TSP Live Education: Counter Buys, In-Play, 2nd Half Wagers & MORE!

On the morning of March 14 (2024), I released a wager in TSP Live on Xavier/UConn UNDER 149.5 for the TSP Live Portfolio. Shortly after the release, a counter buy hit on the OVER 149 and above. Counter buys tend to be strong angles to bet…betting with the late money when it hits…in this case taking the OVER 149.

Counter buys are when sharps hit one side and then other sharp money hits the opposite side of the wager later on. It’s similar to a head fake except that head fakes tend to have small sharp volume and then are followed by a massive move across the market later when limits are high. Counter buys don’t see such aggressive opposite buying. So, a sharp head fake would be they bet $1000 on UNDER and then $10,000 on OVER when limits go up. Counter buy will see $1000 on UNDER and then $2000 on OVER…so it’s a disparity, but not as large as a head fake.

Given this new information, I had some concerns about my initial UNDER 149.5 bet. As a bettor faced with this information, what can you do?!?!

The following is what I discussed on Telegram in terms of strategy to handle the counter buy…

A counter buy killed the Algorithm Selection (Oklahoma/TCU UNDER 144) the previous day (March 13th). On March 13th, I discussed using in-play as an option if you wanted to buyout or play the middle on the game. Unfortunately, the in-play target never hit…although there were a few occasions in-play where you could have bought out of the UNDER 144 for an in-play bet on OVER 144 and just lost vig.

In the Xavier/UConn example on March 14th, the in-play target based on where the counter buy hit would have been to bet OVER 140.5 (more on this math later).

Shortly after the game got underway, the in-play total dipped to 145.5. So, you could get a very tight 4 point middle…but it’s still a middle. It’s not the target, but it’s an option for panicky bettors. What is a middle? The wager is a “middle” because the pregame wager was UNDER 149.5 and the in-play would be to take OVER 145.5. So, there is a chance the final score could fall “in the middle”. For me, I was ride or die on the initial wager, and not looking to buy out, but that’s me and everyone is different so I wanted to provide this discussion.

Since a lot of rookie bettors will shit their pants when there is a counter buy on the other side of a wager they took…especially if they went in HARD…it is good to know options to eject from a bet. In-play and 2nd Half wagering is a great way to eject…if the setup and price is right! Sometimes (like you will soon see) you can with BOTH the original and the “eject” bet!

The game went to halftime with a point total of 67 points. When the halftime markets opened, the 2nd Half total was 80. If you bet the OVER 80, you would win the original bet (UNDER 149.5) and push the 2H bet on a final point total of 147. You would win both bets (original UNDER and 2nd Half OVER) on a final point total of 148 and 149…and you would lose the pregame bet, but win the 2nd Half bet if 83 points or more were scored. It’s a pretty tight middle and hopefully nobody went in hard on a 0.1 unit wager…but if you did or you are sweating profusely for some reason at the prospect of being opposite a counter buy then you could potentially get out for some vig…with the chance of winning both bets…by taking OVER 80 for the 2nd Half.

Why not just bet a counter buy pregame?!? The one problem with betting counter buys pregame is the books tend to move aggressively on counter buys. So, the problem is often the line when the counter buy hits immediately moves and the price you can now get is no longer in the sweet spot for playing the counter buy.

So, when I report any counter buys, you could avoid betting the counter buy wager pregame and just see what comes up in-play. Don’t chase bad numbers, especially for material wagers.

Often if a game is slow for the first minute or two, a total closing OVER 150 could drop to OV148 in the first 60 to 90 seconds…perhaps hitting the price (or better) where the counter buy took place. Let’s pretend the counter buy hit at 149 like it did with the Xavier/UConn game. The early slow start gives you OVER 148 immediately which is better than the pregame price…and the price where the counter buy took place. You are now riding a counter buy for a price that was never available when the counter buy hit the market pregame. For me personally, I prefer to take the optimal target. The optimal target this season on totals has been use the worst price sharp money hit (OVER 150 and drop it 9 points plus get a hook if one is not included). So, in this case I would want 150 – 9 = 141…but I want a hook in my favor so I will settle for 140.5.

With about 8 minutes left in the UConn game, the in-play target on the counter buy was achieved at OV140.5.

At this point I posted the following on Telegram…I ride the initial wager, but let’s see how it ends and hopefully all this can be a helpful lesson and a strategy you keep in your arsenal for future situations where you might want to use it.

Well, the ending could not have been any better! With 2:34 to go, the game was a blowout and it looked like the in-play target would not hit (129 points). UConn and Xavier would likely put in scrubs, burn clock, take silly shots, and that would be it…not much more scoring…and we needed 12 points for that in-play target to cash…although the pregame UNDER looked solid. Well, the final two minutes saw things heat up and ALMOST kill the pregame UNDER 149.5 after looking like it wouldn’t even hit the in-play OVER of 140.5.

In the end…UConn 87 – Xavier 60 for 147 points! WOW!!!! Sweaty…and a pretty middle!

How did all of the above wagers I discussed above shake out?!?

If you took the OV80 for the 2nd Half…PUSH.

If you took the in-play OVER target based on the counter buy of 140.5…WIN!

The initial was on UNDER 149.5 was a WINNER as well!

Taking the OVER 148 immediately in-play as a way to buy out of the wager did not win. Further showing that while you would have successfully bought out of your pregame wager, you didn’t leave yourself much of a middle to win both wagers. It would have had to fall perfectly on 149 to hit both. So, looking to play the target is the optimal way for a chance to win both bets…BUT…if you need to get the hell out of a bet…the 148 would have done the job just fine and left you a tight middle in the process.

So, how about that?!?! You could have cashed an OVER and an UNDER on the same game using some effort to monitor prices thanks to information in TSP Live about where sharps were betting both sides of the total. Knowing where sharps were betting allowed you to then create optimal in-play target prices.

Don’t discount the value and power of using The Sharp Plays information not just pregame but in-play! In-play bettors can often be the most successful bettors using TSP content because of all the versatility that in-play offers.

Thanks for giving this a read and good luck this March Madness and every day you are in action!