19 Mar

Live Betting on Sports as it Happens

In-Play Wagering 101 : How to Bet on Live Sports During the Game

In-Play Wagering 101 : How to Bet on Live Sports During the GameBetting on live sports is like nothing else bookmakers have to offer. It’s an up close, in your face, continuous revolution of play by play action that lets bettors wager on what’s happening in a game, as it’s happening. It’s not for everyone, though. You’ll need an impulsive nature, but a level head; the ability to think and react quickly; most of all, you must have an adequately equipped computer or mobile device with a reliable, high-speed internet connection. We’ll teach you all about this and more in our comprehensive guide to live betting on sports as it happens.

How to Bet on Live Sports During the Game

This tutorial will cover all the major topics, from a basic introduction to in-play betting, to in-depth strategies for beginner and advanced levels. Without further ado, here’s an interactive list of what you’re about to learn. Choose a topic, or simply keep scrolling your way through them.

  1. Introduction: What is Live Betting?
  2. Types: Standard Bets, Props and Parlays
  3. Pros & Cons of Betting In-Play
  4. Live Sports Betting Strategy & Tips

Introduction: What is Live Betting?

Prior to the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), all legal sports bets were taken before the start of a game. By the time PASPA was repealed by the US government in 2018, technology had changed drastically. Computers, mobile devices and high-speed internet connections made it possible to bet on live sports as the game is taking place. Every moment, every move, every potential point scored – all of this and more is now something we can place a wager on, from the comfort of our very own homes in Indiana.

Live betting (a.k.a. in-play betting) is generally defined as the act of betting on a sporting event as it’s happening. It’s not the same old bets that were available before the game. It’s not always about which team will win or lose, either, but rather what’s going to happen next, and who’s going to make it happen.

These aren’t the types of wagers you would expect to find at a land-based casino sportsbook. Truth is, most retail bookies aren’t equipped with the necessary technology and staff to keep up with live betting lines. If you want to bet in-play, you’re better off doing it at an online sportsbook, through its website or mobile app. Of course, you’ll need to be well-equipped with your own technology, too.

One of the most common complaints about live betting is that the software is glitchy, or that bets are constantly being rejected. This happens because the lines are shifting or disappearing faster than the bettor can confirm a wager. If this is happening to you, don’t blame the sportsbook. Go get yourself a new laptop, smartphone, or tablet, with a better processing chip, and consider upgrading to a faster home WiFi network. Live bets can happen at warp speed, so you’ll need good equipment to keep up.

In-Play Bet Types: Standard Bets, Props and Parlays

Live bet types are largely dependent on the sport you intend to bet on. The more action that’s taking place, and the more athletes involved, the more wagering options you can expect to have. Fortunately, we can categorize them all into three basic genres – standard bets, prop bets, and parlay bets.

Another factor in the availability of live betting is going to be the sportsbook itself. It’s only natural that some will offer a wider range of in-play betting than others. Live betting is a weighty investment for any bookmaker, requiring state of the art equipment and a sizeable group of employees with just the right knowledge and skillsets to produce lightning-quick lines with profitable accuracy for the operator. Suffice it to say, despite the immense popularity of taking live action, that kind of risk is not something every sports betting operation is willing to invest in.

Standard Bets

This group is made up of the same bets you’re used to seeing in pre-game wagering; moneylines (win bets), spreads and over/under totals. The difference with in-play wagering is that the lines shift quickly, and often dramatically, based on what’s happening at that very moment.

If it looks like the underdog is about to take the lead, the moneylines could easily shift from positive to negative, while the former favorite’s odds shift in the opposite direction. Those who still have faith in the favorite to come back and win can take advantage by betting these new, more valuable lines.

Point spreads and totals can shift even faster, especially in high-scoring games like basketball. One team’s offensive run can cause bookies to panic, posting much better under lines than you’d ever see prior to tip-off.

Injuries can also have a great impact on in-play line movement, especially when they happen early on in a game. If the quarterback gets a concussion on the opening drive, the running back sprains his ankle, or the star wide-out breaks his collar bone, you can rest assured the lines are going to move faster than a locomotive.

Long story short, standard live bets are nothing more than the same bets you can place prior to a game, but with updated lines that shit to follow the action as it’s happening.

