Comparing Odds and Line Shopping

Line shopping, or shopping for lines, is the process where bettors search multiple sportsbooks for the best lines available in order to improve their chances of winning and to maximize potential profits. When it comes to betting on football, line shopping can really help bettors turn a profit over the long haul. Additionally, shopping for the best football lines might just be the difference between winning or losing a wager.

If you want to become more successful over the long haul, then learn how to master the art of line shopping by following our tips below.

How to Shop For Lines

When shopping for a computer, you don't visit just one store or website and buy the first computer you see. Instead, you have an idea about what kind of computer you want, and then you look around for the best price. This is the same concept for line shopping. Never go to just one sportsbook or online sports betting site and settle on what they give you. Instead, shop for the best lines at a handful of sites and books in order to find the best value.

Luckily for you, we've made this process very simple. Below you will find our state of the art live odds database which feeds all the latest odds from some of the top betting sites available online so you can seamlessly shop for odds all right from GamblingSites.org.

For tips for beginners just getting started with sports betting, continue reading on for our expert advice to help you become the best sports bettor you can be!

Hold Accounts at Different Books

If you don't already have accounts at different online sportsbooks, then it's time for you to start signing up. However, we don't recommend signing up at any and every sportsbook, as that could be disastrous over the long run. Rather than wandering aimlessly through the vast landscape of online sportsbooks, check out our section on the top rated sports betting sites and learn which sites are the best for betting on your desired sport and for you.

After reading over the best sites, it's time to start choosing a few. Ideally, you will want to consider the following attributes when creating a new sports betting account.

Bonuses

Bonuses might just be the biggest factor when signing up for a new site. Each sports betting site offers enticing bonuses to get you to sign up. So, take advantage of this opportunity and look for reliable online sportsbooks that offer the best bonuses.

The bonuses offered may be in the form of matching a percentage of your deposit, reload bonuses, and reduced juice. In the case of the first two options, these bonuses are free money to bet with. And in most cases, they have to be wagered in order to add to your bankroll.

In the case of reduced juice, this means you will be paying less "commission" on each bet. For example, instead of the standard -110 odds, you will see -105 odds. This translates into having to risk less money to win your wager. Instead of wagering $110 to win $100, you will wager $105 to win $100.

User Interface

Make sure the sites that you choose have a smooth user interface. The last thing you want is to struggle when navigating through a site just to place a bet. Fortunately, most of the premier sites have really nice interfaces. Make sure you take the time to get familiar with each interface so that you don't run into any issues when trying to place a bet, especially if it's a last-minute wager.

Mobile Betting

Mobile sports betting has increased in popularity over the years as more and more bettors place wagers from their smartphones and tablets. It's important that the site you choose offers a solid mobile betting platform, as you are more than likely going to place a good amount of your bets via your smartphone or tablet and may not always have access to a computer.

Wide Range of Wager Types

When it comes to betting on sports, the more options you have for wagers, the better. Almost all of the sites have the standard bets of spreads, moneylines, totals, and parlays. A good number of them will also have teasers, props, and futures. One area that will separate the great sites from the rest of the pack is live betting.

Live Betting

Live betting is the type of wager where you bet on the action throughout the game. Typically, a live bet will take place after each snap. You can bet on all of the wagers above and a great deal more. The sites that offer this type of sports betting will have a separate live betting platform. Make sure you learn how to navigate the platform and get an idea of what types of live wagers that they offer.

Establish a Main Site

Although it sounds counterintuitive to everything we've said above, it's important that you establish a site as your main one for betting on sports. Typically, the main site will meet all of the requirements above and then some. Ultimately, it will be the site that you feel the most comfortable with and probably use to place the majority of your sports bets.

Your main site will have the lines and odds that you can use when shopping for the best lines available. Consider your main site's lines as the measuring stick for line shopping.

For Example

Your main site has the Vegas Golden Knights at -1.5 goals with -200 odds. With these lines and odds as your measuring stick, you can compare them to other sites to see if there's a better line elsewhere.

Establishing a main site is actually a good transition into the next section.

