What is up you guys welcome back, today I want to cover a term that’s all the rage in sports-betting right:
Closing Line Value (CLV)
Simply put, closing line value can be explained as follows:
If that’s a bit abstract, one easy way to wrap your head around CLV is to imagine yourself planning to go see your favorite NBA team – let’s say the Los Angeles Lakers – play live at the Staples Center the following day. To add an extra little thrill to your evening, you decide to throw down a $100 bet on the Lakers spread. Since you’re just doing it for fun and you know you want the bet regardless of the line, you place your bet as soon as it’s posted, getting LA minus two and a half at -110 odds, meaning that if the Lakers were to win by 3 points or more, you would profit $90.91 on the bet (your $100, minus the rake/juice).
After you place your bet you call a buddy who’s going to the game with you and tell him about your action, and not wanting to feel left out, he decides to make the exact same bet. Unfortunately for your friend, during your conversation a couple of big bets came in on the Lakers, forcing the books to push the line to that same minus two and a half but this time at -120 odds instead of the -110 you got it at. But since it’s only a difference of 10 “cents” (as it is known in sports-betting circles), your buddy doesn’t think twice before putting down the same $100 bet.
The following day, after Lebron hits a buzzer-beating three to secure a three-point win for the good guys, you both cash out your tickets, you pocketing $90.91 and your buddy collecting what turns out to be $83.33, a significant lower amount considering the stakes. And while this situation sucks for your friend, congratulations are in order for you, as you have just successfully (albeit inadvertently) earned yourself some of that sweet sweet closing line value!
But don’t get it twisted, you didn’t ‘just’ earn an extra $7.58 on your bet, instead, what you accomplished was much more important! By catching the earliest line possible, you were actually able to reduce the percentage of bets you need to win to attain profitability over the long term by more than 2 percent, a deceptively massive number in a field with razor-thin edges.
Of course, that’s just talking about the difference between -110 and -120; imagine the type of edge you’d have over your friend had he caught it at a relatively common favorite-line of -150. In this situation your advantage would be nearly 8%! And that’s not even taking into account a second friend who only decided to join the party at the last second and therefore had to settle for a line with worse odds AND giving up another couple of point due to the sharps continuing to hit the line repeatedly throughout the day, driving it to -5.5 instead of the -2.5 you caught it at.
In this way it’s easy to see that when it comes to sports-betting, it doesn’t take much to move the needle in regards to long-term profitability, with your -120 friend losing nearly 4 complete buyins (in this case $379) every 50 bets, which can be a busy week or a slow month for the average full-time sports-bettor! As the poker players out there can attest to, starting off 3.79 buyins-down every 50 hands (or bets in our case), is most definitely not a recipe for success.
That’s why – since we assume the closer the game gets, the more efficient betting lines become – the more we purposefully and consistently beat the books by earning positive closing line value, the likelier we are to succeed over a large-enough sample-size. Not only will you reduce the percentage of games you need to win, but you’ll catch your bets before the sharps and books have finished squeezing every last drop of value out of them.
So then, now that we know why CLV is important, how do we go about attaining it?
Well, the answer to that is an easy one in theory:
Unfortunately, there are two problems with this approach: having the patience to see it through to the end and then actually figuring out how to build the edge that will allow you to attain that closing line value. So let’s quickly discuss these two roadblocks to our CLV success.
#1 Patience & Closing Line Value
Before we move on let me fill you in on the number one secret I learned over my nearly two decades of professional poker playing: if you don’t have the ability to be patient built directly into your being, if you can’t imagine spending an entire season tracking your CLV before placing your first bet, then your ONLY option is to become an absolute assassin when it comes to bankroll-management.
Let me stress that again because it absolutely could not be more important and if nothing else, should be the one thing that you take away from this blog:
If you make these two incredibly common mistakes together, not confirming your edge before risking your own capital and not practicing good bankroll-management, you are all but guaranteed to join the 95% of sports-bettors who will be life-long net losers!
That’s why, even though I was not wise enough to find and test my edge before I began putting bets in, my background in poker allowed me to understand the incredible value of proper bankroll-management, thereby preventing me from ever losing an amount that could hurt me. I had a bankroll separate from my life-roll that I was comfortable with losing if all went wrong – which is an absolute necessity if you want to even have a shot at developing patience – and I used a strict 100 unit system, while very rarely risking more than 2 or 3 units at a time.
This practice, more than any analytics or “feel” edge I could develop – was what kept my bankroll safe and allowed me to stay in the game through the inevitable ups and down when embarking on a journey into a field as competitive and volatile as professional sports-betting.
#2 Building A Closing Line Value Edge
Although there are an infinite ways for you to approach the process, one of the easiest and most accessible resources that I’ve found that will allow you to begin your journey towards profitability is the Bet Labs website, found as part of The Action Network (neither which I have an affiliation with other than loving their product). Bet Labs is essentially a sports database that allows anyone to create hypotheses of potential edges and back-test them to see their historic reliability, while also tracking their performance to ensure whatever trend you’re looking at actually remains profitable in present day. They also have an app that will allow you to “paper-trade” – meaning bet without actually risking any of your own money – as well as show you updating betting lines so you can track your closing line value.
If you want to learn more about Bet Labs and how to build effective data-sets, you can check out these two videos I’ve put together on the topic (Here) & (Here). Once you’ve spent some time looking under the hood and getting a good handle on how Bet Labs works, it’s time to build your datasets and track their results against the opening line until you are confident you’ve found yourself an edge. Again, if want to learn how to do that, check out the videos above.
Closing Line Value Summary
So that pretty much wraps up the basics of closing line value; to summarize: make your picks before the betting lines come out based on whatever trends or analysis you prefer, track them by hand or in an app such as The Action Network without risking money (or at the very least, without risking more than you can afford to lose), and observe how consistently you can gain closing line value before taking your shot at beating the books.
If you do this, and continuously work on improving your edge until you are a CLV ninja, your odds of surviving one of the toughest games on earth will be much better for it!
That’s it for today, bet safe out there and make sure to DM me on Instagram for an invite to join our free sports-betting community on Discord, where 300 members are talking picks and strategies around the clock.
Support The Blog