What does in-play mean?
‘In-play’ betting, also referred to as ‘live betting’, is when you place a wager during an event. The odds, known as ‘live odds’ will be adjusted throughout an event. This means that fixed odds are offered before an event begins whereas in-play, odds are offered during an event.
This type of betting is growing in popularity, so almost every major US sportsbook offers in-play odds these days. However, they will not offer in-play odds for every event.
The New England Patriots are favorites to beat the Buffalo Bills. Before the match your sportsbook offers the following odds:
- New England Patriots -110
- Buffalo Bills +400
You want to back the favourites, so you place a $10 bet. The New England Patriots win and you get $9.09 in winnings.
The New England Patriots were favorites to beat the Buffalo Bills before the match. However, after 10 minutes, the Buffalo Bills are in the lead. The sportsbook alters the in-play odds: They now offer you:
- New England Patriots -100
- Buffalo Bills +300
The New England Patriots are still the favorites because the game is only 10 minutes in. However now you would be looking at $10 in winnings, compared to the fixed odds.
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FAQs regarding in-play sportsbooks
Can you in-play bet on your mobile?
Yes. the majority of sportsbooks in the US offer in-play betting on an app or on a mobile optimised website.
Is in-play betting legal in the US?
Yes. If your state allows online sports betting then in-play betting is also legal for anyone over 21. There are no states that have made special restrictions for in-play bets compared to other forms of online betting.
What are in-play odds?
In-play odds differ from the normal fixed odds as they vary throughout the event. In-play odds are constantly adjusted to reflect the nature of the event. So, for example, if one team takes the lead, their in-play odds to win the match will shorten and the other team’s in-play odds will lengthen.
How do in-play odds work?
In-play odds are linked to algorithms and experts who set them according to the live statistics and coverage from a game. The odds will be constantly varying as the game progresses but they otherwise appear and follow the same logic as normal fixed odds.
How to place an in-play bet
To place an in-play bet, you need to first check that your sportsbook offers online in-play betting. Believe it or not, some sportsbooks are still lagging behind when it comes to in-play. This is because it involves some sophisticated technology and not all sportsbook have the resources to add this to their system.
You will usually find all the in-play bets available in a dedicated in-play section. Here you can select an event that is currently live and view the in-play odds. This section varies between sportsbooks but they often include live infographics to help you along the way.
No sportsbook will offer in-play betting for every event.
This would be far too much for any server or system to handle. Instead, they will have a selection of events available at any one time that you place an in-play bet on. All the major events in the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL should be covered in the in-play section. If the sportsbook has a partnership with one of the leagues then you may have access to more information than on other sites.
Where to place an in-play bet
When you place an in-play bet, you need to have access to the live event in some way. That could be a live stream or TV coverage. It could also be live at the actual event. In fact, the last option is one of the best places to place an in-play bet. The sportsbooks will be relying on a live stream, or even statistics to set the live odds, which means that you will have a slight edge over them if you are at the actual event. When you are at an actual event you can see so much more than you do online. One drawback to placing a bet at the actual event is that the connection can be slower with 3G/4G. With so many people at the actual event, it can affect the mobile coverage.
The most popular way to place an in-play bet is using a mobile device.
This is because of the convenience; taking out your mobile is much easier than taking your computer. Also, if you are watching a game, you are usually at a bar, or on your sofa, so a mobile device is much easier to use.
Once you are logged into your sportsbook, you will have to go to a dedicated in-play section. Here you will see all the events that are live and that you can bet on. Usually, you can filter these events by sport, but this will depend on what sportsbook you are signed up with.
The most important thing is that you are somewhere where you have access to the absolute fastest live coverage of the game. You do not want to place an in-play bet with any form of delay in the coverage.
When to place an in-play bet
Timing is everything when it comes to in-play betting.
There is no ‘perfect time’ to place an in-play bet, but it is generally agreed upon that you should place an in-play bet when there is a break in the play. This allows you to have all the latest information, with no lag and to make your decision in relative calm.
Straight after an event, for example when a goal has been scored there will be a shift in the odds. Therefore we would wait for this shift before you place a bet, as this shift could happen in the middle of you placing a bet. This would mean that you would either place a bet at odds you didn’t expect or your sportsbook would not put through the bet.
We strongly recommend that you do not place a live bet as the match is in full flow. Anything can happen and you have no way to guarantee that your coverage is 100% live, unless you are at the match. Also, if you have your head in your phone then you are not watching the event and could miss something crucial. Even live streams have a few seconds delay from the live event, which could give the sportsbook an edge over you.
It is important to think of in-play betting as a different skill. Considering that timing is important in a completely different way to normal fixed odds betting we recommend that you only place smaller bets at the beginning, so you can get some practice in before you gamble the big bucks.
We also do not recommend you in-play bet on the sports team you support. This might sound strange, especially if you are able to attend the games live, which is an advantage in live betting. This is simply because it is very hard to objectively predict an outcome on your own team. This can either come in the form of the over-optimistic sports fan, who can’t view the objectively or the pessimist, who wants to counter the disappointment of a loss with a winning bet. Now put this subjectivity under time pressure and you could be in danger of placing an irrational bet.
In-play mobile betting
As we mentioned earlier, in-play betting is mainly done on the mobile as it is the quickest most convenient way to place a bet whilst you are watching an event. In US the number of people who bet using mobile devices is even higher than Europe where in-play betting has been going for over a decade.
Many sportsbooks based in the US, will offer a pretty advanced level of in-play features with their apps. This can include live infographics, personalised features and in some rare cases, live streaming functions.