New gamblers may think that sports betting odds are standard across all sportsbooks. However, this perception is far from the truth.
Each sportsbook prices its odds differently, which creates an opportunity for line shopping. If you’ve never heard the term, line shopping can prove to be the difference between making a profit (or not) on your sports bets. That’s especially true for regular bettors.
Here’s an in-depth exploration of line shopping and why you should incorporate it into your betting strategy.
What is line shopping?
Line shopping is the simple act of comparing odds and lines from various sportsbooks, so you can opt for the most valuable option. Essentially, if you can get higher odds for the same bet, then you guarantee a higher payout. Line shopping ensures you get the most bang for your buck. That’s why many sharps insist on shopping for odds.
Line shopping will depend on your situation. For example, let’s say you want to place a totals bet on an upcoming NFL game. Two different sportsbooks have the following over/under lines:
If you wish to bet the over in this football game, you have two choices. However, one is clearly more advantageous. If you pick DraftKings Arizona’s line and the game nets exactly 36 points, you’ll win your bet. That doesn’t apply to FanDuel Arizona’s offer though. If you pick Fanduel and the game hits exactly 36 points, you get nothing in return.
On the flip side, let’s say you want to bet the under. Fanduel gives you a greater margin of error because if the game reaches exactly 36 points, you end up winning your bet. By contrast, 36 points in DraftKings is greater than the 35.5 line, so any bet on the under in that scenario will be marked a loss.
This same principle applies to point spreads. If you’re backing the favorites, look for a sportsbook that gives the favorites an easier handicap. For example, if you see two options of -2.5 and -3.5, go for -2.5 because it’s more favorable to you. Plus, it’s more valuable since both are priced at the same odds. If you’re backing the underdogs, look for lines that give the underdogs a greater advantage. For example, between +5.5 and +6.5, always choose +6.5.
In the case of moneyline bets, since there are no spreads or lines, always choose the sportsbook that has the better odds. Simple!
Why do sportsbooks have different odds?
Since line shopping hinges upon sportsbooks giving different odds, curious bettors may want to know why sportsbooks price events differently.
The truth is, most sportsbooks try to strike a 50/50 balance on their odds to ensure that money goes in both directions. The odds they release always try to achieve that goal. However, other factors come into play that may affect how sportsbooks price events.
One reason why a sportsbook would offer better odds is because of stiff competition. There are hundreds of sportsbooks in the industry, and since the competition is always a click away, sportsbooks must appeal to as many customers as they can. Offering great odds and lines is one way of attracting new customers and satisfying the ones they already serve. Some books use this marketing tactic to their advantage. Certain books are hailed in betting circles for their attractive odds.
Another reason why sportsbooks may have different odds is because of the core idea of balance. After they release odds, sportsbooks will look at the direction most money is headed. If too much incoming money is headed in a specific way, a book will react by altering odds to try and encourage equal action on the other side of the bet.
Lastly, odds between sportsbooks are different because each book uses its own criteria to calculate odds. Sometimes these criteria lead to a discrepancy of odds.
Is line shopping worth the extra time?
There’s a reason why sharps and betting syndicates spend multiple hours a day shopping for the best lines. To them, getting the best value is just as important as picking the right bet.
Sometimes bettors disregard odds shopping because the difference might not seem like much. But in sports betting, every point counts. Losing or winning by one point, or even half a point, is very common. So whenever possible, take any advantage that comes your way. You never know: this might minimize losses, which could prove to be the difference between a profitable betting season and a loser.
You may think there is no difference between -105 and -110 odds, but in the long run, the difference will end up accounting for a lot of money. Since profit in sports betting relies on the slimmest margins, take every cent the sportsbooks offer you.
In short, line shopping is definitely worth your time.
How to shop for the best lines & odds at sportsbooks
Line shopping has been made easier by online sportsbooks. You don’t need to dial multiple sportsbooks or drive all day searching for the best odds. Instead, just scan through online odds.
Downloading multiple AZ sportsbook apps is one approach. You can sign up and use them to compare odds before placing a bet. There are many advantages of belonging to multiple sportsbooks apart from line shopping possibilities. You get great deposit bonuses, have multiple betting options and you’ll have access to a wider range of sports.
Going from sportsbook to sportsbook to check lines is inefficient and time-consuming though. Instead, you should check our odds feed if you want to shop for the best sports betting lines.
Why do the lines move?
Keen bettors know that odds rarely ever stay the same. Once released, many factors make odds fluctuate.
One is the above-mentioned balance sought by sportsbooks. They react to the market and favorably adjust their odds to ensure both sides of the bet are equally profitable to them.
Information is also bound to affect odds. Team news, like the injury of a star player, will definitely lead a sportsbook to alter its lines.
Most of the time, odds move a week or days before a game is scheduled. This is because a large majority of bettors place bets in the days leading up to an event, and that’s also when a lot of crucial information leaks to the public. Depending on the above situations, sportsbooks will move their lines accordingly.
What’s the best line to shop for: moneylines, spreads or totals?
There’s merit to shopping for all three. However, the lines in point spreads and totals make more sense in this respect. With moneyline bets, you’re shopping for a better payout, so whether a team wins by 1 point or 10 points has no effect on your wager. However, in point spreads and totals, you’re searching for lines that give you a numerical advantage to make or break your bet.
Margins matter in spreads and totals. That’s why it isn’t uncommon for bettors to buy a hook (half a point). Essentially, a more favorable line in spreads and totals makes your selection easier to achieve and increases the probability of your bet winning.
Regardless, you should always seek value whenever possible.
Line shopping for futures bets
Line shopping for futures bets requires a tricky balance.
Since odds for leagues like the NFL and NBA are usually released months in advance, you can choose to wait until preseason to place your bet. That way, you can see how the team plays and also judge a squad by its signings.
Player awards are another popular futures bet, so waiting for the perfect time to place them is essential. Basically, try to place such wagers after key offseason signings have been made. That way, you’ll know the destination of a certain player, who’s expected to be a team’s star and how the player you want to bet on is expected to perform.
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What if I find a better line later?
Lines are always going to change. But if you’ve done your due diligence, don’t sweat it.
That said, if you see a plum line you originally missed (not one that shifted), take it as a lesson you could’ve shopped with more precision. Never hurts to look a little closer next time!
Essentially, the goal is to improve on past mistakes rather than dwell on them. By doing so, you’ll become a better handicapper.