How Betting Lines Are Created

Many bettors wake up and search for the best lines for the games they intend to wager on without ever thinking about where the lines came from. Did you ever wonder how betting lines are created?

We go to our sportsbook, look at the lines and odds and in the back of our minds we understand that one team is simply better than the other. One team may have some injuries while another team just doesn’t play well on the road.


Sure, these things may play a role in how lines are set, but do you really understand the process of how betting lines are created? You will now.

The Head Oddsmaker

Every sportsbook has a number of employees, but the most important of them all is the head oddsmaker. This is the person who sets the line on any given game, match, or event.

The head oddsmaker is a math whiz, a savant if you will, who also has years of betting experience. He understands betting markets and can use math to explain any betting situation.

The head oddsmaker will have a team of oddsmakers that work together to establish all the lines for all of the betting options on a sportsbook’s board.

Setting Betting Lines

In creating the opening line for a particular game, oddsmakers will first use computer algorithms and an extremely complex set of mathematical formulas and models. With some working knowledge of the math behind the line for a certain game, they can then move on to take into account some other factors.

Oddsmakers will then take a look at things a team’s strength of schedule and their margin of victory. A 1-3 NFL team that has three losses to three teams that are 4-0 might compare favorably to the 3-1 team whose victories are all against teams that are 0-4.

Futures odds and win totals are also used to help set lines and determine odds. Both futures odds and win totals are set before a season begins. Futures odds will change as a season goes on as they are based on how well or how bad a team is performing.

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The 2020 San Francisco 49ers were a favorite to win Super Bowl LV and that was reflected in their futures odds. Those odds have shifted as the 49ers started the 2020 season 2-3. That will play a role in establishing lines for future games.

After consulting their computer models, power rankings, futures odds, and more; oddsmakers will speak with trusted consultants to get their opinions. With all of this data and knowledge, the head oddsmaker will devise a rough estimate of what the odds should be. This is done for any given game, match, or event.


Adjusting the Lines

The rough estimate is adjusted for things like home-field advantage. In the NFL, that number is typically three points. In 2020, oddsmakers have had to take into account stadiums that are not allowing fans due to the coronavirus.

Weather, injuries, and other factors will also play a role in an adjustment. If the league’s best rushing offense is playing the league’s worst run defense, this is taken into account. 

Once the adjustments are made, the sportsbook releases its opening line on a game. Betting limits are set while the oddsmakers feel out the public. Sharp bettors usually get in on games early. This allows sportsbooks to see if they are comfortable with the number they have set.

When they are comfortable, they increase the betting limits. The market then takes over. Oddsmakers can then shift the odds to ensure the sportsbook is taking equal action on both sides of the bet.

I hope this helped answer your question about how betting lines are created. It’s not an exact science, so the more you know, the better you will be able to understand. be sure to stay tuned for more information on how betting lines are created.

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