When “sharps” place bets at online sportsbooks, they compare lines to gain an advantage as odds vary from site to site. Sharp sports bettors search for the most advantageous games to bet on, and factor in the prices of all the bets available on those games. This is called “line shopping,” and it goes a long way in improving your return on investment.
The difference between consistently betting on a -110 line compared to a more advantageous -105 is massive.
If you’re limiting yourself to just a single online sportsbook, you’re undercutting your potential profit. Read on to learn how to maximize your winnings by line shopping at multiple sites.
Is Line Shopping for Small Differences Worth It?
Yes. Any “sharp” will tell you that, no matter how small the edge, every advantage helps in the long-run, as the margins for profitability are razor thin for all sports bettors at all times. Line shopping is one of the time-tested and proven ways to help beat the juice.
Let’s take a cold, hard look at the numbers. At first glance, the difference between -110 and -105 isn’t huge. If you need a refresher on how to interpret these odds, check out our guide to understanding betting odds. As long as you’ve done solid research, and you’re confident you’re picking the right side, that extra $5 is fairly inconsequential, right? Wrong! The difference is significant.
If you bet the same amount on 500 games at -110, you need to win 262 games to break even. However, if you bet 500 games at -105, you only need to win 257 wagers to come out above even. In the long term, this has tremendous implications for your bottom line.
A Real Example of Line Shopping Impact
Say you’re about to bet on the Brooklyn Nets at +7.5 (-110) on Bovada, but +7.5 (-105) is available over at BetOnline.ag. If you place your bet at Bovada, you’re leaving money on the table. In order to win $100 at Bovada, you’d have to wager $110. If you took that $110 to BetOnline.ag, you’d win $104.76.
Sometimes, it’ll be the inverse on lines between Bovada and BetOnline.ag; we don’t mean to pick on these two books. We’re merely trying to illustrate that even the smallest difference in odds can make a staggering difference in the long term.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the true odds on Nets +7.5 are 50/50. Half the time they’ll win outright or lose by fewer than seven points, and half the time they’ll lose by more than seven points.
What does this mean for bettors in the long run?
Betting $110 at -110
If you placed 100 bets of $110 at -110 odds, you would win a $100 profit 50 times, for a total profit of $5,000. The other 50 times, you would lose $110, for a combined loss of $5,550. Put those together and you have a net loss of $550. That’s an average of $5 a bet, and 4.5% of your total stake.
Betting $110 at -105
Let’s contrast this to the sharper line available at BetOnline.ag. If you make the same 100 wagers of $110 at -105, you’ll win a $104.76 profit 50 times, for a total profit of $5,238. On the other 50 wagers, you will still lose $5,500 in total. But now your net loss is a mere $238, or just $2.38 for every bet (approximately 2.2% of every wager). Over a long period of time, this makes a tremendous difference.
Point Spread Line Shopping
At times, all sportsbooks will have the same point spreads on football and basketball games. However, there are many times when the point spread will vary across sportsbooks, especially among the books that release the lines the earliest. This is where there opportunities for line shopping.
Of course, different sportsbooks cater to different audiences with different risk profiles. For example, a sportsbook such as Bovada (with a mostly recreational base, as evidenced by their low $1000 maximum bet) and sportsbooks such as Pinnacle (maximum bets range between $10,000-$30,000). Bovada is more likely to shade their lines to make a specific side more expensive than Pinnacle is. Of course, shading the lines means sportsbooks leave themselves more vulnerable to professional bettors placing bets on the less expensive side. In the long run, Bovada will profit if they increase the spread from -6.5 to -7.
Even if we’re just going to use a heuristic, think about how many times you’ve lost, or pushed, from a mere half point on the spread. Finding the most valuable point spread line is undeniably useful in the long run.
Moneyline Line Shopping
The value of the moneyline is very apparent; the more favorable the odds, the more money you’ll win, straight up. It doesn’t have to be any more complex than that.
The moneyline is most likely to be shaded by your sportsbook either in the lead up to a game or on the day of, to encourage equitable betting on both sides of an event. Depending on the betting volume on a particular event, sportsbooks will play around with altering how big the favorite/dog is in regards to a specific game. As an example, the moneyline for the Superbowl is going to fluctuate a lot in the lead-up to it.
Due to the fact the moneyline is often in a consistent state of flux, this gives you, the bettor, the chance to exploit it and find an appealing line. Shopping for the best moneyline is a big boon to your bottom line, even if you only have a few online sportsbooks accounts to peruse.
Avoid Line Aggregators
It’s important to point out then when researching your lines, avoid using sites that claim to be line aggregators. These sites frequently use promotion lines designed to entice bettors, but in fact aren’t available to the majority of the public. The only way to line shop reliably and is to log in to your sportsbooks and compare and contrast the available lines yourself.
Using Reduced Juice Sportsbooks
If you’re looking to get a gauge of what lines have the lowest “juice,” certain sportsbooks have a reputation for offering favorable lines. BetOnline, MyBookie.ag, Pinnacle, Bet 365, and 5Dimes all have a reputation for offering lines that can entice the “sharps.”
However, these sportsbooks will have the fewest promotions, so they may not be as enticing to novice bettors. That said, if you’re just looking to get a handle on what the “sharpest” lines are, regularly examining these sportsbooks is an excellent way to familiarize yourself.
Of course, line shopping isn’t quite as easy as it was when online sportsbooks were still a relatively new phenomenon. Because of the breadth and influence of the internet, it’s easy for sportsbooks to follow each other’s lines closely and even them out. However, just because its a bit harder to shop lines these days, doesn’t mean it isn’t a profitable enterprise.