To beat the enemy, you often have to first study it and understand how it works. By understanding how Bookmakers set lines, you can then start to understand what they do, and don’t, want you to bet. Bookmakers have the best algorithms, the most data, and the most resources. If they are telling you something with how they set a line, you probably should listen.
Let’s start off just talking about the business side of sports betting, and how Sports Books make their money. In gambling, you will often hear the saying, “The house always wins”. This is typically true in sports gambling as well. Sports Books make their money by the juice they collect. We have talked about juice before in previous articles, but let’s go over it again. Let’s say 2 people bet $110 to win $100 on opposite sides of a -110 spread. One of them is going to win $100, while the other is going to lose $110. If you notice, there is an extra 10$ there that is not going to the winning better. This goes to the Sports Books, and is where the Sports Books get their edge. In an ideal world for Sports Books, there is 50% of bets on each side, and they collect the juice risk free for every match up.
Know one really knows Vegas’s exact algorithm in creating lines. It is believed that high level models are used to create the line, then actual experienced oddsmakers will discuss to determine if they feel the line is fair and accurate. We know the combination of models and oddsmakers use criteria such as home field advantage, advanced analytics, injuries, weather, and many other factors that impact a game when setting lines. Basically, if you think you know an important factor that may impact a game, bookmakers know it as well. The original line that is set is called the Opening Line. After a line is set, sports books will adjust the line depending on the amount of money that is coming in on each side. Move on to the next lesson to learn more about line movements and what it may tell you.