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What is the Hook in Sports Betting?

by January 12, 2022
Early 2022-2023 NBA MVP Odds: Joel Embiid

The number one thing you learn when you sports bet for an extended period of time, the hook giveth, and the hook taketh away. Some memorable moments, both for the better and for the worse have come from the hook. But what exactly is it? Simply put, the hook represents the margin of winning needed for either side to cover the spread or a number of points needed to cover either side of a total bet. Hooks appear as a .5 at the end of any whole-number point spread and exist in basketball or football mainly. The odds are carefully calculated and generally the same across all sportsbooks, and very similar if not exactly the same, so these “hooks” can be the difference in massive amounts of money for them, so they create these spreads extremely carefully. Here are some recent examples of the hook coming into play in the NBA.

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Last night, the Brooklyn Nets played at the Indiana Pacers with the line set for -8.5 for Brooklyn. The Pacers stormed out to a commanding lead, at one point reaching nineteen points, but they broke down in the second half, losing the game by eight by the score of 129-121. However, even in this 27-point swing, the Pacers held on to cover their spread of +8.5 by the hook. On the flip side, Brooklyn bettors lost by the hook, as they needed to win by nine or more points to cover their -8.5 spread, set pregame.

It seems like betting on the Indiana Pacers is a stressful venture, as they welcomed the Houston Rockets to their arena on December 23, 2021, with the Over/Under set at 223.5 points pre-game. They played a back-and-forth game, with the final score ending 118-106 Pacers, for a total of 224 points. The over covered by the hook, while the under lost by the hook.

Some people prefer to buy points to avoid losing by the hook, and while there is less needed to be done by the team to cover, it costs more to bet on these. It is usually a smart idea to do this, but if more than a half-point is bought, a new hook could be created after all. For more on buying points, click here to see my article on buying points. (was thinking hyperlink the “here” once the Buying points article is published)

In researching these games, there were already multiple point spread bets to cash (or lose) by the hook in 2022, while this game two weeks ago was the last time that the hook was relevant on a total bet. These are some of the most thrilling victories and heartbreaking defeats that sports betting has to offer, and there is an opportunity for this in every game that is wagered.

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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.

Josh Weil is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @Josh_Weil.

Bet Types, Betting 101, How-To