As a someone who has moved from cable to live streaming television, I have not placed many live bets on sporting events.
It’s not that I don’t like the idea of live betting – quite the opposite, really. The thought that I get to make a real-money wager based on what I’ve already seen in a game is very intriguing.
But the delay. Oh man, the delay.
The lag time, or latency, for online streaming television can be anywhere from 30 to 120 seconds. All television has a partial delay built in, but that extra 20-110 seconds (or more) while streaming can be a lifetime during a sporting event.
And considering that it’s of utmost importance for online sportsbooks in Michigan to be up to the second with their live lines, it’s not only hard to keep up while watching a streaming service, but it’s guaranteed to provide spoilers.
So, after being spoiled too many times, I’ve had to adjust the way I use other technology while I watch sporting events (I’m a Hulu Live subscriber). That means avoiding the latest tweets in my timeline, turning off all score alerts and, for the most part, not opening sportsbook apps.
But do I need to? Is there a way to enjoy live sports betting without ruining the viewing experience – the opposite of what it’s meant to do?
I decided to take a week and find out. While a lot of my preconceptions were found to be true, I did learn as I went.
What is live betting?
There are tons of live betting markets available at Michigan online sportsbooks, and they essentially fit into two different categories.
You have updated odds, which are simply the sportsbooks adjusting what was available pregame to match what is happening in a game.
Examples include two offenses getting off to a hot start and the total jumping by a handful of points. Or an underdog jumping out to a surprising lead, and the moneyline moving them to a favorite while the spread shifts to them, as well.
Then there are in-game events, which you cannot find before a game starts. Different sportsbooks brand them differently, but they essentially allow you to bet on what’s going to happen next. Will the next batter get a hit? Which team will be awarded the next corner kick?
As someone who has cut the cord from cable, the former isn’t an issue – for the most part.
With the latter, however, you might as well not be watching the game.
Instant bets are no fun as a cord cutter
If you’re using instant betting to add some intrigue to what you’re watching, then you’re sadly out of luck as a cord-cutter. Especially if viewing the game is your No. 1 priority.
Sportsbooks have done a great job building live game trackers that show you what’s happening as a game is played.
Live ball movement and insights join the typical scores and stats that are at your fingertips. You truly can make informed decisions by what you’ll find in the app.
And if you’re streaming a game live, that’s what you have to do.
I attempted this with three different sports, and it went poorly all three times.
During the Champions League quarterfinal match between Villarreal and Bayern Munich, I placed a $5 in-game bet at BetRivers Sportsbook MI on Villarreal to have the next corner kick. The odds were +330, and my app was telling me that Villarreal was in the midst of a “dangerous attack.”
I, of course, was judging this completely on the app, because it was a full minute ahead of the stream on my television.
This was not smart. By the time the bet cleared, Bayern had moved in for its own “dangerous attack” and a minute later I got to see just how “dangerous” the Villarreal attack was. The answer: not very.
The bet lost about five minutes later, and is one I would not have made based on what I saw on TV.
This was hilariously impossible.
I was watching the NBA Playoffs Play-In game between the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Flash Bet on DraftKings Sportsbook MI was “Team to Score the Next Field Goal” which seems simple enough. But I didn’t know who had the ball, let alone who was on the court for each team. The game was also multiple scores ahead of my TV.
It literally would have been a blind guess.
I had basically given up on instant betting by Sunday night, but figured that baseball might be the way to go about it.
There are enough stops and starts there, I thought, that I probably wouldn’t be too far behind.
Well, I was wrong. On my television, Jacob Cronenworth was batting for the San Diego Padres against the Atlanta Braves. On my FanDuel Sportsbook MI app, Cronenworth was on first and Manny Machado was batting.
Now, I will say that baseball is one sport where simply betting based on the app’s graphics would be easiest. The situation is very straightforward – who’s on which base, how many outs, what’s the score, etc. I don’t need to see a matchup on my TV to make a decision in that case.
But if that’s what you’re looking for, just watch the game on the app and save $65 a month on the streaming service.
Live betting on traditional markets at Michigan sports betting apps
My week of in-game betting did make me feel better, however, about traditional markets.
The key is to go into the game with some plans: what are the potential events in the game you’re looking for; and what are the proper times to login and make the bets while avoiding spoilers.
The answer to the second question depends on the sport, but TV timeouts and quarter/halftime breaks are really your only option. That’s when the action is stopped both on your TV and in real-time. So, not only are you not getting spoiled, but the odds are likely staying still long enough for you to place a bet.
The first question is tougher to figure out, but that’s what makes this fun.
In addition to the soccer, basketball and baseball games, I also watched the USFL game between the Michigan Panthers and Houston Gamblers, and an NHL game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.
I had things I was looking for in each, and they never happened in the soccer and baseball games, so I didn’t place any live bets. Sometimes, that’s a win.
With the Nets’ game against the Cavs, I was watching to see how the teams came out of halftime. If the Nets stretched their lead, I liked them to run away with it because the Cavs would have to get ready for another game a few days later.
The good news is that I saw exactly what I wanted. The line ballooned all the way to Nets -18.5, but I felt a 20-point drubbing coming, so that didn’t matter. Unfortunately, I had not yet learned my own advice and tried to place that bet while the action was live, so it shifted to -19.5 as I was placing the bet.
Not that it mattered, because the bad news was my hypothesis was wildly incorrect, and the Cavs actually made it a game.
My plan as I watched the Rangers and Flyers was to track the total. It was at 5 heading into the second period, with the Rangers leading 1-0. At that point, Under 5 felt like a pretty good bet, but it was at -155. That didn’t feel worth the investment.
But when Kaapo Kakko scored midway through the second, Under 5 jumped to +110 and I grabbed it during the mid-period TV timeout.
Sure, I felt a lot worse about that when Artemi Panarin scored a couple minutes later, but the Flyers’ putrid offense was enough to keep us under and get me the win.
I didn’t know what to expect with the USFL, and I’m pretty sure sportsbooks didn’t either. So, live betting felt like the best option.
The plan was to simply see how good the teams looked, and if something stood out with the spread or the total, jump on it.
Live betting on football isn’t so bad as an online streaming viewer, as there are plenty of stoppages, a lot of which follow a significant event that changes your view (and the sportsbooks’ view) of the game.
The Panthers came into the game as a favorite, and entered the season as one of the favorites to win it all. It didn’t take long, however, to see that may have been a bit off.
Michigan looked pretty rough, and when it fell behind 11-0, I figured it was time to check the live line.
Fortunately for me, DraftKings still only listed Houston as a 3.5-point favorite at the time, so I placed my bet.
Yes, the Panthers clawed back in the second half, but they didn’t cover.
So, can you effectively live bet as a cord cutter?
To my surprise, yes.
You’re likely not going to be able to use the great live tools and markets sportsbooks have incorporated for live betting, at least not to enhance your in-home viewing experience.
But if you have a plan, you can certainly take advantage of live odds movements while keeping the spoilers to a minimum.