What Does “Betting on the Come” Mean?

The meaning of the phrase “betting on the come” varies between sportsbooks, but it always means you are placing a wager on an outcome before the game or event has taken place.

For instance, if you are backing the New York Yankees in the World Series and they are up by three games to one, then you would say they are “ahead in the game” or that the game is “in the bag.” If they lose the next two games, then you would definitely want to adjust your wager from “win” to “loss” as your betting odds should go up.

In other sports, you might say that the first half of a basketball game was “in the bag” because the home team had already won the game before the period ended. Or you might say that golfer Francesca Clapsaddle had the wind in her favor so that the ball went in the hole before she even started her swing.

Not all wagers are predicated on who will win the game or event. Some bookmakers offer “insurance” wagers where you can get paid if an event you are backing does not happen according to your predictions. If you are insuring a punt in American football, for instance, you might say that the player “hits the ball well” and it “lands inside the 20” (lines the player up for a potential game-winning touchdown). In case his team does not score, you will be compensated.

Why Do Bookmakers Offer These Odds?

Aside from the fact that most sports are now “global” and bookmakers want to attract all types of wagering customers, these types of wagers are popular because they provide a way for bookmakers to make money during an off-season.

Take American football as an example. The league typically has a lull in activity from October to April. This is the time when most people are in school and not participating in any football-related activities. With the end of the season coming up, teams are not playing, fans are not going to the games, and there is not much for the bookmakers to do. During this time, they might not get many bets placed, but it is still possible. So what do they do?

They use statistics and formulae to determine the “true” winner of games, placing bets on the outcome before the fact. Thus, if you are insuring a game, you might get paid even if the team you are backing loses because, in some cases, the winning odds are so high that it is basically a sure thing that the game you are backing will win. Imagine backing the New York Yankees in a world series game and they lose. Even though your winnings could be huge, since the odds were so astronomical in your favor, you would not get your money back as the bookmaker took their cut and voila! You’made’ money in the process.

When Is It Appropriate To Place A wager On The Come?

Placing a wager on the come means that you are betting on an outcome before that outcome is known. This makes it a bit more risky than simply backing a team because you might lose some money if the game does not end up as you predicted. However, there are times when this type of wager is appropriate, such as:

  • When you are receiving a prop bet (propaganda meaning “before the fact” in Italian) from a bookmaker. For instance, if you are getting a prop bet on the Yankees / Red Sox World Series, it would be smart to do some research on who will be the starting pitcher for each team before placing your wager.
  • When you are getting multiple wagers on the same event (for example, if you are betting on both the Red Sox and Yankees in the World Series and you want your wagers to “stack up” in your favor). In this case, you are essentially getting paid to take a chance, and sometimes this is the only way to make some extra cash while staying within the rules. If you are getting multiple wagers on the same event and you do not have a system or way of analyzing them to determine the best one, then it might be wise to simply take the first bet you see because there is no guarantee that others will stack up in your favor. Take the money and play with it some more, but if you lose, you lose.
  • When you are placing a bet on the individual performances of athletes (for example, an “over/under” bet on the number of touchdowns a specific player will score). In case your bet does not work out, you at least have the entertainment value of watching an NBA basketball game or other sports events you are following.
  • When you are placing a bet on an event that has a relatively high “over/under” (for example, a basketball game with an “over” or a football game with an “under”). The reason for this is that, with high over/unders, there is a good chance of your “wager” not even being placed because the bookmaker does not think there is any money to be made from them (high probability of an event happening as described). In this case, you are basically playing with the house’s money and the risk is high, but the reward can be great if your bet comes through.
  • When you are placing a wager on some incident, situation, or event that has a relatively low “probability” of occurring as you described it (for example, getting three goals in a sudden death period in a Superbowl football game). In most cases, when there is a low probability of an event happening, there is also no way for you to know if it will happen or not (ambiguity). Thus, in a sense, you are ‘taking a chance’ and there is always the possibility of you losing money (risk).

Hopefully, you can see how these types of wagers work and how they provide an interesting strategy for sports bettors. Just remember: there is no free lunch! You are giving the house an advantage by not fully understanding the terms of the wager you are making. In some instances, this can lead to severe financial problems as bookmakers know how to manipulate the odds in their favor.