Betting first or second halves in the NFL

Each NFL game offers a dizzying array of betting opportunities. Many advantage players have done well over the years biding their time, picking their spots and waiting for the perfect number to come up. Here, I’ll discuss what some of the thought process is for them when looking at first and second half wagering.

There is live wagering, quarters and other exotic options for basically all 256 NFL games over the course of the season. But the focus here is strictly on first and second half wagering.

One way to increase your chances of winning a first-half play is to focus on the coin toss of as many games as you can. Going in, I never make any plays before the coin toss. The positive to doing that is that I know going in that I will rarely bet the first half of a team that doesn’t get the ball first. In a 30-minute sample, the possibility of having one less possession than the opponent is a huge obstacle to overcome. That doesn’t mean the team that kicks off first cannot win the first half play, but it does mean that they won’t get my money to try to do it.

A negative, especially when the 1:00 Eastern games are about to kick off (usually at 1:03, give or take 30 seconds) is that there is a huge glut of games and it’s nearly impossible to try to bet as many as 10 or 11 first halves in the roughly two minute period between the coin toss and the opening kickoff.

The obvious answer in dealing with that is to make sure you have zeroed in on the first half sides you like best and have them queued up to bet in your online sportsbook accounts so that as soon as you can confirm that your preferred side has won the coin toss, you can bet it immediately and confirm within a couple of seconds. Most books do not move the line after the coin toss to account for the advantage the receiving team has, and many sportsbooks are extremely accommodating in taking first half bets after the coin toss.

The NFL is the most powerful sport in the United States and has the most wagering customers. Bookmakers try to go out of their way to ensure the players get a chance to bet right up until anything significant happens. I’ve been in the position of leaving a game up literally until they’ve run a couple of plays after the kickoff.

The second half is a bit different. Everyone who puts up a bettable second half line and is doing their work knows which team is going to get the ball first. It’s built into the line, so the edge of getting the ball first is gone. But astute observers know what to look for when betting the second halves (dominant line play, turnovers, coaching mismatches and many other factors). I have friends who will watch every play of the first halves of as many games as they can and then only bet second halves and very little else!

In the end, there are a plethora of ways to win when betting on the NFL. The first and second halves are just two of the key markets, but sometimes, as I explained above, they offer the best value of all.

The Rex Factor has been handicapping football for more than 20 years and is a professional bettor living in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has worked for multiple sportsbooks as an oddsmaker for over a dozen years.