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Middle Bets In Sports Betting

Middle Bets In Sports Betting

Eric Kithinji
Eric Kithinji
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5 Min
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What Is Middle Betting?
How To Middle Bet In Sports
Difference Between Middling & Hedging

A middle bet is somewhat like a sports arbitrage. The difference between both is middling gives bettors the chance to win both bets.

Hedging, instead, gives the bettor a chance of securing a percentage of their bets as winnings.

The process of betting a middle is also known as middling.

Middle bets are not hard to understand. But don’t mistake its simplicity, it is not something an average sports bettor uses. It takes going through different sportsbooks and paying close attention to the line’s movements.

Otherwise, you will strike out too many bets, and your bankroll will get harmed.

Even if you do those steps, it’s not used by all bettors. The reason for it is that most of the time, middling will result in a small deficit in the short term.

Having said that, when gamblers occasionally cash on middle bets and they win both of the wagers, the profits are big. This is why middling has become a +EV strategy in many places.

Middle bets are a potential profit machine for bettors. But to accomplish that, you need to have a solid understanding of point spreads and totals.

Also, knowing the key numbers and how to fluctuate your bets between them is key to making your middling action an effective one.

Middle Betting Explained

Middle bets are available for use at any point spread or totals market. However, they’re most commonly used in NFL betting. A reason for this is the proximity of the key numbers, and how the bettors can go between them.

Let’s see an example using the NFL point spread market.

A key to success in middling implies betting on an early line. Even if not middling, this is a great strategy when wanting to beat the market moves. This comes in handy when you think the sharp bettors will move the line against your pick.

Now, let’s say the odds look as follows for a Sunday game on Monday morning when the lines open:

  • Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 (-110)
  • Cleveland Browns -3.5 (-110)

Say the wager in place is Cincinnati at +3.5. However, as the game gets closer, the line has moved, and it looks like this:

  • Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 (-110)
  • Cleveland Browns -2.5 (-110)

This line move goes through the key number of 3, and this happens a lot. At this point, it’s only logical to bet the opposite of the original wager. Therefore, we bet on the Browns -2.5, giving us a big chance to win both bets if Cleveland wins by a field goal.

As we will see, three is a big number in the NFL. So, by placing this bet, there are three scenarios that can unfold.

The Browns win by 4 points or more.

The Bengals’ bet draws dead, but the Browns -2.5 cashes. This would be a small loss with the added juice when you combine the bets’ amounts.

The Bengals win outright or lose the game by less than 3 points.

The Bengals +3.5 bet wins, but we lose to the Browns -2.5. The same as the first scenario, we lose a small amount because of the vig taken by the sportsbook.

The Browns win by 3 points.

The middling option pays off as both the Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 and the Cleveland Browns -2.5 cash! This results in a huge win for the bettor. A middle here (at the 3) is going to be profitable 100% of the time, assuming the odds are at -110 or better on both sides.

As a tip, always aim to get the standard -110 odds or better to ensure a winning margin is in place.

How To Middle A Bet

As you read above, the process of middling is quite simple. The catch is, bettors need to keep in mind how much of the vig they are paying when they middle a bet. They also need to figure out the margins of victory they are looking for.

Middling is profitable, but, just like hedging, you need to search those +EV wagers in the right places. Since 2002, nearly 16% of NFL games have ended with a three-point gap between teams.

The number of matches that end in a 7-point victory is approximately 10%. This equals more than a quarter of all games that are determined by these two margins.

In NFL games, there are many spots to look for middling based on these two margins. Let’s use the previous example again. Any time a favorite has -2.5 odds or fewer and we can get the underdog listed at +3.5 or more, a middle bet can be useful.

This is usually a result of hitting an opening—or early—line and then the market moving. It is possible, though, that two different betting sites have different lines at the same time.

A middle bet also works when the favored side is at -3, and the underdog at +3.5 or more. The underdog listed at +3 and the favorite at -2.5 or less is also a good range.

As it pertains to no. 7, you can take a favorite at -6.5, and any underdog listed at +7.5 or more. Seven is not as valuable as three EV wise, but it can leave you good winnings at -110 odds or better.

Middle Betting In NFL Football

Betting the middle is an opportunity anytime that there is a large difference in the odds. In NFL betting, an argument can be made that the profit comes if there are two or more points between the teams. This is regardless of the margins given.

Nevertheless, the danger relies on using this strategy in football and other disciplines. It’s called a “Polish middle”, also known as a reverse middle.

For example, we have a favorite place at -4, and the underdog is priced at +2. At first glance, it looks like an attractive middle opportunity.

If you look closely, you may be setting yourself to a catastrophe if the favorite wins by three points. Why? This is the most common win margin in the NFL, and in case it happens, you lose both bets.

Middling As Bet Hedging

Hedging and middle bets are very alike. The difference is middling gives you the chance to win both bets.

Many bettors look to hedge regularly. This reduces the variance at the cost of sacrificing +EV. When you hedge or middle, it’s crucial that you don’t place -EV bets. It’s a big mistake that will reduce your positive expectations.

Most of the time, the middling results in small losses, but when they hit, they make up for those losses in a big way.

The goal of good bettors should be to bet as many middles as possible, always looking for that long-term +EV expectation.

Vig Considerations In Middle Bets

The big downside of middling is that you end up paying too much juice. This can take a profitable -110 vig middle bet and make it unprofitable. In an ideal world, you would like to reduce the vig even further than the usual 10 percent.

One way to do so is to bet at sportsbooks with reduced vigs. If you use a reduced juice on one leg alone (always look to go for both) in a middle bet, your bottom-line profits increase by a large margin.

Best Sportsbooks For Betting Middles

Recreational bookies often shade the line on main markets. This means they provide better underdog odds than sportsbooks that accept larger bets and professional action.

These betting sites are a great spot to look for the underdog side of your middle bet. The recommendation is that players stick to trusted, legal sportsbooks.

Having an account with a high-limit sportsbook and a recreational bookie will bring bettors lots of middling opportunities.

Local Bookies & Middling Betting

Many locals use the pay-per-head sites. These use the same betting software as many of the top offshore sportsbooks. On the other hand, some locals still manage their own odds, which provides many +EV spots. Local sportsbooks will usually receive lopsided action on the home teams.

This may cause their odds to change in a dramatic fashion compared to the rest of the market. For example, an online book might have one team as a slight favorite, but a local may move the line several points due to the public bettors.

This creates a fantastic middle bet opportunity for you.

Thirsty For More Betting Knowledge? Check Our Sports Betting Guides Hub.


About the author

Placed his first sports wager shortly after high school, and has been involved in this whirlwind of the industry since then. Fan of most of the major ...

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