Closing line value (or CLV) is the most important factor in determining if sports bettors are profitable over time or not.
The concept is pretty simple: beat where the market closes. If you’re betting underdogs at +5.5 on the point spread and they’re closing at +3.5, that’s two free points of value you have on the closing line.
Of course, you still have to factor in the vig, or juice, that sportsbooks take. If the a moneyline closes at a pick’em at -110 on each side, the no-vig closing line is actually +100 since the sportsbook thinks each side has a 50% chance to win the game.
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If a bettor has a +100 bet on either of the sides, that means they haven’t beaten the no-vig closing line — they’ve only matched it. If over a large sample size every single bet exactly matches the no-vig closing line, that bettor can expect to break even.
To ensure profit over hundreds of bets, bettors must consistently beat the no-vig closing line.
In this case, Alex would have beaten the closing line. He bet the Chiefs at -102 and they hypothetically closed at -113.89 no-vig fair odds. Before the game even kicks off, Alex is happy with his bet.
Of course, nobody is going to beat the closing line every time. Alex is currently at 79% over the past month. He uses the OddsJam Positive Expected Value tool to identify value against the current no-vig fair odds.
However, if star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is ruled out and does not play for the Chiefs in the game, he will almost certainly not beat the CLV. If sharps create a steam move toward the Bengals and move the line, he also will not beat the CLV.
But of course, this goes both ways. If reports this week from practice are that Mahomes will be at full strength, the -102 will beat CLV. The sharps could also move the line in favor of the Chiefs.
All these factors outside of the bettor’s control cancel out over time. Sometimes injuries, movement and weather will move lines in your favor and other times those factors will move lines against you.
Alex is starting with an edge at -102, which was an outlier compared to other sportsbooks, so he’s still confident in that bet.
Alex also bet on Manchester United -1.5 at +140 over 10 days in advance of the match. He explains his thinking here:
The edge when you place the bet doesn’t change when you bet far in advance. Your CLV percentage will not be 100%, but that’s not the end of the world. The goal is to maximize for net profit, not CLV percentage.
If you’re not placing bets far in advance because you’re worried about the line moving against you, then other sharp bettors will capitalize and those market inefficiencies.
Eventually, the line will move and that profitable bet won’t be there, meaning you missed an opportunity.
Overall, beating the closing line is crucial to being a winning bettor, and you should be well over 50% beating CLV on the OddsJam Bet Tracker.
However, don’t worry if it’s not close to 100%. In the long run, taking a chance (when there’s value in the moment) on the variance of line movement is well worth any individual instances of the line moving against you.