Don't Blindly Shop

Guy Shopping for Moneylines

Having a main sports betting site provides you with a measuring stick for line shopping, but having an idea of what game or wager you want to bet on is the first step in shopping for the best lines. Unlike consumer shopping where you can walk into an electronic store and buy a TV that looks amazing, that same approach can't be taken with sports betting. If your goal is to win your wagers, and it should be, then there are a few steps that you need to take before even looking at a potential game to bet on.

Great Command of Sports Wagers

As mentioned above, when looking for an online sportsbook to join, you need to make sure it offers a wide variety of sports bets. But to truly appreciate the variety of wagers that a site offers, you must know what each one is, their pros and cons, and how to win your bets on those types of wagers. For more details on these wagers, check out our sports betting guide. This expert content will introduce you to the world of sports betting and help you in many ways, especially if you are just starting out.

Study the Sports You Want to Bet on

How well do you really know the sport that you want to bet on? Can you name the last 5 champions of that sport? Do you know what defenses are popular in this sport? Who's considered the best player or athlete of the sport? If your knowledge of the sport is limited to years of playing on the Xbox or PlayStation, then you are in trouble.

You really need to study whichever sport you want to bet on and learn the small details, trends, schemes, players, coaches, and teams. Above all else, you need to analyze the mountain of statistical data that's available online. This information will help you to become an informed bettor.

Learn How to Handicap a Sport

Once you have a solid command of the different types of wagers and a better understanding of the sport, you can now move on to handicapping the sport. In other words, you can begin to gather and analyze data in order to improve your chances of winning a bet. Handicapping is an ongoing process that can always be tweaked with each season, week, or game.

Create a Betting System

A betting system is basically your strategy for betting on a sport. It's unique to each individual, and it's the result of your handicapping efforts. We've gone into great detail about sports betting systems already, but it's important to know that no system can guarantee that you will win your bet. A system is your personal approach to selecting football the wagers to you want to bet on.

When to Shop for Lines

Ideally, you can shop for lines any time before the game actually starts. However, there are a few potential times during the week that can really influence a shift in the lines.

Opening Lines

Opening lines is when many sportsbooks provide bettors with their initial lines and odds. For some sites, this can be as early as Monday for the upcoming Thursday Night Football game and the following Sunday games. For baseball and basketball, it could be right after one game ends. It really depends on the frequency of each sport's games during the week.

Opening lines do have some value because some books might have misjudged their lines and odds. They also can't predict what's going to happen throughout the week. There's a good chance that the lines will shift before the game starts, so you might be able to catch a sportsbook that's incorrectly judged the betting market when the lines first come out.

Mid-Week Lines

This might not be an official term, but I've seen lines change or go off the board during the middle of the week due to injuries and other news. For sports like football or NASCAR, the middle of the week is when teams make official announcements like injury reports, practice session updates, testing results and more.

In the case of football, if there's question over a star player participating in the next game, it could really affect the lines. If an announcement is made on Wednesday that Tom Brady is out for the upcoming game due to an injury at practice, then quickly scan your sports betting sites to see if anyone still has odds and lines where the Patriots are still the favorite. If there is a site that fits the bill, then you might be able to find some tremendous value on New England's opponent, like with their moneyline or the spread.

With sports like NASCAR or UFC, the weeks leading up to the event are filled with practice or training sessions and press conferences. So, the mid-week is a great time to get updates that could affect the lines.

End of the Week Lines

Fridays are another day that can influence betting lines. This is also largely due to injuries, athletes not training, and end of the week practice sessions. So, if a football player isn't practicing on a Friday, then there's a good chance he won't travel with the team and/or won't be available on Sunday's game. If a NASCAR driver crashes during practice sessions or fails a late week inspection then he will have to start at the end of pack in the upcoming race. Friday's are also when MMA and Boxing PPV's hold their weigh-ins. A fighter not making weight could definitely impact a weekend bout.

Keep an eye out for potential line movements based on Friday's news. There may be value in shopping around for potential line movements.

