Line Shopping: A How-To Guide

June 20, 2023

Line shopping is a crucial strategy employed by skilled bettors known as “sharps” to maximize their returns on bets. It involves carefully examining various online sportsbooks to identify the most favorable games to wager on and the most favorable odds. Line shopping is a relatively straightforward practice that any aspiring sharp can adopt despite its initial complexity.

Is Line Shopping Really Worth the Extra Time?

Absolutely line shopping is worth the extra time and effort. Experienced bettors, commonly called “sharps,” understand the significance of even the slightest edge in the long run. The profit margins in sports betting are typically low, and line shopping serves to overcome the bookmakers’ “vig” or commission added to their lines.

To an inexperienced observer, a difference between -110 and -105 may appear insignificant. A mere -5 variance between two lines might seem negligible, but that is not true. Every dollar won or lost accumulates over time. Successful bettors have reached their level of expertise by meticulously scrutinizing every detail, regardless of how seemingly insignificant it may be. To achieve success as a bettor, every dollar must count.

Let’s put things into perspective. If you place $110 bets on 250 games at -110, you must win 131 games to break even. On the other hand, if you bet $105 on 250 games at -105, you would only need to win 128 matches to break even. This translates to a difference of three games throughout 250 games.

Sharps must outperform bookmakers approximately 53-56% of the time to maintain a winning percentage.

Considering the slim profit margins, those three games can significantly affect whether you end up with a loss or a profit. Even the slightest variation in lines can substantially impact your overall financial outcome.

Comparing Sportsbooks: Breaking Down Line Shopping

Line shopping can significantly impact your bankroll over an extended period, as demonstrated by the scenario you described with the Charlotte Hornets and the different odds offered by Sportsbook A and Sportsbook B.

In this case, you determined that betting on the Charlotte Hornets at +7.5 was an intelligent wager. Sportsbook A offered odds of -110, meaning you would have to stake $110 to win $100. However, through line shopping, you discovered that Sportsbook B had the same line at +7.5 but with better odds of -105. You only need to wager $105 to win $100 at Sportsbook B.

By opting for Sportsbook B’s line of -105 instead of Sportsbook A’s line of -110, you would come away with winnings of $104.76 instead of $100. The seemingly tiny line difference resulted in an additional $4.76 in winnings for that particular wager.

The cumulative effect becomes significant when considering the impact of line shopping on your bankroll over an extended time. You can increase your overall profitability by consistently finding and taking advantage of the best odds available across different sportsbooks.

Each time you secure more favorable odds, even by a slight margin, it adds up throughout numerous bets. Those incremental differences accumulate, leading to higher overall winnings and a healthier bankroll. 

Line shopping is a crucial strategy for maximizing your returns and ensuring that every dollar counts in the competitive world of sports betting.

So, how would line shopping impact your bankroll over a prolonged duration?

Placing a $110 Bet at -110 odds on Sportsbook A’s line

If you were to make 50 bets of $110 each at -110 odds on Sportsbook A’s line, you would experience a profit of $100 on 25 winning bets, resulting in a total gain of $2,500. Conversely, on the remaining 25 bets, you would incur a loss of $110 each, leading to a total loss of $2,750. Combining these figures, your net loss would amount to $250. On average, this translates to a loss of $5 per bet and accounts for approximately 4.5% of your total stake.

Placing a $110 Bet at -105 odds on Sportsbook B’s line

If you were to use the same $110 to place 50 wagers on the -105 line offered by Sportsbook B, you would win 25 times, resulting in a profit of $104.76 per bet. This would accumulate to a total gain of $2,619. On the other hand, you would still experience losses on the remaining 25 bets, amounting to $2,750, which is the same as before. However, your net losses would only be $121 in this scenario. This accounts for merely 2.2% of your total stake or $2.42 per bet.

What Would this Amount To, in the Long Run?

In this example, the variance between wagering $110 on -105 instead of -110 would amount to $2.58 per bet, equivalent to 2.3% of your total winnings from a single-game bet. Throughout 50 games worth of wagers, this translates to a reduction of $119 in losses. Over the long term, such differences substantially impact your bankroll. It is crucial not to give your sportsbook any more money than necessary, as expert bettors (“sharps”) aim to minimize their contributions to the sportsbook’s profits.

Line Shopping for a Better Spread

Line shopping goes beyond purely analyzing numerical values. It also involves seeking out spreads that provide a higher likelihood of winning your bet.

