Who Makes the Odds

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The cliches that most people associate with sports oddsmakers from years past couldn’t be further from today’s truth. Modern oddsmakers aren’t  willing to set a line based on a hunch. The reality about who makes the odds at sportsbooks is that they are professionals who set lines based on statistical analysis and solid mathematical reasoning. They usually have degrees in casino management with a strong background in economics or math and treat the act of setting lines as serious business.

In years past, oddsmakers were celebrities in the sports betting world. People like Bob Martin and Roxy Roxborough were famous in Las Vegas, while others, such as Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, were well-known throughout betting circles. Nowadays, oddsmakers tend to be relatively obscure, in part due the fact that online sportsbooks are the first to post odds on games instead of Las Vegas, as was the case for many years.

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Although sportsbooks can set their own lines independently, the vast majority base their initial lines on those set at the major online sportsbooks. If a large online sportsbook, such as Bookmaker, releases the Patriots -7 over the Jets, any sportsbook that strays too far from that line will be hit with a number of wagers on the other side. If the independent sportsbook makes the Patriots -9, they will receive a number of wagers on the Jets. If they open Patriots -5, they will get a flood of bets on the Patriots. The sportsbook is more likely to release the Patriots between 6.5- and 7.5-point favorites depending on their clientele.

Modern oddsmakers use more than just information about wins and losses or even the stats of teams to set lines. Because their goal is to ensure that equal money goes on both sides of a bet, they need to understand how people perceive the two teams that are playing. They utilize vast information on past betting tendencies to influence where they set their lines. Most bookmakers have also developed their own proprietary computer programs to help give them guidance on where to set lines.