What is a Middle Bet?
Sports betting lines do not remain stationary from the time they are posted to game time. A variety of factors such as smart money, public money, injuries, and weather can cause lines to move. This article will discuss an advanced sports betting strategy called middling, which can help you capitalize on certain line moves to put more money in your pocket.
Betting the middle or middling enables taking advantage of changes in point spreads, odds, or totals by placing separate wagers at different lines on opposite sides of a single game. It costs twice as much money since you are betting on the same game twice instead of just once. However, you are guaranteed at the very least to have a push on both bets or win one of them, while, most importantly, you also have a chance to win both bets.
The two types of bets that provide the most middling opportunities for sports bettors are point spreads and totals. Middling is especially popular in football games, as the following examples will show you.
Let’s say the Cincinnati Bengals are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, and you like the early point spread line of Cincinnati -2. So you lay the points with Cincinnati, risking $110 to win $100 in the hope the favorite wins by at least a field goal. But a few days later, it is publicly announced that the Eagles’ leading wide receiver sustained an injury during practice and his status for the game is questionable. This causes a significant line movement with Cincinnati now installed as a 4.5-point favorite.
The possibility that one of the Eagle’s top players might not even play combined with the fact that the much more favorable line you bet into is no longer available might make you feel even more confident about your original bet. But on the other hand, the golden opportunity to catch a middle if Cincinnati wins by either 3 points or 4 points (two of the most frequent margins of victory in NFL games) is too good to pass up. Accordingly, you place a second bet of $110 to win $100 on the Eagles at the new line of +4.5
While a scenario that is as favorable for middling as the previous example is possible, it is unlikely, sportsbook operators are aware that many bettors look for middle opportunities, so they try to avoid offering same game lines that fall on both sides of key numbers like 3, 6, 7, and 14. But the opportunity arises for middling nonetheless.
For example, consider the following football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers opened as a 10 1/2-point home favorite. However, based on their recent winning streak and the Seahawks’ recent losing streak, the public was all over them, and the line ballooned to -14. The final score was San Francisco 28 and Seattle 14, with the margin of victory falling smack in the middle of the two point spreads.
Significant line movement can also affect football and basketball total bet outcomes. One situation that occurs frequently when betting on NFL and NCAA football totals is a forecast of bad weather. However, football teams are accustomed to playing under adverse weather conditions, and sometimes the line is over adjusted downward, particularly when there is rain without much wind.
The combination of possible bad weather in Cleveland for a certain game (which did not pan out) and the questionable status of the opposing team’s quarterback led to wild fluctuations in the over/under line. Thus, legendary Las Vegas handicapper Jim Feist proudly announced on a podcast that after his initial bet on the total to go under 41, he placed a second bet on the same game to go over 33. While it looked like a great middle opportunity, it did not happen because the final score went way over the total.
A third type of betting strategy that is similar to middling is one that some sharp bettors occasionally use with moneyline wagers. Suppose, for example, you bet one unit on the Arizona Diamondbacks at +140 vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. However, closer to game time, you see a money line on the Phillies at -130 at another sportsbook. So you make a second bet on the Phillies for 1.3 to 1.5 units to guarantee a small profit regardless of which team wins. This betting strategy is referred to as arbitrage betting.
Betting the middle requires a willingness to spend the extra time necessary to obtain the opening line and track the changes. Since some sportsbooks might be quicker to change a line than others, a good way to monitor line movements sooner rather than later and find possible middle bets is line shopping – comparing odds and line movements at different sportsbooks. This will entail not only signing up with multiple sportsbooks but also having sufficient money in your account to place the desired bets at the opportune time to get excellent odds.
Here are five of the best sportsbooks for finding middle bets. All of them are legal and offer odds on most markets and events middling opportunities might arise. If you wish, you can use our convenient links to join if you have not already signed up.
- Minimum deposit $5
- Sleek and easy-to-use user interface
- Plethora of betting options
- Range of regular promotions
- Limited withdrawal options
- Needs a better rewards system
- Minimum deposit $10
- Vast coverage of sporting markets
- Supports ewallets & traditional payment methods
- Promotions are kept exciting
- App layout is a bit cramped
- No NFL live streaming
- Minimum deposit $10
- Plenty of payment methods available
- Well-designed Android & iOS app
- In-Game wagering
- Football live streaming is not available
- Customer service contact has to go through FAQs
- Minimum deposit $10
- Reliable and user-friendly app
- Most lucrative first bet promotion in the market
- Huge market depth and coverage
- Best rewards program in the industry
- Experience can vary per state
- Frequently changing its features
- Minimum deposit $5
- PointsBetting feature
- Awesome mobile app
- Live streaming feature
- Can lose more than original bet
- Smaller amount of banking options
Here are some additional strategies that you can use to help you achieve success in finding and placing bets that will give you the best middling opportunities.
- Research the teams, coaches, and players and stay informed about important developments (weather, injuries, team morale, etc.) that might impact the results of a particular game.
- Have a sufficient bankroll to cover making two bets on the same game.
- Place the first bet sufficiently early to allow sufficient time for the line to change.
- Only place bets at competitive odds.
An important difference between middle betting and arbitrage betting is that, unlike arbitrage opportunities, middle betting does not guarantee a winning outcome.
Instead, there are three possible outcomes, one of which would be great, but neither of the other two would be terrible.
- The final score falls in between your two wagers, so the bettor wins both bets.
- Due to one of the bets winning and the other losing, the bettor loses the vig (usually 10% with American odds).
- The game ends exactly on one or both point spreads, so bettors wind up with either one win and one push or two pushes.
Thus, for the theoretical example we gave earlier of a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles with a line movement on the Bengals from -2 to -4.5, the three possible outcomes would be as follows:
- Cincinnati wins by a margin of either 3 or 4, so you win both bets.
- Cincinnati wins by 2 points, so your first bet pushes and you win your second.
- Cincinnati either wins or loses by 5 points or more, so you win one bet and lose the other and lose the vig.
Sports and Markets for Middling
The best sports and markets for middling are point spreads and totals on professional and college football and basketball games. Pregame bets rather than live betting will probably offer the best opportunities. The problem with live betting is that it is difficult to find favorable lines and the lines change extremely quickly.
Since this sports betting strategy does not guarantee a winning bet, you may wonder if middling betting is worth the effort, time, and trouble. The answer is that it minimizes your risk. The worst you can do is lose the vig. Unless you bet into very bad numbers (i.e., laying more points on the favorite than you take back with the underdog), you cannot possibly lose both bets.
That said, middle betting is not for everyone. It is not recommended for casual bettors who simply want to wager a few dollars on their favorite team, are unaware of the early line, and do not have the time or desire to track point spread shifts and odds changes. They may also lack the bankroll to bet the same game twice.