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Getting an Edge Against the Sportsbook

NFL Betting: Getting an Edge Against the Sportsbook

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

When betting on the NFL, we go into it knowing a great majority of bettors fail. If you want to be one of the few who succeeds, you need to take advantage of small edges that help tilt the odds a little more in your favor. We have a lot of stuff going against us--the juice and the numerous other pitfalls that make NFL betting a minefield. The book doesn't hesitate to take an edge against us. In order to compete, we need to do the same thing.

One thing to do is hunt for good juice. The industry standard is -110 on straight bets against the spread. Did you know you can get -105 if you look for it? Some books could give you that line as a bonus or have specified timeframes where -105 is offered. Getting a 5 cent break on the line is huge. As far as getting an edge, it doesn't get much better than that. And you don't need to hunt down this edge, as it's just given to you and available on all games.

Sometimes, you will be able to jump on a weak spread. This is not terribly easy. We might have a good handicapping model, but is it good enough to beat Vegas? It could be from time to time, but beating the oddsmakers is a lot more difficult than beating the public. And the public is who moves the line. Staying a step ahead of other bettors is more doable.

Try to consistently get the better end of the stick as far as the spreads and lines you accept. If you like a team at +3, you don't accept +2.5 when the warning box comes up telling you the spread has changed. Or if you assume you're betting standard juice on a side and see it's -120, you don't jump on it without second thought. You ponder your options. You consider the percentage of landing on a key number like 3, you consider buying half a point, or you just abandon the bet.

There are guys who rush out to Vegas to make a bunch of bets. Unbeknownst to them, the lines have all moved against them. They just make the bets anyway. Savvy bettors wouldn't do that. They want lines and spreads moving in their favor, aware that doing that consistently will result in far better results.

But when betting online, you needn't be shoe-horned into taking a number or price. You can see the movement of the line, which is charted by most sportsbooks. You can easily determine if the price you're getting is better or worse than the opening or closing line. And if it's consistently worse than the closing line, you're giving up another edge to the bookie.

Sometimes, you can find better value on more obscure bets. Prop bets can have terrible value, but some of them are just the opposite. That especially pertains to binary prop bets--wagers with only two possible conclusions. There are props, for example, on how many yards a quarterback will throw for. With hard work, you can sometimes find a mistake and jump on it. Or they might post odds on which of two quarterbacks in separate games will throw for the most yardage. Sometimes, you can tell who they want you to bet. Going the other way can be a good move, though you would have received what appears to be good value on the more obvious selection. There is a big difference between getting legitimately good value and sucker bets that look too good to be true. Over time, we become more adept at seeing the difference.


The bottom-line is how we gear ourselves to operate. Sure, we're trying to pick winners, but it's within the context of trying to take every available edge. If we get in the habit of letting our opinions become our guiding light at the sake of value--we are almost sure to lose over the long run. We want to pick games correctly, but we always hunt for things like reduced juice and being on the right side of the closing line. By doing that, we secure an edge of at least a few percentage points that could mean a world of difference.

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