Buying Points off the Line in NFL & NBA

The majority of bettors either never buy points or they buy them when it’s –EV because they don’t understand when they should be buying points off of the spread. In this guide we’re going to discuss when you should buy points in the NFL and NBA.

Should I Buy Points Off This NFL Spread?

You’ve most likely asked yourself that question in the past when you see a spread close to a FG or TD. Most bookmakers allow bettors to buy a ½ point to 2 points off of the point spread in the NFL ($.10 per ½ point). If you want to buy a –6 point favorite down to –5.5 it’ll add $.10 to the line, so rather than betting online at –110 odds you’ll be betting at –120 odds. Now, when you want to buy a ½ point off of the key number “3” it’ll cost more ($.15 to $.20 for the ½ point).

Historically in the NFL the only numbers that have been profitable to buy off of or on to is “3” and “7”. Buying a ½ point on a –3 point or –3.5 point favorite has been +EV historically in the NFL and turned a profit. The same can be said for buying a ½ point on a +2.5 point or +3 point underdog. However, you need to get the right price in order to make it +EV. Based on data from WizardofOdds the fair price to pay for buying off of –3.5 points is $.22, -3 points is $.20, +2.5 points is $.22 and +3 points is $.20, which is attainable at most bookmakers. Buying a ½ point off a –7 point or –7.5 point favorite is also +EV as long as you only pay $.10 for the ½ point. The same can be said for buying a ½ point on a +6.5 point or +7 point underdog. The fair price is $.11, but most bookmakers offer the ½ point for $.10.

A few other numbers may be slightly +EV in the NFL, but it isn’t worth spending time on. If you have your own database with closing lines and results you can determine when it’s profitable to buy points using the data. What you need to look at is how often a favorite/underdog of X points wins/loses by exactly the spread.

For example, let’s say there have been 20 favorites of –7 points this season. The favorite won by 8+ points 10 times, won by 6 or less points 7 times and won by exactly 7 points 3 times. Would it better betting the –7 point favorite SU or buy the ½ point? If we bet $110 on the 20 favorites at –7 (-110) we’d win $1000 (10 Wins X $100) and lose $770 (7 X $110) for a $230 profit.

If we bought a ½ point and bet $120 on each favorite at –6.5 (-120) we’d win $1300 (13 Wins X $100) and lose $840 (7 X $120) for a $460 profit. As you can see in this instance it’d be +EV to buy the ½ point although you’d obviously want a bigger sample size.

Should I Buy Points Off This NBA Spread?

A lot of bettors assume that buying points in the NBA is always –EV because a point in the NBA isn’t that valuable. However, when a point spread is small each point becomes more valuable and it can be +EV buying multiple points off of the spread. In the NBA it typically costs $.10 for every ½ point you want to buy although some sportsbooks charge a bit less. Pinnacle (No-USA) or 5Dimes (USA) are two options that charge less, but for the sake of this article we’ll assume you’re paying $.10 per ½ point.

In order to determine if you should buy points you need to build a push chart to place a value on how much certain points are worth. If you don’t have time to build your own you can find some online, but the numbers may be dated or inaccurate. Most handicappers will value each point from 1 – 8 at 2% – 5% with the value of 1 being the lowest. For points from 2-8 most push charts value each point at 3.5% to 4.5% with 5, 6 and 8 points being the most valuable in the NBA.

So let’s say the Raptors are –6 (-110) on the point spread. We need to hit 52.4% of our bets to breakeven at –110 odds. If we buy a full point and knock the spread down to –5 it’ll cost us $.20, which brings the new spread to –4 (-130). At –130 odds we have to hit the bet 56.52% of the time to breakeven. We need to win the 2nd bet 4.12% more often than the initial bet to breakeven.

If your push chart values 5 points at 4.5% it’s +EV to buy the point because you only need to win 4.12% more of the time, but you’re push chart is telling you that your win rate is increasing by 4.5%. Your push chart numbers obviously have to be spot on or else you won’t know whether or not the bet is +EV. A rule of thumb is that buying ½ points in the NBA is rarely +EV. Since most bookmakers allow you to purchase multiple points off of the spread you should typically look at buying 1+ point if you’re thinking about buying points. In the NBA the most common winning margins are 5 points and 7 points. Ideally you want to buy through these numbers.

Taking a –7 favorite and buying them down to –5 points is going to be +EV. Remember to shop for the best lines, especially in the NBA. You may see that one bookmaker is offering the Raptors –6 while every other bookmaker has already moved the line to –7. Betting on the Raptors at –6 in this case would be +EV by itself, but you could also buy 1.5 points to knock the spread down to –4.5 points, which would take a fair market spread of –7 (-110) and knock it down to –4.5 (-140), which would be a great bet. I don’t buy points off of NBA totals because it isn’t worth it, nor do I buy points on big spreads. The value of a point when the point spread is –11 isn’t high enough to make buying points +EV.