Beating The Closing Line In Sports Betting
You hear a lot of sports bettors say it, "I beat the closing line on that bet" but what does it really mean and why is it important to winning when it comes to betting on sports?
The closing line is the betting line at the sportsbooks when all betting is closed and the game is about to start. It is the most accurate line because all of the money has been bet and all available information and opinions have been factored in. Closing line value is determined by comparing the line on a bet placed at an earlier time with the line at game start time. If you placed a bet at +4 and the line closed at +2, you have 2 points of line value. Many studies have been done on the closing line and all point toward the same thing, the favorite and underdog covering at about the same rate of 50%. Therefore we can assume that getting a better line than the close will result in +EV bets in the long run.
Lines move throughout the day as bets are placed and new information becomes available. The playing status of certain players and weather information is always more accurate closer to game time than it is when a line first comes out. The bettors who win the most, generally have the most money, best resources, best information, and most followers, and therefore will have the most influence on a line. These bettors or in some cases influential sports handicappers, often play a big role in determining where a closing number will land. As more money pours in, and more information and opinions are exposed, the stronger and more accurate the line becomes.
Most bettors are too results-oriented when determining if they or a handicapper they are considering following have an edge, meaning they judge primarily on past results, often with an emphasis on recent results. Now surely winning bets is and always will be the #1 goal, as they don't pay you for just making good bets, but actual results can be swayed heavily by positive or negative variance, particularly when looking at a limited sample size. To be able to determine if the handicapper in question is truly making good bets you need to dig a little deeper. You need to look at how past plays have done against the closing line. This is a common strategy used by professional bettors when evaluating handicappers but is often ignored by recreational bettors. Sportsbooks on the other hand will openly admit that they gauge the “sharpness” of a player more by how their bets do against the closing line than by their actual results. If you were to ask any bookmaker who he is more scared of taking a bet from going forward, a sports bettor who is winning 60% of his last 100 bets but is losing to the closing line or a sports bettor who has broke even on his last 100 bets but has consistently beat the closing line, I can promise you the bookmaker will be more scared of the break even player.
What I like to do is go to pinnaclesports.com and find the game I am betting. Let's say for example at Pinnacle just before the game starts Seattle is -104 against Oakland who is also -104. So I figure the no vig line (as if the book wasn't charging any juice) and we now have the closing line as Seattle -100/Oakland -100. I now use these numbers as a barometer and hope that my bet can beat this number. Let's say I placed a bet of Seattle at +108 earlier in the day, I would indeed have beaten the no-vig closing line by a total of 8 cents and have a solid +EV bet. FOR EVERY 2 CENTS BETTER ON AVERAGE PER BET THAT YOU MAKE YOU HAVE A 1% EDGE OVER THE BOOKS (a 1% ROI). So this particular bet would give me a 4% ROI over the long run. It's that simple.
One should always be focusing on trying to find and place bets that will beat the closing line. There are many ways to beat the closing line from trying to originate your own numbers, following service plays that moves lines, betting steam or just playing any "off" number that is better than the current no vig line. It's not easy to do but through hard work it can be done. In fact I know many winning sports bettors who can't name a single player in the sport they are betting but they are winning because their entire focus is on finding ways that they will beat the closing line. Sometimes it's not about working harder when betting sports it's about working smarter. If you are beating the closing line over the long term then you are playing with an edge and you will be a winning sports bettor.
Sports Betting Principles - Beating The Closing Line
By: SBRforum.com Staff
Whilst many people will place bets wholly dependent upon statistical data for a team or individual, crunching as many angles as possible, one of the most powerful betting tools out there involves line shopping and most importantly beating the closing line.
The closing line refers to the final, widely available line at the books before they stop taking wagers. 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.
Now, this movement can be attributed to a number of things. There are simple factors that are time dependent that will help read the “market movements”. The closer we are to an event the more accurately we can predict the outcome as there are either less variables involved or we know the impact of these variable. Injured players, the weather, did the star QB really send those pics etc. This makes the line move depending upon information that is important to and becomes available to the predictive model.
However, 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. Just like in the stock market, bettors are seeing value in a line that they believe to be mispriced and are looking to take advantage of the opportunity while the sportsbooks are compensating and moving the line to ‘balance out the book’ and to make the price more accurately reflect the reality.
This concept is crucial to beating the closing line, what is happening here is that sportsbooks are seeing sharps or large amounts of the public (who will often follow sharps or key investors) betting a line and it is telling them something is wrong and they need to change the odds.
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 price on an outcome and the chance to make a winning 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 line makers or on their own models (which are only ever as good as the mathematical equations) that are both subject to the information fed into them and the people running them. If they are following then their line is always behind who they are following.
For instance a professional handicapper may have predicted a probability for the specific outcome of a game and so he or she has assigned a value to that outcome (e.g. +105). Now if he or she sees that the book has assigned a different value to the line (e.g. +140) the sharp will bet this line until the book moves it to the position where their model has predicted (+105).
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 earlier and more confidently place money where it will win.
You can also take advantage of slowness within the market between different books, it is possible to watch a line at a book that moves faster and then use that movement to bet at a book that is slower in moving its line. In financial markets this is known as “arbitrage trading” and is known as line shopping in the sports betting world.
Sometimes of course a line will not move, the books are so happy with it that they will take action on both sides, but line volatility offers the greatest opportunity for those of you that can beat the closing line.
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 not the most effective. Of course using tools on SBR like the historic line movement of a game will maximize your chances.
The best method for beating the closing line is to create a more accurate model than the books and use your own predictions to see where the opportunity exists in the market to exploit a profit.
Not easy, but then nothing worth it in life ever is!