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Old 29 December 2009, 06:33 PM
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Glasses Line automatically favors home NFL teams by 3 points?

Comment: Hi. I have heard throughout my life that when it comes to NFL
football betting lines that the home team is automatically given 3 points
for "home field advantage". I heard it today again and decided to ask you
guys because it sounds reasonable, but might be BS.
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Old 29 December 2009, 08:40 PM
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Automatically is a bit strong...

Betting lines are set so as to entice an equal (or close to it) amount of betting on both sides of the line. Legal bookmakers make money on the transaction (a cut) and use the losing bettors money to pay-off the winners. A good starting point for setting the line is to look at which team is the home team and favor them by X amount of points depending on the sport. The X can be determined by analyzing years worth of data involving games/matches/etc.

For example, Jeff Sagarin at USAToday has determined that the home field advantage in NFL is currently 2.33 for this season. So a bookmaker might look at two equally matched teams and set the line at +2.5 for the home team.

I should add that this would be a starting point for a line. The quality of the teams, injuries, and even popularity can be a factor in determining the opening betting line. This line can move in the time before the game as well based on betting trends.

Last edited by MooseMacD; 29 December 2009 at 08:46 PM. Reason: Added "starting point for a line" paragraph.
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Old 29 December 2009, 08:49 PM
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Many people use the three-point standard as a basic rule of thumb, but it's not a hard rule. Home field advantage will differ based on the significance of the game and precisely where it is being played. For example, a playoff game at the notoriously loud Qwest Field in Seattle will be far more significant than, say, a meaningless game at an unfilled Oakland Colisseum.

I don't have a citation for this because I don't think there's any way to show it definitively, but given that gamblers are aware of the different impact that different home stadiums will have, the oddsmakers are surely aware of it as well, and will take account of it.
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