College Basketball Betting: Shopping For Numbers is Key
by Trevor Whenham - 02/06/2009
The more I have been looking at college basketball odds recently, the more I have noticed the wide discrepancy in odds offered by the different sportsbooks. It's not uncommon to see a difference of three or more points between different books, and even more on big spreads involving more obscure schools. It only makes sense that you would see these differences in college basketball. There are a ton of games, lines aren't posted for long, and the betting volume for some games is very low, so it's far from an efficient system. That's certainly not something for bettors to feel bad about. In fact, it's a huge opportunity, but only if bettors choose to take advantage of it. You've heard it before, but shopping around for the best odds can be the difference between a successful bettor and one who has to regularly replenish his bankroll from his wallet. Here's a collection of thoughts on the subject:
The impact on your bottom line - It might not seem like much, but shopping around can have a big difference on your profits. There are two ways that happens, and one is considered far more often than the other. The first is a difference in spreads. If you have been betting on sports for a long time then you know how often a game can finish with the point differential and the spread very close together. Shopping around for an extra point or two can make the difference between a push and a win, or even a win and a loss. It doesn't take much effort, and a couple of extra wins here or there can make a big difference in the long run. Less often considered, but at least as important, is the juice associated with the odds. You can regularly find prices between -105 and -120 on the same game. The difference might not seem like much, but it certainly is. If you consistently bet games at -105, you would have to win just over 51 percent to make a profit. At -120, your win percentage has to be well over 54 percent to make a profit. That's a serious difference - you have to work way harder in one circumstance than the other.
Put your time in - The impact of shopping around is obvious, so it only makes sense to spend the time looking around for the best price. It isn't hard to do, either - several different Web sites compile the prices at different sites for you. Professional handicappers will say that they will spend almost as much time shopping around as they will handicapping. That makes sense for them because of the amount of money they are betting - an extra one or two percent a year can make a big difference. Your bankroll might not justify that time, but even an hour a week of shopping time will more than pay off.
Hold multiple accounts - It doesn't take much effort to open up an online betting account. You've probably done it before, so there is no reason you shouldn't do it again. Once you have multiple accounts set up you can split your bankroll between them in a way that makes sense. As you start shopping around you'll also get to know what books are good for. Some offer juicier prices for favorites, while others are more attractive for underdogs. Once you get to know those patterns then shopping around becomes even easier.
Consider bonuses - You can almost always get an attractive bonus when you open a new account. This is another good reason to shop around and use more than one book. Whether the bonuses take the form of free deposits, a reduction in prices, or something else they all have an impact on your bottom line and can make odds even more attractive in the short term.
Think about timing - Shopping doesn't involve just looking around for the best price, but also considering the best time to buy. If the public is going to be heavily on a favorite then the price on the favorite will probably be better when it is first released than it will be close to the game. On the other hand, the price on the underdog in the same game will become more attractive the closer you get to game time. Deciding when to bet is almost as important as where you bet when it comes to making a profit. It isn't always attractive to bet in early in a sport like football because so much can change before the game. The lines come out so close to the games in college basketball, though, that your risk is relatively low even if you bet as soon as the odds come out.