Picking an online football sportsbook is a bit like picking a woman. Only instead of looking for a smoking hot body and a decent sense of humor you're looking for a fast payout and solid line value.
Picking an online sportsbook for football betting is actually a lot more important than it sounds. You don't want to just dump your hard-earned cash into the first site that you stumble upon, and this decision could potentially be the difference between hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the course of a season. And because we're such friendly and courteous guys here at Doc's Sports Services, we polled the handicappers and asked them to pinpoint what the most important things to look for in an online football sportsbook are when it comes to football betting. Here's what they came up with:
1) Easy Payout Options
Gotta. Get. Paid. First and foremost, you want to know that when you dominate this weak a helpless online sportsbook you're going to receive your bounty quickly and easily. Most books will simply mail you a cashier's check when you request it, but you want verify exactly how long it takes to process the payout. Times vary from 3-5 days to 3-5 weeks so make sure you know what you're dealing with before you deposit your money.
2) Early Lines
Not all online books are willing to post opening football lines for college and pro games. Some don't open their lines until Thursday for Friday, and some even hold games off the board until Saturday. This puts bettors at a severe disadvantage because it eliminates the ability to exploit early line weakness and it also destroys any chance of middling on some of the more rapidly moving numbers. Early line wagering is one of the most lethal tools in a sharp gambler's arsenal and you want a book that will be vulnerable to your maneuvers.
Also, you don't just want a sportsbook that offers lines - they all do that - you want a book that offers competitive lines. Do your research and check to see if a book is shading favorites or jacking up totals. You not only want to compare online books with one another, but you also want to see how their lines stack up with those offered in Las Vegas sportsbooks. Two of our favorites that offer early lines are Bookmaker (this is where the first lines originate) and 5 Dimes. Be sure to have accounts at both of these fine sportsbooks.
3) Added Games and Totals on All Games
Your football sportsbook should have added games from the lower conference and totals available on all games. If they don't offer you a full compliment of games featuring obscure teams from unusual and unknown conference then find one that does.
4) Halftime Spreads and Money Lines
Again - it's all about options. You book should provide you with halftime lines and money lines for a strong majority of the games. You would have those options in Vegas, baby, so you should expect them in your online equivalent. Also, you want a compare the value offered on the money lines. Five or ten cents on a money line may not seem like anything to get worked up about but it all adds up and could be the difference of a few hundred or thousand dollars when all is said and done.
5) Bonuses, Bonuses, and More Bonuses
What's better than free money? I say nothing. Because of the amount of competition in the market, sportsbooks are willing to offer a variety of exotic sign-up bonuses and reload bonuses. Some of the more common are 10 percent sign-up bonuses, 25 percent rollover bonuses, match bonuses, and referral bonuses for friends that also sign up. Believe me, this is the one time when books will give money away without you having to pry it out of their cold, dead fingers. Make sure you take full advantage. One of our favorite is still the good old 10 percent sign up bonus from companies like Bodog Sportsbook which is a major brand name and in which you know your money is safe.
6) Customer Service and Length of Time In Business
Doc's Sports Services isn't the No. 1 handicapping service in the country because we've been in business for nearly 40 years. We've been in business nearly 40 years because we're the best handicapping service in the country. The length of time that a sportsbook has been in business is a strong indicator of this books standing in the online gambling community. This is an ultra-competitive market and shady business practices will sink a book faster than you can say, "Da Bears". Research the sportsbooks. Customer service isn't something you notice until you absolutely need it. By then it's too late. If something goes wrong you want to have every confidence that your book will do everything they can to help you.
For a detailed run down on some of the most reputable and consistent football sports books available online, check out our Recommended Sportsbooks listed on the left-hand side of this page.