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How to Shop for the Best Lines & Odds at Sportsbooks

by April 30, 2020

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.

When it comes to making purchases, what kind of consumer are you? Are you someone who buys impulsively, choosing the items that are most convenient even though they may be more expensive? Or are you someone who takes their time and shops around for the best deal, even if it means having to do a bit of research?

There are plenty of both kinds of consumers in the sports betting industry. Those bettors that do their research to find the best lines available will risk less money and will often be more profitable in the long run. With sports betting being so accessible via mobile devices, it’s easier than ever to put yourself in the best financial position betting-wise.

In this article, we will discuss how to shop for the best lines and odds across various sportsbooks.

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Are Sportsbooks’ Odds Really That Different?

Sportsbooks can vary greatly in terms of the odds available for moneyline bets. Though some of these odds may not seem too different from one sportsbook to the next, over time, shopping for the best price could save you loads of money.

Let’s focus on the difference in moneyline odds between two sportsbooks for an NBA game:

Line Shopping: A How-To Guide - Betting Strategy

graphic courtesy of sportsbettingdime.com

In this example, you will notice that the Boston Celtics have the same price at -350 on the moneyline. That means that bettors would have to wager $350 to profit $100 if they thought the Celtics would win outright. Thus, those who think the Celtics are the right side are not benefiting more from either sportsbook if they were to bet the Celtics.

However, look at the difference in odds for the underdog Hornets. Those that bet $100 on the Hornets +275 at Sportsbook A would profit $275 if the Hornets won. At Sportsbook B, the same $100 bet on the Hornets to win would turn into a $290 profit.

Though there was a glaring difference in the moneyline in this example, the spread and total do not appear different at first glance. However, bettors should pay close attention to the “juice” or “vig” attached to each line. Say that you are a bettor who thinks the Celtics will cover the 7.5 point spread. It would be smarter financially to make this wager at Sportsbook A as opposed to Sportsbook B. That’s because bettors would only be risking $110 to win $100 at Sportsbook A as opposed to $115 to win $100 at Sportsbook B. Why risk the $5 for nothing if there are better odds available?

The Importance of Finding the Best Spreads/Totals

In the prior example, the spread and the over/under were the same but differed in terms of their juice. However, what if the actual lines were a half-point different at one sportsbook? A half-point difference may not seem like a lot, but it can make all the difference in a bet that cashes, pushes, or loses.

Suppose Sportsbook A had the Celtics at -8, but Sportsbook B had them at -7.5. Bettors who bet the Celtics -7.5 at Sportsbook B only need them to win by eight or more points. However, bettors who took the Celtics at -8 would need them to win by nine points or more. Thus, if the final score ended with the Celtics winning by eight, some bettors would win their bet while others would push, depending on where they had shopped for their lines.

With football betting, sportsbooks are mindful of what they call “key numbers.” Examples of key numbers are spreads of -3, -7, -10, and -14, given the scoring structure of the sport. Thus, if one sportsbook is offering a spread of -3 and another is offering -3.5, that is a huge difference and one that bettors would be wise to take advantage of.

How to Shop for the Best Lines

It would become tedious for bettors to look for the best odds by hopping from sportsbook to sportsbook. In order to consistently get the best lines on an event, sports bettors should get familiar with the term “consensus odds.” Many sites will offer a consensus odds page that will compare a number of sportsbooks’ lines in an organized fashion.

Here is an example of consensus odds from BettingPros with regards to who will win the 2021 Super Bowl:

As you can see, this is a concise and organized way to track the best lines possible. In addition to these, BettingPros has consensus odds for a number of other futures bet across all sports. We will continue to update these odds for all individual games and contests as they become available.

Many sports bettors will likely be uncomfortable making accounts at a number of different sportsbooks. While there is certainly not a need to have accounts at every single sportsbook, it would be wise to open accounts at a minimum of two or three. That is the only way that bettors will be able to shop for different lines and financially benefit from any disparity between them.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Betting 101, How-To