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Middling in Football

Today, I will talk to you about a can’t lose way to bet on football. It's called playing the middle—or middling or middle. Ok, perhaps can't lose is pretty strong. However, once you have successfully executed a middle play, you can't lose much and the upside is tremendous. Before we jump into how to do it, I want to offer up a quick course on how football lines work.

The Football Line

The first thing I need to tell you is that the spread isn't there to tell you who should win and by how much. This is a common falsity believed by many amateur bettors. The spread is there to simply divide the wagers in half. The lines maker thinks about how best to get half of the people to bet on one side and the other half on the other side.

Why? By splitting up the bet in half, the sportsbook is guaranteed not to take a hit on the game. In a perfect world, they would have 50% on each side. After the game, the sportsbook would pay the winners and take home the vig. Life's not perfect, but the sportsbooks do a very good job of splitting the public.

A typical football spread is something like:

New York Giants +7
Seattle Seahawks -7
Over/Under 41

In the above example, the New York Giants are the underdog. If you bet on the Giants, you will receive 7 points. To win your bet, you need the Giants to either win the game outright or lose by no more than 7. If they lose by exactly 7, you push—in other words, your bet ties and it's returned to you.

If you like the Seahawks, you can take them -7 points. To win your wager, the Seahawks will need to win the game by 7 or more. Again, if they win by just 7, you push and your bet is refunded.

The over/under is the total number of points both teams will score in the game. Take the over in our example and you need both teams to combine for 41 or more points.

Playing the Middle

Now that you understand how the spread works, it's time to get our hands dirty. The object of the middle play is to bet each side of a game at different numbers. This play is easier today that it ever has been thanks to the number of online sportsbooks. It's also easier to find middle plays.

Since the sportsbooks want 50% of the action on each side of game, they move the line as the money comes in. For instance, if most of the money was coming in on the Seahawks -7, the sportsbook would increase the line to 7.5, 8 or possibly more to get the public to bet on the Giants. Also, not every sportsbook has the game at the same number.

This is where you come in. You have two choices. You can scout around sportsbooks and look for spread differences, or you can bet in anticipation of the line moving. Let's look at a hypothetical example.

You've scouted around and found that the over/under Giants/Seahawks game is 41 at one sportsbook, but 44 at another. Your first step would be to bet OVER 41 at the first sportsbook and UNDER 44 at the other. Now that both bets are made, you have three possible outcomes.

1. One bet wins and one pushes—you win 1 unit.
2. One bet wins and one loses—you just lose the vig of one bet.
3. Both bets win—you win 2 units.

As you can see, on a $100 unit wager, middling this game equates to a potential $200 win for a $10 risk. That's a 20-1 payout and that's what middling bets is all about.

Jay Bird

Writer for

This is an original article by Please seek permission if you wish to duplicate this content.

16.11.2006 08:42
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