Line shopping is quite possibly a bettor’s greatest tool to mitigate their risks and increase their bankroll. It is something you should know before you join one of the best sportsbooks available online and start wagering on sports.
To help you grasp the concept of line shopping, we are going to explain what it is and the two scenarios where successful bettors use it to either guarantee returns on either or increase the chance of winning when betting on both sides.
Line Shopping is a Strategy Every Bettor Should Use
If you do not know the term line shopping, a simple definition is this: Line shopping is when a sports bettor uses two or more sportsbooks to track the movement of odds and point spreads. Doing this makes it possible to find scenarios where a bettor can a) bet against their original position and eliminate any chance at losing any of their bankroll or b) find a scenario where betting against their original position can potentially win the punter double.
Example for Scenario A
A huge heavyweight fight is announced. The odds open, and Fighter A (1.53) is the favorite over Fighter B (2.50). Your opening bet on the fight is on one unit (for the sake of simplicity, let’s say one unit equals $100) on Fighter A to win the fight. As the fight approaches, both public and sharp bettors are hammering the favorite, causing sportsbooks to move the line.
As betting with the public has no proven track record for guaranteed success, you opt to shop for odds on the underdog. You find on one sportsbook you use, the odds on Fighter B have moved from 2.53 to 3.25. On odds of 3.25, you can bet between $45 and $52 on Fighter B to guarantee yourself a 1% to 5% return — no matter the outcome of the fight.
Why Follow Scenario A
The reason you may follow scenario a is because you are more risk-averse on your original position than at the time you were when you placed the bet. As this approach to line shopping is most common on events with weeks or months of buildup, new information may arise that changes how you feel about one side or the other. You may also want to slowly build your bankroll and view a guaranteed return of 1% to 5% as the best option.
We should note that there is no guarantee the line will move enough to take a position on both sides and return a profit.
Example for Scenario B
No example in the sporting world better describes scenario B better than Super Bowl XIII — also dubbed Black Sunday by the sportsbooks in Las Vegas. The game opened with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 3.5 point favorite over the Dallas Cowboy. As the bets poured in on Pittsburgh, the sportsbooks adjusted the line from 3.5 to 4.5 points. After moving the spread, many bettors switched their position from Pittsburgh to Dallas. The line eventually settled at Pittsburgh -4.
Pittsburgh won the game 35-31 — meaning bettors who took Pittsburgh early and bet on Dallas later won both of their bets.
Why Follow Scenario B
While scenario A is about eradicating the risk of loss with a guaranteed small return, scenario B is about the chance to win twice with the risk of a slight loss. Assuming that odds on the point spreads are a standard 1.91 and you are wagering $20 on each bet, you stand to make $36.40 if both wagers hit or lose $1.80 if only one wager wins.
Since the loss is less than 5% of the amount you stand to win if both wagers hit, you only need a success rate of 5% (that is: 1 out of every 20 bets) to net a profit and increase your bankroll. Of course, the higher your success, the faster your bankroll will increase.
This betting strategy is becoming increasingly popular when betting on NFL over/unders — as lines are typically driven up by the public and may settle two to three points higher than they opened on Sunday.
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