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If you are a casual bettor then you may have not noticed how pre-game odds can change. The closing line is the final odds that are given right before the market closes – that is – until the game starts and you cannot place the bet. Once the game starts, the in-play betting market will open, and the odds will fluctuate throughout the course of the game. Back to the pre-game market, the odds can change for many reasons. However, the only important thing here is how to catch the best odds, and for that, you need to know the theory of closing line value.
Closing Line Value
Whenever you place a sports bet, you can always measure the closing line value. This is the price you are given when you make the bet to the price at the closing line. If your bet has higher odds than those offered at the closing line, then you have a positive CLV. If not, then you have a negative CLV.
Odds in Single Bets
CLV can make a difference on individual bets. Let's say you bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win at odds 2.4. If the closing line is 2.2 then this means you have a positive CLV. If you placed $20 on your bet and win, you will receive $48. This is $4 more than the $44 you would win if you placed your bet at the last second.
Odds in Parlays
While it may only be small differences under 10%, it can be a whole lot more if you use parlays. These are basically multiple single bets combined into one bet. The odds are compounded – meaning they are multiplied against each other to offer even larger odds. For example, if you have a bet slip that looks like this:
- NY Giants to win 2.1
- Baltimore Ravens to win 1.6
- Buffalo Bills to win 1.4
- Kansas City Chiefs to win 2.2
- San Francisco 49ers to win 1.8
Compounded, the odds on your bet slip will be 18.62 – meaning a $10 bet would bring a whopping $182.62. Now let's say that you have a +0.1 CLV for all of your bets. If you picked these bets before the game, the odds would have been 0.1 shorter. This would make the odds on the whole bet 13.92. If you bet $10 then you would win $139.23, which is $43.39 less than you could have won if you placed your bets at the right time.
CLV can also relate to point spreads. This does not necessarily mean a change in price, as point spreads are usually evenly balanced. Instead, it will relate to the points margin that your team should win (or not lose) by. If the Buccaneers have a spread of -2.5 when you place the bet midweek and then the final spread is -3.5, then you have beaten the closing line price. Presuming both bets have odds 1.9, your early bet would have a greater chance of winning as it only requires the Buccaneers to win by 3 or more points, whereas the last-minute bet would have required them to win by 4 or more.
Why is CLV Important?
It is obvious that you will make more money if you have CLV, but that is not the most important application of the value. If you bet regularly, then the CLV prices can add up.
Let's say you bet every week on 10 NFL games and spend $1 on each bet you make. If you make your bets at the right time and always beat the closing line by even 0.05, you will make an extra 5 cents for each bet that you win. Presuming you win half of your bets in a month, that is an extra $1 just from beating the market. If you win all of your bets, then you will have an extra $2 to trim off the top, all thanks to the CLV. The more you bet and the higher you bet, you will realise that you can extend your wins tremendously if you keep an eye on CLV.
If you are still not convinced about CLV, then consider the opposite. If you keep getting negative CLV then it will continuously take small bites out of any wins you may make. The odds may not change drastically in the days up to the start of the event, but still, you may be missing out on a % that could otherwise work in your favour.
Following Changing Odds
A bookmaker usually offers lines about a week before an event takes place. Some sportsbooks may offer lines on games that will take place in two weeks' time, but this is not commonly found. For high-profile sports, lines may be offered further in advance than lesser-known sports.
As soon as a line is out, it is subject to change. This is dependent on a lot of factors relating to the sport, but there are also factors relating to the market. When punters start placing their bets, the odds will start to change. There may be higher discrepancies between what bookmakers offer in the first few days. These lines tend to converge and will have a negligible difference by the time they close. All bookmakers want to offer the best prices, but by the time the market starts to move, the sportsbooks usually adjust their odds to get closer to the consensus.
This means a couple of things. The closing line is usually when the odds all get closer to the average, and it is the bookmakers' best estimation in terms of odds. The second is that if you are searching for great odds, the best time to find them is usually a week in advance.
If you are interested in picking better prices for your bets, the first step is to track the closing lines. Every time you make a bet, you can check the odds in your bet slip and you simply make a note of the odds before kickoff. Try to keep track of all your bets for a while, and if possible, note when you place the bets. After some time, you should see some trends.
Now the odds will never increase for all bets, as a balance must be maintained. Maybe the favourite will see their odds lengthened, but this will mean the underdogs will have their odds slashed. So picking the best value bets is not only about placing your bets early. However, you will certainly have a bigger window of opportunity if you pick them up quickly.
How to Pick the Best Prices
To pick the best prices, you will need to keep an eye on the internal and external factors. The external factors are found in team news, injuries, weather forecast, and so on. These all may play into how the odds will change, but the heavier changes come from internal factors.
Internal factors are which way the market is deciding to bet and what odds are being offered by most bookmakers. You may need to keep tabs on multiple sportsbooks to see what odds are given. The difference between the prices is largest in the first few days after the lines are offered. You may find a few sportsbooks that give significantly larger odds on certain bets. The market indicates that the bookmaker will slowly adjust their odds and close the gap on the market average.
You may also find some tools that help you determine the way the market is going to go. For example, there may be sports news sites where the odds of numerous bookmakers are listed for each game. Here, you can quickly search through the list and make your conclusions. You can also search for sports line predictions and read through what the top sports sites say about the odds.
Ultimately, CLV is an extremely useful tool for regular bettors. If you keep track of your betting and can make the best of the odds given, you will have an increased advantage in winning your bets. However, it can also be regarded as a bet in itself. After all, you do have to gamble and pick the time you think the odds will be the best. In some rare cases, the lines may take a swift u-turn and change rapidly in another direction. In case of external factors such as injuries or other mishaps, the odds can change in any direction.
Thankfully, these chaotic episodes do not occur frequently. If you make the effort to search the market and pick your bets early, you have a good chance of getting positive CLV. Keeping track of your exploits is also a handy tool, and works even better when you try out different types of bets. You may find even larger shifts in the odds on total points, halves/quarters, spreads, and other types of bets.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.