“Shop the Odds” is a phrase you will read frequently from me here in our blog. While many sports bettors are in the habit of doing so, it is not a part of every sports bettor’s routine.
In fact, numerous people wager on sports everyday without ever checking the available odds.
If you are among those who do not shop the odds, why don’t you?
While there might be many different answers to that question, I would like to share some reasons why I think sports bettors sometimes just take the first odds they see.
I will offer suggestions for dealing with each of these roadblocks. That way, whatever is stopping you from shopping the odds, you can get started and reap the benefits.
Ignorance of How to Read and Interpret Odds
I would guess that the very first factor which could prevent someone from shopping the odds is not knowing how to read them in the first place.
Hopefully, you are well past that point in your sports betting education.
But if you are not, you should not feel ashamed, because odds can be confusing, especially if you encounter many different formats while you are trying to shop the lines.
To solve this problem, here are my suggestions:
Start by learning to read every odds format. It may sound daunting, but it shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours to study the formats and learn how each of them work. While you are doing that, you also can learn how to convert between each type of odds.
Make yourself a cheat sheet. Have you studied odds formats before, but promptly forgotten how to interpret them? This time while you are studying, make yourself a cheat sheet which you can reference next time you have a question about how to read odds. Print it out and tape it to your wall, and you will only need to glance the next time you are comparing odds in any format.
Use sports betting websites and odds trackers which give you a choice of format. If there is a specific format you prefer, you should be able to use it to display odds on many sports betting websites. You may not need to convert between formats all that often.
Following the recommendations above should solve the first problem that may be impeding your odds shopping efforts. Now, let’s move onto the next.
Not Knowing Why Shopping the Odds is Important
I think the most prevalent reason not to shop odds is most likely not understanding why it is essential.
Yes — that’s right. I said essential, not just “important.”
A lot of people get into betting thinking that it is about knowing whether a team will win or not.
That makes sense. Many of us place our first wagers because we think a different outcome is likely than our friends do, and we decide to put our money where our mouths are.
If you are good at making these kinds of predictions, that is a great first step to becoming successful with sports betting.
The reason it is only the first step is because sportsbooks set the odds to favor them, not you.
This is why, for example, there is seldom value in betting on a heavy favorite.
Ultimately, if you want to beat the house, you need to exploit opportunities in the odds.
You are trying to find situations where:
- The house has overvalued a team or player
- The house has undervalued a team or a player
So, for example, you might notice that the sportsbook has overvalued a favorite that you think is significantly less likely to win.
Or, you might discover a sportsbook is not giving an underdog nearly the chance to win that your analysis suggests.
In these scenarios, the odds that the sportsbook has posted are not “true odds” — at least not by your reckoning.
You have determined that an event is more or less likely to happen than the sportsbooks deems to be the case.
We call that “finding value.”
It means that you have an edge that the bookie does not! Why wouldn’t you want to use that to your advantage?
But you will never figure out when you have that kind of edge unless you are shopping the odds.
Lacking a System to Establish Value
So, how do you create an edge in the first place to compete with a sportsbook? How do you know when a player or team is overvalued or undervalued?
Here is where you circle back to that first step of learning how to make predictions.
This is where your handicapping skills are going to come into play.
If you do not have handicapping skills, you are going to need to develop some. That means finding strategies that help you to make accurate predictions.
Keep in mind that sportsbooks have far more in the way of resources than you probably do.
So, you are going to have to find a unique edge.
Now, let’s say you have a system, and you are making predictions with it. But you still do not know what to think when you are reading odds on a sports betting site. Are the odds you are seeing good or bad?
The key to figuring it out is to use a concept called “implied value.”
There is a formula for implied value, which is as follows:
Implied probability = 1 / decimal odds
When you follow this formula, you can get a percentage as a result. So, let’s take the example of tossing a coin. What is the implied probability that you will get heads?
The decimal odds in this situation is 2.0. So, we have the following formula:
1 / 2.0
= ½ = 50%.
So, the (correct) implied odds of getting heads on a coin toss is 50%.
If, in a hypothetical world, a sportsbook was taking action on a coin toss and listed decimal odds of 2.0, then that sportsbook would be giving the true odds.
But what if the odds they listed were different? What if you saw 2.10 instead?
You can run the same equation, and you will get a different percentage as a result.
If a sportsbook were to set these odds, that would mean that they give heads only a 47.62% chance of coming up on a coin flip.
But you know better. You know that it stands a 50% chance of being the result. That means that the sportsbook is undervaluing it.
In this situation, you know more than the sportsbook does, and you have an edge.
It should be pretty easy to imagine how you can use this exact same method to find value when it comes to betting on sports.
Of course, you will never have the certainty that you would with the odds for the coin toss.
You can only compare your implied odds and the sportsbook’s implied odds and draw a conclusion based on your confidence in your own methods.
But if your testing and experience gives you grounds for that confidence, it may make sense to wager when you spot a scenario where you have this kind of advantage.
When you check the odds at multiple sportsbooks, you can look for where you have the widest advantage.
That is where you should place your wager.
Not Being a Member of More Than One Sportsbook
Let us imagine that you understand why you should shop the lines, and you have some strategies which might allow you to find value in the odds.
Why else might you still not bother to do so?
One simple reason could be because you feel it is inconvenient.
Maybe every time you do compare the odds, the odds you want are at a site you are not a member of, and you do not have time to sign up and deposit money before it will be too late.
Well, there is a simple solution to this problem, and that is to deal with the matter in advance.
Doing this is as easy as signing up at more sports betting sites than you currently belong to.
How can you decide which sites to join? I suggest that you follow the odds at a variety of sites over a period of several weeks. Compare them and see if you can spot sites which consistently offer more competitive odds than others.
If you do, research more about those sites. If you like what you see in terms of their other features and the betting markets and promotions they offer, go ahead and open accounts.
If you want to save time and effort, you can also just take a look at the sites we recommend to sports bettors.
Competitive odds are among the criteria we consider when we suggest an online sportsbook to our visitors.
After you sign up for various sites which offer competitive odds, I also suggest 1-making a deposit at each, even if it is a small one, and 2-verifying your identity.
But if you want to grab welcome bonuses, make sure you make the minimum required deposit.
If you are not ready to deposit right away, check the deposit methods and their speeds.
That way, you know how much time you need to give the site to process a deposit if you spot an opportunity in the future and want to make a wager.
It is so much easier to talk yourself into shopping the odds when you know you are in position to seize advantage of them. So, take care of this step if you haven’t yet and get set up with some accounts!
The final reason that springs to mind as to why someone might decide not to shop the odds every time they place a bet is purely psychological, and that is laziness.
It is understandable. You already have to take a number of other steps to place a bet, and sometimes you just may not feel like shopping the odds.
You know what? If you are betting for entertainment only, I do not see a problem with that. You should do what you find fun and not what you don’t.
But if you want to make bank, I strongly suggest that you find a way to set laziness aside and always shop the odds.
How do you do that? Well, you will need to figure out a hack which fits your disposition.
You might need to build your self-discipline. Or you can always reward yourself for following through on each step of your betting process completely in some small way each week.
But when your consistency pays off in the way of more money rolling into your betting accounts, I think you will find that is reward enough.
Join More Quality Sports Betting Sites Now to Shop the Odds
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While there are a number of distinctions which separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to sports bettors, shopping the odds is definitely among them.
If you are ready to make shopping the odds a regular part of your sports betting routine, you now have some tips to help you overcome any hurdles that might be in your way.
Sign up on some of our recommended sportsbooks to give yourself access to more competitive odds and exciting promotions!
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