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After mastering bankroll management and bet tracking, the next basic skill for a novice bettor to learn is line shopping.  

What Is Line Shopping 

Line shopping, an essential technique for all online bettors, is the search for different lines, or odds, across sportsbooks. Line shopping enables sports gamblers to seek out and find better odds, as separate sportsbooks will have different lines for each bet. 

To line shop, you will compare sports betting odds across multiple sportsbooks to find the best odds available. The practice is an easy way to increase your profitability as a gambler. I mean why wouldn’t you want the chance to make more money for the same bet? 

Vig Differences

The best way to see how line shopping impacts your profit is by comparing bet spreading odds across sportsbooks. At a typical sportsbook the juice, or vig, will be 10% (this is the price the sportsbook charges for their services). At a reduced juice sportsbook, the cut taken will be less, say 5%. 

So, for a spread bet at a regular sportsbook, you would get -110 odds ($110 to make $100). For a reduced juice sportsbook, those odds would be -105 ($105 to win $100). That 5 point difference will be massive over the long haul. 

If we keep the bet constant and compare across the two options we see: 

  • $100 bet @ -110 pays $90.91 
  • $100 bet @ -105 pays $95.24 

This means that for an identical bet, with the same amount of cash on the line, using a sportsbook with a lower vig will give you the chance to earn an additional $4.33 of profit. That amounts to a 4.76% increase. While that might not seem like a ton, a 5% profit increase over the long run can make the difference between a winning bettor and a losing one. 

Spread Differences

Sportsbooks may also have different spreads for games you want to bet on. For example, say the Patriots were favored to win in a game against the Giants. One sportsbook has the spread at 7 points and another has it at 7.5. 

If you were looking to bet the spread on the Giants you would want to bet with the sportsbook that had the spread at 7.5 points. That way, the Giants can win outright or lose by up to 7 points – and you would still win the bet. With the other sportsbook, a 7 points patriot victory would be a push. 

This also extends to other kinds of bets. If you are interested in betting the over/under you can peruse several sportsbooks to find the lowest total for an over bet or the highest total for an under.

Line Shopping For Moneyline Bets

If one sportsbook has your desired underdog pick at +190 and another has them at +200, you know where you need to place your bit. That’s an additional $10 profit (on a $100 bet) for nothing. All you have to do is line shop!

Sportsbooks often do have different lines. Seeking these out will increase your profits. As we can see in the example from the video above, line shopping was able to increase profit margins by a total of 7.27%. So the little effort it takes to line shop may just be your path to profitability. 

A Quick Notice

Some sites offer odds aggregations for the sake of making it easy to line shop (they show odds from different sportsbooks on one page). However, the odds they present are often promotional. So, the lines you see might not be the actual lines you are going to get. This means you will probably have to do the legwork yourself. Your best bet is to keep a spreadsheet to jot odds down as you shop and to save for future reference. 

The Bottom Line

In summary, to make money in sports betting is to defy the odds. That being said, the best sports gamblers due manage to have a positive bottom line. They accomplish this feat by taking a disciplined approach to their sports analysis as well as financial techniques, like bet tracking, bankroll management, and line shopping. 

About the Author
Chris Blundo

Chris Blundo

Chris Blundo is a freelance writer based out of Vero Beach, Florida. He holds a BA in economics and writes about Game Theory, poker, and all things gambling and sports betting.

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