Line Shopping Explained

Line shopping isn't a necessary tool when it comes to sports betting, but it is a tool that the sharp bettors employ with frequency, because it only makes sense. Why? Well, let's take the process completely out of the realm of sports wagering in order to give you a simple explanation. We all shop, and whether it's for big items like a car or a new wardbrobe, or the staples of life like groceries, we're bargain hunters at heart. We are going to shop around to find the best available price, so we can make ourselves a good deal.

Casting For The Best Line

When you get the flyers from the major supermarkets each week, you study them religiously, looking for bargains. Perhaps peanut butter is $4.99 at one store, but $3.99 at another. By the same token, the first store may offer the best price on coffee, while a third shop is the place to go to get the best deal on ground beef. We're willing to put this kind of time and effort into our grocery list to get the best prices, and you should follow exactly the same principles when looking to make a wager on a sporting event.

That's why line shopping must be a big part of your gameplan. There are countless numbers of online sportsbooks out there, and the list seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. Every one of them wants your business, so there are going to be some that will offer better lines on games than others. But like with the grocery ads, you're going to have to be willing to shop the field in order to find the best bargain price on a line. 

Max Your Value

Say you wanted to bet the Washington Nationals in a Major League Baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles because Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was on the hill for the Nats and you figured that he was a lock to win. Well, suppose you first looked at this line on the game at


The Nationals, with their ace Scherzer on the mound, are listed in the moneyline as he -320 favorites to topple the Orioles. That means you'd need to wager $320 on Washington in order to bank a $100 profit from their expected victory. Not exactly a great set of odds. So it's the wise bettor who keeps on shopping, and cast their eyes toward another set of lines, this one at And when you check in there, this is what you discover:


The Nationals and Scherzer are still prohibitive favorites to win the game in the moneyline, but not nearly as prohibitive as they were on the MyBookie site. With moneyline odds of -290, you are only going to be required to wager $290 to garner that $100 profit on your wager, a saving of $30. That's a significant difference. Aren't you glad you kept on looking?

But don't stop there. With the number of quality sportsbooks at your disposal, you can cast your eyes at a vast array of lines offered on the same game from sites that span the globe. This time, we're stopping in at to see what they have to offer on the Nationals-Orioles game. 


Again, the Nationals are large favorites in the moneyline, but once again, not as large as they were in the offerings at Bovada. You are only going to be required to wager $280 on Scherzer and the Nats in order to cash in a $100 profit on a Washington victory. Now, maybe you scoff at the savings of $10 on a single bet as being not that major of a savings to make it worth your time to search out this new line. Well, we say think again.

Let's big picture this small victory for a moment. How many wagers do you plan to make over the course of a year? One hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? Stop and do the math on each of those equations. If you save $10 per bet on 100 bets, that's an $1000 extra you'll have to make more bets. You'll keep $5000 over the course of 500 bets, and $10000 were you to place 1000 wagers.

Doesn't seem like chump change now, does it?

But wait. We're not done with our shopping. Our next stop is a, a sportsbook with a reputation for offering lower lines. Let's see if they come through for us. Well, would you look at that:


BetOnline's line is lower. You can get Scherzer and the Nationals for odds of -270 here. Again, it's only 10 bucks less to get you your $100 return - it will cost you a $270 wager - but once more, let's stop, take a step back and big picture this entire scenario from start to finish.

We started out with moneyline odds on Scherzer and the Nationals of -320 at MyBookie. Bovada brought it down to -290, and then TopBet was -280. Finally, BetOnline came through with the lowest line, offering the Nats and Scherzer at -270. Over the course of our work, we lowered our bet on Washington by a grand total of $50. I don't care how big your bankroll is, that's a significant savings. And if you were to save $50 per bet over the course of 1000 wagers, that's an extra $50000 to play with. 

Anyone out there still think that line shopping isn't a task worth your time and effort? Yes it took diligence, research and patience, but here's a news flash for you - those who succeed at sports betting over the long haul are the bettors who possess those qualities in their character. If you want to win bets, if you want to cash in, you better be prepared to put in the work, because you know the handicappers who are tasked with setting those lines are doing exactly that. 

When betting on sports, it always wise to heed the sage advice of seventies yacht rockers The Captain and Tenille. You better shop around.