How and why to shop for the best line
The one thing every gambler is looking for is an edge, any edge, because no matter how small or slight, an advantage over the bookmakers will help players win more in the long-run. One of the easiest ways to maximize sports betting profits is to "shop the line", and by playing at multiple sportsbooks often bettors can find a line that is a half-point or more in their favor. And with moneylines, there could be a big disparity in pricing from one sportsbook to another. In addition, shopping the line can also employ the use of a reduced juice or low vig sportsbook.
Winning bettors shop lines
Over time, a half point here or a few cents extra there can payoff and often makes the difference between a winning or losing day, week month or season. That's because being a winning sports bettor is hard. In order to eek out a profit betting on sports at -110 vigorish, or juice, players must win at a clip of better than 52.4%. Even winning half of the time is not good enough to break even betting on sports.
For starters, a winning bettor must invest a good deal of time looking at simple betting numbers like home vs. away records and against-the-spread (ATS) records, defensive and offensive statistics and deeper dives on bets that look promising, just ot have a shot at profitability. But many bettors stop there. And that is a huge mistake.
Finding the best number is at least as important as finding the right wager, because every bet and every dollar won or lost adds up over time. Simply put, if you want to win at betting on sports, look around to see which sportsbook has the best odds for your bet.
Finding the best number
In order to bet using the most favorable, and profitable, lines, players must be willing to open multiple betting accounts. Playing at more than one sportsbook is a mantra that we have been preaching for more than 20 years. Not only does having more than one account offer the chance of betting into the best lines, it also means multiple promotions, contests, withdraw options and bonuses.
We recommend using at least three different online sportsbooks to bet on sports. The best strategy is to find one sportsbook that takes sharper action and moves the betting line based on the bets that they write, a place like Bookmaker or Heritage Sports. The second book should be a mainstream sportsbook that does a lot of volume, like BetOnline or FanDuel. And the third sportsbook book should either be a reduced juice shop catering to the general public, like BetAnySports or a place that offers something different that fits into an overall betting portfolio, like the teaser odds at BetMania. For underdog bettors, it's always nice to have a book that shades the line towards the favorite, presenting some extra dollars for betting on dogs, like Bovada.
Why care about a few cents?
The math is simple and it begs bettors to remember another mantra – sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint. This means that gamblers will place hundreds of wagers on games over the course of a year and over those 250, 300 or more wagers, every dollar adds up.
Line shopping break down
BetOnline is offering the Pittsburgh Steelers +6.5 points versus the Cincinnati Bengals. FanDuel is offer the same game, but the Steelers are +6. Steelers bettors cash-in at BetOnline if Cincinnati wins by 6, but push at FanDuel. Conversely, Bengals bettors would lose at BetOnline and again push at FanDuel. Betting the line that is more favorable to your position will add up over time and is the #1 way players can do something simple to win more.
In a money line example, BetOnline has a 3 point favorite at a money line of -160 to win the game outright. But BookMaker has taken some huge bets on the favorite and they have (-3 -120) and the money line set at -170. It's easy to see the difference here and it is important to remember that the money line difference when betting on a favorite only matters when the bet loses. Despite the extra vig, the bets still pays $100 to the winner. But, betting the underdog is where shopping the line really cashes in. The moneyline difference for the dog would pay out an extra $10 (or more) at BookMaker, again, obviously more profit.
And finally, reduced juice, or betting -105 or even -107 is the third way line shopping will help turn betting into winning. Paying just five cents less, looks like a couple of bucks here and there, but over time it adds up, big time.
A bettor wagering 100 games for $110 at -110 and winning 52 picks, will still end up being a losing bettor. But the same bettor placing wagers at reduced juice, will be profitable. The -110 bettor will win $5200, but lose $5280, down $80. Meanwhile, the low vig bettor will win the same 52 games and be up on the bookie. Due to the reduced juice, the reduced juice bettor will cash for $104.76 on each win, totaling $5447.52, yet lose the same $5280. Note the profit of $167.52.
In all, to be a winning sports bettor, it is imperative that players shop for the best line and the lowest vig possible. The margins are slim, as is the difference between winning and losing. Football, baseball and other sports are all games of inches, but sports betting is a game of cents. Make sure you get every penny by playing at multiple sportsbooks and shopping for the best lines and odds.
Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting.