You Don't Need Strong Opinions To Find Profitable Spots

Even making small changes to our odds screen has helped our users increase their winnings.

By | March 18, 2022

What should the real line be? 

This is a question most bettors struggle with once they progress past the beginner stages of sports betting. Even if you’ve been betting before, you may have used things like ATS systems or trends or angles that have the illusion of analysis, but are really just shortcuts around asking the critical questions successful sports bettors are constantly asking. By definition, if you make a bet, you think a line is wrong. And if you think a line is wrong, in theory, you should be able to articulate what the correct line looks like. But if you haven’t had to ask that question before, it may be harder to answer than you might be used to. 

This question has become a blocker of sorts for many Betscope users, because using our full set of tools literally demands that you change at least one line in our market-derived projections to run our correlations engine and ROI calculator. And make no mistake: we set it up that way on purpose! We could have built a tool that spits out the answers for you, but we think this does a disservice to helping our users grow as sports bettors. Forcing you to change at least one line on our odds page to run the rest of our tools pushes you to incorporate two critical concepts in sports betting:

  • Getting you to think about what you think the “true” line should be if you want to bet something. Good sports bettors know exactly what they think a fair price is for any bet they would consider making and don’t rely on systems, trends, or anything else that is price insensitive.

  • Understanding how one bet you want to make is correlated to every other bet available. This pushes you away from focusing on one or two types of bets you might be comfortable making (typically spreads and totals) and broadens your awareness of all possible markets, putting you in a position to exploit pricing mistakes in those markets. 

Now, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help Betscope users who are still a little stuck on what to change. Many users think they need to have super strong opinions, either in the form of analysis, projections, or other research, to profit from our tools. While having those inputs available certainly helps, it’s not necessary to profit from our tools. So if you’re just getting started, we recommend using an input that might sound contradictory to everything in this article so far: changing nothing at all.

Let’s go through a quick reminder of how the numbers on our odds page are calculated: our backend analytics feed takes in odds data from each book, converts each line into an underlying distribution and an implied total, and averages those implied totals to form a market consensus for each stat. So if I run our correlations engine/ROI calculator with no changes to any of the underlying stats, I’m essentially asking if there are any prices at any book that are different enough from market consensus that they’re likely to show a profit. This reflects a general angle of “I don’t have strong opinions on this game on my own, but I do want to see if there are any odds that are very different from everyone else.” Turns out, this is a great way to pick off value from the market.

Consider an example from today’s Nets/Blazers game. I load up the game page and see there’s an arbitrage opportunity on Kevin Durant’s rebounds market:

Arbitrage, by definition, is a situation where you don’t have to have any opinion on how the game will go, you just need to recognize that the prices across two or more sportsbooks are so divergent, you can bet both sides and lock in a guaranteed profit. Typically, one side of the arb is more profitable than the other (in fact, most of the time only one side of the arb has true positive expectation), so how do we know which side is the best one in this situation?

The best way to check is to run our ROI calculator with the values as is. We don’t currently offer than as an option since we want to force people to understand the correlative nature of making bets, but as a workaround, we can make a very tiny change to any stat of our choice. This is what a lot of our users have been doing as a way of saying “I don’t have strong opinions on this game, I just want to see which lines are really far away from consensus.” When we make a tiny change to Durant’s points market, here’s what our ROI calculator shows:

We can see that the other stats don’t change a lot (i.e. our intent), but we’re still able to find how much each side of the Durant arb is worth, and if we only want to take one side, which one is more valuable. Even though we didn’t have strong opinions on this game in the form of making big changes to stats, we were still able to find profitable opportunities. 

This is definitely a good way to get your feet wet with Betscope. The other reason this may be an adjustment for newer bettors is you may be used to thinking that you have to have a strong opinion on how a game will go in order to find value in the market. What the small-changes method teaches you indirectly is how important the other side of the coin is: what price you’re getting for each bet. The fact that you can find value without having strong opinions on how the game will go hammers home the important of price sensitivity in sports betting, and how finding bad prices is just as, if not more important, than forming your opinions on a game. As you get more comfortable with coming up with more advanced seed inputs, your returns will get better, but making very small changes is still a good enough start to finding profitable spots.