When is the Vegas Line Accurate?

When it comes to Vegas Lines and Daily Fantasy Sports a common question is, “When is the Vegas Line accurate?”

There are a lot of wrinkles to that so let me go over the life cycle of a Vegas Line from the point of view of a guy moving the lines.

Let’s group NHLNBA and MLB together because those are all sports that generally play every day, so the life cycle of a line is typically less than 24 hours.

First things first, the initial open.

Let’s say we have an MLB game tomorrow of Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox. You typically don’t want to post the line until tonight’s slate of games fire to direct action towards tonights games. So that means that once the 10pm EST games start, you usually look into posting tomorrow’s games. Now if the Tigers and Red Sox are playing tonight often times the sports book will wait for the game to complete in case a player suffers an in game injury. This is very important for NBA games where players are spraigning ankles left and right, and less important in NHL where guys are freaking tanks and play through broken bones and shattered teeth.

So todays games are complete, now its time to post the Tigers @ Red Sox line. If you normally allow $10,000 bets you would reduce that limit to $1,000. Then you would be super defensive and if you get a few bets without action on the other side you jump the line a lot. So lets say you post Tigers -110, on the moneyline and get a few $100 bets on the Tigers, that’s not a lot of money but its still 3 opinions saying I like the Tigers here. You would jump the line to -120 and hope to get counteraction.

For the DFS player this means that lines in the early stages are pretty volatile and can provide misinformation. They should be avoided.

Now lets fast forward to tomorrow at 10am-1pm EST. This is around the time when the reduced limits get removed and the lines open up for the normal max bet of $10,000. This is a high volume time where all the really smart guys are waiting around for this to happen, so they can get in their 10k bet on a soft line. The dealer will jump the line a bit less as now they typically are finding action on both sides. Once the dust settles around 1-2pm EST the lines are relatively stable. The smart guys have gotten their money down and now it would take the public pushing the line or injury news for them to bet again.

For the DFS player this is a good spot to start looking at lines while building your lineups. Games to avoid are ones where an important piece is an injury concern, like if Tim Duncan may get a rest day.

Time to move onto the hour before kickoff/faceoff/first pitch/tip off, this is where the public gets their money down. They want to get a bet in so they can have something riding on a game. Injury news and starting lineup info has come out and the smart guys are betting off of that information. By the time the game starts, the line is suprisingly accurate.

For the DFS player the closer to the game the better the line. But for games that don’t have injury concerns the lines typically don’t move that much.

Conclusion? I sit down and check out the lines in the early afternoon. For games where you can make a pretty educated guess on who is playing, I take the lines at face value and start making lineups. For games where players have injury concerns, I check back about an hour before start time and look on twitter to get an update.

Thanks for reading.
Mark Herberholz
@herberheezy on twitter
Head of Product Development for OwnThePlay
Daily Fantasy Sports Writer for Wagertalk

Sports Handicapping: Betting Early vs Betting Late

Marco D’Angelo, Brian James and Bryan Leonard from WagerTalk.com talk sports handicapping and betting early vs betting late.

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Marco D’Angelo: @MarcoInVegas
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