How To Shade Sports Betting Lines In Order To Maximize Your Profits



In order for sports bettors to beat the books they have to understand what is happening on the other side and what the handicappers are doing in order to maximize their profit margins. The best way to gain an edge is to understand how sports betting lines are created and adjusted in the same way that an economist would study supply and demand or other themes relate to economics. Here is a breakdown of how sports books create and manipulate their lines in order to maximize their profit and how you can use that information to beat the books.

The best way to understand how the sports books maximize their profit margin is by using the standard -110 line as an example. Any line set at -110 means that the bettor has to risk $110 to win $100. If they win, they get their initial $110 wager as well as $100 in winnings for a grand total of $210. If they lose, they drop $100. In losing instances, the sports book receives $10 more than it would have to pay out for a winning wager, which is 4.5% of the combined $220 betting action. According to these numbers, the bettor would need to win between 52% and 53% of their wagers in order to break even. This simple example illustrates how the sports books use lines to ensure that they have a constant edge over the public. No matter what wagers are placed, the sports book will maintain a 4.5% profit margin.

Now that you understand the basic edge that the sports books keep on all wagers, we can build off those numbers to understand what happens when the books shade their lines to take advantage of human tendencies. If the greater percentage of the public bets on the favorites to win then the books can shade the lines in order to make sure they pad their pockets with overpriced favorites. If the favorite is moved from -110 to -200, then the book has significantly increased its profit margin should they lose. The basic win probability for sports events illustrates that the favorites only win about 66% of the time, which means that 33% of the time the sports books can capitalize on the improved margins they have created through their lines. As long as they have adjusted their lines enough the profit margin they have created when favorites lose should vastly outweigh what they would lose when the favorites win and that means consistent profits across the board.

In order to take use the line shading to your advantage, sports bettors have to be willing to take the contrarian view. Pretend that for every single game the favorite is listed at -200 and the underdog is listed at +200. Under these circumstances, the sports bettor that always took the favorites would have to win 66% of their bets just to break even. In the same circumstance, the sports bettor that always took the underdog would have to win only about 33% of their wagers in order to break even. Those numbers have nothing to do with additional factors like home advantage, injuries and other trends but can be combined with those other factors in order to significantly boost your odds of making money. Blindly betting underdogs doesn’t ensure a positive profit margin but by understanding how the sports books shade their lines in order to maximize their ability to make money you can certainly gain an edge by taking a contrarian view to betting on sports.