Cashing In on Alternate Betting Lines

NFL Betting Tips: NFL Playoff Odds and Picks

It takes a really special bettor to be able to find winners on a consistent basis against the point spread in any sport. However, bettors who really think they have a good feeling on a game can find alternate betting lines available at most online sportsbooks for major events, and that’s when real opportunity can strike for the savvy bettor.

The first betting tip about alternate betting lines is to know that sportsbooks created them in hopes of getting bettors to place relatively greedy wagers. As we stated in the outset of this article, it’s hard enough to find winners on basic -110 vig betting lines. To beat alternate betting lines is even more difficult.

What Are Alternate Betting Lines?

The concept, though, is a simple one. The main option when it comes to basic online sports betting is figuring out which team will cover the spread. For example, if the Patriots are favored by 8.5 points over the Jets and you like New England, you’re banking on Tom Brady’s boys winning by at least nine. But with alternate lines, what the sportsbook really wants you to think about is betting on the Pats to win by 16.5 points instead of just 8.5.

Of course, the sportsbooks pay you for your aggression and gumption. The price on New England -16.5 might be +320. Surely, if the Patriots can win by nine, they can win by 17, right?

What You Need to Be Aware Of

That, though, is a really dangerous game to be playing, and sportsbooks have figured out how to set the traps perfectly. The books know that if New England is going to win by at least nine points roughly 50 percent of the time, it isn’t going to win the game by 17 or more better than 20 percent of the time.

And that’s where they get you on these alternate betting lines, particularly with NFL betting. The same concept though, is true in all of the major sports which feature alternate betting lines.

How Online Sportsbooks Win on Alternate Betting

The other real issue with betting on alternate betting lines is the fact that sportsbooks really ratchet up the juice when it comes to wagering on these. Whereas the normal bet features what is known as a 10 cent line (meaning bets cost $110 to win $100), these alternate betting lines often come with larger vig points.

If New England is lined at -16.5 and +320 vig, the Jets in our example might be set at +16.5 and -400. The handle for the sportsbooks is significantly bigger for sure.

Furthermore, these prices are almost always shaded against the bettors looking for the plus odds. It’s really difficult to justify wagering $400 to win $100 on the Jets at +16.5 when you can bet $110 to win that same $100 on them at +8.5. And the oddsmakers know that.

That’s why the price on the “favored” side of the alternate betting lines is always shaded less than the side which the bettors expect the most action.

The Pros and Cons of Alternate Betting Lines

Alternate betting lines have their place, but bettors should realize that they are more lottery tickets than serious bets. If you’ve got a good feeling that a team is going to blow another team out or that a game is going to finish way over or way under the total, go ahead and go for it.

But do realize that these aren’t anywhere near 50/50 bets at that point, and no matter how good of a handicapper you are, you are going to lose more of these bets than you win, and the margin is going to be significant.

Our best advice? Just remember that the oddsmakers are hoping you buy into alternate betting lines, or they wouldn’t be putting them out there for mass wagering.

If you liked these football betting tips, check out our other betting advice:

Explained: How Online Bookmakers Work

Futures Betting Advantages Explained

Which Betting Strategy is the Most Profitable?


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Having worked in the marketing department at two online sports betting sites, John brings his love of sports to serve BigOnSports as chief writer. He will be researching and writing about the sports betting community to improve your experience as a sports bettor.