Any time you see or hear the word “guaranteed” in a gambling context, your default position should be one of skepticism. Actually, I’d just apply that line of thought to the word “guaranteed” in any circumstance. No other word in the English language is used as frequently in dishonest discourse.
Today, I’m going to make an exception to my rule of never using that word. Line shopping is a guaranteed, 100%, always, sure-thing method to increase your bottom line in sports betting. It’s the easiest and simplest thing you can do to bump up your profits over the course of a season.
If you combine line shopping with smart bankroll management, you’ll be doing better than 90% of the sports betting public. Bankroll management helps you ride through the normal swings of variance while line shopping helps magnify your wins. These two things alone don’t guarantee that you’ll be a winning sports bettor, but they do guarantee that you’ll see much better results than you would otherwise.
How Line Shopping Works
What’s awesome about line shopping is how simple it is. Let’s say you’ve decided to place a bet on today’s Cardinals-Brewers game. You like the underdog play on the Brewers. Instead of just placing your bet at the first sportsbook you run across, you decide to shop around.
You see that the Brewers are getting +175 at Bovada, TopBet and Sportsbetting.ag. Then, you check 5Dimes and see that the Brewers are getting +180 there. Well, look at that. It’s the same exact bet at 5Dimes but it’s paying just a little bit more. Every other site is willing to pay $175 for a $100 bet, but 5Dimes will give you $180.
You’ve just increased your expectation with very little additional work. All you had to do was go line shopping. This does not guarantee that you’re going to win the bet, but I’m sure you can see why line shopping is helpful.
This also works just as well for favorites. Just shop around and see if any of the major sports betting sites are asking you to risk LESS on the favorite. Line shopping makes your wins a little bigger and your losses a little smaller.
Line shopping works for all different types of bets, not just moneylines. You can look around for better point totals, better point spreads and better odds on your props.
The only negative thing I can say about shopping around is that you’re not always going to find differences between books. A lot of bets (especially bets that get a lot of action) are the same everywhere you go. However, the lines are different just often enough that it’s worth looking every time you’re about to place a bet.
Breaking Up Your Bankroll
Line shopping requires you to break up your bankroll across a few different sites so you can take advantage of the opportunities as they arise. If you keep all your money at one sportsbook, you’ll never withdraw, get your money and then deposit again in time to place the bet that you have in mind.
What you can do is host portions of your bankroll across a few sportsbooks. I like the following books:
- Bet365 (non-USA only)
- William Hill (non-USA only)
As a secondary benefit, you get a little risk management. Your bankroll isn’t stored all at one site now. If an account gets hacked or something stupid happens to your sportsbook, you don’t lose everything in one shot.
You can start by just breaking up your bankroll into equal parts and storing that money evenly across your favorite sportsbooks. Later down the road, you can adjust the ratios as you get an idea of which book tends to have the best lines for your sport of choice.
Over time, you may have to make adjustments by withdrawing a little from one site and depositing at another. As you win and lose wagers, the amount of money you have at each sportsbook is bound to change. Just keep an eye on things and don’t let any one book get too depleted. And whatever you do, don’t forget about the money you have at that one sportsbook you rarely use.