How Odds Are Set at a Sportsbook


A sportsbook is a place where people can make wagers on various sporting events. These bets can range from whether a team will win or lose, to how many points will be scored in a game, and other propositions. The sportsbook makes money by taking a percentage of each wager, called the juice or vig. This is how the bookmakers stay in business and pay their employees. However, the industry is still relatively new and legality of sportsbooks varies widely from state to state.

Before the advent of computerized oddsmakers, most sports books kept information in loose-leaf notebooks. A young Las Vegas man named Joe Roxborough started his own line-setting service, which became known as LVSC (Las Vegas Sports Consultants). He was the first to use electronic computers to store and transmit sports betting information. His system eventually grew to include more than 90 percent of the Nevada sportsbooks as clients.

The lines that a sportsbook sets for an NFL game begin to shape up almost two weeks before kickoff, when a handful of sportsbooks release so-called look ahead numbers. These are based on the opinions of a few smart sportsbook managers, but not a lot of thought goes into them. They are designed to attract action from sharps, who want to bet big amounts on the games but can’t risk their entire bankrolls. Typically, the limits for these early wagers are only a thousand bucks or so: large sums for most recreational bettors but well below what a professional would risk on a single game.

As the season progresses, these look ahead lines are tweaked based on actual wagering patterns, and they are finally made public by Tuesday, when the first Sunday games kick off. Odds on the week’s other games are then removed from the betting boards, only to reappear late Sunday afternoon, at which time they are generally significantly higher. These higher odds are intended to attract the action of sharps, and sportsbooks will often move their lines aggressively in response to early limit bets from wiseguys.

It can be difficult to determine the quality of a sportsbook by looking at its odds alone, as there are so many factors that affect them. For example, in football, there are a number of different variables that don’t get taken into account by the in-game model used by many sportsbooks, such as the impact of a timeout on a team’s play-calling. Likewise, in basketball, the closing lines don’t always take into account how long a game has gone or how many fouls have been committed.

It’s important to research each sportsbook before placing a bet. Check out its website, read reviews from other customers, and look at the betting options it offers. You should also consider its customer service and security features. Then, choose a site that meets your needs and budget. However, it’s important to remember that gambling is never a good idea, so don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose.

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