Every day I see beat writers and sports bloggers including Bovada lines and odds in their articles. There is a big problem with this and it needs to be addressed. Bovada has a great marketing team, and part of their routine is to ensure that sports media receive lines and odds for various events and seasons directly in their e-mail inbox. They make it as easy for you to add a different perspective to your work by including what “Vegas” is saying. The problem is that when you quote Bovada lines you still do not show an accurate reflection of the current betting market.
Square Lines Explained
Bovada is known for being a square betting site. This means that they will make the side of a game that the public would be more inclined to bet on worse for you to wager on compared to other betting sites. The square side of the game is typically the side that individuals who bet based on peripheral information such as which team is better, or who is on a winning streak (rather than considering what advantages or edges they have over a given line). Bovada understand that most of their customer base are casual gamblers (mainly due to the low minimums on their payment transfers, free deposits, and one-week payouts). Weaker sportsbettors tend to bet more square sides than those with experience, thus giving Bovada a reason to modify their lines.
In the video I picked an example from this baseball season. We are going to be taking a look at what a novice sportsbettor would consider when deciding who to bet on in a game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies. The Giants have won 11 of their last 12 games, and pitcher Johnny Cueto is having a great season. Conversely, the Rockies are terrible as usual. We can imagine that the public is going to side with the Giants. Bovada know this, and thus they make it worse for their customers to take that side.
We notice that Bovada are offering -185 on the Giants moneyline. This means you need to wager $185 in order to profit $100. Now we want to compare this to a line being offered at a sharp betting site. These sites take high-limit action. Because they accept large wagers, they cannot afford to mess around with their lines as someone would easily expose them (since making one side of a game “worse” would force them to make the other side “better”). Of course this is not to say that a sharp sportsbook’s lines are 100% reflective of true winning percentages (since this is not the case either). For this example I use Pinnacle Sports which is one of the sharpest online sportsbooks in the industry. While this betting site does not accept American customers, you can still check out their website without registering an account. If you are an American who is looking for a sharp sportsbook, I personally recommend either 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
We now see that the Giants are -170 on the moneyline. That is a 15 cent difference from what we saw at Bovada. This square line shading can be seen on most of their betting markets. It affects moneylines, spreads, totals, futures, and props. This is prime reasoning not to quote Bovada odds.
Do Not Quote Bovada
The reason why you should not quote Bovada lines is simple: They do not serve the purpose you are looking for. Putting odds in your article allows your readers to see a different form of analysis for a particular event or season. It is suppose to tell you what the “math nerds in Vegas” think is going to happen. And you are not getting that with a square betting site. The solution is simple; once you receive an e-mail from Bovada’s advertising department that contains odds for an event you want to tweet/write about, open up Pinnacle Sports, and find that same market. Tweet that out instead. It will take you an extra 30 seconds but you will end up making that time back by not having to deal with us telling you not to quote Bovada lines.
Bovada is not in Vegas
One last piece of information for those of you who still insist on quoting Bovada lines despite this public service announcement: Bovada is NOT in Vegas. Every time I see a blogger mention this on Twitter I get stomach aches. These offshore betting sites that accept American customers are located in countries where gambling is legal and regulated. Most of them operate out of Costa Rica.
I get that it is tempting to want to say something cliche like “according to Vegas”. But if you are not quoting a line from an actual Vegas sportsbook than you sound a bit silly. However I do believe in compromising, so how about we make a deal? If you quote a line from a sharp betting site like Pinnacle Sports then I will let you say “Vegas”. Even though it is still not entirely true, at least you are getting closer to the source of where the lines originate. I think that is fair.