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What is Line Shading in Sports Betting?

by February 25, 2020
Week 1 Preseason NFL

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When thinking about sports betting, the obvious train of thought is that the sportsbook always has an advantage over the player. While there’s a plethora of tactics and strategies they have at their disposal, like the topic we’ll get into today called line shading, there’s one thing sports bettors should always remember: a sportsbook has to post a line for every single game and event. As the bettor, you can handpick which of those games you bet on — if any.

So let’s take a look at line shading, a common tactic sportsbooks use on the regular.

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Impacting Teasers

Most common (and profitable) in American football, teasers are a way to move a line in your direction, but you must do it on a minimum of two games. In American football, the standard teaser is six points, meaning you can move a set line on a game six points in either direction. Typically, bettors will tease lines across key numbers, which in American football are, of course, three, seven, and ten. For example, if a line is set at the Redskins +4.5, you would want to tease the Redskins to +10.5 (six points), and then tease another team of your choosing by six points as well.

Knowing bettors are prone to do this, and the impact it could have on their bottom line, sportsbooks will “shade” the line to where it costs the bettor more to go across those key numbers. Instead of having to bet $110 (-110) to win $100, like your average juice on a straight bet, sportsbooks will often make you bet $115 (-115) or even $120 (-120), to win that same $100.

Favorites and Overs

As a general rule of thumb, the public (99 percent of all sports bettors) will always bet on favorites and overs. That’s because the favorites are “supposed to” win, and overs are simply more exciting to have action on. With this in mind, sportsbooks will often either bake this into their line, adding an extra point or two to the favorite as well as the total, or just inflate the juice to -115 to the favorite or over, like in the example given above. When considering a bet on the favorite or an over in any sporting event, it’s important to keep this popular line shading tactic in mind.

Drawing Equal Action

Most sportsbooks across the world are simply trying to get equal-sided action on both sides of a given event, so they are able to collect the “juice” off of the losing bets since they know bettors overwhelmingly lose given a large enough sample size. With this general theme in mind, sportsbooks often shade the line or juice in a way that will entice bettors so they can get their even action by the time the event starts. While this is a traditional way of thinking, and the more advanced and sharper sportsbooks out there no longer subscribe to this train of thought, this line shading still occurs, and bettors should be aware. That way, they can take advantage of it when it occurs.

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TJ Perun is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @JohnnyCovers.

Bet Types, Betting 101, Betting Tips