A topic that doesn’t get discussed often in sports betting is how to maximize value. Let’s take NFL football for example. If we like the Jets this week, we could bet the Jets on the moneyline or the Jets on the point spread. This is a basic decision gamblers make on a regular basis, some using strategy, others using feel. The question I’ll pose is: how many NFL bettors dig deeper than that to look at the effects of buying half points, teasing/pleasing, as well as evaluating the first half betting lines and prop bets derived from the primary betting market. In this article, I’ll address this topic. If you pick up on, understand, and apply a percentage of what I share here, you should immediately increase your sports betting earnings.
To Maximize Value Line Shopping is Critical
One of the biggest leaks in most sports bettor’s game is failure to shop for the best line and price. To pull an actual example from the time I am writing this article: the betting line for the Cleveland Browns at various betting sites is currently Pinnacle Sports: +4.5 -108, Bookmaker.eu +4 -110, 5Dimes.eu +4 -110, Bet Jamaica: +4.5 -115, BetOnline +4.5 -120. In this case, Pinnacle Sports has the best line.
To illustrate the importance of line shopping, if I give the Browns a 54% chance of covering +4, hence the reason I am looking to bet them, my expected return at each online betting site above is: Pinnacle: 6.7%, 5Dimes and Bookmaker: 3.14%, Bet Jamaica: 1.87%, BetOnline 1.1%.
Compare and think about those figures for a few minutes. How much are you betting per game? How many games do you bet (per day, per week, per year)? Most sports bettors throw hundreds or even thousands of dollars away each year because they don’t line shop. This applies to losing sports bettors the same as it does to winners. Losing bettors end up losing considerably more than they should, while winning bettors don’t win as much as they could.
While the ability to pick winners is nice, more often than not sports bettors are going off instinct and can’t win at a high enough amount to beat the vig. When shopping multiple betting sites for the best price, the effects of vig are nearly negated entirely. Be sure to read the conclusion of this article where I share which sites are best for line shopping.
Understanding Half Point Value
When shopping betting sites, both point spread and price are a concern. Deciding between +4 or +4.5, when both are equally priced, is a no brainer; we’re going to take the extra half point. Where it becomes a challenge is when one site is offering +4.5 -110 and the other +4 -103. A professional sports bettor would head to his NFL database and calculate that over the past five years underdogs have lost by exactly 4 points 3.38% of the time. He might choose to refine that further, running only games where the spread was 3.5 to 5.5, or where the total predicted scores were similar, and then take weighted average. For this sample, we’ll just go with 3.38%.
To calculate which line is better, the first thing we need to know is how often we must win at -103 to break even. The math for that is risk divided by potential return. Example, $103 risked, wins $100; so a ticket returns $203 (stake +win). Here we take 103/203 and get 0.5074. This means we need to win 50.74 percent of the time to break even betting at -103. Now to see how much the half point is worth, lets go back to our 3.38% push rate on the 4. Keep in mind that we can’t take credit for the full 3.38% when moving from +4 to +4.5, because half of that push probability is built into our opponent’s line of -4. Taking credit for half, we add 1.69% to 50.74% to determine +4 -103 is the same at +4.5 (52.43%).When we consider that we don’t bet in percentages, we need to figure out what line breaks even 52.43% of the time. While we can solve this with simple algebra, the math is boring; so let’s just Google search “Moneyline Converter”. Using a moneyline/percentage calculator, plug in 52.43% to determine +4 -103 is the same as +4.5 -110.2. Therefore, while not by much, we’re getting a little better expectation on +4.5 -110, so that’s the line we’ll bet.
If you’re betting professionally as a source of income, you’ll eventually want to get a database where you can calculate push rates on your own. For the casual bettor, here is some rough value of half points on and off of key numbers.
1=5.5 cents, 2=4 cents, 3=22 cents, 4=7.2 cents, 5=3.4 cents, 6=7 cents, 7=12 cents, 8=4.5 cents, 9=1.8 cents, 10=10.4 cents, 11=4.5 cents, 12=0.9 cents, 13=2.6 cents, 14=10.5 cents
To explain the above so it is clear, you’ll see 1 point is worth 5.5 cents. This means that +1.5 -110 is the same as +1 -104.5. Take another example, where 7 is worth 12 cents. This means +6.5 +100 is the same as +7 -112, and the same as +7.5 -124. As you can see in the second example, this can be used both ways. It also can be used on the favorite: -7.5 +100 is the same as -7 -112, which is the same as -6.5 -124. The push charts shared above are good enough for the casual gambler shopping lines.
Buying Half Points
Most online sportsbooks offer players the opportunity to purchase half points at 10 cents each when the 3 or 7 is not involved. While this is generally a bad idea, looking at the push chart above you’ll find 10 and 14 are worth more than 10 cents. Therefore, after all your line shopping is done, if the bookmaker also sells half points at 10 cents, you should purchase them under the following circumstances:
1) +9.5 to +10 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to +10.5
2) -10.5 to -10 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to -9.5
3) +13.5 to +14 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to +14.5
4) -14.5 to -14 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to -13.5
These days, there are very few sites that sell points on and off the 7 for ten cents. Bookmaker.eu (use bonus code THEGEEK) is one site we know of offering this, so when betting there, add these to your list:
1) +6.5 to +7 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to +7.5
2) -7.5 to -7 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to -6.5
Remember, in all these examples we’re only buying these half points if they are sold at 10 cents each. These are probably the only half points you’ll want to buy in NFL football. The value of the three changes greatly depending on whether the home team or the road team is favored, the predicted game total, etc. Even at the few sites that sell these for 20 cents, there isn’t enough value to buy those specific half points blind.
