It’s widely thought that the key to success from sports betting is to beat the closing line value (CLV).
Right up to before the games start, sportsbooks will adjust their lines based on where the money is going and new information that could affect the result of that game.
But how important is it really to bet closing value to be a long-term, profitable sports bettor?
We decided to ask sports betting experts to share their thoughts on the matter to put this issue to rest.
Read on to find out what they think.
Andrew Mack, Professional Sports Bettor
CLV is the best way to the assess plausibility of future returns with smallest sample size.
Tom Buckland, Founder Of Ghost Betting
CLV is a great indicator if you are an early bettor into the market, hitting the opening lines or mid-morning odds.
The problem I have with those is we bet 1 hour before the game.
A key ingredient of our overall capping approach is analyzing how the market moves and using those signals into an analysis.
An hour before the game is the highest limits, so although the lines are a lot sharper, any definitive edge that’s seen is easier to lay a large amount of money on.
Also, CLV does have some pitfalls in regards to late news, injuries, etc.
If you had a negative 10% closing line value, that might ruin the 4 others that have all been beaten by 2% consistently.
CLV is a good indicator for early line bettors, but I still believe game state and pace are better if you have time to analyze each individual event after the fact, regardless of what actually happened to the resulting bet.
Aidan O’Sullivan, Communications Manager With Matchbook
Following a brutal stretch in the NFL season of being ahead of some key line moves but ultimately succumbing to some tough beats I was beginning to have my doubts about the value of CLV.
I wasn’t long putting aside my recency bias on this as Closing Line Value in the long run very much does matter.
The sport I most regularly bet on season-long is rugby union so I’ll briefly speak to that.
As rugby is more of a top 10 sport (if that) than a top dog for operators it’s generally one or two sportsbooks who will set the early lines (for low limits of course) and the remainder follow this cursor while maybe taking a slight opinion, either way, a half a point here or there.
Getting on early for a line that you’re confident will move is crucial as is being comfortable that you’re on a key number.
Betting Northampton -6.5 at home to Leicester on a Wednesday as opposed to taking them -7.5 on Saturday morning is far more than being just a point off given the key number of 7 being in play.
Totals wise, a good example was recently in England’s trip to Murrayfield.
Opened at 39.5 (Friday morning) it was quickly bet down under a key number of 37 prior to kickoff and while the under was never in doubt, chasing a number after it has moved will ultimately never pay.
Balazs Pal, Professional Sports Bettor
While I do believe that CLV is not almighty, it certainly shows if a bettor is on the right track, especially in major sports.
In my experience, the NFL and the NBA are the most effective major league markets.
If you don’t beat the closing line in these two sports the majority of the time, then you will probably suffer in the long run.
In hockey, the market is way less evolved and there is value most of the time, even before the puck drop.
That is, in my experience, also true for baseball, where you can dive so deep into pitch data of BvP (batter versus picther) matchups that you can find edges that the market isn’t factoring in yet.
All this said, the market often overcorrects and there are many time value before game start if a particular side is getting streamed up a lot.
This is why I’m thinking CLV isn’t ruling over everything.
Still, it is probably the most decent indicator we have when forecasting future success in the betting markets.
Bob Stoll, Owner Of Dr. Bob Sports
Closing line value is not necessarily important as an indicator of a successful handicapper.
In the early 2000s I was doing something completely different from the market to identify value and won over 60% of my College Best Bets over a 3 year span with no closing line value and a good number of games moving the opposite of my position.
I think that was the case because what I was doing was not a part of what the market was doing and thus I could have success despite not having any closing line value.
Once some big players and syndicates caught on to my success and subscribed to my service the lines started moving when I’d release my plays, which created closing line value.
In that case I could have been flipping coins and the market would have moved with every play I made due to my past success.
So, I believe a handicapper can be a long term winner without having CLV if they are doing something that leads to long term positive expected value plays and they have tapped into something that is not a part of the market.
