How Money Lines Are Determined


The way that money lines are determined is identical to how point spreads are determined. First, oddsmakers look at the rankings of each team using a system of power ranking. Then, they consider anything else that might impact the result of a game. These would include statistical information, weather, where the game is being played, player injuries, and other factors. Then they come up with a ‘true’ money line, and adjust it based on predicted betting trends. This is the part that many punters don’t understand. Money lines are not created based on the strength of each team.

How Are Money Lines Originally Created?

The first thing punters need to realize about money lines or any type of betting odds for that matter, is that they are based on where the money is expected to go. An oddsmakers job is to help the bookmaker produce a profit without exposing them to too much risk. They attempt to do this by creating an equal amount of betting action on each side of a wager. Ideally, on a bet where a total of £100,000 was wagered, the bookmaker would receive £50,000 in wagers on one side, and £50,000 in wagers on the opposite side. If this were to happen, the bookmaker would profit £5,000 based on a 10% vig (commission). The wagers become a wash, because the money generated from the losers pays off the winners, and the 10%, built-in vig would go to the house – without any risk.

What the bookmakers are looking to stay away from is wagers where one side is getting a larger percentage of the action. For example, if they took £75,000 in wagers on one side of a bet, and £25,000 on the other side, the book has £50,000 of their own money at risk. So, to keep the betting as equal as they can on each side, betting sites have to start with a money line which they expect to generate equal betting action on each side, then adjust the line over time.

The reason that money lines are not an accurate view of the strength of each team is because the oddsmakers know that the public is likely to bet one side heavier than the other. Casual punters like to bet on favourites, which means the favourite would generate too much betting action if they didn’t adjust the money line against them. So, the oddsmakers might think a team ‘should’ be favoured at 5/8, but they might set the line at 5/9 instead. This will encourage more betting action on the underdog, and even out the betting.

What Causes a Money Line to Change?

After a money line has been posted, they’ll often change several times before the match begins. There are two primary reasons for this.

First, if the betting action is too heavy on one side, the bookmaker will adjust the money line to encourage betting on the other side. Essentially, they make the money line less attractive for the side which is getting too much betting action, and more attractive for the other side. For example, if a favourite at 3/4 is getting too much action, they might give them shorter odds at something like 3/5. Of course this means the money line would become greater for the opposite side.

Secondly, bookmakers often adjust their lines because their competitors have changed theirs. Lets assume bookmaker A is receiving a perfect split of the betting action, with similar money lines as their competitors. They’re getting 50% of the action on one side, and 50% on the opposite side. If other books were to change their money lines, bookmaker A would now have one line that is more attractive than their competitors, which would draw more betting action to that side. This would expose them to risk they don’t want, so they’re forced to change their money lines as well.

Some money line changes are a result of predicting what the sharps are going to do. If a bookmaker expects to receive a number of large bets on one side, they may adjust their money lines to account for that. This can also cause some very quick changes in the money line as the game gets close to starting.

How to Get the Best Money Line Odds

Every sport receives its own amount of interest from punters. The more popular a sport is, the more the money lines will adjust. In any popular matchup, it’s rare to see a money line that doesn’t change from the time it gets posted to the start of the game. For this reason, it’s important that punters time their bets properly. Part of this requires the skills to predict how and when a money line will move. If you get your wager in too early, it could cost you value that you might’ve been able to get later. The same thing could happen if you wait too long. With each sport, new punters should follow the money lines and record them, looking for trends that happen. You might find that money lines on underdogs get better as the game gets closer, then quickly go the other way a couple hours before the game begins. Or, it could be just the opposite. Test your sports first, and record fake bets with yourself before placing real wagers. If/when you find yourself winning your fake bets, you’re probably ready to start making real money bets.

To get the best money line odds, it’s important that punters have funded accounts at several of the best sports betting sites. This will allow you to compare odds and make split second decisions to get the best money lines. If you take your sports betting seriously, why would you take 5/9 somewhere if you can get 2/3 somewhere else? Small advantages repeated over and over can add up to large profits in the long-term. Check out our recommended online bookmakers to find the most reputable places to wager at.

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