Line bets have become an increasingly popular form of sports betting in Australia as punters’ knowledge and interest in sports moves beyond simply “who will win?”.

In case you weren’t already aware, line bets are a choice between two options in a match with both options approximately the same chance (ie, flip of the coin). The two most common types of line bets are the handicap and total points.

Handicap bets are where the favourite is given a handicap to overcome and the roughie is given a head start. For example, in the 2016 AFL Grand Final, the handicap on Sydney Swans was -10.5 points, and the head start on Western Bulldogs was +10.5.

The price was \$1.92 on both, reflecting that (in the opinion of the bookmaker) both were an even chance of occurring. Sydney Swans -10.5 meant they had to win by 11 points or more for that bet to win.

The Bulldogs easily won that bet with their 22 point victory.

As the name suggests, totals bets are a bet on whether the total points in the match will be over or under the line. The line on the AFL Grand Final was 163.5 points and there were 156 points scored, so the “unders” won that bet.

Line bettors usually discuss their results in terms of strike rate, and it’s a very fine line between a good and exceptional season. Break even is around 52-53% (depending on the bookie’s market percentage).

But what does that mean to someone who talks in terms of PoT (Profit on Turnover)?

The maths is rarely sighted, but this is the simple formula to convert your strike rate into PoT on line bets:

PoT = (Strike Rate x Price) – 1

For example, if your strike rate over a season was 55%, and your average price was \$1.92, your PoT for that season was:

PoT = (Strike Rate x Price) – 1
PoT = (0.55 x 1.92) – 1
PoT = 5.6%

The following table summarises strike rates between 50-60% at a line price of \$1.92.  You can see why 60% is an exceptional season!

Obviously the other part of the PoT equation is the price.  Whilst the \$1.92 used in the above example is a fairly standard line price, sometimes you may be able to obtain higher.

This simply means the bookie’s percentage (also known as margin, cut, vig, or juice) is lower, and winning punters get a higher margin.  Of course in some cases that goes the other way, and you might see line prices of \$1.91, \$1.90, or even \$1.88.

Some bookmakers regularly run specials where line prices are as high as \$1.95, or even \$2!  The following table shows the same PoT figures with these higher prices:

As you can see, comparing odds and making sure you get the best available price is just as important for line bets as it is with all other bets.

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