Sports Betting Lines

Choosing The Best Online Lines

In this article we’ll cover the topic sports betting lines, writing mostly about where they come from, reasons for line movements, and how to maximize value (when to bet).

What we will not cover is the very basics; if you’re brand new to sports betting and this article confuses you, first read the article on how to bet on sports.

Sports Betting Lines At

Sports betting line accuracy.

As you’re probably already aware, "sports betting lines" are initially set to create a 50/50 wagering opportunity.

For example, if a betting line opens as Patriots -7.5 / Jets +7.5 the oddsmaker who created that line believes there is a 50% chance that the Patriots will win by 8 or more, and a 50% chance they won’t.

If sports betting lines were always accurate, it would be nearly impossible to win, because most bets are offered at a risk $110 to win $100 base (-110 pricing). The good news is that sports betting lines are often not accurate, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.

Importance of early sports lines.

Almost anyone who is anyone in the world of profitable sports betting, first angles to find an advantage bet by looking at the early lines. The first site to release sports betting lines, on almost every market, is

In fact, most other sports books wait till after Bookmaker has had their lines up for hours, or at some bookmakers a day, before they go ahead and open a game for betting.

What you need to know is that an early line represents a single oddsmaker’s opinion on a game. This is a well researched opinion coming from a very talented oddsmaker, but even so he doesn’t always get it right.

Quick early lines example.

To give an example, we’ll talk about weekly NFL lines, but understand that the same concept applies elsewhere in other sports.

At Bookmaker, the first site to post NFL odds, these lines start to come out around 4PM every Sunday for the next week. Once out, you’ll generally see one, two, or three games where the lines start moving very quickly. What’s happening here is the bookmaker is getting lopsided action.

What you need to understand is that square bettors, a term simply meaning novice bettors, are not the ones betting on the early line. Its pros/sharps here putting in the lopsided action, either because they are bookmakers themselves and are trying to get a line early to offset risk of opposite action they expect from squares later, or because their opinion differs with that of the oddsmaker who set that particular opening line.

To put this into perspective an oddsmaker opens the Chiefs at -1 and instantly gets a ton of big money bets coming in on the Chiefs. He then needs to decide: did he make a mistake, or how much risk does he want to take.

Most bookmakers, not wanting to expose themselves to heavily lopsided risk that could wipe out profit expected from other games, will move the line, and keep moving it until the lopsided action slows down. Here you might refresh your screen and notice that every couple minutes the line moves: say to Chiefs -1, -1.5, -2, -2.5.

How to take advantage of early lines.

If you’re an experience bettor good at capping games, you’ll want to have an idea of who you are looking to bet prior to the early line coming out. If you see a game where you believe the line is better than it will be at closing, you want to grab it early.

If you’re a good sports bettor but not talented enough to do this, what you’ll want to do is get good at spotting early line movements. If you  were already considering the Chiefs and see the line moving against them, get in now. If its starting to trend worse for them, betting now might get you a better line than it will close at. Here, you’re benefiting just from watching what it appears the sharps are doing.

Just understand that this is not an exact science, but generally getting in on the team the line is moving against early is far better strategy than randomly picking.

Tip: To help keep up with early lines when you're on the move, you should check out mobile. It's incredibly handy.

Understanding public opinion.

Another thing to explain about sport betting lines is public opinion. In many games most of the square action comes in on a certain side, as fans often see games different than sharp bettors and oddsmakers do.

Vital to understand is that, if everyone and their grandmother seems to be betting a certain team, then it’s probably not a good bet, and in fact betting the opposite will likely have value. The popular bet is often akin to a sucker bet.

Another good way to bet on sports is to watch what the line does just before the game starts.

Watching the line before the game starts example.

If the San Francisco 49ers are +4.5 against the fan favorite New Orleans Saints, and just before game time you see the line start moving to +5, +5.5, +6, +6.5, you should immediately head to sites such as Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, etc. and make sure there was no late injury report or something else that might be causing this move, which sometimes but most often not is the case.

If you see no reports to otherwise explain the move, what is most likely happening is the betting lines are changing due to late lopsided action coming in from squares. The Bookmaker wanting to sell at a worse line than he is taking the most bets at moves the line, creating value on the opposite side.

Here, you’d be wise to take the 49ers +6.5.

Closing thoughts on online sports betting lines.

While neither is an exact science, a better strategy than betting on your favorite team, or randomly picked team, is to be on the side the line is getting worse for when the line first opens, and being on the team the line is getting better for when the line is about to close.

As you get experience using this method, you'll start to pick up and refine your strategies.

In the meantime, what you want to know is this: There is not a sharp bettor out there who is not following the sports betting lines when they first come out at If you’re serious about betting for profit, having an account with Bookmaker is a must.

When joining be sure to sign up with bonus code: FRESH to get the maximum available sign up bonus.

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