The odds are one of the most crucial aspects of sports betting. They dictate how much the player stands to win and just how that win can occur. Without them, the entire concept of sports betting would be moot.
But every sportsbook that you find will likely have slightly different odds. So, how do you know that you are getting the very best odds for your money? That is where odds shopping comes into the equation and how it can lead to the most for your buck.
Think of odds shopping as being akin to buying a car. You wouldn’t just go purchase a vehicle from the first dealership you came across, would you? No, most people tend to shop around, checking out the selection and pricing from a variety of different places.
The same basic principle applies to sports betting. The impact can be limited on single bets, but if you can consistently find better odds, those add up over the long term. Players who make wagers more regularly should definitely be looking into the different odds options across various sportsbooks.
Since there are a variety of ways to wager on sports events, let’s focus on the standard betting options first. The act of shopping for better odds is a simple bankroll management strategy. Bettors should be shopping around for the best point spread, game total, and moneyline price at all times.
The reason for comparative shopping is that it can not only increase returns but decrease risk. Some bookmakers will even offer better value than some of the competition out there. Others still will move their lines when there is too much exposure for some of the betting options.
There are also sportsbooks that are open across several different states. Because most of these are now online, price shopping becomes quite simple.
Need an example? Here’s a good one. On one sportsbook, Arizona may be -125 favorites but on another, they would be -120. Though it doesn’t seem like much, that half-point difference can add up in the end. Do that enough times and you will see real savings and a boost in winnings over the long term.
Without a doubt, line shopping is worth it. First of all, our odds shopping tool makes it extremely easy to do. Keep in mind that the house edge for things like totals, moneylines, and point spreads is already pretty small. Most of the high volume lines, things like point spreads, get around 4-5% vigorish. The hold on things like in-game lines and props is only a little higher.
Keep in mind that most U.S. sportsbooks will rarely establish lines on their own for major markets like the NBA and NFL. For the most part, they will copy them from one of the “sharp” sportsbooks out there, meaning that most of the lines will look pretty much the same across a wide range of books.
But even the smallest of discrepancies can wind up having an impact. Bettors can also find big differences between games that aren’t teeming with action or within prop and alternative markets. It definitely offsets any learning curve or inconveniences that can come with the process of line shopping.
Since point spreads/puck lines/run lines are one of the preferred betting methods, let’s take a look at shopping those. Point spreads tend to run pretty close together, but they are definitely not uniform.
For instance, it isn’t uncommon for some sportsbooks to post a game at -5.5/+5.5 versus another posting at -5/+5. For other sports, that discrepancy can be even larger since there are wider scoring distributions in play.
To shop for points, look for a desirable wager and see which of the sportsbooks is offering the most advantage in their spread. Advanced bettors will be able to determine the kind of value that they are getting from those better lines.
The key is knowing how valuable that half-point is. Numbers matter, too. In the NFL or college football, 3 and 7 will have greater weight than 8 or 11.
Bettors that are shopping for spreads will often look for sportsbooks that have different commissions and spread. Determining the probability of a particular outcome can also sway the bettor's decision.
Totals are another popular option for sports investors. It’s similar to spreads because the format is largely the same. That half-point will hold more value for NFL spreads, for instance, than it would for totals because the totals have a wider distribution in terms of outcomes.
Bettors shopping totals will look for a little larger differential, somewhere in the 1-2+ points range. Low-scoring sports like baseball and hockey can be a lot more difficult to shop for because the totals are often times in the single digits.
This is one of our mantras here at EWB. Beginner bettors may not think it's worth it to open up several sportsbook accounts to find a few extra half-points per season. However, that type of logic is flawed.
Sports betting is a game of inches. It's a lot like counting cards in a casino. We're trying to flip the odds in our favor by the slightest of margins. That's what finding those extra half-points does for you.
This is important in every sport but especially basketball. How many games fall within 0.5 to 1.0 points around the point spread thanks to some last-minute meaningless free throws? Finding those extra half-points will put you on the right side of those types of outcomes.
Simply shopping for the best line can take you from a losing sports bettor to one that at least breaks even. Remember, you only need to win 52.38% of the time (at -110 odds) to break even. Sniping those half-points can get you there!