What is Middle Betting?

Middling is similar to arbitrage betting, where the aim is to exploit the different prices between bookmakers. Middles occur in Asian Handicap and Over/Under markets and can provide some juicy returns, but also some big losses. There are three types of middles; Positive Middles, Negative Middles and Polish (Inverted) Middles.

Positive Middling

This type of middling is the most valuable as there is no chance of loss, but they can be quite difficult to find. To illustrate positive middling, we’ll use an Asian Handicap betting situation. For positive middling to work, you need to find a market where two bookies intersect and the staking has been calculated to ensure a profitable return. Below is a hypothetical example of a game between Liverpool and Norwich and the four possible outcomes.

Liverpool (-2 goals) 1.90 @ Bookie X (Stake $51.5 for a $46.35 profit)

Norwich (+3 goals) 2.25 @ Bookie Y (Stake $43.5 for a $54.37 profit)

You can not lose when placing a Positive Middle bet.

You can not lose when placing a Positive Middle bet.

Possible Outcome 1

Liverpool win by less than 2 goals, game is drawn or Liverpool lose.

  • You lose the (-2) bet at Bookie X

  • You win the (+3) bet at Bookie Y

Profit = $54.37 - $51.5 = $2.87

Possible Outcome 2

Liverpool win by more than 3 goals

  • You win the (-2) bet at Bookie X

  • You lose the (+3) bet at Bookie Y

Profit = $46.35 - $43.5 = $2.85

Possible Outcome 3

Liverpool win by exactly 2 goals

  • Your (-2) bet for Liverpool is refunded at Bookie X

  • You win the (+3) bet for Norwich at Bookie Y

Profit = $0 + $54.37 = $54.37

Possible Outcome 4

Liverpool win by exactly 3 goals

  • You win the (-2) bet for Liverpool at Bookie X

  • Your (+3) bet for Norwich is refunded at Bookie Y

Profit = $46.35 + $0 = $46.35

Negative Middling

This type of middling is more risky as most of the time you will lose a small percentage of your outlay, but there is a small chance of both bets winning, meaning huge profits. See our example below using an Over/Under market (assuming we put $100 on each bet).

Bookie X - Real Madrid vs Barcelona Total Goals  = Under 3.5 goals @ 1.90

Bookie Y - Real Madrid vs Barcelona Total Goals  = Over 2.5 goals @ 1.90

Possible Outcome 1

Total goals scored in the game is 4 or more

  • Your bet with Bookie Y (Over 2.5 goals) wins - $100 x 1.90 = $90 profit

  • Your bet with Bookie X (Under 3.5 goals) loses = $100 loss

Profit = A loss of $10

Possible Outcome 2

Total goals scored in the game is 2 or less

  • Your bet with Bookie Y (Over 2.5 goals) loses = $100 loss

  • Your bet with Bookie X (Under 3.5 goals) wins - $100 x 1.90 = $90 profit

Profit = A loss of $10

Possible Outcome 3

Total goals scored in the game is 3

  • Your bet with Bookie Y (Over 2.5 goals) wins - $100 x 1.90 = $90 profit

  • Your bet with Bookie X (Under 3.5 goals) wins - $100 x 1.90 = $90 profit

Profit = $90 + $90 = $180

Is Negative Middling useful?

Let’s take a look at how useful this method of betting is, in other words, how often do you need the middle to land in order to break-even. If you won your first ever middle bet you pocket $180, which means if you lose the next 18 bets you can sustain the $180 (assuming the odds and staking are the exact same every 18 bets). So, if this middle bet lands more than once every nineteen games, your strategy has a positive expected value.

Polish (Inverted) Middles

This type of middling is the opposite to negative middling, to obtain a profit you want the Asian Handicap or the Over/Under to fall outside of the middle. Polish Middling is perhaps the most dangerous type of middling as there is a chance you can lose both of your bets, but there is a greater chance you will earn a small profit. See our example below (assuming we put $100 on each bet).

Liverpool (-3.5 goals) 2.25 @ Bookie X 

Norwich (+2.5 goals) 2.25 @ Bookie Y 

Polish Middling is like backing a 1.125 favourite.

Polish Middling is like backing a 1.125 favourite.

Possible Outcome 1

Liverpool win by 4 or more goals

  • You win the (-3.5) bet at Bookie X

  • You lose the (+2.5) bet at Bookie Y

Profit - $125 - $100 = $25

Possible Outcome 2

Liverpool win by 2 or less goals, draw, or lose

  • You lose the (-3.5) bet at Bookie X

  • You win the (+2.5) bet at Bookie Y

Profit - $125 - $100 = $25

Possible Outcome 3

Liverpool win by exactly 3 goals

  • You lose the (-3.5) bet at Bookie X

  • You lose the (+2.5) bet at Bookie Y

Profit = A loss totalling $200

Is Polish Middling useful?

Just like we did with Negative Middles, let’s take a look at how useful this method of betting is. If you lost your first ever middle bet you lose $200, which means you would have to win your next eight bets to retrieve your $200 (assuming the odds and staking are the exact same every eight bets). So, if your bet hits the middle more than once out of every nine games, your strategy has a negative expected value.

So, is middling worth it?

It’s definitely worth it if there is considerable disagreement in the market between bookies. But bettors need to remember that betting a Negative Middle is the equivalent of backing a long shot, and betting a Polish Middle is the same as putting your money on a 1.125 favourite. 

If you’re looking for some assistance in placing middle bets, try OddStorm or Rebelbetting to give you some help.

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