Many people will place bets relying wholly
on statistical data for a team or individual, crunching as many angles as
possible. They will diligently line shop to get the best price. But did they
make a good bet? One of the best ways to evaluate a bet you made is to compare
it to the closing line.
The closing line refers to the final
average market price at the major books (like Pinnacle, Bookmaker and 5dimes)
before they stop taking wagers when the event begins. This line is actually the
most accurate representation of the ‘real value’ of the predicted outcome and
it can be said that market forces have moved the line to where it should be.
This movement can be attributed to a
number of things. The closer we are to an event’s start, the more accurate our
information becomes. Notably, the status of injured players becomes more
certain, and weather projections becomes more accurate. The line moves as
this information develops, and bettors that can assess this information correctly
bet more and more.
Just as in the stock market, sports
betting lines can be moved by investors (bettors) through the amount of money
being wagered on a particular line. Bettors may see value in a line that they
believe to be mispriced and are looking to take advantage of the opportunity.
On the other side, sportsbooks are constantly adjusting the line to ‘balance out the book’,
and keep their prices in line with the market.
This concept is crucial to beating
the closing line. When sportsbooks see sharps or large amounts of the public
(who will often follow sharps or key investors) betting a line, and see other
competitors adjusting a price on a game, a sportsbook is alerted that its price
is inaccurate. If the book fails to adjust its price, it will continue to
accumulate many bets at a price unfavorable to the book (and favorable to the
player). Books moving “on air” understand this, and do not have to give out equity
to bettors before adjusting their prices.
The sharps and the public see value
in the line; they think the books have mispriced it. Their prediction
gives them a different probability and therefore a different price on an
outcome; this gives them the chance to make a winning bet at the expense of the
books, who are just like bad investors, paying for getting it wrong.
Remember that in the world of sports
betting, the books often rely on either following other sportsbooks or watching
their own bettors. Only a few sportsbooks have their own oddsmakers capable of
setting lines (notably Pinnacle and Bookmaker). Even those with their
own models can only estimate a fair line; early line movements are evidence of
errors in openers. For most other books that follow the market, they are always
at risk of getting “beaten on the move” by steam chasers.
Consider a professional handicapper who has predicted a probability for the specific outcome of
a game, and believes that the fair price on this event is +105. If he or she
sees that the book has assigned a different value to the line – such as +140,
the sharp will bet this line repeatedly, until the book adjusts its price to where
their model has predicted (+105), or where the handicapper no longer wishes to
It is this predicted probability of
an outcome that is so essential to sports betting. If you can predict outcomes
with greater accuracy than the books, then you can find value. You can confidently
place money on wagers that will win in the long run.
You can also take advantage of lag between
movements at different books.
It is possible to watch a line at a book that moves faster that most others, and
use that information as a guide to bet at a book that moves its line more slowly.
Sometimes of course, a line moves at one book but not another. Some books disregard
market moves, and are confident in the position they wuild with their current
price. For many bettors though – especially “steam chasers”, line volatility
offers a great.
There are a number of ways to try to
beat the closing line. You can bet the line you expect will see most action by
the masses and get in early, or you can bide your time and watch which way it
goes and then jump on board. Both methods, whilst they can work, are no
guarantee of success. Of course, using tools on SBR to study current prices, or
analyze the historical line movements of games still up for betting can
maximize your chances.
The best method for beating the
closing line is to create a more accurate model than the books. If your
analysis is better than the books, you will identify mispriced markets, and you
will consistently win long-term.
Not easy, but then nothing worth it
in life ever is!