While online sportsbooks often have identical spreads for basketball, soccer, and football games, discrepancies can arise when the lines are initially released. This initial stage presents an opportunity for line shopping, as there may be variations in point spreads available for specific games. By taking advantage of these variations, bettors can optimize their betting strategy and increase their chances of success.  

Finding Your Best Betting Spread

Let’s consider an example where an opportunity arises to take advantage of a more favorable spread.

Suppose you intend to place a bet on the Toronto Raptors. In this case, wagering at Sportsbook B would be more advantageous. The Raptors need to secure a victory by a margin of 10 points or more to cover the spread at both sportsbooks. However, if they were to beat you by only 9 points, you would get your money back at Sportsbook B, whereas the bet would be lost at Sportsbook A.

Conversely, if you wish to bet on the Orlando Magic, Sportsbook A would be better. If the Magic were to lose by 9 points, you would still win your bet at Sportsbook A. On the other hand, at Sportsbook B, you would receive a refund for a push or a tie.

The significance of even half-point differences becomes evident in such scenarios. Losing a bet against the spread due to a half-point difference is expected, highlighting its importance. This emphasizes the value of extra effort to find the most favorable spread, as it can make a substantial difference between significant profits and no profit at all.

Line Shopping for a Better Spread

Line shopping is not solely focused on numerical analysis. It also involves seeking spreads that increase the probability of winning your bet.

Frequently, online sportsbooks offer identical spreads for basketball, soccer, and football games. However, when the lines are initially released, there tends to be variation in the point spreads available for specific games. This creates an opportunity for line shopping. During the initial release of lines, bettors can take advantage of these discrepancies and explore different sportsbooks to find the most favorable spread.

Line Shopping for the Moneyline

The importance of finding the best moneyline is evident, as explained in the “moneyline made easy” guide. The more favorable the odds, the greater the potential winnings. It’s a straightforward concept.

Sportsbooks employ strategies to balance the action on both sides of an event, often by adjusting the moneyline in either direction leading up to the game. They may alter the perceived favoritism of a team or adjust the underdog status.

By manipulating potential payouts, sportsbooks can influence the distribution of bets on each side. This practice is particularly noticeable before significant games or tournaments like the March Madness or Super Bowl. When sportsbooks receive a high volume of bets for a particular event, they take extensive measures to manage their exposure and mitigate potential losses.

Be Careful with Line Aggregators!

Numerous websites claim to simplify the process of line shopping by doing the work for you.

Some websites showcase promotional lines designed to attract bettors to specific sportsbooks. However, it’s important to note that these lines are often exclusive to new customers, meaning existing account holders may not have access to the boosted odds featured by these line aggregators. In many cases, if an offer appears too good to be true, it likely is.

Therefore, relying on reputable line shopping tools that enable easy comparison of the best available lines is advisable.

Sports Betting Dime, for example, has developed several in-house tools to assist users, including real-time odds feeds for major leagues and matchup pages that facilitate quick line comparisons among top sportsbooks. These tools can help bettors make informed decisions and find the most advantageous lines.

Where Can You Find the Best Lines?

Line shopping is undoubtedly time-consuming, as it involves exploring the lines offered by multiple sportsbooks and keeping track of the odds.

Sports Betting Dime’s matchup pages are designed to provide all the essential information needed to make confident and well-informed wagers on games. Users can access comprehensive data and key metrics by glancing at these pages, including score predictions, odds history, consensus picks, betting percentages on the moneyline, spread and totals, and ROI data for each team.

To further streamline the line shopping process, Sports Betting Dime offers an automated feature on their odds feed pages, such as NBA odds, NFL odds, MLB odds, and more. This feature displays the best odds for the desired bets, ensuring that only safe and reliable sportsbooks are included. For a convenient starting point, it is recommended to utilize Sports Betting Dime’s real-time odds and betting lines for upcoming games across various sports, including:

  • NFL betting odds
  • MLB betting odds
  • NBA betting odds
  • NHL betting odds
  • College basketball betting odds
  • College football betting odds

Line Shopping Isn’t Easy, but It’s Profitable

Line shopping was relatively straightforward when online sportsbooks were new and smaller in scale. However, the process has become more challenging as sportsbooks have evolved into massive enterprises with numerous bookmakers, ensuring their lines align with the current market value. Additionally, the internet has facilitated easier monitoring and adjustment of lines by sportsbooks in response to each other.

The sports betting market has become more efficient compared to a decade ago. Despite the increased difficulty in shopping lines between books, it is possible. With dedication, effort, and the right tools, bettors can still find profitable opportunities. The key lies in hard work and utilizing appropriate resources to navigate the evolving sports betting landscape.

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