The Sharp Approach – Setting Your Own Point Spread and Tracking Line Movements During the Week
To break even (and possibly turn a small profit) as a sports bettor you must at least follow my 5×2 Commandments of Successful Sports Betting.
1a: Thou shall focus on winning money, not games
1b: Thou shall focus on the long term
2a: Thou shall see what your friends are doing and do the opposite
2b: Thou shall read the ‘touts’ and do the opposite
3a: Thou shall find the best/safest places to bet
3b: Thou shall shop for the best lines
4a: Thou shall honour your bankroll and manage it
4b: Thou shall never steam
5a: Thou shall not get juiced to death
5b: Thou shall avoid uncorrelated parlays and most hedging
To get to the next level, as a professional, you must also follow the 6th Commandment of Sports Betting:
a – set your own line first
b – track line movements
6a: Setting your own line first. Using the NFL as an example, as week 9 2013 is ending, you look at the week 10 schedule and see the list of games and make up your own point spreads. You see the 49ers are hosting the red hot Panthers. You know the 49ers are rated a little better and are at home, but are impressed with Carolina’s +/-. You think the 49ers should be a 4.5 pt fave.
You then look at the lines and see the 49ers are a 6-6.5 pt fave. This implies value with the underdog Panthers in your eyes as you are getting an extra 1.5 pts*
6b: Track line movements. Note the opening lines and track line movement through the week. ‘Public’ teams, including any team from NY, Cowboys/Patriots in NFL, etc, tend to get a lot of action from casual players. When looking to bet against these teams, waiting until the last moment usually provides additional value.
Combining commandments 6a and 6b: You thought the Panthers were good value at 6-6.5. Now what? Bet it or wait? Generally the public bets the fave throughout the week, but since the line is pretty big and Carolina is pretty good, the line could move against you. Betting a small amount on Carolina plus 6.5 (line shopping) is likely most prudent. If it moves to 7, bet more later in the week. If it moves to below 6, don’t bet more and be happy you got some good value action.
By making your own lines and tracking movement, you will get additional value, on the strong underdogs you should be betting anyways.
*Generally speaking, each NFL pt is worth about 2-3% (double that for pt 7 and triple for pt 3), so getting 4.5 instead of 3.5 is worth 2-3% and covers VIG/juice.
need a refresher on the terms? See our glossary of terms.
need a refresher on the odds and how they work? See explaining the odds.