Winning sports bettors approach each bet with two things in mind. The first is to win, naturally so. The other, often less thought-about goal is to beat the closing line.
If you can consistently beat the closing line across a large volume of bets, you will enjoy long-term wins.
Pro bettors will always mention closing Line Value (CLV) and always have a column in their betting logs to help them track the same. If winning bettors pay CLV some mind, so should you.
So what does it mean to beat the closing line, and why is it important?
What Is Closing Line Value?
Sportsbooks put out lines that they believe represent two opposing teams accurately. However, these spreads are not static.
Anytime up until a game actually kicks off, oddsmakers will monitor odds they have received on a game, alongside any new information that impacts the game.
This includes things like;
- Information about players like injuries
- The weather
- Any changes and actions within the officials that impact players or their coaches
Odds makers will use this and other information to adjust their lines to reflect the current situation.
The final line you can access right before a game starts is called the closing line. As a bettor, one way to judge your overall betting skills is by comparing the number you bet to where the line ultimately closes at.
For example, say you back the Denver Broncos to cover a -3 spread on Wednesday. Then, if the line closes at Broncos at -7 before the game starts, you have a positive closing line value.
Here, you only need the Broncos to win by over three points for your bet to win. Everyone that wagered later in the week needs the Broncos to win by over seven points for their bet to win.
In reverse, if you bet -7 and the line closes at -3, you would be sitting on a negative closing line value.
Why CLV Is Important
The short answer is money. So is the long answer.
A betting line gives us the perceived possibilities of a game. For example, a vigorish free market offered +100 on both teams in a two-way market would imply a 50% chance of either income.
Once a line opens, it gives the originator the most accurate representation of the bet’s possibilities. Over time, more wagers and more information flood the market, which moves the lines closer to their closing price. As books work towards accuracy, limits get larger. As they get closer to the sporting event, lines get sharper and sharper.
CLV can help you pick up small wins over time, and in betting, every dollar counts.
Assuming you typically place $10 betting units. If you get +120 odds right before they close at +110, that extra dollar seems like a drop in the ocean. However, imagine if you manage this in most of your bets, your bankroll will undoubtedly benefit.
How To Beat The Closing Line
Here are some strategies to help you beat the closing line;
Having multiple sportsbook accounts helps win CVs. Numerous books will mirror each other and often have similar lines. However, you might randomly find one or two that go against the grain.
Looking at different sportsbooks and comparing the lines can occasionally help you beat closing lines.
Positive expected value shopping
Expected Value (EV) measures what a bettor can potentially win or lose per bet on the same odds. With closing line bets, this highlights the actual value increase of getting in early on favorable lines.
You want to get in on bets at the right time. While this is not easy to do, there are free online tools that can give you line change predictions to allow you to get on at the most profitable points.
How To Track Closing Line Value
Players in money line sports often track CLV in terms of dollars and cents.
For instance, a bet on a team at -120 but closes at -130 only generates 10 cents of CLV. Nevertheless, this method will do for bettors looking for a quick and simple way of tracking their CLV.
That said, it’s important to point out that this method leaves out some key information. The most obvious one is that it does not consider the vig.
This aside, all ‘cents’ are not equal.
For example, when speaking about winning probability, a move from +100 to -150 is larger than -250 to – 300.
Serious bettors need to put in a bit more work to get more accurate gauges of their CLV. With a free online calculator, you can calculate the juice-free line at the close. You do this by simply plugging in two sides of the market in the calculators.