As more and more states legalize sports betting, new bettors are looking to explore and place some wagers. A good tactic for beginners to keep in mind is line shopping. When you go to place a bet, you’ll have a number of sportsbooks to choose from. The odds and lines at these books may differ from one another. This means one sportsbook might have better numbers for your bet than another. If you’ve got an account at multiple books, you can pick the one that’s best for you.
Shopping for odds is important for high-volume bettors, but it’s still a practice that everybody can benefit from. In this guide, we will take you through the basics of line shopping, why sportsbooks offer different odds and why the lines move.
What is line shopping?
Let’s say you want to place a wager on the point total for an upcoming NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. After doing some research, you think the defenses will outperform expectations, so you want to bet on the under. Now that you have the wager you’d like to make, it’s time to do some line shopping.
By opening accounts at various sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, etc., you can check what each one has for the game. After scrolling through the sportsbook apps on your phone, you might notice that FanDuel and BetMGM both have the over/under at the same number. DraftKings, meanwhile, could have a line that’s a half-point higher. That extra half-point could create a world of difference when you bet on the under, so you would place the wager at DraftKings for a better chance at a winning bet.
Why do sportsbooks have different odds?
Sportsbooks will have different odds for a variety of reasons. While the odds and lines will often be very similar at various books, the numbers could be slightly off, which is where smart bettors can take advantage.
Some sportsbooks will open lines earlier than others. Some will set the market, while others will wait and react to see where the early line movement is going. Oddsmakers use analytics and formulas to set their numbers, and they will continue to adjust leading up to game time.
Odds can be different because of how much money a sportsbook is getting on one side of a bet versus the other. If one side of the point spread is receiving 75% of the money, the sportsbook will likely swing the numbers in the other direction to entice bettors to even out the action. Meanwhile, if a different sportsbook is getting roughly 50% of the handle on each side of the spread, that book may keep its numbers where they are.
Once you become familiar with how sports betting odds work, identifying the better odds will be quite simple. Here’s a quick example.
At Caesars Sportsbook in Ohio, an upcoming matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat has Cleveland as a +175 money line odds underdog. After doing some odds shopping, you could notice that the DraftKings sportsbook app is offering odds of +185. Obviously, the +185 is going to offer a better payout if the Cavaliers pull off the upset, so you’d place the bet at DraftKings, instead.
Benefits of line shopping
Line shopping is a must for anybody who is serious about sports wagering. There is no reason not to partake in this practice. You’re obviously going to want the best chance for a winning bet and the greatest possible payout.
Here’s another example of how shopping for lines can help you. We’ll stick with the NFL for this one and describe the importance of key numbers.
Field goals are worth three points, and touchdowns are worth seven with the extra point. Therefore, the numbers three and seven are very important in football betting because those are the two most likely margins of victory. Understanding this is crucial to NFL wagering success.
In our example, let’s say the Cincinnati Bengals enter their game against the New York Jets as seven-point favorites at FanDuel sportsbook Ohio. Understanding that seven is a key number, you would love to find a spread that is below that.
After doing some line shopping, you find the Bengals as 6.5-point favorites on BetMGM Ohio Sportsbook. That half-point will give you a tremendous advantage over bettors at FanDuel. It means that if Cincinnati wins 24-17, you would win your bet. If you had bet with the line at seven, your wager would be a push.
You can also find key numbers on the point total, though these generally receive less attention than key numbers on the betting spread. The percentage of games that land on a specific number will vary by year, but a popular number to look at is 44.
How to shop for lines
Now that you know some of the basics about why line shopping is important, let’s put it into action and show you exactly what to do to find the best odds.
Another reason to sign up for multiple Ohio sportsbook accounts is that many of them will offer sports betting bonuses when you do. The books will likely have promos for established customers, as well, such as odds boosts and other ways to maximize your bets. Signing up is a very quick process, and it can be worth the few minutes it takes to do so.
As long as the sports betting apps are available for download in Ohio, feel free to get as many as you can onto your mobile device. Do not be the one who loses a bet because you bet at only one sportsbook app.
Be sure to take a look at the odds feeds on this site to scroll through the latest odds in real-time.
Why do betting lines move at sportsbooks?
Sportsbooks respond with line movement for a variety of factors. One of the main reasons for this is betting action, as we went over earlier. Lines could also move significantly due to roster movements like a trade or the addition of a new player, and injury news is another key item oddsmakers will track and respond to. Inclement weather could also play a factor if the game is taking place outside. Sometimes, a sportsbook will adjust odds based on a bettor that it knows is extremely good at handicapping games, but that’s more of a rarity.
Those who take sports betting seriously and do well at it will tend to have a good sense of where the sports betting lines will move. It can be difficult, especially for a sports bettor just getting started, but getting your bet down right when the lines open can be a good move. The initial odds release is when the numbers can adjust rapidly based on sharp bettors hammering a particular side early. Watching for these movements as a way to follow the smart money is called chasing steam.
What are Vegas odds?
Over the years, you may have heard of the term Vegas odds. For a long time, Las Vegas was one of the only places where you could legally wager on sports in the United States. However, in 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, giving individual states the option to legalize sports wagering.
As more and more states allow sports betting, the term Vegas odds likely will lose some of its impacts because you no longer have to take a trip to Sin City to bet on sports. Odds at your local sportsbook in Ohio will likely follow a very similar process to how Vegas sportsbooks operate, and the way the books display their odds will be very similar, as well.
What type of bet is best for line shopping?
Bets that feature just two outcomes, each with roughly a 50% chance of happening, can be a good option. Once you start betting on underdogs to win outright or begin adding a number of outcomes to create parlay bets, that’s where the odds are going to be going against you, and you’re not set up for long-term success.
The bets that will usually create the greatest chance for a profit, in the long run, are usually going to be point spreads and point totals. That is where you may be able to find value, especially right when the lines open. That’s when you can find a significant difference between where the numbers start and where they might be right before the game.
You should shop for the best lines for every wager you place if you are looking for the best chance to accrue a profit in sports betting, which is very hard to do. If you are looking for a specific area where shopping around is most advantageous, it’s finding the key numbers in NFL games, as we mentioned earlier. Football is the most popular betting sport in the United States, and the sport’s scoring system makes specific numbers more important than any other league from a betting perspective.
Finding the best lines for futures
Many of the most popular sports will have futures bets for the public to take a look at, sometimes even months in advance. Examples where odds could be available year-round or nearly so include odds for the Super Bowl, World Series odds, NBA Finals odds, etc. Others would include season-long win totals, who will win a particular division and individual player awards.
Some of these wagers can be very difficult to win because so much can happen between now and the actual date those events will take place, and there are so many unknown factors. Because of that, the payouts could be quite high for winning wagers.
Just like when betting on totals and point spreads, it’s very important to shop for the best numbers if you’d like to bet on futures. For your best chance at a winning wager, it probably makes more sense to make the bet later rather than earlier. The day after the NBA Finals, odds will likely be out for next year’s NBA Finals.
Because so much can happen during the offseason with trades or acquisitions in addition to injuries or simply not living up to the expectations of 12 months ago, you’re probably not setting yourself up for the best chance at success right out of the gate.
Whenever you decide to place a futures bet, make sure you’re checking a variety of sportsbooks for the best numbers to maximize your profit with a winning wager.
What if I find a better line after I place my bet?
If you place a wager and then find a more advantageous line at a different sportsbook, unfortunately, you are already stuck with the less valuable line. It’s up to you whether you’d like to double down on the more advantageous number or simply stick with your original wager. This is why shopping around in advance is so important.