Proposition Bets

Prop betting is one of the most exciting options in-play. These bets require the most sophisticated technology for sportsbooks and users alike, because every line posted may last only a moment before it’s settled. In a football game, it could be something as simple as whether the offense will open their drive with a run or pass play, or whether the next play will result in a first down. Not all props are settled so quickly, though.

Some of the more fun props are posted on things like whether a specific player will score over or under X-amount of points or goals. Rob Gronkowski might be set to score O/U 1.5 touchdowns. You could place this bet before the game, but once it starts, everything can change. If Gronk takes it to the endzone in the opening drive, odds of him scoring 2+ TDs are a lot higher now. On the contrary, if the other team is doubling up on the Pro-Bowl Tight End, it could open up other receivers for a lot more passes, lowering Gronk’s chance of contributing to the scoreboard.

In-game props are best for strategic bettors who know a good deal when they see one. Whether it’s a star winger’s propensity for scoring hockey goals, a three-point beast’s accuracy rating from the arc, or the number of field goal attempts in a football game, the range of props can be limitless.

Parlay Bets

Sportsbooks love to offer parlay wagers, pre-game or in-play, because they know the more picks you make, the more likely they are to win your money. I don’t generally recommend parlaying live bets, especially in situations when you’re under pressure to make a quick decision. Still, they are available, and if you can link together a number of successful picks, they can pay out immense winnings. See our Ultimate Guide to Parlay Betting for more info.

Pros & Cons of Betting In-Play

Live sports betting has a lot more benefits than it does disadvantages, but they all deserve the equal attention we give them in this section. No matter how nice the pros look, a single con can be enough to deter some bettors, especially when it comes to technology issues. In the same token, one who enjoys traditional betting may find the advantages of live betting far greater. At the risk of being a buzzkill, I’m going to get the cons out of the way first.

The Downside of Live Sports Bets

First and foremost – and I’ve mentioned this already –  high-speed internet and a capable device are absolutely necessary to place live bets. If you have an older smartphone, or a slow connection speed, it’s going to be more frustrating than anything else. You’ll have to invest in some upgrades if you want to enjoy it.

Secondly, not everyone is a good split-second decision maker. Not all live betting scenarios require quick thinking, but a lot of them do, and if you aren’t able to make good, rapid judgement calls, in-play wagers may not be right for you. Too often, live bettors find themselves making impulsive decisions, without any calculated judgement to back them up, and that can be very costly. There’s a big difference between fast reaction time and impulsive decision making.

The Advantages of Live Betting

To bet on live sports during the game is just plain fun. It makes the game so much more entertaining. The excitement building up to every bet-upon moment, the exhilaration when your pick was right. It doesn’t have to be big money. A dollar here and there is enough to keep it interesting. But that’s just the icing on the cake.

The greatest advantage to betting on live sports as it happens is that the oddsmakers are rushing to set the lines. If you think you have very little time to view and make a live bet, just imagine how little time these sportsbooks have to get them posted. There are two ways they can go about it. They can hire real people who are extremely talented in judging situations and setting proper lines (and by proper, I mean lines that always give the house a slight advantage), or they can employ sophisticated computer software that instantly analyzes data to spit out statistically viable lines. Neither is perfect.

Sportsbooks that hire real people to do this job take great care to hire only the best in the business. These people are extremely good at what they do, rarely making a mistake. But inevitably, these lines are subject to human error. No matter how rare it might occur, it will occur. Those who are attentive enough to catch it can capitalize on it. As for computer generated lines, these programs lack the ability to observe and calculate subtle nuances. They deal in quantitative data, not qualitative data. This means they can only analyze data that can be given a numerical, calculable value (scores, proficiency, accuracy, speed, etc.). They cannot analyze qualitative data, such as a wide receiver shaking off a limp after a tackle, or a team losing its morale after a momentum shift.

Either way, the result is infrequent but inevitable mistakes, or the posting of irregular lines. An irregular line is one where the odds and probability don’t match up. Maybe Deshaun Watson has 200 passing yards under his belt at the start of the second half, and is now considered a lock to hit 300 before the game is over. But he gets drilled on the opening play, and despite returning to the huddle quickly, you notice he’s slow-rolling his throwing shoulder, or wiggling his fingers, indicating he’s trying to shake something off. The betting lines don’t indicate this, placing the odds of “under 300 pass yards” at +350. It’s no guarantee – there never are – but any sharp would snap up that bet in a heartbeat. It would also be worth looking into props on the RB, who you can expect to get a lot more action in upcoming drives.

