HTFT in low scoring NFL and Rugby

There are advantages in betting on the Half Time and HalfTime / FullTime markets of rugby and NFL under circumstances where the price has been over-estimated. The prices can be found both at the bookmaker and the exchange*. Our advantage play game is to find the conditions where the price is in our favour.

NFL and rugby are high scoring games. On average there are around 44-45 points per game in both sports. The distribution of points in the last few years is:


The scoring framework is similar aswell;

Field Goal = 3pts
Touchdown+extra point 7pts

Penalty = 3pts
Try+conversion 7pts

To simplify this analysis I am going to ignore
RUGBY – unconverted tries, and
NFL – unconverted touchdowns and two point conversions and safeties.
In NFL, unconverted extra points are relatively rare, as are two point conversions in the first half of games. Unconverted tries are more common in rugby.

A low scoring game will have fewer than 39.5 points. Very low scoring games may have lower than 29.5 points. When there is a low scoring game there are not many permutations of scores at Half Time. Assuming two evenly matched teams will score 40 points in a match, at half time there are 12 permutations of scores


As can be seen, a quarter of the permutations of scores are a draw. Statistically we have around a 3/1 chance of a draw at Half Time. This is a slight underestimation because of the other scoring options, however at most the odds will be 5/1.


Bookmakers and exchanges* often vastly under-estimate the chance of a draw at Half Time in NFL and rugby. In low scoring games we can occasionally find odds up to 12/1 for a draw at Half Time, and 25/1 for HTFT draw/fav, even though the odds will be closer to 5/1 (HT) and 10/1 (HTFT).

Where multiple bookmakers price a line incorrectly we often find the exchanges follow suit; so if we can’t get the best price on oddschecker, we can often get a great price on the exchange*. If the market is empty we can stick a back up, and let one of a number of well known arbing sites know about the fantastic arb between the best price on oddschecker and the back trade we have waiting to go.

*At Bookie Bashing we have often used the assumption that the exchange price can’t be beaten. This is intended for mature, liquid markets which have been shaped by a lot of smart money; e.g. 1×2 in Premiership football, moneyline in NFL etc. HT and HTFT in NFL and rugby are relatively illiquid markets, and as a result it is easier to find an edge over the exchange price.

We are looking for games with the following conditions (3+4+5 are preferable but not necessary):

1. Low Scoring prediction
2. Relatively evenly matched teams, the fav shouldn’t be shorter than 1.3
3. Adverse weather conditions. Fewer tries and touchdowns are scored in snow/sleet/heavy rain/strong wind
4. High pressure games at the end of a season or in knockout in major competition
5. Injuries to key offensive players

Real Life Case Study

On 7th January 2018 the Bills played the Jaguars in the NFL playoffs.

A low scoring game was expected; the weather conditions were adverse, there were injuries to key offensive players, it was a high pressure game. The jags were marginal favourites for the game.

The total points line moved to 38.5 by syndicate money that had come in by Sunday morning.

With a draw at Half Time becoming increasingly likely, all books reduced the total points line. However many books maintained the same HT and HTFT odds, which were very high to begin with. HT draw was 10/1 at the 888 group, and HTFT draw/jags was 20/1 at Boyles.

Conservatively, the real odds of a draw at HalfTime were (at most) 6/1, and HTFT draw/jags 12/1.

Obviously nobody has a working Boyles account, however I stuck a trade up at betfair at 18.5 and let a couple of the popular arbitrage / matched betting sites know about this great opportunity.

With no points in the first quarter, the game was 3-3 at half time. The jags ran out a very low scoring game 10-3 for a decent payday.