Last-Minute Lines

Sometimes, lines can significantly move right before a game, race of fight. This could be due to a last-minute injury or a large volume of bets on one side. If you are looking to place a last-minute bet, make sure to monitor if any of your sports betting sites have seen any significant movement on the lines you are interested in. If so, then jump onto a site that has yet to experience the movement or go with the action.

The Benefits of Line Shopping

By now, it should be fairly obvious why line shopping is a must. Ultimately, it increases your chances of winning and maximizes your earning potential. More specifically, line shopping can greatly benefit the following.

Better Lines

When we refer to betting lines, we're typically discussing straight bets like moneylines, spreads, and totals. Line shopping at its core is basically looking for these best betting lines. With that said, there are some line shopping methods that can really maximize potential winnings.

Steam Chase

Steam chase is when bettors chase the large betting action (steam) that's coming in before the bookmakers adjust the lines. Typically, this heavy action will cause bookmakers to adjust the line in order to try and attract more bettors to the opposite side of the action.

For Example

In basketball, the Sacramento Kings are a 2.5-point favorite over the Detroit Pistons. Heavy action is being placed on the Kings to cover the spread at home. If you see this action taking place, then try to jump on board before the bookmakers change the spread to Sacramento -3 or higher.

This line shopping method requires you to be good at spotting the "steam." It also requires you to be good at spotting when a sports betting site misjudges or overvalues the steam.

A bookmaker's primary goal is to create an even amount of action on any bet. In this scenario, they win no matter what because of the juice that they charge bettors. And due to this objective, some bookmakers may overestimate or misjudge the steam by setting a line that provides value with the under or opposite side of the heavy action.

In our example above, the spread went to -3 points. But what if the bookmaker misjudged the action and raised the line to -4 points? This could actually provide solid value with the Pistons, as now they can lose by a 3-pointer, but still cover the spread.

Stale Lines

Stale lines are the opposite of steam chasing. This method refers to shopping around for bookmakers who haven't moved their lines like the majority have already done. If we use the example from above with the Kings favored by 2.5 points, a stale line would be a bookmaker that hasn't shifted it to the -3 points that the other sites have set the spread at.

Arbitrage

It doesn't happen as much as we would like, but there are some arbitrage betting opportunities every now and then. An arbitrage betting opportunity is basically risk-free wagers on opposing bets that have the same payouts.

For Example

On your main sports betting site, the New York Yankees are +110 to win. And on one of your other sites, their opponent the Boston Red Sox are +110 to win. In this scenario, if you bet $100 on the Yankees through your main site and $100 on the Red Sox through one of your other sites, then you are guaranteed no worse than to break even. More than likely, you are going to make at least a $10 profit.

Let's say the Yankees win: your $100 bet wins $110. Then you subtract your $100 Red Sox wager from your winnings of $110, and you get a $10 overall profit. Now, imagine if you were able to drop $5,000 on the Yankees and the Red Sox. You would then walk away with a risk-free $500 profit. Did we get your attention now?

Better Odds

In addition to better lines, you can also shop around for better odds. If our example of uncommon arbitrage opportunities isn't enough to convince you to line shop, then this next example should hammer home the point.

Betting on sports is all about making money. If you think anything other than that, then you need to stop sports betting right now while you still have enough money in your checking account to pay your bills.

In our quest to make money, it's imperative that we shop for odds that either pay more or risk less.

Pay More

This is pretty simple to understand. If Site A offers a moneyline of Conor McGregor at +225 and Site B offers a Conor McGregor moneyline at +250, then you go with Site B due to the higher payout. If you are dead set on picking McGregor in his next fight, then your $100 bet will bring back more rewards with Site B than Site A.

Risk Less

Line shopping can also help you to find odds that allow you to risk less. If McGregor's odds are +225, then that means his opponent is the favorite for the fight. In this example, we'll say McGregor is taking on the Floyd Mayweather, who is a -400 at Site A. After shopping around, you find the Floyd Mayweather at -350 at Site B. Instead of betting $400 on Mayweather to win $100, you go with Site B and bet -350 to win $100. That's $50 less that you have to risk. If Floyd Mayweather was to lose, then you would have lost less money.

