The marketplace for legal sports betting is fast becoming extremely competitive, which means that investors should not settle for unfavorable lines or poor odds from bookmakers. It’s very likely that you have access to multiple bookmakers in your state, and that often means that there’s variance in the lines on offers for games.
An investor is never guaranteed a winning trade in the market – with a good system, you’ll be making more winning than losing trades, but the margins are often close. That’s why it’s important to find the best available line for the game you are investing in.
So, what should investors take into account when shopping for lines?
Do your research on interesting matchups
This might sound obvious, but let’s touch the surface here.
Putting money on a team because they have covered their spread in the last five games or have gone over the points total 65% of the time so far this season does not count as research.
When you are looking to find an edge in handicapping matchups, you need to understand the reasons behind the performances of both teams, and how they match up against each other.
It also helps to have done solid background research on how the teams in question have performed historically in similar situations, and it helps to have analyzed whether or not that information is relevant for the current game. Add into the mix injuries, the weather, travel, recent schedules of the teams, and a bunch of other factors, and you’ll start to have a clear picture of how the game might play out.
It’s only sensible to start looking for the best lines after careful analysis.
Choose the bookmaker that’s favorable for your case
When you’ve spotted a game where you feel like you have an edge, it’s time to shop for the best possible line. Let’s look at this through an example.
Let’s say that two NFL teams are facing each other, and for the sake of keeping the example as simple as possible, let’s say that they have both averaged 25 points per game during this season.
Let’s also say that both of them have rather weak defenses, and after analyzing the matchup you think that there is a high potential for the points total to go over in this game.
Now would be the time to check out what different bookmakers are offering for the over/under line of the game. Maybe you’ll find that most have it at 50.5, but some offer 49.
In this case, you should naturally invest in the lowest number that you can get for the over/under line.
Investing in sports is a game of margins, and not looking for the most favorable option each time will cost you in the long run.
In our article on sports investing trends for 2020, we predicted that sportsbooks will go into aggressive customer acquisition mode, and wrote the following:
The legal sports gambling business is still finding its footing in the US and competition is ramping up. All of the big players will be trying to capture as much of the currently available sports betting market as they can, so expect to see a lot of marketing campaigns and sign-up deals for new customers.
Leagues and teams are forming lucrative partnership deals with sports books, whose logos you’ll surely be seeing much more often from now on. The big bookmakers see new customer acquisition as the key objective for now – the focus on profitability will come later.
From a sports trader’s standpoint, it definitely doesn’t hurt to have many options available and a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket from sign-up deals!
This competitiveness in the market should also mean variance in the lines offered and better odds for investors. Instead of being content with the offering of a single bookmaker, compare the lines that all of the available sportsbooks in your state are offering, and go for the ones that suit your case the best.
Sports trading vs. handicapping
Now, if you’re familiar with ScoreMetrics, you know that we don’t often handicap games and look at individual matchups and their lines. Instead, we take a systematic approach to exploiting long-term patterns and approach the market in similar fashion that traders in the stock market do – as a long-term investment
We invest in games through systems when they meet certain criteria. Quite often, the line is one of those criteria.
In case you are new to sports trading, check out what we recently wrote on the differences between sports traders, handicappers and gamblers.
And to learn all you need to know about building winning sports trading systems, don’t forget to check out John Todora’s new book – “Zero Correlation Investing – The Score Metrics Secret”. It’s currently on sale for a limited time, so go get your copy now!
The ScoreMetrics Lab is the engine that runs the Sports Trading System operation, consisting of a team of researchers and writers who are constantly testing and retesting algorithms. They work hand in hand with our Head Trader and Creator of ScoreMetrics, John Todora to help find new breakthroughs and develop new systems.