But, that’s a rare case and most handicappers certainly have a better chance to win long term if they are consistently beating the closing line.
Marius Norheim, CEO Of Trademate Sports
Inside the Trademate Sports software, we track the closing line for each game and use it to calculate the expected value of each of the bets you have placed.
Essentially comparing the odds you got when you placed the bet vs the odds at the time the game started.
Regardless of which betting strategy you are using, I would always compare the odds you bet on vs the closing line.
This is the best benchmark a professional sports bettor has to determine whether they have an edge over the market and whether their strategy is going to be profitable in the long run.
Joseph Falchetti, Chief Writer At Safest Betting Sites
Beating the closing line of the sharpest sportsbooks in the world clearly offers value to sports bettors.
If you beat the closing line, long term, you will undoubtedly have a positive return-on-investment when betting sports.
However, the value of beating the closing line differs depending on the sport.
Beating the closing odds on NFL game on a key number offers heaps of value.
The same goes for beating NBA closers by a point or more.
But, let’s remember that sharps disagree, even when you may feel that is clear there is a “sharp side.”
There are also “head fakes” or “buy backs” where betting syndicates and/or high-volume bettors wager on side to move the line, only to put a bigger bet on the other side after the move.
So, yes, there is clear value on beating the closing odds.
However, it is not the end all, be all, of profitability.
The market may be inefficient at times, especially when it comes to smaller market sports.
Matthew Walton, CEO Of Matthew Walton
If we assume closing line value to be the tipping point between profitable and unprofitable betting (which it generally is, due to the weight of money, market efficiency, and bookmaker accuracy) then the only path leading to the Holy Grail that is long-term, successful betting…
…is to consistently stay on the right side of this marker.
And the profitable backer, or service, is the one who is able to locate these opportunities often enough to maintain a positive return from the market.
Michael Wilding, Race Advisor
The value on the bet you take is the only thing that’s important in making a long-term profit, taking aside rebates (although it’s still value, just calculated with the rebate)
If you don’t have value on your bets, you cannot make a long term profit.
It works simply like this…
If you’re playing with a coin-toss, and betting on heads, there’s a 50% chance of heads coming up.
This is the same as odds of 2.00 or 1/1.
If you get paid out at odds of 2.10 then you will make a long-term profit.
If you get paid out at odds of 1.90 you will make a long-term loss.
The same is true for horse racing, there’s just more than two options.
Over the course of a year, your selections must win more than the odds suggest for you to make a profit.
That’s your value.
Alonzo Solano, Sports Analyst
There’s definitely value at the closing line.
A sharp bettor would take advantage of the market movement and fade the public if the line reaches a specific number of their liking.
The market could move between a half or a full point, giving those with a lot of patience an edge right before the game.
Betting the close line takes skill, but also courage to bet on the value, even if it goes against your initial bet.
Caan Berry, Caan Berry
The closing line value is massive.
It’s one of the full-proof ways to come out on top, over an extended period.
The bigger the margin between the closing line and your bets, the more value.
If you can, exploit it would be my advice!
One of the best ways to beat the line is to learn how to trade the exchanges.
Time and again the exchange data can give you an edge.
Fabian Sommer, Suuma
Beating the closing line is as important as it gets, especially in big markets like NFL.
You want your bet to perform well versus the most efficient lines and other sharp bettors.
Even though the NFL is a small sample size league, I realize that the performance of bets where I beat the number is significantly better as if the market beats me.
When I get beaten on an NFL side, I’m getting nervous.
Most of the experts featured in the post agreed on the following:
- CLV is a good indicator to be successful from sports betting over the long run.
- The value varies depending on the sport.
That said, the main thing that leads some experts to suggest it’s not the be all and end all of sports betting is data and backtesting.
Now, before you go…
Is there anything that any of these sports betting experts have missed that you think should be included here?
Share your thoughts in the comments below or let us know on Twitter.