Who Sets The Sports Betting Lines?



One of the most overlooked aspects of successful sports betting among casual players is the ability to understand how the point spreads work and why that information can give you an edge. The sportsbooks set their own lines before the opening odds are released and the professional handicappers consistently gain an edge by paying close attention to those numbers and how they change after they are posted. By understanding how the sportsbooks approach lines and then react based on the feedback they receive, you can gain a significant edge betting on sports events.

Setting The Lines

It’s important to understand why sportsbooks set the lines the way that they do. On a smaller scale, a sportsbook run in Dallas, Texas that only takes local bets is more likely to take bets on the Cowboys than on their opponents since the majority of people placing the bets are Cowboys fans. Therefore, if they feel the line should be Dallas -6.5, they could easily push the line to Dallas -7.5 in order to try to gain an edge over the local fans. Some people will be smart enough to recognize it makes more sense to take the underdog and the points in this situation but there will still be a fair amount of bets placed on the Cowboys at -7.5. The same concept applies to bigger sportsbooks that take money from all over the world. There is an understanding of who the favorite should be, how much they should be favored by and what the number should be to make sure there is as close to a 50/50 split on the number of bets for each side as possible.

The Response

Once the lines are released, the sportsbooks will keep a close eye on the number of wagers being made on each side in order to ensure they get the closest number possible to a 50/50 split. For example, if they release a Monday Night Football line at New England Patriots -4.5 over the New York Jets and then take a good portion of wagers on the Patriots, they could easily shift the line to New England -5.5 as a response. The sportsbooks will pay close attention to where the bulk of the public money is as well as big wagers by the professional handicappers whose opinions they respect. The lines will move throughout the week and by keeping an eye on them you can get a better idea of where your bet should be.

Outlook

The point of understanding this process is to find potential value when nobody else sees it. For example, if the Cowboys are listed at -6.5 to open the week and then they move to -7.5, there might be good value betting on the underdog at +7.5 in that situation. This is particularly true when the line moves over key numbers like 3 and 7, which are the most popular margins for the outcomes of football games. The sportsbooks are constantly on top of the lines in order to make sure they make a profit. By doing the same thing on your end, you can also find the best values and make sure you are doing the best job possible to secure yourself a substantial profit as well.