Why does Vegas set lines? What is their goal? Well, Vegas sets lines in an attempt to get exactly half of the action on each side of every line they post. In this case, they take the rake, guarantee a profit, and move on. So, does that mean Vegas lines are perfectly set? Furthermore, does it mean they are always perfectly set early in the week? No! Every week this season (starting Week 2), we’ll be jumping into early-week betting line inefficiencies to take advantage of before they move. This line movement can be caused by a number of factors, but the primary reasons for movements after initial line release are public sentiment and recency biases (shark money typically doesn’t come in until later in the week, when bettors have more complete information). With that, let’s jump in!
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Time for another betting lesson! Whippee! The lesson for this week is arbitrage betting, or the practice of line hunting with the goal of finding lines on different books that allow you to walk away with a guaranteed profit, regardless of the outcome. In order to make this happen, we must find lines with juice that is different enough to allow for a profit to be realized no matter what happens in the game. Arbitrage lines are most common (in the NFL) on player props and game props (which aren’t typically released for the week when I write this piece), but do make an appearance every now and then on game lines for other major sports (NBA and MLB the most common).
For example (and we’ll keep the numbers simple to highlight how this can be done, and we’ll use an example of a free roll), say a player’s rushing yards prop sits at 59.5 on one book juiced to -105 to both the over and under. On another book, the line sits at 64.5 juiced to -105 to both the over and under. If you buy the line on the first book up to match that of the second book (64.5), you’ll get something around +130 to the over. If you then bet $105 on the under on the second book (to win $100), and $100 on the over on the first book (to win $130), you are now free rolling to the over. If the under hits, you make back $205 (the $100 profit plus your $105 bet), and if the over hits, you make $230, or a $25 profit.
The same process can be used for true arbitrage betting, where the numbers work out to guarantee a profit. This takes time, patience, and discipline to work through (or you can subscribe to services that do this for you if you’re willing to pay for it), but quite literally guarantees profit over time. If you’re looking for a quick way to see various lines, odds, and juice across multiple books, check out oddschecker.com.
Bet MGM is one of the few books that has the hook added to the Steelers for the Thursday Night Football game this week. Against a Minnesota team that we know has played all but one game this season to a one-possession score, that hook is extremely valuable to us. Furthermore, the juice of -115 is the lowest in the industry.
We all know that the Giants will be playing with their third-string quarterback this week, but what we don’t currently know is the game-day status of Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was placed on the COVID list early this week but is vaccinated, meaning he simply needs to provide two negative tests spaced 24-hours apart to play. Should he gain clearance, it is highly likely this line moves further in favor of the Chargers here. Bet MGM is currently one of the only places around the industry where you can get this line without the hook.
FanDuel currently has the Bucs -3.5 at even money, which is one of the better bets around the industry currently. This game sets up to be extremely pass-heavy, and the defenses from these two teams are on opposite trajectories. The Bucs are finally getting healthy while the Bills lost their best defensive player in Week 12 (Tre’Davious White).
New Orleans Saints ML (-220) @ NY Jets; Seattle Seahawks ML (-335) @ Houston Texans; Los Angeles Chargers ML (-550) vs. NY Giants.
This three-team parlay pays +123 on DraftKings (bet $100 to win $223, or $123 in profit). That same parlay pays +112 on Bet MGM, good for a 10% boost to expected value on DK.