by Mike Hayes - 09/21/2005
Consider this scenario. You're driving down the road with the needle pinned on EMPTY and you come across two gas stations - one on the left and one on the right - the only difference in the two stations being that the one on the left is charging 5 cents MORE per gallon than the one on the right. All other factors being equal there is no reason not to pay less for your gas because it is just as easy to turn right as it is left.
Surprisingly, many sports bettors do not apply the same logic to their wagering but those that do are guaranteeing that when they win they win more - additional dollars that help to offset the inevitable losses and vigorish and improve the chances of overall profitability.
The overwhelming popularity and success of offshore betting has resulted in serious competition among online sites for your wagering dollar and the advent of "reduced juice" betting at several sites means competition is at an all-time high. Reduced juice allows a bettor to lay -105 or -107 to win 100 rather than the traditional -110 offered by street corner bookies and most casinos where overhead costs are significantly more.
"We can process hundreds or thousands of bets at a time, land-based books cap out at 25-30 windows," commented Rob Gillespie, president of Bodog, of one of the reasons that online books are able to offer these types of promotions to customers.
This 10 percent surcharge, known as "juice" or "vig" was implemented by bookies based on the theory that a point-spread is designed to attract equal action on both sides and that if there is an equal amount of winners and losers the bookie needs to charge the losers "juice" to ensure their operation is a profitable one.
To overcome the "juice" and enjoy a profitable NFL season a gambler would have to be successful in 52.37 percent of their straight wagers. This number drops to 51.67 percent when laying 107 and just 51.22 percent when laying 105.
Armed with this information there is no reason any gambler, serious or recreational, professional or novice, should make their bet without the "reduced juice" offered at several of the top online sites, including Canbet.
Getting reduced juice is as simple as subscribing to the right sports book, but for those willing to spend a little more time other advantages can be gained from membership and line shopping at various sites.
The greatest line movements tend to occur right after lines are posted as early birds look to take advantage of what they consider to be a flawed line and just before kickoff when the bulk of the betting action tends to roll in.
A review of the sites recommended by Doc's shows that a bettor on Monday night could have wagered on the Cowboys at -4 1/2 at Betcom when the lines was -6 at other sites. While the spread had no outcome in a game the Redskins won outright I mention it because it is an example of how point spreads fluctuate at many betting shops.
Not many football games are decided by five points but a fair number are decided by six or seven so for the bettor who liked the Cowboys the -4 1/2 is a much better line than -6. Seems pretty obvious. The lower the line if taking the favorite the better, and the greater the line when betting the underdog, the better.
Well yes, but that is not always the case. For example, there is virtually no difference in a line of -7 1/2 and a line of -9 1/2 . Sure the extra points are nice if you are betting the underdog but games rarely end with a margin of victory of eight or nine so the team that covers a line of -7 1/2 will almost always win by 10 or more points.
The Dallas-Washington game is also an example of the somewhat rare opportunity to "middle" a game. This occurs when a bettor can bet the favorite at the lower line, in this case -4 ½, and place another bet on the underdog at the more generous +6 in the off chance that the final result falls in between, allowing the bettor to cash both tickets. Basically limited risk with the potential to cash both bets.
A look at the early lines this week shows that there is some value to be had if you like certain teams.
The game which seems to have attracted the greatest interest early on and as a result shows the greatest disparity in the line from site-to-site is the Chicago/Cincinnati game where the road Bengals have been installed as a 3-point favorite by most books.
A bulk of the early action appears to be on the home Bears as you have to lay as much as $1.25 for those three points at Betcris and $1.20 at Bet Jamaica and can actually get +105 on the Bengals at BetCRIS (Even Money at BetJamaica).
Betcom opened the line at Bengals -3 at -105 for either team but by Tuesday evening had dropped the number to 2 ½ a really nice number for those who like the Cats but a really bad number for Bears backers who are unlikely to see a game decided by two points and who lose their ability to push on a three-point loss. In changing the line, those who want to lay the 2 ½ on Cincy now have to lay -118 while those who select the home Bears will lay only -102. Here is an example of where it pays to watch the money line when it is posted because an outright Bears win is much more likely than a two-point loss and it is likely that the money line will be a better option - even if only slightly - than the -102 offered for the 2 1/2 points.
Shopping for lines should prove a worthwhile endeavor in a number of other games this week as well as the early line on a number of games is a "significant" number that could offer value if it moves one way or another.
Depending on which site you visit you have to lay 13 1/2 or 14 on the favored Colts over the Browns; 6 1/2 or seven on the Cowboys over the 49ers; or six or 6 1/2 on the Rams over the Titans, all differences which could mean the difference between a win and a loss or turn a win or loss into as push.
The bottom line is that online wagering allows a bettor to shop for the best line possible in a manner that was never more convenient or even possible so just like buying the cheaper gas when all else is equal it makes sense to shop around for the best line and increase your chance of a successful season.
"Books move lines to balance action and because the action at every book is different, lines are always different, added Gillespie. "If we take a really large bet or large number of medium size bets on the Chargers without equal action on the other team, we need to adjust the line to discourage further San Diego betting. Some books move lines on opinion as well. If book A thinks the Chargers are likely to cover and book B thinks they won't, they may adjust their lines to attract action in different directions. Lines won't always be different, but they are different enough that you need to have 3-5 accounts. Every half point adds about 2 percent to your chance of winning the bet (in football and basketball). Shopping is actually good for books as well; we move lines to attract or discourage action and this only works if bettors are comparing lines."
Doc's Sports Recent Articles:
Super Bowl ring
2006 Super Bowl predictions