How to Find the Best Sports Odds

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Betting odds aren’t universal across all sportsbooks. The variance that comes with betting lines opens up opportunities for the average bettor if they know how to take advantage of it.

Sportsbooks generally have an edge over the public, but there are things that bettors can do to find value when betting on sports. One of those things is “line shopping,” which involves comparing odds from multiple sportsbooks to find the best line or odds possible.

When bettors have plenty of Maryland online sportsbooks to choose from, this is something that can easily be put into practice. Whether you bet once a season or every single day, odds shopping can be the difference between earning a profit or not.

Here, we’ll tell you all you need to know about shopping for lines and setting yourself up for success.

Compare odds across Maryland online sportsbooks

One of the ways you can compare odds is to download multiple sportsbook apps to your phone and compare directly for each game or market. You can also use one of our many odds feeds, which compares all the pregame lines for major sports across multiple MD online sportsbooks. It is much easier to see all the odds in one place instead of jumping from app to app.

You can flip between point spreads, moneylines, and over/under all right here.

What is line shopping?

Line shopping is the process a sports gambler goes through to find the most favorable betting odds by comparing lines from more than one sportsbook.

Even though varying betting sites offer many of the same markets, the truth is that the exact odds offered along with the potential risk/reward aren’t universal at all sportsbooks. Shopping for the best sports betting odds lets bettors compare the differences and get the most value for their money, as it enables them to be potentially riskless and/or win more.

The ability to shop around for the most advantageous betting line is one of the chief reasons to have multiple MD online sportsbook accounts. Line shopping may only save you a few cents on the dollar with each bet but, over time, it can add up.

How does line shopping work?

Not only is odds shopping beneficial to bettors, but it’s also pretty simple to put into practice. The very first step is to create some online sportsbook accounts. Sign up for as many betting sites in Maryland as you wish; there’s no set limit. In fact, the more you have, the more lines you can compare. Once you’re ready to start comparing odds, take these steps.

Rather than going through the arduous process of opening up each app individually and checking the odds for a certain bet, take advantage of online resources like our live odds feeds here at PlayMaryland to get a quick look at what prices sportsbooks are offering. This can also save crucial time to get the best price instead of risking it changed as you browsed app after app for info.

Another great thing about line shopping is that it can be done with a wide range of betting options. From moneylines, spreads, and totals to proposition bets and futures, bettors can shop around for any one of the many choices that are presented at Maryland online sportsbooks.

How to shop for the best odds online

You can go through the steps all you want, but the best way to get the hang of line shopping is by seeing it done in practice. So let’s compare NBA betting lines from several different sportsbooks to shop around for lines and find the best odds possible.

Take the following game from DraftKings Sportsbook MD, which will be our base of comparison:

Moneyline line shopping

Moneyline betting is simple to understand, as betting on them requires only selecting which team will win a game regardless of the score. To figure out how much you stand to win or lose, remember to look at moneylines relative to the number 100.

The odds for the favorite are accompanied by a negative symbol and whatever the moneyline says is what the bettor must risk to win $100 in profit. Using our example, this means that to win $100 in profit on the Boston Celtics, a bettor must risk $130. From there, the math can be easily done for any wager amount. It would be a $65 risk for $50 in profit, and a $13 risk for $10 in profit.

The underdog has a plus symbol next to its odds and the moneyline represents the amount a bettor can win if wagering $100. Placing a moneyline wager on the Wizards would require a $100 risk to win $108 in profit. Putting $10 on the line could win $10.80, and wagering $50 could win $54.

To successfully compare lines, let’s look at a second site. Thanks to BetMGM Sportsbook in Maryland, we can see odds for the same game and take the next step in our process.

A moneyline wager on Boston (-140) requires a $140 bet to win $100 in profit. Compared to the -130 line at DraftKings, this is unfavorable because it asks the bettor to risk more.

Line shopping for moneyline favorites is an attempt to risk the lowest amount possible, so anyone betting the moneyline on the Celtics would be helping themselves out by choosing DraftKings.

On the other side, taking the underdog Wizards (+115) at BetMGM means putting $100 on the line to win $115. The BetMGM line is a more advantageous one than placing the bet at DraftKings because +115 is a higher-paying moneyline for an underdog than +108.

With underdogs, shopping for odds is about earning the largest payout possible. For that reason, someone backing the Wizards would be wise to place this wager at BetMGM.

Point spread line shopping

When it comes to point spreads, the line shopping process is identical to moneylines. However, there are some aspects to betting the spread that make the line shopping process a bit more complicated.

There are two sets of numbers to look at here: the actual spread, and the odds accompanying the spread. In plenty of situations, the spread is the same at multiple sites. This makes things pretty simple because all you’re doing is comparing the price for that spread and choosing the best one. This is identical to how things are done with the moneyline.

But in some situations, the spread itself will differ by a half or full point, or more. This means that bettors need to weigh the pros and cons of the different spreads, plus the price that they’ll have to pay for a specific spread. We will use our examples from above to explain things in detail.

