Middle Betting Explained

Middling Sports Betting Guide

Punters are always out to find ways to gain an edge over sportsbooks and guarantee profits. Alongside a few other exciting options, middle betting is one of the profitable strategies bettors today use to do just that.

This article prepared by our professional betting experts will explore the ins and outs of middling sports betting, covering everything a punter needs to know.

The areas we will cover include:

  • What is middle betting
  • How and when to middle a sports bet
  • What are the best sports for middle betting
  • Middling as bet-hedging
  • Vig considerations in middle bets

What Is Middle Betting?

So, what exactly is middle sports betting? To understand this concept, you must first know that sports betting lines aren’t stuck in one permanent position. Bookmakers can move their lines however they deem fit before a game for various reasons, such as injuries, weather conditions, liability, etc. Middle betting is one strategy that takes advantage of such line movement.

Also known as middling, middle betting is a strategy that involves bettors placing two wagers on both sides of the same market at different lines. This strategy aims to exploit changes in the betting lines and secure potential profits. With these bets, there is a window of opportunity where both can win. And if that doesn’t happen, one of the two wagers is guaranteed to win. This middle bet option is similar to arbitrage betting. Still, unlike the latter, bettors can win a significant payout with both sides of a wager instead of only getting back a small percentage.

Although sports betting middling is not difficult to understand, it is undoubtedly not a strategy for beginners. You need a basic grasp of point spreads, totals, and other betting markets where middling works well. Plus, you would need to be able to identify games where the lines could move in the nearest future, which requires expertise.

How and When to Middle a Sports Bet

As mentioned, middling involves betting on both sides of a line with the possibility of winning both bets. Such a scenario can only occur when the lines on a particular game outcome move away from its starting position to another position due to the current perceived potential result. Sports betting in the middle occurs in point spreads and totals markets.

There are 4 distinct scenarios where a middle bet can arise depending on the type of market and the movement of the betting lines:

  • Scenario 1: When the point spread shifts farther away from 0 (i.e., +3.5 / -3.5 to +6.5 / -6.5)
  • Scenario 2: When the point spread moves closer to 0 (i.e., +3.5 / -3.5 to +6.5 / -6.5)
  • Scenario 3: When the totals move upward (i.e., 38 to 42)
  • Scenario 4: When the totals move downward (i.e., 40 to 36)

Each of the 4 scenarios happens due to the sudden line movements, creating windows of opportunity for bettors to find the middle spots where both bets can win. However, a punter would need to have staked on the market when it was at the original line before they can jump on the other side of the wager after the line moves. It is typically done with 2 different sportsbooks.

Example of Middle Sports Betting

The best way to explain how middle bets work is with an example. So, let’s say this is what the market looks like for a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys on an NFL game day:

  • New York Giants: (+3.5) @ -110
  • Dallas Cowboys: (-3.5) @ -110

Now, imagine that the New York Giants star player got injured during the week and cannot play; this will affect the potential outcome of the game. This situation will naturally result in the line changing to balance the market and offer more advantages to the New York Giants. As such, the market can change to this:

  • New York Giants (+4.5) @ -110
  • Dallas Cowboys: (-4.5) @ -110

This sudden movement has created a middle opportunity betting window with a 1-point gap between the initial and current line. As a result, a punter that has initially placed a wager on the Dallas Cowboys can now place a wager on the New York Giants with the possibility of winning both wagers.

  • Bet 1: Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) @ -110
  • Bet 2: New York Giants (+4.5) @-110

The possible outcomes with this middling bet are laid below:

  • Dallas Cowboys wins the game by more than four points: Bet 1 will win, and Bet 2 will lose. It usually amounts to a small loss.
  • Dallas Cowboys outrightly loses or wins by fewer than 4 points: Bet 1 will lose, and Bet 2 will win. It, too, will amount to a small loss.
  • Dallas Cowboys wins by exactly four points: Both Bet 1 and Bet 2 wagers will win.

The table below shows the profit/loss profile of a market like this with a $100 wager on both ends of the middle bet.

Event Outcome Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Payout/Profit (Bet 2) Total Profit/Loss
Dallas Cowboys wins by more than 4 points $90.91 -$100.00 -$9.09
Dallas Cowboys loses or wins by less than 4 points $100.00 $90.91 -$9.09
Dallas Cowboys wins by exactly 4 points $90.91 $90.91 $181.82

Positive Middling Example

The example showcases the most common form of middle betting you will find online, known as negative middling. Aside from that, another major form of this betting strategy is known as positive middling. This option is the most valuable as there is no chance of a loss. However, this middling can be difficult to find across sports betting sites due to its nature.

