With the growth of legalized sports betting across the country, it’s easier than ever for bettors to place live wagers. Gone are the days of having to set up camp at a physical sportsbook to get action down on events in progress.
Motorsports are no exception. However, sportsbooks often limit the available markets for live betting. You can often only pick between outrights and matchups. For a more thorough breakdown of those wager types, check out our write-up about them.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize your returns on live betting markets.
1. Do: Target Drivers Trending Up
Things change during a race. The track surface will gain rubber, which can help drivers find grip. The temperature may rise or fall, too, swinging the grip level even further. Teams can make good adjustments to their cars, allowing them to find speed later in a race. They can also make bad adjustments, too.
The best way to get an edge over the books is to do your homework. Look at the speed trends available via different live scoring sites, like IndyCar race control. Target drivers who recently recorded fast laps. Fade those who don’t have the pace to maintain their current running position.
2. Don’t: Buy High on the Favorites
Once a race starts, the books shorten the lines for the favorites. The leader may see his or her odds plummet from +1000 to +500 or +400 early in the event. As the halfway point approaches, you’ll often find the leader sitting at +200 to +100. Motorsport circuits with less parity, like Formula 1, will often see the favorite dip heavily into the minus money.
It can be tempting to put action down on the leader if they get out to a good start. But remember, tracks change, and late-race chaos can ruin a good bet. The mid-race odds for the leader to win rarely offer strong expected value. Further, the mid-race odds for a driver currently beating his matchup opponent will often slip down to -150 to -200. That’s a significant departure from the point of raw mathematical value in a matchup market, +100.
It’s tough to miss out on a good bet pre-race. But it’s rarely a good idea to buy a worse line late just because you’re disappointed about missing a solid play before the green flag waved.
3. Do: Make Contrarian Matchup Bets
Live matchup markets are a fantastic source of value. Books will peg the juice on these lines to where the drivers are currently running on the track, which isn’t always the best indicator of performance. For instance, drivers can get on different pit strategies, which can cause the better performer to run behind the worse one for multiple laps.
Remember, +100 is the magic number for matchups. These bets have a 50/50 chance of hitting from a purely mathematical perspective. Getting a live matchup at odds between +200 and, say, +125, usually offers a positive return. Just make sure that you have a good reason, like pit strategy or speed trends, for making a contrarian matchup bet.
4. Don’t: Burn Your Bankroll
Live betting can be fun, especially when you already have action down on a race. But even smart bettors can be tempted to burn their winnings because of the number of available markets. Sudden events during a race can make any driver seem appealing, so it’s important to remember that only one driver can actually win.
It’s rarely a good idea to target a long shot on outright markets purely because they get on a different pit strategy or they start leading for unconventional reasons. It might make for a great story. The returns can be appealing, too. But sharp bettors bet with their heads, not their hearts—long shots have long odds for a reason.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.