There is of course a science to sports betting and one factor to consider is timing. That is, is it better to place your bet earlier or later relative to when the lines come out? The results seem to indicate that the very best lines for the NBA, the NHL and MLB are early, whereas with the NFL, the results are more varied.
With football, and the amount of movement that is possible in a given week the side you’re betting on can factor heavily in the amount of value that might be possible on a Friday or Saturday vs. Wednesday.
Some other factors to consider when to place your bets include:
Game-Day Actives and Inactives
Who suits up and who doesn’t clearly can have a huge influence on the outcome, but it tends to affect sports played daily such as baseball more than the ones played less times a week. On the other hand, take an example like Kevin Durant who is likely a game-time decision for Monday’s huge game five in Toronto. The odds have to take account whether he plays or doesn’t play when they come out. But if for example the line assumes he doesn’t play when the odds come out and then we only find out on Monday night, an hour before game time that he does, then clearly it could make sense to wait to place your bet depending on which way you are betting.
Favorites vs. Underdogs
If you’re leaning towards picking a favorite, very often that means betting sooner rather than later. That is often when the best value is available. Of course, that is not true all the time as the winds can often shift depending on where the money lands. As such there is still a strong circle that does the opposite and waits to bet as close to game time as possible.
Sharps -or the high rolling bettors- generally place their bet as soon as possible. That can have a huge impact on the line. As a matter of fact, the lines in Vegas can often skew dramatically after that first wave of sharps place their bets. Some eagle-eyed bettors catch on to this and they try to place their bets as soon as the sharps do in order to ride that wave. On the other hand, there are also sharps who like to wait until the end after the public has swayed the line more heavily in the opposite direction where they want to bet.
Professional basketball can often be the hardest sport to bet the spread on. Teams in big cities tend to have their spreads inflated, because Vegas knows that more money will come down on that side so it’s a way for them to profit. These days we are also seeing how teams like to rest some of their best players. Kawhi Leonard who only played 60 games this year so he could be fresh for this Finals run is exhibit A of how successful the strategy has been. As a result, it likely requires the most analysis of when is the ideal time to bet.
The bottom line though is that is true for all sports. Start paying attention as soon as the lines are published and then evaluate each game on a case-by-case basis. Look for patterns that help to support your style and go from there.