For positive middling to work, you must find a betting market where two bookmakers’ odds intersect, creating room for ensuring a profitable return. If you don’t earn a decent profit from the bet, you will at least break even without any loss.

For example, let’s take a hypothetical NBA game between the Golden States Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.

A middle bet would look like this:

  • Bet 1: Golden States Warriors (-2) @110 ($100 stake for $120 profit)
  • Bet 2: San Antonio Spurs (+3) @ -110 ($110 stake for $100 profit)

With this type of market, four potential outcomes could occur, which also boils down to two win-loss scenarios and two win-push scenarios.

Here are the outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: The Golden States Warriors outrightly lose or win by less than 2 points – you will lose bet 1 and win bet 2
  • Outcome 2: The Golden States Warriors win by more than 3 points – you will win bet 1 and lose bet 2
  • Outcome 3: The Golden States Warriors win by exactly 2 points – bet 1 push and will be refunded, and you win bet 2
  • Outcome 4: The Golden States Warriors win by exactly 3 points – you will win bet 1, and bet 2 will push and refunded

The table below shows the profit/loss profile of what this hypothetical bet would look like:

Event Outcome Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Profit/Loss (Bet 2) Total Profit/Loss
Outcome 1 -$100 $100 $0
Outcome 2 $120 -$110 $10
Outcome 3 $0 $100 $100
Outcome 4 $120 $0 $120

Betting the Middle with Point Spreads

One of the markets where middling bets are more common is point spreads. Punters can usually engage in middling with this market in football, basketball, and various other sports. Suppose you don’t know what point spreads are. In that case, it is a market where sportsbooks level the playing field by assigning handicap advantages and disadvantages to the favorites and underdogs in match-ups. Each team must cover their point spread (advantage/disadvantage) to win the bet.

For example, take a hypothetical NFL match between Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The line opened at +4.5/-4.5 and later moved to +2.5/-2.5 a few days after. With this, there is an opportunity for middling a bet. If a punter had already bet on Los Angeles Chargers at +4.5 at the initial line, they could then take on Kansas City Chiefs at — 2.5 after the line shifts for the possibility of winning the two wagers.

For a successful sports bet middling in this scenario, Kansas City Chiefs has to win the game by exactly 3 or 4 points. This way, you will win both wagers as Kansas City Chiefs would cover the -2.5 spread by winning the match-up by more than 2 points, and Los Angeles Chargers would cover the +4.5 spread by losing by less than 4 points. But if either Kansas City Chiefs doesn’t cover the spread, you will only win one of the two wagers.

The table below shows the profit/loss profile of such an event with the same $100 bet (and assuming 1.92 on all bets):

Event Outcome Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Total Profit/Loss
Kansas City Chiefs win by 5 or more points -$100 $92.00 -$8
Kansas City Chiefs outrightly loses or only wins by 2 or fewer points $92.00 -$100 -$8
Kansas City Chiefs win by exactly 3 or 4 points $92.00 $92.00 $184.00

That’s it. While rare, depending on the odds offered on each line and the sportsbook’s vig, a punter could make small profits when either bet wins.

Betting the Middle with Totals

The other major market for middling sports bets is the totals. Punters can easily middle their totals (Over/Under) bets if the totals have changed from the initial value, be it a rise or a drop.

For instance, let’s say the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams have a match-up on an NFL game day. If the line on the game opens at 43.5 and later moves down to 38.5, there would be an opportunity to middle a sports bet.

If you have already taken the initial “Under” wager at 43.5, you must also take on the “Over” at 38.5 to middle the bet. You should note that to hit betting middle the total successfully, the “Under” line value must be more than that of the over value for either of the two wagers.

  • Bet 1: Under (43.5)
  • Bet 2: Over (39.5)

That said, if the game finishes with more than 43 total points or less than 38 total points, you will win one of the two bets. But you will win both if the total points finish with any cumulative points between 39 and 43.

The table below shows the profit/loss profile of the possible outcomes of middling a sports bet in the example above with the same $100 bet (and assuming 1.92 on all bets):

Event Outcome Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Total Profit/Loss
Totals greater than 43 points -$100 $92.00 -$8
Totals less than 39 points $92.00 -$100 -$8
Totals equal to 39, 40, 41, 42, or 43 points $92.00 $92.00 $184.00

Arbitrage Middles

If the lines offered on a betting market shift significantly enough, it is quite possible for a punter to bank on middle arbitrage bets. Arbitrage betting typically involves placing separate wagers on all the possible outcomes of a sports event to guarantee a profit, regardless of the eventual results. It exploits the discrepancies in the odds offered on a sporting event across different sportsbooks.

