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Sports Betting Tips – Line Shopping

If you are ready to take the next step to becoming an advanced sports bettor you must have multiple outlets for placing a bet.  Bettors that limit themselves to just a single sportsbook are losing out on significant profits in both the short and long term.

Making money betting on sports is a grind and not easy.  The best sports bettors in the world, many of whom are featured on this website, only win 55-60% of their sports wagers.  You need to look for any edge you can in this industry and one of the most overlooked angles that players miss is line shopping.

Line shopping means having an account at a few different sportsbooks so that when you decide to make a bet on a certain team you are able to check different sportsbooks to find which book is offering the best line for you.

Often times these line differences, if any, will be very small.  But that does not mean you should take line shopping any less seriously.  Profits and losses can come down to the smallest of margins in sports betting and getting the very best line possible is absolutely imperative to any serious sports bettor.

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:

Example 1: The Dallas Cowboys are playing at Philadelphia and you are looking to bet on the Eagles as a home favorite.  You have accounts at three sportsbooks and find that the Eagles are favored by 4 at Sportsbook A, by 3.5 at Sportsbook B, and by 4 at Sportsbook C.  Obviously, you are going to bet at Sportsbook B (Philadelphia -3.5) and save the extra half point.  If you only had an account at Sportsbook A or C then you would be missing out on the opportunity to get the best line possible.

Now a half point may not sound like much and for one single game it may be irrelevant.  But when you apply this over 100 games or 500 games then a half point becomes very crucial and has a major impact on your profitability.

Let’s say that over a 500 game sample size that a four point favorite wins by exactly 4 points 26 times.  If you were able to line shop and get that favorite at -3.5 instead of -4 then you would increase your profit by +26 units because every one of those “pushes” would be turned to “wins.”  That would be a +$5,200 swing for a $200 unit player.

Line shopping will not only help turn a potential push into a win but can turn a potential loss into a push which is equally valuable.  Getting an underdog at +6 instead of +5.5 will turn that loss into a push when that team loses by exactly six points.  Again a half point can seem so minor but over the long term you can see how valuable line shopping is to your bank roll.

If you still scoff at the idea that an extra half point on a football wager is a big deal then consider this.  In 2011 Rob Gronkowski, a tight end for the New England Patriots, caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and a record 17 touchdowns.  He had become one of the league’s best offensive weapons who was almost impossible for defenses to cover.  In 2012 Gronkowski missed five games due to a forearm injury.  The consensus from some of the top linemakers in Las Vegas was that the pointspread on New England Patriot games was adjusted a half point to account for Gronkowski not playing.  One of the best players in the NFL was considered to impact the spread a half point.  Yes folks, a half point in an NFL game is HUGE and line shopping will absolutely pay off big time over the long run.

The above examples involved line shopping on point spreads.  The next level of line shopping is getting the best price on a particular point spread.

Example 2: You are looking to bet on the Eagles as a home favorite vs. the Cowboys.  You have accounts at three sportsbooks and each lists the Eagles as a four point favorite.  However, Sportsbook A and Sportsbook B have a -110 price on the Eagles -4 while Sportsbook C has a -105 price on Philadelphia -4.  This means that at Sportsbook C you only have to risk $210 to win $200 whereas at the other two books you have to risk $220 to win $200.

This may seem minor but again over the long term this will have a significant impact on your profitability.  Over a 500 game sample size let’s say you win that bet 55% of the time.  Each time you win you win $200 at either book so there is no impact on line shopping in this example when you win.  However, over the 225 times that you lose that bet you are losing $10 more every time at Sportsbooks A & B than you are at Sportsbook C.  That is an extra $2,250 in profitability for a $200 unit player.

The most obvious value in line shopping is in moneyline betting in all major sports.  Moneyline betting is most common in baseball but money lines are offered in football and basketball as well.  When making a moneyline bet you are simply betting on a team to win the game with no pointspread involved.

The most common way to see a money line listed is:

St. Louis -160

San Francisco +140

This means that you if you bet on St. Louis to win you are risking $160 to win $100 and if you are betting on San Francisco to win you are risking $100 to win $140.

Whereas you rarely see much variance across different sportsbooks when it comes to point spreads it is far more common to see differences in the money lines that sportsbooks offer.

Example 3: You are looking to bet on the San Francisco Giants to win against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Sportsbook A lists the Giants at +140, Sportsbook B has the Giants at +130, and Sportsbook C has the Giants at +145.  Obviously, you are going to bet the Giants at Sportsbook C to get the best price of +145.  Now let’s pretend you don’t have three books to bet at it, you have limited yourself to just two – Sportsbook B and Sportsbook C.  If you make 500 bets on the Giants and they win 220 times then you are looking at $6,600 in additional profitability just by line shopping and getting the better price if you are a $200 unit player.

I want to stress that in all of these examples you are making thousands of extra dollars in profitability by simply shopping for the best line possible.  You are making the same exact bets and you are winning and losing the same number of bets but you are coming out thousands of dollars ahead because a push became a win or a loss became a push or because you maximized your return on a moneyline wager.

The true impact of line shopping is felt over the long run.  These minor line differences may seem irrelevant but any successful sports bettor will tell you have to get maximum value on every single bet you make.

If you are limiting yourself to just one sportsbook you are missing out on potential profits.  One of the most common questions I am asked is what sportsbook can I trust with my money.  There are many uncertainties in today’s online sports betting world and people want to know which books are reliable and trustworthy.

To see a list of sportsbooks that we recommend please visit our Online Sportsbook page.

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