Experienced and, more importantly, successful sports gamblers know there is much more to this racket than just picking a winner more often than picking a loser. Of course, that is a pretty good start.
Beyond picking winners, a successful sports gambler has to maximize his return. It’s not only important to win a wager, it’s important to get the best odds possible while winning a wager.
There are many ways to pursue this, and “line shopping” is one of them.
What Is Line Shopping in Sports Betting?
Line shopping is when a sports gambler has decided on a wager to play but then looks at different sportsbooks to find the best odds or line. Once they find the odds or line they like, they use that sportsbook.
Every sportsbook is different, and this is true for every sportsbook feature. Different rules and regulations. Different bonuses and payout methods. And, most importantly, different odds and lines.
Even when competing sportsbooks begin with the same odds and lines, they don’t necessarily end there. The reason for this is due to the juice and the line movement.
Once odds or lines are posted in a sportsbook, the wagers start to come in. This is obvious. However, what isn’t so obvious is that the sportsbooks want to have as much money on one side of a bet as they do on the other.
The reason they do this is to collect on the “juice.” The juice is the fraction, usually about 10 percent, a sportsbook collects off of winning wagers. This is why you see odds such as -110, -105, or -115 so often.
That 10, 5, or 15 is the juice. By collecting the juice, the sportsbook is shortchanging the winners while still collecting all the money from the losers. This ensures a profit for the sportsbook no matter which side wins the bet.
One of the tactics sportsbooks use to make sure there is as much money on one side of a wager as there is on the other is line movement. If a wager is too lopsided one way or another, the sportsbook will then move the odds or line to entice other gamblers to place a wager on the other side.
For instance, if the New England Patriots are seven-point favorites versus the Green Bay Packers and everyone is betting on the Patriots to cover, the sportsbook will move the line.
The next thing you know, the Patriots are 7.5-point favorites. Then eight-point favorites. The sportsbook can change the number at any moment, all in an effort to even up the wager and ensure that the house brings in money.
When sportsbooks move their lines, there is an opportunity to line shop because what happens in one sportsbook doesn’t necessarily happen in another. One sportsbook may have moved the line to Patriots -8 while another is still Patriots -7.
It’s in moments like these where line shoppers strike. If you knew you were going to bet on the Patriots the entire time, which line would you take? Obviously, -7.
The same can happen with odds. Once the lines are moving is when the line shopping begins.