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Line Shopping & Betting Odds Explained


Since the beginning of time bookmakers are the only ones that consistently win on every bet. In order for bookmakers to run prosperous businesses that ensure profits they provide users with bets that allow them to make money regardless of the outcome. Bookmakers do this by setting the betting odds based on both the probability of the game, and also the public consensus on the outcome of the game. Accounting for both of these factors ensures they earn a profit on each bet.

Why Betting Odds Change?

The line will move and odds will change based off how accurate the bookmakers original evaluation was. Originally bookmakers don’t strictly limit their evaluations to odds. They also take public consensus into account, and try to estimate where the majority of people will place a bet. They set the initial odds in hopes of attracting bets equally on either side of the line. This will ensure that they make the most profits. Bettors will take advantage of cases where the bookmaker didn’t properly estimate or offered vulnerable odds. Bookmakers will then change the odds, or “move the line”, and adjust the odds accordingly so the odds are split 50:50 on each side.

betting odds

How Betting Odds Work?

Successful sports bettors have tons of variables to consider in order to produce long term profits. One of the most influential factors in this process is developing a sound strategy that is built around bankroll management. Without proper bankroll management your sports betting journey will be shorter than Johnny Manziel’s NFL career, and that’s saying something. Another very important aspect to profitable sports betting is line shopping. Much like your wife taking hours in the mall looking for that perfect carousel for the dinner party next Saturday, line shopping takes a lot of time. It doesn’t matter whether you are betting on football, tennis, motorsports, basketball, or any other sport. Browsing different bookmakers and shopping for the best line on a game is crucial to ensuring maximum profitability when betting. Below we will provide some tips on how to do this effectively, what the term really means, and its importance in developing a cash positive bankroll.

What is line Shopping?

Much like any other form of shopping, sports betting line shopping is exactly the same but with different bookmakers. You browse the price of products in different stores to find the cheapest price, just like you do with bookmakers. To become a successful line shopper you simply pick an odds type (spread, total, or moneyline), and compare it across several different sports books. The one with the best odds will offer you the best returns. Some books are known for providing more favorable odds than others. With more experience you should be able to “shop” quicker. If done properly you should be betting on the best line possible, since it gives you the highest payout and greatest return of investment.

When line shopping, it’s important to look through as many books as possible. This can be done on a number of different sports betting specific websites on the internet. Invictus does this automatically, and provides a quicker alternative for bettors looking to optimize their profits. The tool we provide gathers information from over 100,000 tipsters all over the world and finds the best odds for you to bet on, without you having to do the hard work of line shopping.

To properly understand sports betting, you need to understand odds. They are an integral part of any sports wager, and are used to determine whether a wager is worth making or not. The potential payout of any wager you place is calculated using a combination of the relevant odds and your stake.

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What Are Sports Betting Odds?

In this section, we explain betting odds in some detail. We define exactly what they are and the role they play. We also look at the three different formats in which they can be expressed, and explain why odds on the same outcome can vary with different bookmakers.

In sports betting terms, odds basically serve two purposes. First, they are used to calculate the payouts of winning wagers. Every time you place a bet with a bookmaker, you’ll be offered odds at the time, which impact how much you can win. The higher they are, the more you stand to win relative to your stake.

Second, odds also reflect the likelihood of any particular outcome happening. The more likely an outcome, the lower they will be. This makes perfect sense because you would expect to win less when betting on an outcome that’s more likely to happen.

Imagine a tennis match where the player ranked number one in the world is pitted against the player ranked 137th. It stands to reason that the best player in the world is going to be considered more likely to win than his opponent. Therefore, a wager on his winning would have very low odds; a wager on his opponent winning would have much higher odds.

This is a somewhat simplified explanation, but it gives a general idea of the role of odds in sports betting.

Betting Odds Explained

As you can see, the fundamental principle behind odds is really quite straightforward. There are three different formats for writing odds though.

  • Moneyline/American Odds
  • Decimal Odds
  • Fractional Odds

Chances are, at some point, you’ll encounter each of these formats. For this reason, it pays to be familiar with each one. They all work in essentially the same way–basically just different ways of expressing the actual odds for any particular wager.

American Odds

Moneyline odds are also known as American odds. This format is most commonly used in the United States. They can be displayed as either a positive or a negative number. A positive number expresses how much a correct wager of $100 would win, while a negative number expresses how much you would need to stake in order to win $100.

If you saw odds of +150, you would know that a $100 bet could return $150 in winnings, plus the initial stake of $100. If you saw -150, you would know you need to stake $150 to return $100 in winnings, plus the initial stake of $150. An even money wager (where you stand to win an amount equal to your stake) is expressed as +100.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds used to be associated mostly with mainland Europe, Canada, and Australia. However, they have now largely become the standard at most online bookmakers with the exception of some US betting sites. This is because they are the most straightforward of the three formats and are expressed simply as a single positive number, typically to two decimal places.

The number shows how much the total payout will be, including the original stake per unit staked. For example, a winning bet at 1.5 would return a total of $1.50 for every $1 staked. A winning bet at 2.25 would return a total of $2.25 for every $1 staked. An even money bet is expressed as 2.00

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are the traditional format used in the United Kingdom, although decimal odds are slowly taking over. Calculating potential profits and payouts with this format can be a little tricky, but the basic principle isn’t as complicated as it might seem. As with moneyline odds, fractional odds show how much potential profit you can make. To calculate the total potential payout, you have to add your original stake.

As the name suggests, these odds are displayed as a fraction. A simple example is 3/1, which is said as “three to one”. 5/1 is said as “five to one”, and so on. With 3/1, you can win three units for every one unit staked, and with 5/1 you can win five units for every one unit staked. 1/1 is even money, so you can win one unit for every unit staked. As you can see, it’s quite straightforward so far.

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