Buying a half point, or “buying the hook” as it is known in the sports betting world, is a somewhat common practice. Bettors can buy a half point in order to increase their chances of winning. Sounds like a good proposition, right?
In most cases, quite the opposite is true. Buying the hook, which costs ten cents, is most commonly done on spreads of 3 and 7 points. Bettors buy a half point thinking they are tipping the odds in their favor. For example, a college football game has a spread of -7. You decide to buy a half point to make that spread -6.5. Now, when the favorite wins by a touchdown, the bet is covered and you are a winner.
By not buying the half point in the same scenario, when the favorite wins by a touchdown, the bet is a draw and it is refunded. This practice might seem like it makes sense in a football world where many games are decided by 3 or 7 points. But, don’t forget that when you buy a half point from -3.5 to -3 and the favorite wins by two, you still lose. When that same favorite wins by 3, you still do not win. You just don’t lose.
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Even though it seems like a winner, this is not the case. More games will end with the half point making no difference. Consider the following. Between 1990 and 2008, home teams with a spread of -3.5 covered 62.8 percent of the time. During the same period, home teams favored by 3 covered 61 percent of the time. That is just not enough to warrant buying the half point.
Looking at the statistics, it does not appear that buying the hook supplies a worthwhile advantage. When placing normal bets, you need to win 52.38 percent of the time in order to break even. If you want to buy the half point, you need to win 54.55 percent of the time.
The advantage is clearly with the sportsbook when it comes to buying the half point. Think about it. If buying the hook was so advantageous for bettors, would sportsbooks even allow it? Buying the half point can still be done on occasion. It should be used to save a potential loser, though, not to create potential winners.
There is a great alternative to buying the half point – teaser bets. Teaser bets are similar to a parlay. You must wager on multiple games and, like a parlay, you must hit on all aspects of the bet in order to win. Instead of a half point, when you engage in a teaser bet, you are able to skew the spread by 6 points in your favor.
For example, if you choose two games where the spread betting is, say -2 and -3, you are able to change those by 6 points in either direction. The new spreads could be -8 and -9, for example, to increase your chances of winning. The return, of course, on a teaser bet is lower, but this type of bet is easier than choosing one game in which to buy a half point.
2018 NFL Football Season