Hook Betting Term Meaning


‘I lost by the hook.’ is a well-known phrase in the world of sports betting, but what exactly is ‘the hook?’ This article digs into the meaning of this betting term to find out.


The hook is a half point added to handicap, spread betting and over/under markets to ensure that each bet has a winner. It is known as a hook because it pulls you to one side of the bet or the other.


Before the usage of a hook, you could encounter a betting market such as Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace over/under three goals in the English Premier League. Depending on the side you backed, the win possibilities are:


Total number of goals in game

If you bet under 3 goals

If you bet over 3 goals

0

Win

Lose

1

Win

Lose

2

Win

Lose

3

Stake refunded

Stake refunded

4 or more

Lose

Win


The last thing the bookmaker wants to do is refund stakes. Its job is to price a market that attracts equal betting on both sides, so it profits from the event regardless of the result and a refunded stake equals no profit.


Enter the hook, the over/under three goals market is effectively replaced by over/under 2.5 goals. It is now impossible for the stake to be refunded. The bet is either a winner or a loser.


Total number of goals in game

If you bet under 2.5 goals

If you bet over 2.5 goals

0

Win

Lose

1

Win

Lose

2

Win

Lose

3

Lose

Win

4 or more

Lose

Win


The hook originated in US spread betting (handicap betting to UK readers). These markets are incredibly popular for basketball and American football, especially in games with a heavy favourite. For example, if Golden State Warriors are playing the L.A. Lakers in the NBA, it is difficult for the bookmaker to attract interest in L.A. as Golden State are most likely to win. Spread betting solved this conundrum by handicapping GSW and giving a head start to L.A.


  • Golden State Warriors (-14) @1.95

  • Los Angeles Lakers (+14) @1.95


Bettors could now take a risk on L.A. because they have a 14 point head start. From the bookmakers perspective this is perfect because it has created a balanced market but if GSW wins by 14 points exactly, stakes are refunded. For this reason, the hook was invented, so the new market would appear like:


  • Golden State Warriors (-14.5) @1.95

  • Los Angeles Lakers (+14.5) @1.95


A bettor backs Golden State with this points spread. The Warriors win 114 - 100 (14 point winning margin). Unfortunately, the bettor ‘lost by the hook’ having back GSW at -14.5 points.


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