Several factors go into successful sports betting, and one of them is getting the most value for your money. One of the ways to make certain this happens is finding the best odds possible.
That’s where “line shopping” comes into play. Here, we’ll explain what you need to know, including how to shop for lines across multiple sportsbooks, why it’s important and how you can use it to build your sports betting bankroll in the short and long term.
What is line shopping in sports betting?
Line shopping is the process of finding the most favourable betting odds for your chosen sport or market by comparing lines at multiple sportsbooks.
All customers want the best price possible when they go shopping, and it’s not any different when bettors are looking to place bets. The ability to shop around for lines is the main reason we recommend signing up for more than one online sportsbook.
Beyond cashing in on multiple sportsbook free bets, bonuses or promotions, this ensures you don’t get stuck with the worst line possible and miss a shot at cashing a bet you might have won otherwise.
How does line shopping work?
It may sound like a complicated process but shopping for lines isn’t all that difficult. Plus, it’s a great way for you to get the most value for your money. Even more, it lends itself to potentially risking less and/or winning more in profits.
Let’s outline the process with these simple steps:
- Visit the sportsbook of your choice and search around the available markets for whichever sport(s) you are interested in betting on.
- Once you have decided on your team or market, take note of the odds for that bet.
- Open up a different sportsbook app and check out the same market(s).
- Compare the odds on the second betting site to those you originally found.
- Place your bet on the site that offers a more advantageous line!
Think of line shopping as you would parlays in the sense that it needs multiple choices to be executed. You need at least two accounts to make it work to any degree, but these steps can be repeated with as many sportsbooks as you want.
You can also line shop within a huge range of markets. Moneylines, spreads and totals are especially easy since all Canadian sports betting sites carry those options. But it doesn’t stop there. Even props and futures bets have lines that can be shopped. Just make sure the sites you’re using offer the same markets.
Finding the best odds for different bets
Like anything else, practice makes perfect when shopping for odds. The easiest way to consistently get yourself the best odds is to begin implementing this step into your process. Then, make it a habit.
To help explain, we’ll do a bit of line shopping on our own, featuring NHL betting odds from multiple sportsbooks.
After scouring the DraftKings Canada app for a bet, we’ve settled on the following matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks. Let’s take a look at how we’d line shop for a moneyline bet on this game.
Moneyline line shopping
Moneylines represent the simplest form of betting. They are also the easiest to understand in regards to line shopping.
Remember that favourites show a negative symbol next to their line, and whatever the moneyline says, you are risking that number for every $100 in profit. When betting on a negative moneyline, shopping around can help you risk the least amount possible.
Underdogs show a positive symbol next to their moneyline, and whatever that line says is what you stand to win with a $100 risk. Line shopping with plus moneylines means finding the odds with the most profit possible.
Betting on the Jets here, it’s a $139 risk to win $100. A wager on the Canucks means risking $100 to win $118 in profit. Now, it’s time to compare these odds to a different sportsbook.
Using NHL betting odds from William Hill Sportsbook, we can easily compare how the two moneylines stack up.
A wager on the Jets in this spot is a $145 risk to win $100. In this situation, DraftKings would be our preferred site because it allows you to risk the lesser amount for the same potential profit.
Betting on the underdog Canucks in this situation means risking $100 to win $125. In this instance, the second line from William Hill is the relative prize. For the same $100 stake, you can win several dollars more.
It may feel like saving a couple of bucks here and there isn’t the biggest deal, but bettors should always search for the best value possible. Plus, consistently seeking the most advantageous line can shore up your bankroll over time.
Point spread line shopping
Line shopping for point spreads (or in this case, puck lines) involves the exact same process, but some aspects can vary.
In many situations, including our example, the spread is the same at multiple sites. That makes things pretty simple since you can just compare the line that accompanies the spread and choose the best line, similar to how you would with the moneyline.
Again, the favourite will have negative odds, and the underdog will have positive odds, with the math being easily calculated relative to the number 100.
