

If you’re betting on football, you know the power of 3’s and 7’s in lines. Teams score primarily by field goal (worth three points) and touchdowns (usually worth seven), so most score differentials –and point spreads–will be around some combination of those two numbers.

As a game goes on, however, the football math can get scrambled, and lines may not make sense late in the game. For instance, suppose one team is leading by one point midway through the fourth quarter. Chances are good that this game will come down to a field goal attempt, and the team out front now will either win by one or lose by two.

If the live betting lines are still anchored around a three-point differential, it can offer an opportunity to you. Leading team minus three is going to lose regardless of what happens, but if you’re getting three points, it’s an almost guaranteed win.

5. Don’t Chase

This is true throughout all types of gambling, but it can be easy to forget in the heat of live betting: Don’t let emotion cloud your betting strategy.

Live betting isn’t your chance to make up for the bad bet you just made. Don’t take risks to try to even things up or bet bigger than is wise to try to reduce the amount you’ve already lost.

Live betting gives you the chance to watch a decision blow up in your face almost immediately, but don’t react to that by making another mistake. Cut your losses and forget the past.