Why Shopping Lines Is Important
Shopping lines is one of the best things a sports bettor can do, and it’s the easiest, quickest way for both beginners and old-timers alike to get an immediate edge on the most popular form of gambling in the US. Why shopping lines is important is simple: Doing so allows you to maximize your potential profit on any common wager.
However, unlike physical sportsbooks that require you to spend your time on-site to make your wagers, online sportsbooks (Bovada, SportsBetting, BetDSI, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BookMaker, etc.) allow you to shop lines much more easily, since you can effectively do so from your computer or mobile device in just seconds, all without having to physically travel to a different location. To best illustrate what shopping lines can do for your bottom line, just consider the following examples.
Let’s say that the West Virginia Mountaineers are playing the Pittsburgh Panthers. Each different book will have different spreads available, as this is the primary way that legal online sportsbooks compete with one another for your business. In order to do your due diligence, you’re signed up with three different offshore betting shops, and shopping lines on the spread for this matchup bet has presented you with the following:
- Bovada: Mountaineers -7.5 (-110) vs. Panthers +7.5 (-110)
- BetOnline: Mountaineers -7 (-110) vs. Panthers +7 (-110)
- 5Dimes: Mountaineers -5.5 (-110) vs. Panthers +5.5 (-110)
Even though these lines are for the same exact game, shopping the lines allows you to see that the terms for the wager are different at each sportsbook. As such, your strategy – namely where to place your bets – will be determined by your best odds and your best values for said bets.
Here, if you think that the Mountaineers are going to win, betting at 5Dimes gives you the best chance to win the wager, as 5Dimes’ spread bet provides the smallest margin necessary for victory. In other words, betting on the Mountaineers at 5Dimes allows them the fewest points to clear to cover the spread, which means your odds to win are that much better. On the other hand, if you think the Panthers have a shot to win or cover, you would choose to wager at Bovada, which gives them 7.5 points to work with. The Panthers can lose the game by 7 points and you’d still win at Bovada, but at BetOnline, they only have 6 points to play with, while at 5Dimes, they have to keep things even closer to win. Since the payout (-110) is the same at all three books, you can see how shopping lines can really increase your odds to win.
When it comes to point spread bets, as in the above example, there is sometimes a third option, in this case at BetOnline. Though their spread is higher than 5Dimes’ and lower than Bovada’s, they did not employ the half-point increment in their posting. This means that the wager at BetOnline has a sort of built-in hedge, or a third outcome. At the other books, you can either win the bet or lose the bet. At BetOnline, the bet could actually “push” (if the Mountaineers beat Pittsburgh by exactly 7 points), which would cause the wager to be annulled and would let you get your money back. (It might not sound like much, but understanding risk mitigation via pushing on wagers is an important part of any successful sports bettor’s repertoire.)
Shopping lines can also dramatically increase your potential payouts. In fact, line shopping is the most crucial approach when you’re making straight moneyline bets. Consider the same matchup from above, but this time you’re shopping lines on the straight moneyline:
- Bovada: Mountaineers (-165) vs. Panthers (+145)
- BetOnline: Mountaineers (-135) vs. Panthers (+125)
- 5Dimes: Mountaineers (-185) vs. Panthers (+170)
Since this is a moneyline bet, the odds translate directly into how much you stand to win. (To learn more about different wager types and how to read them, visit the primer here.) If you’re a WV homer and you’re taking the favored Mountaineers to win straight up, your best payout will be to use BetOnline, where you have to spend significantly less money to make a high-value bet. Conversely, if you want to take the Panthers for the upset outright, your biggest payout will be at 5Dimes. In other words, on a $100 wager, 5Dimes will pay out $170, or $25 more than you’d get at Bovada and $45 more than you’d get at BetOnline.
West Virginia residents have been using online, overseas sports betting sites for over 20 years now (Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, etc.), and those companies share hundreds of thousands of clients from the Mountain State. The question of how legal offshore sportsbooks will be affected by West Virginia sports betting law, then, is an apt one, and it is a natural cause for concern for all the gamers who have their wagering funds tied up in other countries.
Fortunately, there is not any prohibition in HB 415 (Article 22D), as the bill makes it explicitly clear that only unlicensed state-based bookmakers would be in violation of the law (§29-22D-20). As with federal anti-gambling laws, individuals placing bets with unlicensed or illegal operators are not guilty of any crime. And because offshore sportsbooks operate outside of WV and US jurisdiction, they are not bound by these laws, so you remain free to use such services. Other laws may be introduced that ban WV residents from frequenting such sites, but there is no such law established in Article 22D.
If it wasn’t clear before, now you should know why shopping lines is important. Indeed, it should be clear that shopping lines is your best bet at West Virginia sportsbooks, and you should implement this strategy ASAP. While “loyalty” to a single sportsbook service might be tempting (especially if you’re working with a bonus rollover requirement), your biggest loyalty should be to your pocketbook. As such, the more legal online sportsbooks you sign up with, the better your profit potential automatically becomes.
Signing up at multiple books is not against any sports betting operator’s terms of service, and joining every top sportsbook is always 100% free, safe, and secure. By shopping lines, you can often increase your odds and your payouts on every type of bet – from spreads and moneylines to over/unders, futures, props, etc. – by 30% or more. Those aren’t trivial gains. Always remember how important shopping lines is – and how convenient online wagering is for this very purpose.