A spread (puck line) bet on the Jets at DraftKings is -1.5 (+170) indicates that a $100 stake will win $170 in profit. Using the second set of odds, the Jets are -1.5 (+175), meaning the same $100 wager can earn $175, a few dollars more. This makes William Hill’s line the better choice.
Now, let’s look at the puck line for the underdog Canucks. At DraftKings, +1.5 (-210) requires a $210 risk to win $100. Using William Hill’s line of +1.5 (-200), the risk is $200 to win $100. Once again, the second odds would be the prudent play. It saves you money and comes with the same profit.
When dealing with puck lines in hockey and run lines in baseball, the spread is always 1.5 goals or runs, whether you’re taking the favourite or the underdog. That makes line shopping pretty easy. But in other sports, such as basketball betting and football betting, there’s an added element to line shopping for point spreads.
This is because it’s not uncommon that two different sites have different spreads altogether. Now, you aren’t comparing two prices for the same exact spread; you’re also deciding which exact spread you want.
For example, say DraftKings has Toronto Raptors odds at +3 (-110), but PointsBet sportsbook Canada has the odds set at +2 (+105). The second line is more advantageous from a payout perspective because you can risk $100 to win $105 while the first one forces you to risk $110 to win $100. That said, the second one offers a bit more margin for error with an extra point on the spread.
Line shopping for Totals (Over / Unders)
Line shopping with totals is more universal, so our NHL example will translate to any sport you want to wager on. Both DraftKings and the William Hill app have the total listed at six goals. Therefore, once again, we are merely comparing prices to find the best line.
At DraftKings, taking the Over 6 (-105) bet requires a $105 risk to win $100. The same wager at William Hill is Over 6 (+100), meaning the risk is now $100 to win $100. An over bettor would prefer the second line and go with William Hill in this case.
The under, however, is a different story. At DraftKings, Under 6 (-115) involves a $115 risk to win $100. An Under 6 (-120) bet at William Hill requires a $120 stake for every $100 in profit. In this scenario, DraftKings offers a more beneficial line.
Now, let’s throw in a third sportsbook to demonstrate yet another aspect of odds shopping. This time, our odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook.
The previous two sets of odds had the total set at six goals, so all that is required is finding the most valuable line possible. But with our third example, the total is 6.5 goals. This adds an extra element to the line shopping process.
An under bettor can either place the wager with the sportsbook offering the best price for a total of six, or there’s an option to take Under 6.5 (-138) at FanDuel. While it requires more risk, it also means that if the Jets and Canucks combine for exactly six goals, the wager is a win as opposed to a push.
An over bettor has a similar dilemma, just the other way. They can play things safer and choose the sportsbook with a more beneficial line for exactly six goals, or they can go for a larger payout with over 6.5 (+112) at FanDuel. The payout is larger with a higher total, but the bettor also runs the risk of exactly six goals resulting in a loss rather than a push.
Benefits of line shopping
Any seasoned gambler will tell you there really are no negatives to shopping for the best sports betting lines. Sure, bettors will have to split their money between multiple sites, but it still belongs to the same bankroll. On the other side, there are plenty of benefits that come along with shopping around for the best line possible. Let’s walk through a few.
- Getting the most value for your money: First and foremost, line shopping is about maximizing value. Any professional, also known as a sharp, will tell you that line value is extremely important. Even if you don’t think a couple of dollars is a huge deal, it adds up over time.
- Learn more about sportsbooks: Over time, line shopping will help gamblers gain an in-depth knowledge of betting sites. After a while, you will inevitably start to notice patterns about each sportsbook that will make the process easier. For example, some sites may consistently offer better lines for certain sports or a particular market.
- Promotional opportunities: There are times when sportsbooks offer special promotions, such as odds boosts for a specific sport or market. Having multiple accounts with the purpose of line shopping opens up more avenues to taking advantage of promotions.