Most serious sports bettors agree that it is important to beat the closing odds and that you can generally measure your betting performance well by looking at the closing odds.
However, most sports bettors simply don’t beat the closing odds on average. If you have noticed that you aren’t beating the closing odds, some adjustments should obviously be made. Here’s what you can do about it.
Get familiar with the closing odds
First things first – read our article about closing odds. It will help you understand why it is such an important metric, and it will tell you why the single closing odds can be off but why the average closing odds are quite precise.
If you have understood the dynamic of the closing line, and you have been keeping track of it for all (or most) of your bets, you have come to one of two conclusions:
- You are beating the closing odds – and nothing needs to be done
- You are not beating the closing odds – and you need to adjust something
Find out what you are doing wrong
You need to find out why you are not beating the closing odds.
There could be several reasons:
Maybe you are a losing bettor and you are not spotting value.
Maybe you are placing your bets at the wrong time.
Maybe you previously had an edge, but the edge has gone away.
Maybe you are a winning bettor, and you have some kind of edge that the majority of the market has not discovered. In that case you are making the right moves, but you could get better odds on average.
A simple strategy to try
In order to test your ability against the market, try out the following strategy. It works in all team sports where the action is usually happening in the weekend:
- Every Monday or Tuesday, look at the schedule for the upcoming weekend
- Use approximately 5 minutes to quickly analyze and think about each game
- Estimate rough probabilities for each outcome in every game (1X2 or moneyline)
- Write your probabilities down
- When the game is played, note down the closing odds
- Convert the odds into probabilities (100 / decimal odds)
- Compare with your estimated probabilities from the beginning of the week
If you do this with a league you are following closely, you will quickly get an impression of odds movements, and you will start paying attention to the factors that can cause an odds to move.
It’s also a great way of testing your skill/knowledge. You can see if the market is moving in the same direction as you.
With this strategy, you are not necessarily betting, you are just estimating the probabilities as a tool to learn and improve. It is great for beginners, but also for experienced bettors who wish to test their knowledge and get better insights into the market.
If you do this for a half season, you might learn so much about the dynamics of the market that you will then be able to beat the closing odds quite easily.
If you are winning, but not beating the closing odds
In some cases, it happens that a player is winning despite not beating the closing odds.
Perhaps 1 in 100 bettors would be in this scenario.
It could be because of positive variance that you are still winning. If you have placed fewer than 1.000 bets, it could easily be positive variance. If you have placed more than that, and you are winning despite not beating the closing odds, there might be another reason.
It will, in that case, likely be one of these three reasons:
- You are genuinely skilled and know something that the market does not know
- You are mostly betting right before the match (and therefore actually betting the closing odds, which makes it impossible to establish your edge in this regard)
- You are mostly betting markets with huge amounts of public/dumb money (Super Bowl, NFL playoff games, Champions League matches, World Cup matches)
If one of those reasons explains why you are winning in sports betting but not beating the closing line odds, you are probably aware of it, and nothing needs to be adjusted.
Place your bets at the right time
In any case, it is very important to place your bets at the right time.
We have an entire article about when the best time is.
If you want the biggest possible edge, early betting is key. You would place your bets before the sharps and syndicates do it (they usually do it on game day).
If you trust your probabilities completely, and you want the highest possible limits and the lowest bookie wig, you would actually bet right before the game. Your odds would be the closing odds.
Most winning bettors are beating the closing odds. So if the odds movements are not moving in your favor on average, you most likely have to make adjustments – except if you are one of the few who have success betting in the last moment, or if you simply know stuff that the majority of the market doesn’t.
As bettors, we can always become smarter and adjust our performance. The first step for professionals is to make sure we beat the closing odds; and if we don’t, then we have to find the reason for it and make our adjustments.