Irregular lines aren’t always mistakes, though. It’s just as likely that the odds shifted because a lot of bettors dropped their money on one side of a line. When this happens, the lines shift the other way to balance the books, creating more advantageous situation. It’s not all that rare, either. The truth is, the live betting scene is ripe with impulsivity. Too many people bet with their hearts, not their heads, especially when it comes to quick decisions.

Example: When to Exploit Line Shifts

A good example of this would be a game in which the favorite gets an unlucky start, and by halftime, the lines shift them into underdog position. Let’s assume it’s a game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings. The moneylines start out as:

  • Vikings +105
  • Packers -110

The Packers are the favorites here, but not by much. Oddsmakers are expecting a relatively close game. As the first half gets progresses, we see the Packers driving very well. They’re consistently making it into the red zone, but can’t seem to finish their drives. A slip here; a tip-pass interception there. By the half, the Vikings have two defensive touchdowns, and the Packers only managed a field goal. So, now with the score Vikings 14, Packers 3, the moneylines shift at the half to this:

  • Vikings -130
  • Packers +125

It sure looks like this is the way the game is going, and the majority of viewers are going to agree. Green Bay is having a rough day, and Minnesota is crushing them. But is that really the case? Let’s remember, the Packers were driving well on offense all along. Now they’ve had a good talking to from their coach. They’re pumped up and ready to come back. The Vikings haven’t done anything on offense, and they aren’t likely to start now. So, as the majority of the public puts their money on Minnesota during halftime, the lines will keep moving. By the time the teams return from the locker room, the in-play moneylines might look more like this:

  • Vikings -190
  • Packers +175

What greater time to back the so-called underdog that’s performing far better than their opponent anyway? Despite the current score board, odds are still good that the Packers can come back and win this game – far better than the +175 moneylines that are on the table.

To Summarize…


  • Capitalize on Mistakes: Whether it’s human error or a technological anomaly, sportsbooks do make mistakes posting live betting lines. Pay close enough attention to the game and the lines, and you’ll learn to recognize and take full advantage of such opportunities when they occur.
  • Exploit Irregular Lines: The influence of the betting public is a constant in live sports betting. When they get caught up in the action, the lines often shift in favor of more experienced, level-headed and strategically-driven bettors.
  • Add Excitement to the Games: If you thought watching your favorite sports was fun already, you’ll be delighted at how exciting it becomes when you’re watching every move, identifying potential injuries and mistakes, seeking out great lines, hoping the action unfolds just as you predict it will.


  • Requires Advanced Tech: A good, up-to-date computer or mobile device, combined with a solid, high-speed internet connection, is a must.
  • Not for the Impulsive / Second-Guessers: You have to be able to make good (not impulsive), split-second decisions, recognizing opportunities to exploit mistakes and advantageous lines before they’re gone. 

Live Sports Betting Strategy & Tips

No beginners guide to live betting would be complete without a little expert advice to help ease you into the exciting, fast-paced world of in-play wagering. The following tips and tactics are meant to do just that.

#1. Mind Your Budget

If you’re not careful, betting on live sports can get very expensive, very quickly. New lines are constantly being posted; sportbooks encouraging viewers to place another bet with every new twist and turn in the action. Keep track of how much action you have on the table at all times. Be mindful of your cumulative bets, or you may find yourself wagering hundreds, even thousands of dollars before the day is done. If you’ve got a vast bankroll to work with, be my guest, but most of us are operating on a strict betting budget.

Long story short – know what you can afford to lose, and don’t blow it all on in one place. A good rule of thumb would be to never bet more than 1% of your daily allowance at a time. Notice I said “daily allowance”, rather than your total “bankroll”. If you plan to spend the whole weekend betting, you need to divvy up the bankroll to accommodate. And if that bankroll has to last you a whole week or month, there’s more divvying to be done. You get the idea.

#2 Live Betting is Not for Newbs

If you’re not well-versed in sports betting in general, in-play betting is not the place to start. Get a good grip on pre-game wagering first. Learn to read, understand, and quickly interpret the odds. Get to know the lingo. Become entirely familiar with the interface of your chosen sportsbook(s). Only then will you be moderately prepared to place bets during sports games.

