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What is a Backdoor Cover?
In sports betting, a backdoor cover is when an underdog team covers the spread at the end of a game. The late score occurs in “garbage time” and does not affect the overall outcome of who the winner of the game is.
It's called a “backdoor cover” because the analogy is that the underdog team is sneaking through the backdoor changing the outcome of a bet at the very end.
Backdoor Cover Examples
Let's say in NFL betting, the Houston Texans are playing the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans are +7.5 point underdogs, meaning to cover the spread they need to either win outright or lose by 7 or fewer points. The Colts are leading 28-14 with one minute left in the game. The Texans score a last-minute touchdown to make the score 28-21, covering the +7.5.
A backdoor cover is not exclusive to football. They often happen in basketball betting as well. For instance, if the Brooklyn Nets (+6.5) were underdogs against the Philadelphia 76ers. If the score was 110-103, but then Brooklyn hit a three-pointer right as time expired, they would earn a backdoor cover.
Depending on your betting position, backdoor covers can either be exhilarating or incredibly frustrating for bettors who think a bet has already been decided.
This is also what makes sports betting apps so popular. You can find late drama and excitement in a game even if the overall outcome no longer hangs in the balance. The possibility of a backdoor cover keeps bettors glued to their seats for the duration of a contest.
How Common is a Backdoor Cover?
Backdoor covers happen more often than you might expect. Betting sites have gotten incredibly accurate when setting the betting lines before a game so it's quite common to see a matchup come right down to the wire with regard to the point spread or point total.
To defend against the possibility of a backdoor cover, you can opt for a teaser bet or alternate betting line which allows you to adjust the spread/total to a more likely outcome. You don't want to get too carried away with this though because the more you adjust the betting line the worse the odds become.
Another option to mitigate your risk of a backdoor cover is by simply betting the moneyline which is just on the outright winner. Again, you will not see favorable odds on favorites but you won't have to worry about a backdoor cover.