In sports bet middling, arbitrage potentially secures a profit or, at the very least, ensures no loss, irrespective of the game’s outcome. It is unlike the typical middle bet that can still end up in a loss, albeit usually small.

A middle arbitrage bet opportunity typically arises if a punter places wagers on a betting line at different positions but where the odds offered on both are greater or equal to 2.00. It guarantees that the profit of any of the two bets is at least the same as the staked amount or more.

Suppose we want to place a middle arbitrage bet on the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams in the Totals middling example above. The odds offered on the market would have to be 2.20 (or more).

  • Bet 1: Under (43.5) @ 2.20 odds
  • Bet 2: Over (39.5) @ 2.20 odds

The table below shows the potential profit/loss profile with the same $100 bet on the event.

Event Outcome Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Profit/Loss (Bet 1) Total Profit/Loss
Totals greater than 43 points -$100 $120.00 $20
Totals less than 39 points $120.00 -$100 $20
Totals equal to 39, 40, 41, 42, or 43 points $120.00 $120.00 $240.00

As you can see from the table, even if only one wager pans out, the arbitrage sports bet middling will return a $20 profit. And if Lady Luck happens to be on your side and the two win, you will win a sizable profit of $240.

Middling with Live Bets

Live betting middling is a strategy that punters typically use during a sports event that is already in progress, i.e., happening live. Unlike the traditional middle bet options that involve placing pre-match wagers, live middling allows punters to exploit the changing odds and lines during a game. This middle bet live betting strategy presents bettors with unique opportunities to secure profits or minimize losses based on what occurs during the game.

For instance, a hypothetical NBA match-up between the Golden States Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder features a total market of 217.5 at the start of a game. However, as the game progresses, the bookmakers could notice that the final totals will likely be much higher than the anticipated line. In such a case, the bookies will naturally bump the line to about 220.5, especially for the second quarter.

An experienced punter with an “Over” action on the initial line watching the game live will immediately observe an opportunity for middling second-half bets in such a situation. As such, they will then place a live bet for “Under” action on the 220.5 line. Similar to our totals middling bet type, if the totals here are anywhere from 218 and 220 points, both bets would win.

What are the Best Sports for Middle Betting?

Technically, middling betting is a lucrative strategy punters can apply to any sports supporting point spreads or totals markets. However, the term is primarily associated with American football and basketball in the sports betting industry. It is because they offer more frequent and favorable middling opportunities due to the nature of their scoring system, volatility of point spreads, and significant line movement potentials leading up to games.

Middling Betting in NFL Football

Football is one of the most popular sports for middle betting, primarily due to its high-scoring potential and the massive availability of the sport for various betting markets, especially the point spreads and totals.

The National Football League (NFL) is the major American football league where punters shop for middle bets across various sportsbooks. In the period leading up to an NFL game day, significant events that will move the line from its original position can come up, such as injury, a late scratch, or a change in weather conditions. Experienced bettors exploit this opportunity to engage in NFL middle betting, especially those that have already placed a first wager before the line moved.

That said, college football typically offers more opportunities for middling sports bets than the professional alternative, especially if bookmakers offer action on less popular conferences. Games with little attention on them don’t usually attract high betting volume. So, they tend to be less monitored by sportsbooks compared to the big leagues, resulting in significant fluctuations in their lines.

Middle Betting in NBA Basketball

Basketball is another popular sport for middling a bet. It is because, like American football, basketball is a fast-paced game with high-scoring potential, which creates favorable conditions for middle betting.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the major basketball league that most punters rush to find middle sports bets across different bookmakers. Like football, different events can occur leading up to an NBA game, resulting in bookmakers moving the line on point spreads and totals markets downwards or upwards. Any experienced punter that enjoys middle betting would capitalize on this movement to enjoy profits in the long run.

College basketball also offers more opportunities for middling bets due to the significant number of games and less efficiency in markets compared to the professional league.

Is Middling Available in Other Sports?

Aside from American football and basketball, finding middling opportunities in other sports is usually quite difficult. It is primarily because other major sports like hockey, soccer, baseball, and others have less volatility in their point spreads, making middling uncommon. Also, due to their low-scoring potential, the totals markets for these sports are usually low and typically don’t fluctuate enough to create room for a significant middle.

