The Basics of Line Shopping For Better Sports Bets

Guides

2023-05-03

Ethan Tremblay

When betting on sports, it's important to consider several factors, including odds and lines, before making a wager. Line shopping means searching for the most advantageous betting lines before placing a wager.

The Basics of Line Shopping For Better Sports Bets

Finding the greatest possible lines is essential for every sports bettor who wants to maximize their returns, whether they bet on mixed martial arts, football, tennis, or anything else.

This piece will introduce line shopping and highlight why it's crucial to your bottom line.

What Is Line Shopping?

Line shopping is comparable to any other type of shopping. When you're in the market for a new car, you do a bit of comparison shopping to find out which retailer offers the greatest deal. The same principles apply to line shopping. Therefore, the mundane shopping tips might apply as line shopping tips.

To properly line shop, choose a line (such as a spread, total, or moneyline) and compare it across two or more different sportsbooks. 

You should place your bets on the line with the greatest odds, since it will give you the highest return, and you ought to wager on that line. That's the gist of it. However, if you're serious about betting, it becomes much more complicated than that.

For instance, some websites or regions will shut you off or restrict you, while others will give more constraints on what you can do. When it comes to rewards, the best sports betting sites will have a lower risk and are quicker in payouts than others. In any case, you should prioritize betting on the line that offers the most potential return on your investment.

Simple Illustration of Line Shopping

Although line shopping is a technical phrase, it is a simple concept to understand. It is not tough to work, even though you wish you had drones to do it (as large collectives might do). The line shopping benefits to your bottom line certainly make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Before placing a bet, you should do some "line shopping," which means browsing many sportsbooks for the sportsbooks that provide the greatest odds. Illustrating is the most effective method for doing so.

  • You want to place a wager against the spread in tonight's Blazers game against the Wizards. 
  • The oddsmakers at most bookmakers have Washington labeled as a 5.5-point favorite over the other team. However, according to one of the books, the Wizards are just a 5-point favorite. 
  • If you think the Wizards will win by a margin of six points or more, you should play in a sportsbook that has them listed at a 5.5-point spread. 
  • If, on the other hand, you think that the Blazers will win or lose by a margin of fewer than six points, then you should choose the bookmaker that has San Antonio favored by 5.5 points.

You should also do this with other bets, such as Totals and Money Lines. When looking for a game on which to place a bet on the Over, you will look for the total that is the lowest possible number, and vice versa when looking for a game on which to place a bet on the Under.

The same thing is true for money lines. Bets of this kind are most prevalent in baseball and hockey and are often denoted in dollars and cents. For instance, a two-dollar favorite would have a Money Line of -200, but an underdog whose odds went from +150 to +140 would be considered to have shifted ten cents.

Though it may not seem like much when you're only betting a few dollars ($10 wins $14 instead of $15), that's a 6.7% difference! Just as crucial, and potentially deciding between long-term success and failure, is the practice of line shopping for Moneyline wagers.

How Bettors Use Line Shopping To "Be The Book"

If you are one of the best sports betting sites and take bets at the typical juice of -110, you will make a handsome profit over the long term. However, this is only the case if your lines are consistently near the consensus, also known as the market.

  • If you choose a website that compares odds, you can examine lines from several sportsbooks simultaneously and on the same screen. This lets you view where most books stand and point out line variations.
  • In situations where the lines are off by 1.5 points or over, you can essentially "become the book" by choosing a mispriced team and betting on it. This is done by selecting the team that has the higher point spread. 
  • Finding these gaps in pricing may significantly boost your bottom line, and you do not have to have a stance on the event to place a lucrative bet; all you must do is determine the consensus line, locate other bookmakers that depart from that line, and wager on the side that is improperly priced.
  • Identifying the consensus line is typically a breeze, and the easiest method to learn the "true line" is by choosing highly regarded, reputable shops with plenty of active customers.

Stale Lines and Steam Chasing: Line Shopping Terms You Must Know

Two phrases are frequently used in connection with line shopping.

The first technique is known as steam chasing. This happens when a significant amount of money (steam) comes rolling in on one side, which causes a significant spike in the lines to entice income to the opposite side. This has the potential to snowball very fast as an increasing amount of money attempts to "chase" the "steam" and get in before the line becomes even further and steeper.

  • Suppose you are fortunate (or skilled enough) to slip in just before the huge steam movement occurs. 
  • In that case, you will occasionally have the ability to hedge your wager before the action starts and put in a guaranteed return or freeroll. 
  • If this happens, you should take advantage of this opportunity.

Let it ride and be content with your bet as it is, but if you get in early enough and the change is significant enough, consider that alternative.  Suppose you are fortunate (or skilled enough) to get in just before the huge steam movement occurs. In that case, you will occasionally have the ability to hedge your wager before the game starts and lock in a guaranteed profit or freeroll.

  • Suppose you are fortunate (or skilled enough) to get in just before the huge steam movement occurs.
  •  In that case, you will occasionally have the ability to hedge your wager before the game starts and lock in a guaranteed profit or freeroll. 
  • Assuming you got in early enough and the move was big enough, let it ride and be content with your wager.

Let's assume that the current line at most bookies is Los Angeles -5, but that 10 minutes before tip-off, a massive sequence of wagers came in on the Lakers, forcing one book to alter the line to Los Angeles -5.5 and then to -5.5. In this scenario, the Lakers are favored by 5.5 points (-120).

Any book still showing a Los Angeles -5 is now seen to be behind the times and in increased danger of a major hit. This is what the industry refers to as a stale line.

Always make the most of stale lines when you come across them, since, in most cases, they won't be around for very long.

Are Line Shopping Benefits Worth The Extra Effort?

The answer is yes. Any "sharp" would tell you how an edge, however modest, is always better than having none. Sports betting has slim profit margins, to begin with, and one strategy to reduce the "vigil" that sportsbooks add to the lines is to shop around.

To the untrained eye, the difference between -110 and -105 may not appear to be all that significant. After all, it's hard to see a -5 distinction between the two lines. Wrong.

Over time, both wins and losses pile up. No expert gambler ever made it without carefully considering every possibility. Making every cent count is essential if you want to make a living as a gambler.

Now, let's take a step back and see the big picture. 

  1. Betting $110 on 250 games at -110 means you need to win 131 games just to break even. 
  2. You need to win 128 games out of 250 if you earn $105  -105 on the total. 
  3. Over 250 games, this amounts to a difference of just three.
  4. Sharps must beat the books between 53% and 56% of the time to keep their victory percentage stable.

When margins are this thin, a win or loss in only three games might be the difference between breaking even and losing money. The discrepancy between the lines, no matter how slight, will significantly affect your profits.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, line shopping is crucial to the success of every sports bettor.

There are many terrific line shopping tips that can help you be an expert line shopper, as well as several instructive articles that explain what makes a line worth betting on and which ones you must avoid. Given the slim margins of victory in sports betting, line shopping may determine whether a gambler comes ahead or behind.

Avoid giving your book your hard-earned cash by extensively studying the subject beforehand. Line shopping isn't difficult to do and will significantly impact your bottom line over time.

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