In a world where 87% of sports betting enthusiasts wager weekly, having up-to-date odds and easily-readable lines is a priority for budding bookies.
However, this can be one of the most challenging parts of bookmaking despite being a critical step toward running a profitable sportsbook. Here, we’re going to talk about setting odds and how they work. Read on to have betting lines explained in simple terms.
Betting Lines Explained: The Basics
Odds in betting are a method of quantifying likely outcomes of a given sporting event. They show the possible outcomes of an event and how likely each outcome is to happen.
There are several facets of a sporting match that bookies might set odds for in the sports betting software.
The winning vs losing team of a match is the most obvious and common. However, you might also determine the odds of specific players scoring points or teams winning more home vs away games. The possibilities are limitless!
Lines are the odds that a sportsbook lists for a wager. They also are called “point spreads.” They clearly display the odds of every possible outcome of a sporting event so that bettors can make more informed decisions on where to place their money.
How Are Lines Formatted?
Bookmakers don’t just write unstructured paragraphs about the odds of a given outcome. A bulleted list won’t cut it, either. Lines should be written in a standard format so that bettors can read them easily.
There are three structures for lines that a bookmaker may use: American odds, fractional odds, and decimal odds. The former should be the main focus for most US-based bookmakers.
“American odds,” also called money line odds, are the most popular formatting method in the US. These figures have a + or – sign in front of a number.
The – sign indicates that the team is a favorite, meaning that they are more likely to win. The following number represents the amount that you would need to stake to get $100 in a payout.
The + sign indicates that the team is an underdog and is therefore less likely to win. The numeric value after it represents the amount of money you can win for every $100 that you bet.
So, if your odds look like the following hypothetical figures:
- Cowboys -500
- Steelers +300
…You would need to bet $500 to earn $100 in payout on a Cowboys bet. If you bet $100 on the underdog Steelers instead, you could earn $300.
Because favorites are more likely to win than underdogs, the figure following the – sign will almost always be lower than that following the underdog’s + sign.
Fractional and Decimal Odds
Budding American bookmakers will likely use money line odds. However, it’s a good idea to know the basics of other formatting methods.
Fractional odds display odds as a simple fraction. A Steelers game with 5/1 odds on the team means that you win $5 against every dollar you wager. You will, of course, also get your dollar back.
So, if you wager $100 on the Steelers, you will receive $600 back in total. This is made up of your $500 winnings and your $100 bet.
In this scenario, the fraction is top-heavy because the Steelers are an underdog. If the Cowboys are the favorite team, the fraction may look like 1/5. This means you get an additional $1 in winnings for every $5 that you wager.
If you wagered $100 on the Cowboys, you would receive $20 in additional cash if they win. This amounts to $120 in total.
European decimal odds are similar, but the decimal represents the amount a player gets for every $1 wagered. In the above game, the lines would present as:
- Cowboys 0.2
- Steelers 5.0
A decimal value below 1 represents a favorite. A value above 1 represents an underdog.
Do Bookies Need to Set Their Own Betting Lines?
Not all bookies set their own lines. While some do, others hire professional linemakers.
This is beneficial in part because it saves you time. You will be able to focus on other aspects of your business such as finding new bettors, creating promotions, setting limits, managing players, and engaging with those who work with you.
It also ensures that your lines will always be competitive and professionally constructed.
However, some bookies also choose to set their own lines. It can be fun and lets you engage with the sports that you’re passionate about.
The choice is up to you!
How Do Linemakers Create Odds?
If you do choose to set your own odds as a bookie, the first thing you’ll do is assess all available information pertinent to the match. This past data might include:
- Past wins/losses record for each team (vs other teams within their league)
- Scores of previous games in which the two teams faced each other
- Whether there has been any coaching turnover recently
- How much each team benefits from home advantage (and which team will be on their home turf)
- Whether any of the best players have been sidelined due to injuries
At this point, you’ll have a clear idea of who is most likely to win. You know your favorite and identify which team is the underdog. It’s then time to begin setting lines.
You want to be as competitive as possible within your industry, so research what lines other bookies are setting on the game. Make sure that you offer a slightly higher payout than your biggest competitors, but don’t put yourself in a situation where you can’t afford to cash out.
Upload your lines to your top-notch Ace Per Head website. A Money line is usually the best format.
At this point, you’ll have concrete lines. However, your work is far from done.
You’ll need to keep watching both teams as they square off against other opponents. As their record changes, new strengths and weaknesses will become apparent. Adjust your lines as teams perform better or worse so that you can maximize your profit.
Make Money With Your Online Sportsbook
Setting odds can be a challenge, but it’s one of the most important ways that a bookmaker can turn a profit from sports betting. Now that you have betting lines explained in simple terms, it’s time to begin working with a sportsbook provider that can help you figure out the odds and stay competitive.
Ace Per Head is excited to offer you a fully-custom online sportsbook complete with features that keep bettors engaged. Try a free promo of our services to see what we can do for you for six weeks free of charge.