However, while it’s not as prevalent as football and basketball, many other sports and events also feature opportunities for middling bets. Finding them is difficult, so many punters utilize middle betting finder software online.

Best Sportsbooks for Betting Middles

Due to the nature of the wager, punters can place middle bets on most sportsbooks that offer lines on point spreads and totals markets. But to be profitable in the long run, having access to sports betting sites with diverse odds and competitive lines is vital. Some of the best sportsbooks available online today known to offer opportunities for successful middle betting include:

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While these sportsbooks are known to offer great opportunities for middling, it’s always a good idea to compare odds and offerings across multiple sites before placing your bets to maximize your potential profits.

Middling as Bet Hedging

As you may have already inferred, middling in sports betting is another hedging strategy. Bet hedging involves placing multiple wagers on the same event to reduce risk and create a more balanced outcome. It is what middling also does. 

Most experienced bettors are always looking to hedge the bets to reduce variance. However, it is important to note that not every middle bet is worthwhile in the long run. It is essential not to sacrifice positive expected value (+EV). Instead, you should avoid placing wagers with negative EVs or developing a habit of diminishing your positive expectation.

It would help if you always remembered that middling in betting will often result in small losses, which typically only range between 1 and 6% of a punter’s wager, depending on the odds offered. However, when middles succeed with two-wager wins, they tend to compensate for these small losses and keep punters profitable in the long run.

The ultimate objective of every middling betting enthusiast should be to wager on as many middles as possible, focusing on the ones with a long-term positive expected value (+EV).

Vig Considerations in Middle Bets

Perhaps the most significant drawback of middle sports betting is the presence of vigorish, also known as vig or juice. A vig is simply the bookmaker’s commission or fee for facilitating a bet. Sportsbooks charge this fee on every wager, which is typically included in the odds to ensure they profit from a punter’s bet regardless of the eventual outcome.

As a result, vig plays a significant role in middling sports betting. Understanding how it affects your wagers is essential to maintaining a profitable experience in the long run. Ideally, the traditional vigorish for most sportsbooks typically stands at 10% but can be lower or higher depending on the sportsbook. A much higher commission can reduce the profitability of a middle opportunity as the loss incurred from the vig might outweigh the potential gains.

The best way to maximize middling betting opportunities is to seek markets with lower juice for one leg (or both legs, if possible). Doing this will improve your overall profitability by a large margin.

Is Middle Betting Worth It?

In summary, middle betting is a fascinating and dynamic strategy that enhances bettors’ chances of success with sports bets. By taking advantage of shifts in point spreads and totals market lines on sport events, you can place two wagers that will minimize loss and offer the possibility of winning significant profits on both wagers. Middle bets thrive more in sports like American football and basketball due to their frequent scoring and point spread volatility.

That said, middling is not a strategy for casual punters or beginners, as it requires a clear grasp of sports betting, meticulous research, and quick decision-making. It also requires frequently checking the sports betting lines to find middle betting opportunities. So, if you are a casual punter with little experience, this strategy might not suit you. You can explore other strategies first to get familiar with the market and then try to hit the middle later.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is middling in sports betting?
    Middling in sports betting refers to a strategy where a punter places two wagers on the same game or event to exploit differences in odds, point spreads, or totals at different sportsbooks. The goal is to create a middle window where the punter can win both bets or at least win one of the two, resulting in a profit or minimized loss.
  • How do you middle a bet?
    To middle a bet, a punter must place two wagers on the same point spreads or totals market. The key to middling is finding variations in the betting lines from when the market first opens to later when the line moves for any reason. You would need to have staked on the market at the initial line on a sportsbook and then wager on the opposite outcome after the line moves at another sportsbook.
  • Is middling profitable?
    Middling can be profitable when favorable opportunities are identified and executed correctly. While it doesn’t guarantee profits in the pocket every time, it minimizes potential loss and can be profitable in the long run. However, it is important to note that, like any form of betting, this option relies on luck for the game to hit your middle.
  • Can you middle a moneyline?
    No. Hitting a middle requires the possibility of both sides covering their bets, and this is impossible for money lines that produce clear winners on one side and clear losers on the other. That said, a way punters can still engage in a form of middling with money lines is through the arbitrage alternative.
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    Jimmy E
    Writer & Tipster

    Jimmy is our on-duty tipster and writer. His favorite sports are cricket, tennis, and basketball. If you’re looking for the best betting tips in the business, Jimmy’s your guy. His tips and events previews are among the most read at BetZillion.

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