Different Kinds of Sports Betting Lines

It is important to understand the sports betting line because it is the beginning and the end for all handicapping decisions. Bettors must remember that they are not only handicapping a football game. They are also, and perhaps most importantly, handicapping the line.

Sports Betting LinesBut getting a grip on what the sports betting line really means can be difficult. In the past we detailed the relationship between probability and the point spread. The probabilities of one team winning and one team losing, and of bettors betting on one team or the other, are the essential factors linemakers weigh when creating the point spreads they put on each football game.

Once these sports betting lines are produced and placed before bettors, the meaning of the line changes. This happens because bettors do not view lines the same way that bookmakers and linemakers do. Bookmakers and linemakers see lines as a method to balance betting, but bettors use lines to pick winners and losers.

Sports Betting Lines

There are four kinds of sports betting lines: good lines, bad lines, right lines and wrong lines.

Bookmakers are interested, for the most part, in good lines and bad lines. Given that they use the point spread to evenly divide action, it stands to reason that bookmakers would prefer to use a good line, one that convinces half the bettors to bet on one side and half to bet on the other. But they occasionally offer a bad line, one that does not divide action and must be changed according to the volume of bets on one side or the other. So, as bookmakers say, a good sports betting line takes two-way action and a bad line attracts bets on just one side.

The two other kinds of sports betting lines

The two other kinds of sports betting lines — right lines and wrong lines — are mostly of interest to bettors. A right line is one that accurately measures the relative strengths of the contestants. In other words, after a statistical and situational analysis, a bettor could determine that one team was a certain number of points better than the other. If the line was the same as the bettor’s conclusion about the game, then the line would be right. The exact opposite is a wrong line — a line that does not reflect the relative strengths of the two teams.

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