4 Tips for Betting on Any Sport by Quarter

Quick Tips Betting Sports

No matter which sport you’re handicapping, when you bet on the outcome of the game as a whole, there are endless variables to account for along the way. What’s an easy sports betting strategy for making it a little bit more manageable?

Betting on individual quarters, of course!

Regardless of the sport, nearly every single betting platform gives players the option to utilize quarter bets, complete with their own odds that may or may not reflect the odds for the entire game. In this article, I’ll go over some tips you can apply to any sport when you take advantage of this option.

1. Know Who Has the Ball

This one sounds like it should be pretty obvious, but it’s overlooked all the time by bettors who fail to consider the implications of having more possessions during a quarter. It’s easy to understand why, too.

For Example:
Look at an NFL game as a whole. Who receives the ball first isn’t really going to impact the outcome of the game, because each team will start with the ball for one half. However, when you’re just looking at a 15-minute stretch of time, who starts with the ball matters a great deal.

It’s not unheard for an NFL team’s drive to eat up more than half the quarter. If a team isn’t starting out with the ball and is the favorite for the period, you might be in trouble. Think of it this way: An NFL team gets roughly 12 possessions, or three per quarter, per game.

Please Note:
If a team is starting with the ball to begin the quarter, that puts them at a significant advantage, not just in the sense of scoring more points, but getting more opportunities to score more points.

I’m not suggesting that you should always go with the team who has the ball first, but I am saying that it’s something you should at least be taking into account when you’re evaluating your options. One extra possession can make all the difference in the final result of the quarter as its own little “game.”

2. Think of Moneylines for the Losing Team

One of my favorite bets in the world of handicapping is the moneyline underdog. As someone who bets on sports on a regular basis, I believe the concept of value is what separates the winners from the losers over a long period of time. Simply put, I like being in a position to win more money than I’m risking.

Because a handful of plays can be the determining factor in a 15 (NFL) or 12-minute (NBA) period, sportsbooks recognize that any team can win at least a quarter of a game, even if they’re wildly overmatched when considering the game as a whole. Still, betting on a team to win a quarter at +175 seems like a great deal. And if you can make multiple moneyline underdog bets per game, you’re giving yourself a chance to make that value work in your favor.

When a team is losing, especially by a large margin, it’s only human nature for them to take their foot off the gas. That’s not to say they’re going to relinquish their lead, but they may not be trying to pour it on like they were when the game started.

Here’s an example that I’ve found success with:
An NBA team that’s down 15+ points in third or fourth quarter is at a unique advantage in that they’re trying to climb back in the game, while their opponent is looking to maintain the current differential. This mismatch of effort (which is totally natural and can be chalked up to human nature) gives bettors who go with the underdog a slight advantage. When a team can lose the quarter and still be ahead by double digits, the urgency to add to the deficit just isn’t there.

Look, I wouldn’t say that you should always be taking the moneyline underdog when betting quarters. That’s not the case. However, recognize that the public tends to think that teams who are winning by a lot are going to continue their domination of the game, and this can present an opportunity for contrarian bettors who aren’t afraid of a little risk.

3. Consider Rest Implications

Even the most durable players in pro sports need a break from time to time. In the NBA, this is a frequent topic of discussion as star players have recognized that the damage their bodies sustain during the regular season can be a serious impediment to making a playoff run.

How does that apply to betting on quarters?
It’s crucial to identify when a star player is going to spend most of the period on the bench.

Continuing with the NBA example, it’s fairly common for a team’s best player to head to the bench at the very end of the first quarter, then return halfway through the second quarter before exiting the game prior to halftime. This formula isn’t set in stone, but it’s logical in terms of achieving maximum effectiveness when it comes to the game itself, and still being cautious about overuse.

So, what does this mean for bettors?
It’s been my experience that the prime scenario for those looking to take the moneyline underdog is when a team removes their best player from the game, be it temporarily or for the rest of the contest. This happens regularly in the NFL.

A losing team is going to do everything they can to get back into a game when they don’t have to face their opponent’s best players. They might not actually get within striking distance when you look at winning the game outright, but that’s not what matters.

If a team is down 14 points at the end of the first quarter and you take the losing team on the moneyline in the second quarter, you win if they’re doing 13 points heading into halftime!

Even though it’s undoubtedly challenging to predict when certain players are going to be in or out of the game, you should be able to identify—with some accuracy—situations when it’s more likely than not for a player to take a seat. When stars are removed from the equation, go with the team who needs to come back from a deficit.

4. Beware the Hook

First and foremost, this one pertains mostly to football (in some ways, it could have basketball implications, but it will always matter in football).

The hook can be deadly if you take the favorite.

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, the “hook” is the .5 added to a point spread. For example, when looking at a -7.5-point spread, if you take the favorite and they win by seven points, you’d lose your bet because of the “hook.”

For Example:
In both college and pro football,online sportsbooks often have spreads of -3.5 or -7.5 for a specific quarter. It makes sense; the sportsbook doesn’t want to have any pushes on these types of bets. However, if you’re thinking of betting on the favorite, remember that these lines often mean you’ll need an additional score—which takes an additional possession, takes time, etc.

I’m not saying the hook should be a disqualifying factor, but recognize that it adds a new element to the challenge of covering the spread with limited time to work with.


Any time you’re able to break down a full game into smaller segments, it makes betting just a little bit easier.

Instead of having to evaluate and predict all the action, you can focus on a portion of the game as its own individual event. If at first you don’t succeed, you have chances to recoup your money within the same game.

Just be careful that you aren’t going overboard with your wager amounts or your bankroll could shrink in a hurry. At the end of the day, just like all other types of bets, the more you try it, the better you’ll get.


Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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