In the world of betting, punters try to find every slight advantage that they can. Like it or not, the power all lies in the hands of the bookmakers. They set the odds and they ensure that those odds don’t quite reflect reality as they add in their own margins into prices so that they can ensure they always make money. Bettors need to find other ways of shifting the odds in their favour, which is where the idea of finding weak odds lines comes in.
It can seem complex as an idea, but really it just involves looking for the moments that the bookmakers have priced something at greater odds than the actual chances of it happening. There are numerous reasons why a bookie might price events in such a way, but the key thing is being able to spot it and take advantage. The flip side of that, of course, is that it can lead to your account being restricted.
How Bookies Set Odds
Before we look at weak odds lines, it’s worth considering how it is that bookmakers set odds on events in the first place. Generally speaking, odds for events are set by humans, so they’re just as open to human error as anything else. If you think about it in a more simplistic form, it’s essentially you betting against someone else and you being successful in your bet depends on you thinking there’ll be a different outcome than they do.
Yes, modern bookmaking means that odds traders have access to complex software that will use algorithms to decide many of the odds (especially in-play), but the software still needs to be created and programmed by a human being. Bookmakers will use numerous different tools to help them set their odds, but ultimately it still comes down to how an odds trader feels about certain outcomes. Bookies will also always rely on the likes of previous form to set their odds.
In the long-term, bookmakers will get more right than they get wrong by using statistics and by monitoring the market, but this means that there can often be short-term errors. Bookies will always price things with odds that assume the outcome is more likely to happen than the chances would suggest. It’s how they make a profit, by building in their margins to allow them to always make money on a balanced book.
It is however the process of achieving a balanced book that sometimes means a bookmaker can overprice a selection against the real probability. In this instance you can, on average, make a gain if you can spot it. The bookie may lose to a number of punters if it comes off but overall they will still make a profit as long as they balance their book.
What Are Weak Odds Lines?
The reality is that bookmakers can’t always get everything right, so there are moments that you can find good prices if you know what you’re looking for. Weak lines typically refer to the world of spread betting, where the payout is better than the actual odds of something happening. It’s always worth shopping around in order to find bookmakers that are offering the best value, given that some of them may get their lines wrong sometimes.
In order to make clear what it is that we mean, let’s have a look back to the fight between Floyd Mayweather Junior and Conor McGregor in 2017. McGregor was a winner in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, but Mayweather is one of the best boxers that the sport has ever seen. The truth is that Mayweather should have been an overwhelming favourite, yet McGregor being backed by MMA and Irish fans saw his odds fall.
McGregor had been about 7/1 when the fight was announced in June of that year. By the time he entered the ring, he’d dropped down to 4/1, such was the extent to which his loyal supporters had been betting on him. The other side of the bet will have meant that Mayweather’s odds will have gone further out, in spite of the fact that he was the clear favourite to win the fight.
Had you been paying attention, you’d have seen that the odds on Mayweather winning were far longer than they should have been, so it will have been a weak line that you should have bet on in order to exploit it. It’s also an example of the market dictating things that the bookmakers might not like. Bookies will have known McGregor didn’t stand a chance, but with lots of money spent on him they simply had to react.
Although the bookies overpriced Mayweather they didn’t care because they did that to achieve a balanced book, with an equal proportion of bets that ensured they made a profit whoever won. This is the thing with weak odds, most of the time it isn’t because the bookie got it wrong, it is because the public betting on the event got it wrong and if you spot that you can take advantage of it.
Following Public Opinion
Bookmakers will, first and foremost, always look to stats and form when pricing up markets. If a horse has finished last in all seven of its previous races and has never won on the course it’s racing on, bookies are going to offer long odds for its upcoming race. If, though, the public starts to bet heavily on that horse then the bookies simply have to react to what the market is telling them in order to reduce their exposure for that specific outcome. They often monitor exchanges for this reason.
They might well know from stats and form that the horse has got no chance, but they simply can’t take the chance that there’s something that the public knows that they don’t. The stats and form haven’t changed, but bookmakers can’t allow the public to place bets on the horse with incredibly long odds because if it did then win then they would lose a huge amount of money as a result.
Many people point to the season that Leicester City won the Premier League when their odds of doing so at the start of the campaign were 5,000/1 as proof of the bookies getting in wrong. In reality, very few people actually had bets on the Foxes to win the league at that price, but it was the bookmakers not adjusting the odds enough as the season wore on that cost them most dearly, still offering long odds at Christmastime.
Still, when we say ‘cost them dearly’ they still made a lot of money on the more numerous bet for the likes of Man City to win the league that of course did not come off as a result.
It’s that sort of thing that you need to look out for. Bookies reacting slowly to a shift in the market will present an opportunity for you to take advantage of weak odds lines, so you need to monitor them closely. You can look at form and all of the statistics you want, but bookmakers have access to the same things and more. As a result, you need to keep an eye out for moments that they just get the markets wrong.
Having Your Account Limited
The downside to taking advantage of weak odds lines on a regular basis is that it won’t take long for bookmakers to clamp down on your account and limit what you can place bets on and how much you can stake. We can argue about the rights and wrongs of such behaviour until we’re blue in the face, but as long as they’re allowed to do it then you can bet your bottom dollar that bookies will do whatever they can to ensure they don’t lose money.
Because of the nature of weak odds lines and the fact that it will often present you with excellent value in your bets, bookmakers will quickly spot people that do it regularly. Soon you might find that the amount of money that you’re allowed to bet is limited, or that you can only bet on certain markets. This is the reality of bookies wanting to ensure that they limit their exposure and is something you’ll have to bear in mind.
One way to avoid getting your account limited is to try to ensure you place your bets with different bookmakers whenever possible. The likelihood is that the majority of bookies will have the same disparity in their odds, seeing as though they all tend to monitor each other, so if you can place a bet with one of them then there’s a chance you’ll be able to place it with others. Spread out your betting to stave off limitations.