The Asian market is generally the best to focus on. But in any given match, there are several lines to choose between. That brings up the question – how do you pick the right Asian handicap line?
Obviously, there are several things to consider here, but the most important thing is to maximize the odds you get.
The importance of a quarter ball
When it comes to Asian handicaps, the line does matter. There is a big difference between getting a team at +0.25 and +0.
Every quarter of a ball changes the winning scenario of your bet. The difference is highest around the even lines (zeros, ones, twos) than around half lines (0.5, 1.5, 2.5).
If you like the odds better at +0 than at +0.25, then take that line – the most important thing is always the odds you are getting.
But if reducing variance is a bigger priority for you than finding the ideal odds, you can take the conservative pick.
Generally speaking, if you are backing a favorite to win straight up, that might psychologically feel better than risking it with a -0.75 or -1 line. On the other hand, if you are backing an underdog, the +0.5 line might feel a lot better than the +0.25 line.
A quarter of a ball does make a difference, both in the result and in the strategy behind the pick. So you should always try to obtain the line that suits you best. That’s also why it’s a good idea to have accounts with several different bookies and shop around a bit, or simply using a broker.
Picking the main line
But let’s keep it simple for now.
In most cases, you should simply pick the main Asian line. The one that is closest to odds 2.00.
The reason is that most bookies have the lowest wig on the main line, which means that the margin you have to beat is a bit smaller.
For instance, a bookmaker might have a 95% payback rate at the alternate lines, but a 97% payback rate at the main line. We see this often with Bet365, but also with some of the sharp books. The explanation is that the main line is where the majority of the money is placed, so that allows the bookmakers to turn up the payback percentage.
In other words, if the probabilities are similar, you gain the most value from picking the main line. That will be the case most of the time, so if you don’t want to overthink it, you can always just pick the main line and be happy with that.
Calculating value in alternate lines
The main line should be the best in most cases. But it does sometimes happen that there is more value in an alternate line. Obviously, this is something to take advantage of.
First of all, when you analyze a match, try to put everything into probabilities. If you are betting Asian lines, you’ll need to make probabilities for every scenario, not only 1X2. Find the probabilities for -1, -1.5, -2, -2.5, etc – and on the other side, too. You do this by either being really good at estimating probabilities in your head, or by using a Poisson-based model.
When you have your probabilities for each relevant outcome, you can compare that to the odds and find the line (main or alternate) that has the highest value. Sometimes when you have very favorable probabilities on one team, you will find that higher aggressive lines present more value, but that will also increase the variance – so once again, you have to decide with yourself if you want high value + high variance or medium value + medium variance. That’s a choice you will have to make when choosing Asian lines.
It is also possible to estimate value based on solely 1X2 probabilities. You do this by multiplying the odds minus one by either 1.33 (around half goals) or 1.50 (around full goals). So, for example, if you have odds 1.40 for Chelsea to win at home, the equivalent odds would be 1.53 for the -0.75 line, and just shy of 1.80 for the -1 line. Now, match that up with the odds the bookmaker is offering. If you can get 1.85 for the -1 line, it would hold more value than the 1X2 / -0.5 line at the 1.40, all things being the same. You can make the same calculation any way around.
Why it’s important to pick the best line
You might be able to improve your ROI with a half percent or so – simply by finding the ideal line. That can mean a lot in the long run. It can also mean more or less variance, depending on which lines hold the value. So you have to make a convenient strategy that fits your betting style.
Overall, we would advise betting the main Asian line in most cases. The main line is the one that is closest to odds 2.00. Usually, this is where the bookmakers have the lowest margin.
With that said, there can definitely be cases where alternate lines hold more value. To take advantage of this, you either have to estimate probabilities for several different outcomes or calculate the fair odds for each Asian line based on the 1X2 line.
If you can improve your ROI by picking the right line, it is definitely worth doing. Asian lines have the most competitive odds, so this is where you want to be betting anyway – and if you intend to earn a lot of money from sports betting, every single advantage should be taken!