Line Shopping Like a “Sharp” Sports Bettor

Although the games and events available remain constant across online sportsbook, the odds and lines on games and events may differ between online sportsbook. In this portion of the guide, we are going to teach you about shopping for lines like a sharp sports bettor. We shall cover the difference between sharp and square sportsbooks, the advantage of using one of each and what to look for when line shopping.

What is a “Sharp” Sports Bettor

A sharp sports bettor is someone who searches for the best lines and odds available. As line and odds move in the build-up to a game, watching for line movement is a great way to increase profits. Sharp bettors often use a sharp and square online sportsbook to maximize their winnings.

Sharp vs. Square Online Sportsbook

There are two main types of online sportsbooks, sharp online sportsbooks and square online sportsbook. The most successful sports bettors know using at least one of each type is key to long-term betting success and profitability. 

Sharp Online Sportsbooks

  • Set their own lines
  • Move lines first
  • Accept big wagers from high rollers

Square Online Sportsbook

  • Wait for sharp online sportsbooks to set lines
  • Move lines after sharp online sportsbook
  • Cater more to public/casual bettors

Now that you know the difference between the two main types of online sportsbook, we shall go into more details on how you shop for lines. 

How do you Shop for Lines?

Shopping for lines is relatively easy, especially when using the right resources. Like any type of shopping for a deal, line shopping involves searching through the different online sportsbooks for the best lines and odds available.

While this sounds time-consuming, there are two steps to follow to cut down on the time it takes to shop for lines. The first step is to determine the different online sportsbooks you plan to use. Signing up for a dozen online sportsbook may get you the best odds every time, managing that many accounts is cumbersome. Limiting yourself to two sharp and two square sportsbooks is usually enough to make the additional profit potential worth the extra time.

The second is to check out our league and team pages (found in the top bar on this website). We have live odds from many of our top-recommended sportsbook available. They update in real time, making it easy to find the best lines on upcoming games.

*Some square sportsbooks do not update their lines as quickly, but with sharp lines to compare, it still cuts down on the time you spend line shopping.  

Why the Difference between -105 and -110 Odds Matters

At first glance, the difference between a -105 and -110 line seems minimal. However, sharp bettors know in the long term, finding -105 odds nets a bigger profit.

If you placed 1000 wagers of $10 on -105 odds, to make a profit betting, you need to place 513 correct wagers (51.3%). If you place 1000 wagers of $10 on -110 odds, you need to place 524 (52.4%) correct bets to at minimum break even.  In many activities, 1.1% is not a large margin. However, sports bettor is not an easy endeavour, and any advantage you can gain is worth taking. 

Shopping for Different Point Spreads and Totals

Finding different odds is not the only way sharp bettors maximize their profit by shopping on different online sportsbooks. Many sharp bettors look different point spreads and totals to gain an advantage and bet on two different outcomes, with both winning a possibility.

Take Super Bowl LII as an example. On the majority of online sportsbooks, the Patriots opened as a 3.5-point favourite over the Eagles. However, a few online sportsbooks opened the Pats as a 4.5 point favourite over the Eagles.

While we all know the Eagles won the Super Bowl, if the Patriots won by four points, it is possible to win a bet on both sportsbook. If you bet the Patriots at -3.5 and the Eagles at +4.5, then a four-point victory by the Patriots wins you both wagers.

If you are point spread shopping and find different point spreads, betting both sides is a viable strategy. The best way to do this is to use a sharp and square sportsbook.

Sharp sportsbooks move their lines first. If you notice a sharp move their spread, check the square sportsbook right away and see if their spread has yet to adjust. If it has not, bet it first than bet the adjusted line on the sharp sportsbook. The larger the move in the point spread, the greater the chance you have of winning both wagers.

The same logic above applies to game totals. If one online sportsbook offers a 43.5 point total and another offers a 46.5 point total, betting the over on the first and the under on the second gives bettors a three margin where they can win both wagers. 

