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The inside line from PinnacleSports.com by Simon Noble
BETTING OVERNIGHT LINES
Professional players dedicate many hours each week shopping for the best price, and will often spend more time in this endeavor than handicapping. Given that the sharps are betting high limits each week, this is time well spent even if it adds only 1% to the bottom line. But how can the average player making $100 bets get the best price without turning odds checking into a full-time job?
Half the battle is won in preparation, so before beginning to handicap, have your money in place. Ideally, you’ll take advantage of Pinnacle Sportsbook’s -104 NFL pricing which offers up to 60% better value on NFL sides than other online sportsbooks. Plus you’ll also have one or two “recreational books”, which use inflated lines on the favorites.
It’s also a good idea to keep a fair amount of money liquid in a NETeller account, where it can be put into play quickly. Most sports books, including Pinnacle Sportsbetting, instantly credit accounts with NETeller deposits. Even limiting odds comparison to just 10 minutes per week, this small amount of preparation still adds 1% to the expected return.
Another tactic bettors can use to always get the best price doesn’t involve any additional work, but instead emphasizes the importance of timing. Instead of handicapping during mid-week or Friday for weekend games, players should begin analyzing the games immediately after the weeks’ games are completed. Reviewing college football games Saturday night or Sunday morning and NFL games Sunday evening, gives players one more money-spinning opportunity – betting into overnight lines.
Many sportsbooks typically post overnight lines on all major sports. College and pro football usually go up Sunday night, and are very volatile when the lines are first posted. These lines don’t have to be extremely sharp because early betting quickly tightens prices against reduced limits.
A well known anecdote among linesmakers at Pinnacle Sports is that the first few bets taken on any overnight line are ALWAYS sharp plays. These bets are made by smaller bettors who have already analyzed the games and don’t mind the lower limits. The early bettors are often long-term winners, who are among the few that actually get the best of it time and again. However, it’s worth conceding this edge to the early sharps as they provide an invaluable service by sharpening the lines, allowing PinnacleSports.com to raise limits to significant levels. Without these early “$100 geniuses”, we couldn’t offer $30,000 limits on NFL games (which are sometimes blue-circled to $50,000 or higher per wager).
I can’t stress strongly enough that if your average bet-size is $500 or less, the one thing you can do to win more is bet against overnight lines. This is especially the case with the smaller markets like NCAA football totals. If betting into early lines seems a little intimidating, try this experiment: For four weeks, track the opening lines. When making plays, make a record of whether you would have gotten a better price on the opener, or against the closing line. Nearly all players will find that with the exception of significant injury news or changeable weather conditions, the line moves during the week give them a worse price than if they had bet it early.
For those already doing early handicapping and using a moderate sportsbook selection, there are other ways to be a smarter shopper while still working your day job.
If you’re willing to spend just a little more time bargain-hunting, the best time to do so is when the lines are moving more quickly. For example, say the line at the Pinnacle Sportsbook is shifting against you, try making your play at a recreational book that moves its lines more slowly. On the other hand, if you like the direction of the line change, wait for the market to stabilize, and take the best price. The trick is to recognize when these movements occur. After the normal bouncing around of openers, there are two other factors that routinely cause substantial movement: injury announcements and large bets before game time.
In the final 60 minutes before a game kicks off, there are often dramatic changes in the price. This is often caused by syndicate play, which waits until close to post when the betting limits are highest everywhere. If you’re prepared to stare at a live lines screen for the 60 minutes before a set of games goes off (for example the early NFL games every Sunday), you’ll find many line moves that are big enough to scalp. Waiting until this time period to place bets allows you to either play at the fast-moving sites like Pinnacle Sports Book or the slower moving recreational books depending on which way lines move.
Injury plays are another way to make a killing, but bettors have to be quick on the trigger. When a star player is listed as doubtful or out of the next game, there will be a tidal wave of action. The premier books may either take the game offline, circle the game and set lower limits, or drastically change the price when the news comes out. Beating the book to the punch gives an almost certain scalping opportunity by playing the other side after the line movements. Even if you miss the initial surge, a lot of smaller sportsbooks will leave the old prices up.
What are our customers betting?
Northwestern v Nevada O/U 47.5
With over 100 NCAA Div-IA teams, not to mention the various Div-IAA teams, we have to price a lot of product quickly for openers every Sunday afternoon. Some numbers - especially totals – can be a bit loose when they open. This total was set at 52 and was quickly corrected by our “$20 geniuses”. When four of our smaller sharps play the same side of a college total opener, we get to a good price cheaply.
Baltimore -6.5 -105 v. Cleveland
The Ravens have played dominantly on both sides of the ball, outscoring their opponents 55-6 this season. The Browns have been lackluster, losing to New Orleans and Cincinnati. We opened Baltimore at -4 and favorite money poured in. Early money on the favorite was taken at the rate of twenty bets on the Ravens for each one accepted on the Browns.
Philadelphia -6 -110 v. San Francisco
The Eagles opened as a 4-point favorite and were immediately bet up by the public. Once again, a majority of the money was fading the underdog with five bets on the Eagles for every one on the 49ers.
Atlanta -3.5 -108 v. New Orleans
Although this game isn’t until Monday night, it’s our most heavily traded game this week. The Saints opened at +3 -115 and were driven up to +3.5 +100. While the betting is fairly equal on both sides, market drift has pushed this price up. We are seeing a lot of favorites heavily backed and we can’t help but wonder whether the favorites will repeat their 58% cover rate ATS in 2005.