Again, the favorite has the negative odds and the underdog will have positive odds. To make the math easy, you can still use the number 100 to calculate the risk and reward. For due diligence purposes, we’re even throwing a third example into the mix to give ourselves more options, this one from FanDuel Sportsbook Maryland.

Let’s start with the underdog Wizards. In our above example from FanDuel, Washington is +2.5 (-112), which means risking $112 to profit $100 if the Wizards lose by two or fewer if they don’t win the game.

Our BetMGM example has the same spread, but a different line. A bet on Washington +2.5 (-110) involves risking $110 to win $100. Compared to the previous number, the BetMGM line has some value since it requires a lesser risk.

Once spreads start to vary is when things get complicated. At DraftKings, Washington is +2 (-108) against the spread, which means risking $108 to win $100. While the -108 line is the best one of the three, it also removes the extra half-point from the equation.

In this situation, the Wizards can only lose by a single point to cover the number, as a two-point loss results in a push. But if you select to take Washington +2.5 for a slightly worse price, you have a slightly larger margin for error and still win the bet with a two-point loss.

The same comparison process can be used for the favorite and whether or not you’d prefer to take Boston -2 (-113), Boston -2.5 (-110), or Boston -2.5 (-108). Bettors must decide whether the half point is worth paying a little more for, and every matchup is different.

Depending on the game, the spreads could differ much more than these do, and so can the prices that bettors are asked to pay for those varying spreads. So when line shopping for point spreads, keep in mind that there are multiple components to it.

Totals line shopping

The process that is used for point spreads is the same one used for totals. The exact over/under could be the same, but the prices may vary. An over-under bet could also vary, which will force bettors to decide on a combination of total and betting lines.

As it turns out, all three examples for our Celtics-Wizards game have the same total set at 232.5 points. In this scenario, all bettors need to do is compare lines for the best one. Here are our options:

  • DraftKings: Over 232.5 (-112), Under 232.5 (-109)
  • BetMGM: Over 232.5 (-110), Under 232.5 (-110)
  • FanDuel: Over 232.5 (-110), Under 2322.5 (-110)

This one is pretty simple. If taking the over, BetMGM and FanDuel have an equal price of -110, so the risk and payout are the same and it’s slightly better than DraftKings.

For the under, DraftKings is a very slight upgrade at -109 compared to -110 for the other two sites. While this is the smallest possible difference there is and won’t make much of an impact on your overall payout, it’s still beneficial to go through the process of getting yourself the best available line.

Finding the best futures odds

Bettors can also compare lines for futures odds and line shopping for these odds can be more lucrative than individual contests. Futures odds tend to be more volatile than daily odds, so it’s not uncommon to see the same futures markets with wildly different prices at competing sportsbooks.

For example, let’s take odds from three different MD online sportsbooks concerning NFC conference championship odds for the hometown team:

  • DraftKings: NFC Winner – Washington Football Team (+2,200)
  • FanDuel: NFC Winner – Washington Football Team (+2,700)
  • BetMGM: NFC Winner – Washington Football Team (+3,000)

As we can tell, the market is the same but the odds are wildly different. At DraftKings, a $100 bet would earn you $2,200 in profit. But at BetMGM, that same $100 bet can win $3,000 based on the boost in odds.

How sportsbooks set their opening lines

All online betting sites go through the same process to determine their odds, even if the final result winds up being a bit different from its peers.

It all starts with an opening line. Oddsmakers use a bevy of statistics, analytics, and algorithms (among other things) to come up with an initial number that they feel best represents the margin between the two teams. From there, the decision is made on what exactly the opening line should be.

Oddsmakers intend to set a line that will see equal action on both sides of the spread or total. This would ensure that in the end, the sportsbook makes a profit because of the juice or vigorish (normally around -110) that is paid with every bet.

Why do lines move? How often do they move?

The opening line is just a starting point. As any bettor will tell you, where the odds start is very unlikely to be where they end. From the time the opening line is posted until the time of kick-off, first pitch, tip-off, puck drop, and so on, some factors come into play for sportsbooks.

The biggest thing that impacts the line is the betting public. If the Washington Football Team odds are -3 and the public is all over it, oddsmakers will shift that number to -3.5, or -4 with the hope of evening out the betting action on the other side.

Line shopping FAQs

Is line shopping worth it?

Yes. Whether you enjoy wagering recreationally or are an everyday bettor, line shopping is a useful and worthwhile step to take.. There is no negative to it at all, and you’re giving yourself a chance to save a few bucks or make a few more, depending on the side you choose.

Are all sportsbooks odds & lines equal?

No. Even though many sites offer mirroring markets, the exact odds and lines often times vary. Even if the spread or total is the same, the line attached to those odds could be different depending on the sportsbook. In other situations, the odds vary and the lines for those odds can match up.

Can I get a better line on a bet already placed?

No, once bets are placed they are locked in unless you are offered a cash out from the sportsbook. This is why you need to do your line shopping ahead of time.