How the Sports Betting Line is Made by RJ Bell
May 30, 2016
“We’re not trying to pick the team that covers the spread, we’re trying to make it a coin flip, a tough decision (for the bettor). Obviously, if the line comes out a week ahead of the event (which is the case in football), there is much that could happen during the week leading up to the event that could affect the line. Stated another way, they want to create a line that half the people find appealing to bet one way while the other half find it appealing to bet the other way (known as ‘dividing the action’).
What Is the Line Trying to Accomplish?
The last step in the line-making process for each oddsmaker is taking one final look to determine whether or not the line “feels right.” This is where common sense and past experience with how games are bet enters into the picture. People think it’s much more complicated, but it’s not.”
Once the opening line is released by LVSC, the individual sportsbooks decide if they want to make any adjustments before offering it to the public.
Oddsmakers at LVSC are professional sports junkies who love what they do and would probably do it for nothing if you asked them, but they do get paid for it. Each of these oddsmakers bring unique opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the process.
Moving the line is the oddsmaker’s effort to balance betting action, and often times such moves can have a major impact on a bettor’s decision. By necessity their approach is very research-oriented and concise, since with millions of dollars at risk there is little margin for error.
There is a common misconception that point spreads represent the oddsmakers’ prediction of how many points the favorite will win by.
Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC) is the world’s premier oddsmaking company and the most respected authority on making the lines.
Experts working for the individual books having a strong opinion on the game
Since the oddsmaker’s ultimate goal is equally dividing the betting action, public perception and betting patterns must be taken into account. For example, the public might have heavy betting interest week after week on a popular college football team such as USC. Mike Seba is a Senior Oddsmaker at LVSC and has been making lines for the last six years.
Divided action means the sportsbook is guaranteed a profit on the game because of the fee charged to the bettor (called juice or vig – typically $11 bet to win $10). We do this by drawing from past experiences and applying them to current situations. The power ratings are adjusted after each game a team plays. A round-table discussion among the 4-5 oddsmakers involved in making the line for each sport is then conducted and a consensus line is decided upon by the Odds Director before it is released to the sportsbooks. This usually includes having up-to-date power ratings on each team.
For example, if the pointspread on a game is 7 and most of the money is coming in on the underdog (taking the +7), sportsbooks will then move the number down to 6 ½ to try and attract money on the favorite. . Of the 4-5 oddsmakers, generally the 2 most respected opinions are weighed more heavily by the Odds Director before he decides on the final line. In doing so they attempt to make more attractive the team that is getting less action. Of course there is an entire method to the madness on how the opening line is created. In our extended interview, Seba explained that there are 4-5 oddsmakers assigned to make lines for each of the major sports (pro & college football and basketball; MLB, NHL, boxing, golf). Also, adjustments are made after reading each team’s local newspapers to get a sense of what the coaches & players are thinking going into the game.
The opening line is the first line created by the oddsmakers, which is then sent out to sportsbooks.
The purpose of these adjustments, like all line adjustments, is to more equally divide the betting action