Yes, I said “moderately prepared”. To gain any potential advantage or edge over the sportsbook(s), your experience needs to run much deeper. You should be able to look at any lines and instantly know how much you stand to win for making any size bet, mentally calculating the implied odds without any real effort. It’s only when you can do this at a moment’s notice that you’ll be able keep up with the intensity and rapidity of the live props and line shifts, and make strategically driven wagers on the right lines before they’re gone.

#3 Strategy Over Impulsivity

As those lines are being posted, one after another, you must be extra careful not to get caught up in the sheer quantity of wagering options. So many of them are based on what’s going on at that exact moment, and could be settled within minutes, if not quicker. This tends to lead the inexperienced public to make rash decisions. It’s this impulsive behavior that gives the whole ‘sports gambling’ community a bad name.

Remember, you don’t have to bet on every line that pops up. This is one of those ‘quality over quantity’ situations. You should only be making smart, calculated bets – ones that you are genuinely confident in, based on quantitative and qualitative data. Anything more is letting the thrill of the moment overpower your better judgement.

On that note, I would also discourage anyone who finds it difficult to avoid impulsive (dare I say compulsive?) behavior from partaking in live betting. It’s far too easy to get carried away. If you recognize a potential problem, it’s best to stop while you’re still in control. If you ever find that control slipping, consider joining the voluntary exclusion list.

#4 One Game at a Time

The success of live betting has everything to do with your level of attention to detail. The biggest advantage of live betting is the ability to pick up on all those subtle nuances – that qualitative data we keep talking about – that occur during a game. If you’re trying to keep up with two games at once, switching back and forth between channels, or allowing outside interference to distract you from the action, you can’t possibly grasp this information.

There’s nothing wrong with betting on multiple games, but live betting should be restricted to one game at a time. Place all your pre-game wagers before the game starts, then get comfortable in front of the TV for your chosen game. Focus all your attention and in-play action on that one game, and maintain that focus from start to finish. If you must channel surf the sports networks, only do so during commercials. After all, the primary goal is entertainment. A successful day of betting is just a perk.

#5 Open with a Pre-Game Bet

As noted above, there’s nothing wrong with a little pre-game action. It’s especially important to post a bet on the game you intend to follow. As your posting live wagers, think of them as hedging opportunities. Maybe you picked Team A, but Team B seems to have the upper hand. Placing wagers that will offset your original bet can minimize the overall risk. If it turns out your original pick was good, and Team A is performing just as you’d hoped, your live bets can become amplifiers. Nothing wrong with a double dollop of frosting, either!

#6 Seek Better Moneylines In-Play

Sometimes, the lines you want just aren’t available at the price you want. Maybe you were hoping to pick the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics, but the moneyline is only -200. You might feel more comfortable at -180, so you pass. When the game starts, Boston takes a quick lead, outpacing the Heat in a 10-2 run. Suddenly, the in-play moneylines shift to -175. If you still feel the Celtics are outmatched, you can take the new lines at a far better price.

This is an exaggerated example, but you get the point. If you aren’t comfortable with the price being offered pre-game, don’t take that risk. Wait for the action to get underway, and if the opposing team happens to start well, the lines should shift further in your favor.

Every bet you make should be taken with complete confidence. Live betting is just another way you can achieve greater flexibility in your betting strategy. Remember, snagging a line that moved in the direction you wanted doesn’t simply mean you’re getting better odds now. It means that the almighty oddsmakers have decided the opposing team has a better chance to win than they previously thought. Something happened to make them believe that. It’s only a good idea to take the price movement if you honestly believe they were wrong to move the line; that your team is still going to dominate.

#7 Recognize and Capitalize on Irregular Lines

We talked previously in our Pros/Cons section about irregular lines presenting a fantastic advantage in live sports betting. It’s true, the rapid pace and constant time crunch required to post live lines in-game is beyond demanding, and will inevitably come with mistakes; by way of human error and/or a computer programs inability to calculate qualitative data. It’s your job, as a strategic bettor, to take full advantage of these irregularities. You can only do so if you’re paying close enough attention, and are quick enough to place smart wagers on them the moment they appear.

You really do have to be quick to catch these lines. I can assure you that, just as live bettors are looking for them, so are the oddsmakers. There are back-up eyes watching every line posted. Their job is to identify and correct any mistakes as quickly as possible, before the public takes action. Don’t be surprised if they’re faster than you most of the time. The more you gain experience in identifying irregularities, the easier it will get.

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