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Sports Betting: Buying Off The Hook

Sports Betting: The Hook
by David Lane

Ask any sports handicapper what the worst thing is that ever happened to them in their own sports wagering experience and almost inevitably, it involves either losing by an unbelievable comeback and/or losing by "the hook" - the ‘meaningless’ half a point books love hanging on lines. It happens so often I’ve had nightmares about it. Believe me, after waking up in a cold sweat with my pulse racing and steam coming out of my ears I realized that this is no way to be yanked from the sanctuary that all too often impersonates sleep. Okay, maybe I don’t sleep that soundly (or that well) to begin with, however, get stung by the hook and the sting seems to linger a bit longer than usual. Ask around and sure enough, most players really don’t think much about the hook until it comes into play, haunting them in almost every case and costing him/her precious dollars - making it truly the half point from hell!

Too often, wagers are made with no concern for the half point. Thing is, it’s not just the inexperienced gambler who neglects to realize it's impact; many seasoned veterans overlook the hook as well. After kicking one in the teeth a few times, you’d think the writing would be on the wall and bettor would avoid it at all cost. If you realize that what the hook essentially means to both the book and the player is that ties lose. It is also the books’ way of not scaring off a player who may otherwise be on the proverbial fence while making a selection and it keeps the wager attractive by saying Toronto must win by seven and a half instead of by having to win by eight. No matter how illusive it looks, Toronto still must win by eight in order for the ticket to payoff.

While I'm warning people about the hook, I’m not saying to avoid it either. There wouldn’t be many teams left to wager on if you took out all the ones that involved a half point in the spread or game total. By this time in this article, I Imagine many readers might be wondering how a bettor could do anything about altering the spread since I’m sure there’d be lots of things they’d like to change if they knew how and if it were possible! Two ideas come to mind.

First, you can buy off the half point for what will likely cost you $10 more per $100 that your trying to win. (Unless it's involving the number 3 in football). Second, a way to avoid the hook is to play at numerous online sportsbooks and make sure that you shop for the best line possible. Not all sportsbooks carry the same lines and you can often times find a half point different at a different online bookie.

You should constantly be looking for an edge when betting on sports and line shopping is one of the biggest edges you can have. It can in fact increase your winning percentage by 2-3% each year and that's a bundle of cash if your betting anything significant.

There are another couple of ways we can eliminate the hook in sports betting as well. One is called teaser bet. In this type of bet, the bettor gets to move the line by 4,5,6,7 etc points (depending on the sport and what the bookie offers) but there's a catch; you have to pick at least two teams and get them right. (Some bookies ties lose.)

The second way to get rid of the hook is by taking "the moneyline" (takes spread out of the bet completely and team merely has to win by one point).

As a sidenote, some good online bookies will allow you to buy down the hook on parlays too. There is surely a price to pay for it though.

In summary, there you have options at your disposal for getting rid of that pesky half point. Be advised though, that if you were to buy the hook off of every game you bet, mathematically, it is a losing proposition.

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