Buying Points

NFL Betting: Buying Points Off the Point Spread

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Buying points is an option given to NFL football bettors who wish to move the point-spread in their favor. It comes at a price, but some have found that buying points can be useful in certain situations. Surely, we’ve all lost NFL games against the spread by agonizingly-close margins and buying points is a weapon we have in our arsenals to combat that.

Let’s see how it works. You see the following game on the betting board:

Miami Dolphins +8.5 (-110)
New England Patriots -8.5 (-110)

You see the spread is 8.5 and you’re betting on the customary -110 line, meaning you have to bet $110 to win $100. You like the Dolphins, but you’re worried about New England winning by 9 and losing the bet, so you buy a half-point. Now it looks like this: Miami Dolphins +9 (-120). You see that Miami is now at +9, but it cost you an extra dime. You now have to wager $120 to win $100 in exchange for the extra half-point.

In football wagering, there are certain key numbers that get extra consideration. In the above example, there is not much difference between 8 and 9, so the fee was only 10-cents. We know that the numbers 3 and 7 are very common margins of victory in NFL football. It would be one thing if we were charged the same amount on those numbers, but we are not. Let’s look at an example.

San Diego Chargers +2.5 (-110)
New York Jets -2.5 (-110)

Here you like the Chargers, but in the event that New york wins by a field goal, you want to be protected. Getting 2.5 points is not a very comfortable feeling, being that 3 is such a common margin of victory. But now, instead of being charged a dime, you will have to pay a full 25 cents to move that number a half-point in your favor. You would get the Chargers at +3, but at -135.

A few points about buying points: It’s hard enough to beat the normal vig. But when buying points, especially with key numbers like 3 and 7, we are now looking at beating a -135 vig. And some books don’t even let you get off the number 3. So whether or not that’s a good bargain is up to you to decide situationally. If the price for buying half-points onto key numbers was a dime like it is on other numbers, it would be a bonanza. The bookies know better.

We could sit here and try to break down the exact math of it–to see if buying a half-point on key numbers at 25 cents is worth it. That would be a waste of time. Instead, just assume that any little twist that the bookie puts into effect, such as buying points, is going to favor the book. They are not in the business of offering bettors edges unless it benefits them. You can put buying points into that category.

Buying a half-point runs counter to some things we should know about NFL football betting. First of all, while you might remember the times you lost by a half-point, it really doesn’t happen often enough to warrant consistently buying a half-point. The whole buying points dynamic sort of preys on the make-up of the average bettor’s memory–the part that makes those close losses stand out more than the others. While those agonizing defeats stand out above the rest in our minds, you’ll find that when buying a half-point, it will seldom come down to that margin.

In addition, there are other ways for you to get an edge without actually buying points. Not all books post the same numbers, so having multiple options available with different online sportsbooks can be of great aid in finding the right price. And often times, lines that would make you consider buying a half-point are prone to move throughout the week. It will sometimes be in your favor.

Buying points might look tantalizing on paper and that’s the way the bookies want it to appear. At the end of a season, you can go back and see how many extra wagers you would have won if you had bought a half-point. Chances are you’ll see that just taking a stand without buying points was the better maneuver. Not that there will never be spots where it might make sense, but habitually buying points is not the way to go.

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