Odds and pointspreads are not writ in stone. The reason oddsmakers set odds and pointspreads is to draw enough people to place bets on opposite sides of a contest. When bookies succeed in doing that, they turn in a profit. Even match-ups are rare in most sports contests. Instead, you have one team (the favorite) which has an edge over the other (the underdog). The edge may be slight or overwhelming. In such cases, most people would place their money on the perceived favorite. Such a situation wouldn’t be profitable for sportsbooks and bookies.
To create excitement and to draw bettors on both sides of a game, oddsmakers set odds or pointspreads. When bettors play the favorite, they risk more money to gain a little. On the other hand, they stand to gain more by betting on an underdog. With the pointspread, a favored team has to win by more points over the pointspread to win the bet. In both cases, the sportsbooks tray to make the underdog an attractive bet so more bettors can place their money on the underdog
A Gauge of Public Trending
The odds and the pointspread are therefore not a gauge of the favored team’s actual advantage over the underdog, but more of the public’s perceived edge of it. Let us imagine a match-up between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies with the Braves as the slight favorite at 3-2. The bookies’ intent with setting the odds is to get an equal number of bettors to bet on the Brave and the Phillies. However, way before the betting stations close, more people are placing their money on the Braves. Thus to attract more bettors to bet for the Phillies, the bookies will make the Braves an even more prohibitive favorite, say 5 – 2. The Braves did not become a stronger team. The public just perceives them as the stronger team. And when such a perception persists the bookies lengthen the odds in the favorites’ favor. The same goes through for pointspread
In setting the line, reverse psychology comes into play. The oddsmakers will lengthen the odds for the favorite. But instead of more bettors going to the underdog, more bettors will come in droves for the favorite. In most betting games, squares or the casual bettor usually place their bets on the favorite and usually bet late in the game.
Bet Early if You Play the Favorite
So who do you bet for – and when? If you like the favorite and are quite sure of your bet, you would do well to place your bet early in a moneyline bet. In our Braves versus Phillies example, with 3 – 2 odds in favor of the Braves, a $150 will make you richer by $100 if you win. If the public perceives the Braves to be dominant, the bookies will lengthen he odds in their favor to, say, 4 – 2. If you placed your bet at that point and still played the favorite, you will only get $75 for your $150 bet.
Of course the line may change in favor of the Phillies. Let us say the odds initially started as 3-2 in favor of the Braves. Then it became 5 – 4, still for the Braves – but now it is seen as a much closer game. You may have been better off betting for the favorite had you placed your money late in the game. A late surge by the underdog however seldom happens.
Bet Late if You Play the Underdog
On the other hand, if you are thinking of betting for the underdog, hold on to your money first and see how the line changes. Take a look at how the line changes. In football, you have as much as a week to see how the final pointspread eventually comes about. Let us say that the Baltimore Ravens are playing the New York Jets with the Ravens as -3 favorite. All along you were set on betting fir the Jets. As game time nears, the Ravens are seen to be even more dominating. The bookies set he spread at 4.5 points. The Ravens have to win by 5 points for their bettors to win. With the Jets as prohibitive underdogs, you then place your bets for the Jets. In a moneyline bet, you stand to make good money if you bet on the underdog late in the game.
Let me reiterate that it the shift in odds or pointspread does not indicate actual changes in the strengths of the competing teams – just the public’s perception of them. The smart and calculating bettor in you would have arrived at your bet early on. It is just a matter of when you would like to place your bets. If you are betting on a favorite, place your bets early. If you are betting on an underdog, watch the line change and place your bets just before the betting stations close.
Don’t bet if the lines change too often or too much.
It’s always a good idea to follow the trends in line changes before you place your bets. You actually have more information as game time draws near. Be wary though if the lines change too often in the course of a week or days or if the differential is too great.
As a bettor, you have to play the timing game. Learn when to bet early and when to bet late. The right timing may help you to realize more profits or, at least, minimize your losses.