Moneyline Line Shopping

Where shopping for lines nets the largest differences are on moneylines. Unlike odds on totals and point spreads (which rarely differ by more than +/-10 on sportsbook), moneylines can see a much more significant difference in odds on different sportsbooks.

Moneyline odds also move more than point spreads and totals. When the build-up to the game is longer, the moneyline will see more movement. If you are betting on playoff game with three days between or the Super Bowl, the line will move often. On the day of the game, the sportsbook will move the moneyline the most to encourage an equal amount of bets on each option. Some may move it in favour of the underdog, others in favour of the favourite (depending on the action leading up to the game).

Moneyline Shopping Example

Here are a few different moneylines from a 2018 Canadian Football League game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Ottawa Redblacks.

The best moneyline on the underdog is +600, and the best moneyline on the favourite is -769. Currently. At these odds, it is impossible to net a profit betting on both. To profit on one winning, your winnings need to exceed your stake on the opposite wager. Betting $10 on the Montreal Alouettes (the underdog), means you get $60 in winnings. Therefore you cannot wager more than $59.99 to break even (and that is a single cent of profit).

Say you bet $59 on Ottawa at -769 odds. Your winnings total just $7.67. If the big underdog wins you get $1 in profit. If the heavy favourite wins, you are down $2.33. The odds on the favourite need to dip to -588, for a wager on either option to guarantee a profit.

As the game approaches (these lines are two days before kickoff), the moneylines move more. However, at this time, moneyline shopping is not a viable option. 

How do I know if I can make a profit off Betting Two Different Moneylines?

To know if you can make money betting on two opposite moneylines, you need to look for an underdog line that is greater than the line on the favourite by at least 10% and make sure your bets on the underdog and favourite are relative to the odds.  

If the best moneyline on an underdog is +250 and the best line on a favourite is -225, betting both guarantees a small profit based on the 10% difference rule. However, placing an equivalent bet on both sides means you will lose money if the favourite wins. Therefore, you need to find the sweet spot of the maximum or minimize you can bet on the opposite side to net a profit.

Say you bet $100 on the favourite to win at -225. Your winnings are $44.44. That is the maximum you can bet on the underdog to ensure you do not lose money on competing bets. If you bet $44.44 on the underdog, your return is $155.54. The return is $11.10 higher than your total stake on the two wagers ($144.44). If the favourite wins, you break even. If you want to get a small profit if either team wins, take your winnings from the favourite and deduct 5% (44.44/1.05 = $42.33). If the underdog wins you net $5.83 and if the favourite wins you are up $2.11.

Shopping for moneylines like this is a long-term betting strategy. If you are patient and can find three or four moneylines similar to the example above every week, you will profit about around $15 a week or $750 after a year.    

Reduced Juice Sportsbook

For the sports bettor who cares for little outside of the profitability of odds, we recommend reduced juice sportsbooks. However, with reduced juice sportsbooks does come some drawbacks. We list the pros and cons below, to help you decide whether you want to use a reduced juice sportsbook for your sharp line betting.

Pros to Reduced Juice Sportsbooks

  • On average most favourable lines in the business
  • Less time for line shopping
  • Early lines

Cons to Reduced Juice Sportsbook

  • Smaller, fewer or no bonuses for customers altogether
  • Lower quality customer support
  • Caters to experienced bettors willing to make more substantial deposits

Even if you are new to sports betting, you can still try out a reduced juice sportsbook. However, we recommend you always use another sportsbook to reap the benefits of both.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have any more questions on the topic of line shopping, then check out below for answers to some common questions Canadians have on the subject. Generally, line shopping is a topic online sportsbooks do not want to answer questions on, so we have gone to some lengths to compile more information to help you become a better line shopper.

Can I Line Shop on One Online Sportsbook?

What are the Best Square and Sharp Sportsbooks to Line Shop?

When is the Best Time to Shop for Lines?

What is the Best Sport for Line Shopping?

Is Line Shopping Really Worth the Time and Effort?