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Getting the Best Line for Your Bet
by Bovada Sportsbook

When you are betting football and basketball spreads and totals and laying 110 to win 100 on every bet, you need to win 52.38% of your bets just to break even and cover the juice you pay to sportsbooks. It could be argued that anybody could win 50% of games by flipping a coin or by having your dog pick teams so the tough part is finding enough overlays to boost your win percentage above the 52.4% mark. However, there are other ways to boost your win percentage, one of which is shopping for the best available line you can find.

If you have an account at only one sportsbook, you have no choice but to either accept the line offered or not bet. If you use two sportsbooks, you can compare the lines you get and wager on the one that provides you with the best opportunity to win your bet. Why would you have wagered over 42 on St Louis Rams/San Diego Chargers game last week if you could have gotten over 41.5? Why would you bet over 41.5 if you could have gotten a wager in over 41? This seems like common sense, but it is surprising to me how many players take no heed of the line they are betting on.

Estimates vary, but generally getting an extra point adds up to 4% to your chance of winning a wager. This is particularly important around key numbers in football, 3 and 7, and smaller numbers in general. By smaller numbers, I mean the difference between a 2 and a 2.5-point line is more likely to make a difference than is the difference between a 22 and a 22.5-point line, but it doesnít mean you shouldnít make an effort to get the best line possible every time.

It's up to you to decide how many books you should use. Too few means you don't have enough variation in the lines but if you have too many, you may lose some opportunities as it will take too long to shop all the lines and your bankroll could be spread too thin. Be sure to choose sportsbooks where it is easy to get the lines you need very quickly. The magic number is probably somewhere around five books for most people, but if you only have one account, even getting two more sets of lines to look at for every game should make a big difference to your bottom line at the end of the season. In the example above, what line would you have rather had with the final score Chargers 31-10? Getting the total at 41 meant a push instead of a loss! A half point can turn a loss into a push or a push into a win. Getting a few extra wins or pushes over the course of the season makes that extra shopping well worth the effort.

Another factor in beating the number and boosting your win percentage is timing. I am sure you have all experienced a game where your morning paper says the line is Rams -8 and as you do your research you like the Rams, but by the time you go to bet it, the line is -9.5. So, if St. Louis wins by 9, your handicapping essentially picked a winner even though your bet was a loser! Even shopping for the best line may not have made a difference if you wagered later in the day after the line had moved from -8 to -9.5.

If a line opens at -6.5 and moves to -6, you know sportsbooks are getting action on the underdog. If you like the favorite in that particular game, you may be better served by waiting as that line moves from -6 to -5.5 to -5 over the course of the day or the week. This is tougher to do than shopping for the best line and takes some experience to get a feel for which way lines move, but after even just a couple of weeks of tracking opening and closing lines, you will be better prepared to get the best possible number on every wager you place.

As a starting point, the pros use a couple of guidelines for shopping football lines. Generally the public prefers favorites and over with the total so the lines tend to move in that direction (but not all the time or books would simply raise those opening lines). Thus, the rule-of-thumb is to play favorites and overs early and to play underdogs and unders late. You wonít get the best line everytime following this rule, but it should serve as a solid base and will boost your win percentage. Betting the best games at the best line should be the goal of every sports bettor trying to make a profit.

5Dimes Sportsbook