Better Juice

"Juice" refers to the commission or vig that sportsbooks make off each bet. Typically, most sites charge the standard -110 odds on sports wagers. This means that you bet $110 to win $100. If you recall, we mentioned in the beginning of the article that there are sports betting sites that offer reduced juice for sports wagers like football and basketball. Often, these sites lower the juice to -105 odds. Instead of risking $110 to win $100, you will risk $105 to win $100. If you don't already have an account for sites with reduced juice, then you will definitely want to sign up for one, as long as they meet our high standards of quality.

The Potential for Winning More Bets

As we've hammered home by now, line shopping increases your potential for winning bets. And, we don't make that statement lightly. In the case of football, there's research out there that claims sports bettors can win up to 3% more of their bets through line shopping, based on getting an extra .5 point to 1 point on lines. Think about that for a moment. A 3% increase in winning can be the difference between a winning and losing football season.

Let's dig deeper, so you can further understand how line shopping can increase your potential for winning more bets.

IIn 2017, there were 29 NFL games that ended in a push or within .5 to 1 points of the closing spread:

  • 11 games ended within .5 point of the spread
  • 8 games ended within 1 point of the spread
  • 9 games ended as a push

So, if you were to have correctly added .5 to 1 point to the spread via line shopping, then you could've won or pushed these 29 games. What I mean by "correctly added" is to have bet on the side of the spread that would've benefitted from the .5 to 1 point add.

For Example

The Bills were a 2.5-point favorite over the Jets. The final score was Buffalo 20 and the Jets 17. The Bills covered the spread and would've won regardless of how many points you found in their favor. But if you bet on the Jets +2.5 points, then an additional .5 point would've forced a push, and an additional 1 point would've won your bet.

Based on our data above, if you would've correctly added 1 point to all the games that ended .5 within closing spread or Pushed, you would've won 20 out of 29 games and you would've pushed the other 9 games. However, 20-of-29 is a 68% winning rate. Now, let's say, you were only winning 47% of your bets prior to line shopping, you have the potential of winning 21% more of your wagers if you were to have correctly added the .5 to 1 point to the spread.

Keep in mind that this above scenario would've required you to have correctly selected these 29 football games and to have correctly added the points via line shopping. This is a hypothetical example on football to show how line shopping can increase your chances of winning. These lines and odds will increase/decrease depending on the sport you choose to bet on.

Key Numbers

Key numbers represent the most common spreads in a sport, except for baseball where they represent the total number of runs. For example, the key numbers for football spreads are 3 and 7. For basketball, the key numbers are 5 through 8. For baseball, the key numbers are 7 and 9 total runs.

The importance of key numbers when betting, is that you are basically playing the percentages. In our examples above, football's key numbers hit an estimated 30% of the time, basketball's key numbers hit roughly 26% of the time and baseball's key numbers hit about 20% of the time.

Since the chances of games ending in those numbers are higher, when you see a spread or run total listed with those key numbers, it's best to shop for lines that are a .5 to 1-point difference in either direction, depending on your wager.

For Example

Your main site lists the Raiders -7 over the Broncos. If you want to bet on the Raiders to win, then you should look to find a line that has them at -6.5 or -6. If you want to bet on the Broncos, then you should look to find a line that has them at +7.5 or +8.

Furthermore, if your main betting site has the Cavaliers at -5 and you want to bet on them to win, then look for another site that has the line at -4.5 or lower.

It's very important to learn the key numbers for the sport that you want to bet on. That way you are able to shop for lines that move the spread or run total off the key numbers in order for you to increase your chances of winning.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Line shopping is a must if you are going to be a successful sports bettor over the long haul. Line shopping provides you with the best value on your selected wagers, and it can help to improve your chances of winning. Additionally, you may find some opportunities that offer minimal risk and maximum reward. Ultimately, you wouldn't go shopping for consumer items without comparing prices first. It's the same mentality with shopping for lines. Only line shopping doesn't just help you to save money like shopping for consumer items; it can also help you to win more money.

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