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Sports Gambling 101: What are Alternate Lines?

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As our Sports Gambling 101 glossary of terms illustrates, betting odds are posted in many different styles and prices. Beyond standard point spread and game total options, bettors also have access to alternate lines on a variety of sports. Once bookmakers post their list of opening odds, they add alternate lines as prop betting options. Depending on the sport, alternate lines can be several points higher or lower than the standard odds.

Which Sports Offer Alternate Line Betting?

In competitions that are normally low scoring, like the NHL and MLB, bookmakers may offer -0.5 or -1 alternate odds along with standard -1.5 point spreads. Totals in hockey usually don’t move by more than one or two goals while totals in baseball can swing by two or three runs. Juice prices increase when buying points and decrease when selling points. Alternate lines in soccer are often very similar, as illustrated in this example from FanDuel.

Odds swing dramatically when betting on football and basketball alternate lines. Depending on the sportsbook, it’s not uncommon to find alternate football odds that range from 1 to 14 points higher or lower than the main point spread. The same goes for game totals as displayed in the image below. The main total price was set at 49.5 with equal juice on both sides. Bettors were able to move the main line down to 36 points or up to 54 points.

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