How the Online Sportsbook Determine the Betting Line.
Successful football handicapping starts with throwing out those old strategies and systems that, on the surface, seem like they should work, but in reality never do. When most sports gamblers set out to make pro football picks, they call upon all manners of NFL statistics as well as their knowledge of the sport to try to determine which team has the best chance to cover the spread. Seems logical, right?
This is how most people go about handicapping games, and almost everyone loses. To make enough winning NFL picks to beat the sportsbooks’ lines over the long run, you must begin by analyzing the line on a given game to match the perspective of the oddsmakers.
This can be accomplished by looking backwards to determine why the line on a given game involving 2 teams has been set at a particular number, adjusted to a particular number, or maintained at a particular number. How did the line originate? Why is the line the way it is?
By analyzing the line in reverse, you’ll be able to do two important things for increasing the success of your NFL football picks
Looking for indications in the sportsbooks’ lines and point spreads is your best bet for picking which team the oddsmakers and insiders think will cover the spread in a given game.
The key is to understand that the sportsbooks’ NFL lines and NFL point spreads are the oddsmakers’ instrument for dividing the monetary betting action in half for a given game. In other words, the very existence of betting lines and point spreads gives a sports sportsbook an element of control over how the population as a whole decides to bet in a given game.
To start, the line on a game is not the oddsmakers’ assessment of what the difference in final score will be. It is their assessment of what particular football odds line number will draw even action from the combination of sports bettors.
Oddsmakers are masters at using NFL lines and point spreads to keep betting action divided in half. By making adjustments in a given line or point spread oddsmakers can sway large numbers of sports bettors who have not yet made a decision on which team to bet on in a game to place their bet on the team that has “lesser action.” Ask yourself, how often have you been undecided on a game with a 3 point spread only to make your decision after the line moved down to 2 1/2 or up to 3 1/2? The movement in the line was the book’s effort to balance betting action, and often times it can have a direct result on your betting decision.
Of course, when NFL lines and point spreads are moved, it can also sway sports bettors who have already placed a bet on a game to “put down” additional action on that game… Or to even reverse their direction and bet the other way to try to “sandwich the game” and hit both sides. But as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, keeping the betting action split at each odds line number (dollar number) or point spread is the key. Doing so allows the sportsbooks to make their juice.
By controlling the NFL odds and NFL point spreads, the bookmakers have an amazing amount of control over who bets what amount, and at what point in time they bet that amount, thus enabling them to keep the action divided in half. However, before oddsmakers can even begin to make adjustments to a particular betting line to keep action divided in half, they must choose a starting point or “opening line” for the game.
When creating opening lines, the incentive for a sportsbook’s oddsmaker is to choose football lines that will do a fast, efficient job of splitting action in half. Doing so guarantees that they can make the most juice.
If an opening line doesn’t draw even action, the sooner the line can be adjusted to draw even action, the more juice the sportsbook can guarantee for itself. Simply put, the more a line needs to be adjusted to keep betting action even, the more overall risk the sportsbook is exposed to, and the lower the profit they stand to make. This is because the sportsbook can get stuck with uneven betting action for any given NFL odds line or NFL point spread number, which cuts into profits.
Therefore, you can see that the oddsmakers would be very interested in knowing what specific NFL point spread number or NFL odds line number would draw even betting action for a given game before having to release the opening line for that game to the public!
But before oddsmakers could know what an opening line on a given game would need to be set at to draw even action, oddsmakers would need to know which team sports bettors planned to put their money on in advance of that game! And for a variety of different NFL odds line numbers. This brings us to the oddsmakers’ greatest strength when it comes to using betting lines and point spreads to divide betting action in half.
The oddsmakers’ greatest strength for dividing betting action in half is based on the fact that most sports bettors make their betting decisions by relying on some level of information they have collected about the matchup. To cope, oddsmakers have developed techniques to allow them to measure the level of information that prospective sports bettors know about a given game, and oddsmakers can look at this information before having to release the opening line for that game.
One method oddsmakers use to measure the information level known to sports bettors about a game is to release an exclusive “unrefined” test line for select knowledgeable and well respected gamblers or “insiders” to bet into.
For inside gamblers who have access to these “unrefined” test lines, it’s like having access to free money. Because if the betting line ends up being far off from the test line, the game can be sandwiched by insiders for a potential double hit.
But it’s well worth it for the oddsmakers to give these insiders the sandwich opportunity. Because by allowing select insiders an exclusive opportunity to place bets against early test lines, oddsmakers get a chance to determine whether or not the insiders are betting the same side in a game, whether insiders are split, and how strongly insiders feel about their selection in terms of how much they are betting.
Collecting this type of information about how insiders are evaluating their selection on a given game helps the oddsmakers make an assessment of what the opening line will need to be set at in order to generate even betting action from the combination of inside sports bettors and general public sports bettors on a given game.
Of course oddsmakers also study general public betting patterns. But as a rule they are more concerned with measuring insider betting interest because insiders place bigger bets (which are harder to balance), and because insiders can at any moment have access to more relevant information about a given game than anyone else.
For example, insiders may know:
Insiders can be in possession of so much pertinent info (a.k.a. inside info/inside reads) that never gets disseminated to the public prior to the start of the game that most people simply wouldn’t believe it. The level of information that insiders possess is obviously the driving point for their bets. And since oddsmakers are providing insiders with an early test line to bet into so that they can measure the level of insider interest in a game before creating the opening line for the sole purpose of balancing action, sportsbooks’ football odds and point spreads very often reflect the level of information that is known to insiders about a given game.
So now you know the golden egg of NFL handicapping. It’s not the teams that matter. It’s not the stats that matter. It’s the line on the game that matters.