By Ray Monohan
Understanding The Importance Of Early Lines
I often get the question as to whether you should pay attention to early lines and the simple answer is that depends on what type of bettor you are.
For professional gamblers who do this for a living, the opening line is one of the most important pieces of information they can gather. For the casual gamblers who play for fun, early lines don’t mean a whole lot.
Examining Line Moves
We know that money moves the betting lines, but you can get a good gauge of who is moving the lines depending on when it happens.
If you’re looking at a college football game and examining all of the movements from when it opened on a Sunday to when it closed on a Saturday right before game time, you can decipher different information based on the timing of those moves.
Sharp, professional bettors bet early in the week, so if they are quickly to jump on a side and the sportsbook moves the lines to compensate, you have an indication that the sharp money is on that side.
If you’re looking a line movement on a Saturday morning just hours before kickoff, and there aren’t any weather changes and there’s no breaking injury news, then it’s likely just the casual bettors getting their action in last minute that are shifting the lines.
It’s not a fool-proof strategy. Just because the pros might be on your side doesn’t mean you’ll win and just because the casual Joes like the same bet as you doesn’t mean you’ll lose. But it gives you a good indication of who likes which side. If you had the choice, you’d obviously want to be betting on the same side as the guys who do this for a living and put in more time, research and effort than the common guy who is betting last minute just for entertainment purposes.
Middling is a tactic that is tricky to do, can be very risky for the bettor and is ultimately the sportsbooks worst nightmare.
Let’s start with the definition. Middling is when you bet both sides of a game with a differential in the spread where you hope to land in the middle to win both bets. Sounds confusing? Follow this example:
Say the New England Patriots open up as a 10-point favorite on the road in Jacksonville and you decide to bet the Jaguars plus the 10 points. You like the value of the home dog, so you decide to take the points.
Now, say midweek, news breaks that Tom Brady sprains his knee and will not be able to play in the contest, and now the betting line shifts from -10 to -4.5.
At this point, if you were to bet New England, you would win your bet if the Patriots won by five points or more. At the same time, you have your original bet where the Jaguars can lose by 10 points or less, and you also win that bet.
So the middle differential in between those two spreads allows you to win both bets if the Patriots win by five, six, seven, eight or nine points.
This is an extreme example and it’s very rare that you’d have this big of a window to middle a game, but it can happen.
So how do you pull it off?
First off, you need a sportsbook that offers early lines and you have to accurately predict which way the lines will move. That’s very risky because if you’re wrong, you might not get the chance to middle and you could be stuck with one side of the bet. Even if you’re right, sportsbooks are very cautious moving the lines over key numbers to purposely avoid middling.
The reason they are so cautious with it is that their whole model is to get equal action on both sides so that they don’t have a stake in the game, and they can just take their commission (the juice). If they get middle, they can get hit hard for a lot of money and it’s really their worse-case scenario in sports betting.
Sportsbooks With & Without Early Lines
Sportsbooks that open the lines early are considered sharp sportsbooks as they will naturally attract the professional players who want to take advantage of the lines right away. Some examples of this are 5Dimes (5Dimes Review), Pinnacle Sports (Pinnacle Review) and Bookmaker (Bookmaker Review) - Bookmaker especially has used early lines as one of their signature features for years.
Sportsbooks that way to put out their lines are considered recreational books as they don’t want to get hammered for putting out a bad number. Some examples are Bodog (Bodog Review) and BetOnline (BetOnline Review).
It really depends on your needs but overall, having the lines available to you is always a benefit to you. As a customer, you have the option to take advantage or wait, which is better than not having the option at all.