You hear a lot of sports bettors say it, "I beat the closing price on that bet" but what does it really mean and why is it important to winning when it comes to betting on sports?
The closing price is the betting price at the sportsbooks when all betting is closed and the game is about to start. It is the most accurate price because all of the money has been bet and all available information and opinions have been factored in. Closing price value is determined by comparing the price on a bet placed at an earlier time with the price at game start time. If you placed a bet at 2.1 and the price closed at 1.75, you have price value. Many studies have been done on the closing price and all point toward the same thing and assume that getting a better price than the close will result in +EV bets in the long run.
Prices move throughout the day as bets are placed and new information becomes available. The playing status of certain players and weather information is always more accurate closer to game time than it is when a price first comes out. The bettors who win the most, generally have the most money, best resources, best information, and most followers, and therefore will have the most influence on a price. As more money pours in, and more information and opinions are exposed, the stronger and more accurate the price becomes.
Most bettors are too results-oriented when determining if they or a tipster/advisory service they are considering following have an edge, meaning they judge primarily on past results, often with an emphasis on recent results. Now surely winning bets is and always will be the #1 goal, as they don't pay you for just making good bets, but actual results can be swayed heavily by positive or negative variance, particularly when looking at a limited sample size. To be able to determine if the tipster service in question is truly making good bets you need to dig a little deeper. You need to look at how past plays have done against the closing price. This is a common strategy used by professional bettors when evaluating tipster services but is often ignored by recreational bettors. Sportsbooks on the other hand will openly admit that they gauge the “sharpness” of a player more by how their bets do against the closing price than by their actual results. If you were to ask any bookmaker who he is more scared of taking a bet from going forward, a sports bettor who is winning 60% of his last 100 bets but is losing to the closing price or a sports bettor who has broke even on his last 100 bets but has consistently beat the closing price, I can promise you the bookmaker will be more scared of the break even player.
One should always be focusing on trying to find and place bets that will beat the closing price. There are many ways to beat the closing price from trying to originate your own numbers, following service plays that moves prices, betting steam or just playing any "off" number that is better than the current no vig price. It's not easy to do but through hard work it can be done. In fact I know many winning sports bettors who can't name a single player in the sport they are betting but they are winning because their entire focus is on finding ways that they will beat the closing price. Sometimes it's not about working harder when betting sports it's about working smarter. If you are beating the closing price over the long term then you are playing with an edge and you will be a winning sports bettor.