Comparing Odds & Line Shopping
A lot of what you need to do to be successful at sports betting is difficult. It's definitely possible for anyone to make money from betting on sports, but it does require a certain combination of attributes and skills to do so consistently. This is hardly surprising, as there would be many more successful bettors if it was easy.
There are, however, some aspects of sports betting which are easy. Comparing odds and line shopping is a great example and, when done correctly, it can make a difference to your overall chances of making money. Despite this fact, many bettors don't even bother to compare odds or shop around for the best lines. This is a big mistake, and is effectively the equivalent of just giving money away.
In this article we explain what comparing odds and line shopping is all about. We discuss why it's so important and provide some advice for doing it effectively.
The Importance of Comparing Odds & Line Shopping
Comparing odds and line shopping isn't at all complicated. All that's involved is basically comparing the odds and lines that are being offered for a particular betting market, and finding where the best value is. You then place your wagers accordingly, and that's really all there is to it.
Let's say, for example, you placed a point spread bet on an upcoming football match with your usual bookmaker. The team you wanted to back were at 1.87 odds (decimal format), with a spread of -6. This means the team needs to win by more than six points for you to get a return from backing them. If they do so, you'll make an $87 profit for every $100 staked.
Now let's say you checked the betting line for the same match with an alternative bookmaker, before placing your wager. The spread was only -5.5 for the team you wanted to back, and odds were 1.95. This means that the team would only need to win by more than five points for you to get a return from backing them. If they did so, you would make a $95 profit for every $100 staked.
If you had placed your chosen wager with your usual bookmaker, you would have a slightly less chance of winning due to the higher spread. You would also have stood to make slightly less in the event of winning your wager. By simply checking for better odds and a better line, you would have increased the expected value of your wager.
The margins are obviously fairly small, but small margins can make a big difference over time. This is especially true if you're placing a lot of wagers. You can actually significantly improve your overall chances of winning money from sports betting by always shopping around for the best possible odds and the best possible lines you can find. It's such a simple and easy thing to do, there really is no excuse for not doing it.
Effective Odds Comparison & Line Shopping
The most effective, and also the easiest, way to compare odds and shop for the best lines is simply to use a selection of online bookmakers. If you have accounts with at least two or three of the leading sports betting sites then you can be reasonably confident of always finding the best odds and lines.
The top sites are usually very competitive in the odds and lines that they have to offer, so there won't be much between them. For example, here are the lines for an upcoming football match from two of our highest recommended sites.
As you can see, there's not a huge amount between them at all. It's half a point difference on the point spread, and half a point difference for the totals spread. The odds for either team winning without the spread are also very close.
Many bettors don't bother shopping around precisely, because the differences are so small. As we have already mentioned, though, these small differences really can combine over time to make a big difference to how much you win or lose. They can even be the difference between being a winning bettor and being a losing bettor.
Once you have accounts at a few betting sites, it will take you virtually no time at all to have a quick check for the best option for every wager you place. We can assure that it will prove to be time well spent in the long run. Just make sure that you do stick to the top sites, as these will be consistently competitive and you will only have to make a few comparisons each time you bet.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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