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What is Line Shopping in Sports Betting?

Sports betting has become increasingly popular since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on gambling in 2018, and it’s not too hard to see why. While some forms of gambling may just come down to random chance, the same is not true of sports betting where the more you know, the better you’ll do. This mostly refers to actually knowing the sports you’re betting on and the players and teams involved in it, but it also helps to know the ins and outs of sports betting itself.

One of the key aspects of sports betting that you really should know about is something known as line shopping. 

Line shopping, in short, is when you look for the best possible numbers for any bet you want to place. This is done by checking out a wide variety of sportsbooks to determine which one offers the best odds for a particular bet you’re trying to make. Let’s look at a more practical, but very simplified example: 


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  • Let’s say you want to bet $100 on a baseball game between the Mets and the Yankees.
  • Bookmaker 1 lists the odds as follows: 
    • Run line: +1.5 to the Yankees, -1.5 to the Mets. 
    • Money line: +110 for the Yankees, -130 for the Mets
  • Bookmaker 2 lists the odds as follows:
    • Run line: +1.5 to the Yankees, -1.5 to the Mets
    • Money line: +115 for the Yankees, -130 for the Mets
  • Bookmaker 3 lists the odds as follows:
    • Run line: +2.5 to the Yankees, -1.5 to the Mets
    • Money line: +110 for the Yankees, -110 for the Mets


In this example if you want to bet on the Mets winning on the money line, you’ll go for the first two bookmakers for a higher profit, Bookmaker 3 for higher odds of winning. Similarly, for a run line bet for the Yankees, you’ll want to go for the third bookmaker for the best odds or the second for the best money line odds. 


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This is a very simplified version as it doesn’t list stuff like spreads, totals or over/ under bets, which you will find on any major sportsbook, but the main point here is just to give a short example of why line shopping is so important. If you just look at a single sportsbook for all your sports bets, you may well end up taking riskier bets for lower rewards. It’s a far better idea for every bet you take, especially any bet with a significant sum of money, 

Obviously, in order to line shop, you need to understand basic betting terms like money lines, run lines, spread bets, over/ under bets and the like, but once you have taken the time to learn all of those, you should absolutely move onto shopping for the best you can find. Sometimes the difference between bookies can be tiny, sometimes they can be relatively large, but smart, strategic betting is the name of the game when it comes to sports betting and this is a crucial part of it.

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