Skip to main content

How to Choose a Sportsbook

by May 30, 2019

There are many things to consider when choosing a sportsbook. The first thing you want to ascertain is if the book in question serves your state or country. Once you have found and compiled a list of the books you are eligible to sign up with, there are several things you want to consider.

Find all of our articles on sports betting strategy tips & advice >>

Favorite vs. Dog Books
One thing many bettors may not realize is the importance of shopping lines. It is not uncommon for two sports books to have slightly different lines on the same event. Some books like Bovada (aka Bodog outside of the U.S.) are well known as dog books. This means that if you are planning to place action on the underdog you can often find not only more favorable juice, but a more favorable spread as well. This, of course, is more applicable to NFL and NBA, as run line and puck line ‘spreads’ do not vary much from book to book.

To illustrate this, we need to look no further than our odds page. As you can see, the two books featured have different lines set for the same game. This is thematic of all books in general, making shopping lines critical to find the best value for your money.

In this example, we have the Bears at -4 over the Packers at FanDuel, but -3.5 at DraftKings. In this case, DK is considered the ‘favorite book,’ as you get a more favorable line on the favorite. FD is the dog book as you get an extra .5 if you bet the underdog. Be cognizant of what type of book you are placing your bet in prior to submitting your wager.

Standard Juices
One thing you want to pay attention to when selecting a sportsbook is the standard juices the book in question places on each side. It is very common for books to have standard lines of -110 or even -115. However, some books know that sharps and heavy bettors follow the juice, and thus offer -105 as their standard. This may seem minute with a single small bet, but adds up with volume or larger bets.

It is also important to bear in mind that the five cents extra juice is tacked on wherever the line sits, not only at it’s open. The higher your unit, the higher juice or vig you will have to pay. For illustrative purposes -110 means it costs $110 to win $100, while -105 means you only need to lay $105.

Multipliers on Parlays
Bonus multipliers on parlays can drastically affect the payout on an identical parlay at different books. Discerning whether or not the book you are considering offers bonus multipliers on parlays, along with how big the multipliers themselves are, should be strong considerations when comparing options.

Reputation
The reputation of the sportsbook you select is something to consider when choosing a book. With gambling becoming legal in more and more states, there is an ever-increasing amount of options to select from. Using a name you already trust or an established book is recommended if you are starting out.

Deposit and Withdrawal Methods
This is where things get tricky. Deposit and withdrawal methods, or a lack thereof, can often be make or break when deciding which sportsbook(s) to use. Speed and fees should be the first things you consider. The four other main things to consider in no specific order are: whether the book accepts credit cards, whether your card count sportsbook deposits as cash advances, the fees for any payment gateway you may use, and finally minimum deposits or withdrawals.  

Cards Accepted
Not all books accept certain credit card types. American Express, for example, charges merchants higher fees than other cards, so it’s frequently not an option for deposits. Researching this prior to signing up is imperative.

Cards Charging Cash Advances for Sportsbooks
Some banks/credit cards count any and all sportsbooks deposits as cash advances. If you have one of these cards, you will want to use a card from a different bank/card provider. If this is not an option, you should consider a payment gateway.

Payment Gateway Fees
Payment gateway fees are an important factor to consider if presented with multiple payment gateway options. These directly affect your bankroll, and as such should be analyzed just as thoroughly as you would the juices at different books.

Welcome Bonuses
Welcome bonuses are great, right? Well, you have to read the fine print. Most bonuses require a rollover anywhere from 5x to 50x the initial deposit, plus bonus. Ideally, you want to choose the lower rollovers first and then travel from book to book.

Here is the suggestion. Start at a low rollover book and moneyline parlay a group of favorites. This is the easiest way to ‘insure’ your deposit. After you complete rollover requirements, you withdraw your initial deposit plus a portion of your winnings, and then use the remainder as your bankroll for that book. You then take the initial deposit and repeat this process at another book.

There is no guarantee you will hit every moneyline parlay (even with huge favorites), so bear that in mind when deciding on the size of said wagers. You need to leave enough of your roll to keep going if your play fails to ‘click.’ It is also important to remember that most rollovers have an expiration date, at which point if you have not met the threshold, you will forfeit the bonus.

Prop Selection
Book to book prop selection is not created equal. As a fantasy sports enthusiast, my favorite type of wager is undoubtedly prop betting. As someone who may be more dialed into player trends than the average bettor, fantasy sports owners can spot the good values. Thus, I have always sought out sportsbooks with the widest selection of player props.

Selection is not the only thing to consider, as the ability to parlay props is a game changer. Pay special attention to the prop selections and options prior to placing a deposit if they are one of your preferred betting vehicles.

Minimum and Maximum Bets
The minimum or maximum bets allowed to be placed at a particular book should also play a correlative factor in your decision. This is especially important for large bettors or smaller bettors. There is nothing more annoying than realizing your sportsbook has a limit on the size of a particular bet. Granted this is not a problem for most people, but it is something to be cognizant of as your bankroll continues to grow. Being forced to spread your action can result in a bankroll deduction by way of the fees you may incur.

Minimum bets may seem trivial but can make a big difference, especially for parlay or teaser bettors. Some books will allow you to place wagers as low as a penny or five cents on parlays, which is appealing for novice bettors as well as those who bet more for entertainment than to make money. Being able to play $1 pleasers where you sell points can be very attractive once multipliers are factored in.

Maximum Teams for Parlays and Teasers
This is important to note as this can affect your potential winnings. Sportsbooks have different limits to the amount of teams you can include in your parlays or teasers. Consider signing up for a book specifically for your parlay and teaser bets if your preferred book is too stringent on these limits.

Live Betting
Not all live betting options are created equal. Most, if not all, books offer live betting in 2019, but the quality of the options available should be a make or break decision making factor if you like to partake in this betting method. The breadth of live betting options is what you want to consider.

Do they offer live betting on all contests or just a select few? How in depth are their live options? When do they cut lines off? These are just a few of the questions you will want answered when evaluating books based on live betting.

Customer Service Options
This is not as big of a consideration when using North American sportsbooks since their working hours line up with our timezones. However, it is important to note what types of customer service options are offered.

Email only books should be ignored. There is nothing worse to a bettor than not being able to have your issues or concerns addressed the same day, if not immediately. Most books offer phone support, but chat support is often a much easier avenue for many bettors. Carefully consider which options work the best for you and choose accordingly.

Check out our DraftKings Sportsbook review and promo codes >>

Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive, and follow him @FantasyContext.