Other Ways to Maximize Value When Betting NFL Football
Teaser Betting: Teasers are an important weapon in professional sports bettor’s arsenal. Rather than rehashing this content, follow the link to our in-depth article on teaser betting strategy.
Half Time Betting: Have you ever noticed certain teams start slow and then do better as the game progresses? If you’re betting against one these teams, perhaps it would make more sense to make your bet on the first half betting line as opposed to the full game.
Prop Bets: Many betting sites offer proposition bets that are derived from the game’s primary betting lines. We’ve covered an example of this in depth in our article on NFL prop betting strategy. After reading that article, you’ll have another tool in your arsenal for finding maximum value when shopping NFL lines.
Alternate Lines: Several online betting sites offer alternate lines. For example, where a team is -8.5, a betting site might offer alternate lines of -2.5 -300 and -14.5 +300. If you understand teaser betting strategy, then calculating the value of these alternate lines will be no sweat.
Parlays: There are several strategies we cover in our article on parlay betting. Correlated parlays are the holy grail of sports betting, where three team parlays at +650 are the best way to find reduced juice.
While the information in this article might seem intimidating to some recreational gamblers, none of it requires anything other than extremely simply math skills. Take some time to learn and digest this material, and before long you’ll be making the maximum value possible off your NFL picks. In closing, I’ll leave you with a list of the most important sportsbooks to have an account with, in order to maximize value betting NFL.
Top Sports Books for Getting Maximum Value
The following are sportsbooks I personally use when shopping for maximum value. To save from long drawn out text, I list the betting sites and the reason that I use them.
Bookmaker.eu (use bonus code THEGEEK) – half points involving the 7 for ten-cents each, wide selection of prop bets in the hour before kickoff, alternate lines available for betting on game day, no anti teaser line shades.
5Dimes.eu – offers reduced juice (-105) on game day, discounted half point buys on certain lines, widest selection of prop bets in the industry, and by far the best teaser odds and teaser options.
www.Bovada.lv – non-shaded teaser lines, decent teaser odds (3 team six point +180), wide selection of prop bets.
BetOnline – three-team parlays at +650. A great way to get reduced juice when other sites are not offering it.
Pinnacle Sports (not available to US residents): lowest juice in industry (-104), unique prices on half point buys, props and alternate lines for Sunday and Monday night games.
While there are several other sportsbooks I use on a regular basis, these are the ones I personally consider must haves. With that, this concludes our article on maximize value when betting NFL teams. Hopefully, you found this information valuable, and will now use it to make massive profits. I wish you the best of luck.
Other Advanced Sports Betting Strategy Articles:
Questions Received About Article:
Q. Is going from +2(-110) to +3 (X), the same as going from -2 (-110) to -3(X)?
How do I do the calculation for this. I know your guide says 2=4cents per half point and 3=22cents/half, but that would lead to the following:
+2(-110) to +3(-118) (-110-4-4)
-2 (-110) to -3 (-102) (-110+4+4)
But, i feel that we are not accounting for the 22 cents for dealing with the “3”. Can you let me know where I’m going wrong and what I’m missing?
A. The rough guide chart I gave refers to coming on and off that particular number.
+2 -110 comes off 2 for 4 cents (+2 -110 to +2.5 -114) and then comes on to 3 for 22 cents (+2.5 -114 to +3 -136)
+2 -110 (same as:) +3 -136
-2 -110 comes off 2 for 4 cents (-2 -110 to -2.5 -106) and then comes on to 3 for 22 cents (-2.5 -106 to -3 +116)
-2 -110 is same as -3 +116
(the above should answer question if not let me know)…
To discuss this a little further beyond the question, to make clear this guide is really rough. Professional bettors price in percent not cents. Let me show how this works:
If a line of -2 pushes 2% of the time. If -2 is -110 then we’d figure out the break even % of -110, which you might know already is 52.38%. If not math is risk/return (where return is stake + potential win). For example -110 can bet as $110 to win $100 the return is $210 (risk $110 to return $210) so the math is 110/210 = 0.5238095238095238 (52.38%).
Now if -2 has a 2% chance of pushing, we take half this and add it to the break even %. Why half? because at an even number -2 -110 the -110 represents (win + puss) the people betting +2 on the team have the same push probability built into their line.
Add the 1% we get 53.38%. Plug this into a moneyline converter and see the 53.38% is -114.5. This is the value of moving -2 -110 to -1.5.
Say the line was -2 +100 break even 50%, add in the 1% 51% = -104 which is value of moving -2 +100 to -1.5
So the value of 2 changes based on if the line is -110 or +100, and would be different for +105, -115 or any other number, which is why in analyzing bets everything is taken to a percentage.
The rough guide where I said 2 is worth 4 cents and 3 worth 22 cent is just a basic guide.