How early betting lines impact your player's performance?

November 12, 2023

It is a common belief that "sharp" players place tickets early in the lifetime of the betting line.

By visualizing the number of tickets (shown on the left-axis of the graph below) and organizing the tickets into buckets or bins based on how many hours before kick-off they were placed, we can get an idea of the distribution.

Let's analyze this aspect on the action received by one of the local bookies using our payperhead software service.

The data:

As a sample dataset, we will use all the straight tickets placed in the book for week 44 (October 30, 2023, to November 5, 2023).

We then subtract the date and time when the ticket was placed from the date and time when the given ticket's game will start (kickoff), and we get the difference in hours for when the player placed his ticket.

For example, if the game kickoff was at 6 pm, and the player placed the ticket at 2 pm, the difference in hours would be 4.

In this way, we can assign each ticket based on how many hours before kickoff it was placed.

The bottom axis ("Hours before start of the game") shows these bins.

tickets per hours before kickoff
As expected, most tickets were placed within less than 24 hours before the start of their respective games. Again, this graph shows tickets grouped by "hours before kickoff" based on when they were placed. All tickets were placed through the payperhead bookie service and entered either online or using the toll free number.

The first thing that stands out is that most tickets are placed closer to kickoff (hour = 0) (notice that the bars close to zero are much higher than the rest).

Let's take a closer look at the tickets placed within 5 hours of the game's kickoff.

betting tickets per hours before kickoff by result status
The win/loss ratio remained fairly similar (around 50/50) no matter how far from kickoff the ticket was placed (not the orange and green bars remain fairly similar in height). Here we are only showing tickets placed via the payperhead sportsbook platform, but with equal or less than 5 hours before kickoff.

By stacking the tickets based on their status (win, loss, or pushed), we can see that there is no significant standout. In other words, the win/loss ratio remained fairly consistent (around 50/50) regardless of how far in advance the ticket was placed. The green bars (winning tickets) and the orange bars (losing tickets) remain fairly similar in size.

Now, let's examine tickets placed more than 5 hours before kickoff.

sports betting tickets placed more than 5 hours
Starting at around 15 forward, we start to see that the ratio between winning and losing tickets placed through the payperhead bookie software starts changing. ¿Could this mean better players usually place their tickets much sooner than normal or "square" players?

Although the winning ratio is not the sole characteristic that distinguishes a 'sharp' player (bookies should also consider factors such as betting in units consistently, the number of tickets placed in a day or week, etc.), the winning ratio is the ultimate goal these types of players aim for. Local bookies using our payperhead software service have plenty of reports to gauge this, plus our customer service department which can provide custom analytics at request.

Let's now isolate tickets placed more than 15 hours before kickoff and examine the net balance of those tickets.

betting tickets by net balance

This last graph shows the aggregation of the tickets placed at a given number of hours before kickoff, but this time with emphasis in their net result.

In other words, the net result of all tickets placed, from 15 hours up to 30 hours before kickoff.

All dots below the $0 line ended up with a negative net result.

What does this graph shows?

There is no clear correlation (at least for this sample data) between how many hours before kickoff the ticket was placed and whether the ticket translated into a win or loss.

The Tools

intro to hide betting lines sports betting

While the preceding data might not indicate that early lines have paid out more to bettors than those placed closer to kickoff, it doesn't necessarily negate the possibility that early lines could represent a potential vulnerability for your local sportsbook.

By utilizing our payperhead bookie software, you gain access to a variety of tools to precisely determine what to offer and when to offer it. Our pay-per-head sportsbook provides robust options for controlling the availability of lines, allowing you to specify how early they are accessible or even apply different limits up until a specified number of hours before kickoff.

In the "max wager" screen, there are two options we will discuss here:

The "hide lines" X hours before kickoff:

This option enables you to hide the line until a specific number of hours before kickoff. Your players will be able to view the game entry, but the odds will remain hidden and inaccessible.

For instance, you might decide not to offer 1st-half moneylines until 4 hours before kickoff.

Setting a 4-hour time threshold for 1st-half NFL moneylines would appear as follows using the payperhead bookie software's backend:

payperheadsportsbook hide lines until 4 hours kickoff

The following image shows how your players will see the line offerings once the 1st half NFL moneylines have been hidden.

hide betting moneylines player frontend

Early Limits:

Setting a lower limit than the general max wager limit is yet another option local bookies using our payperhead sportsbook software can use to decrease their book's exposure.

For example, if one of your players has a max wager limit of $200, you could decide to set an early lines limit of $100. This way, the player will be able to bet up to $100 until the "Early Limit Time of Day" is reached.


Early lines limits are just one of the multiple custom settings that only our Payperhead sportsbook offers to local bookies. We are the most feature-rich payperhead sportsbook out there, but our customer service is what differentiate us among the competitors with similar software offerings.

At, we analyze your player base and suggest adjustments to help you improve your sportsbook's profit margins.

If you made it all the way to the end of this article, we suggest two paths of action:

  1. Request a free demo account, granting you access to both the frontend sportsbook (used by your players to place bets) and the agent backend (used by you to monitor and control their wagering limits).
  2. Read our in-depth guide, which compares our payperhead bookie software service against the competition. As you go through this guide, we recommend contacting the listed providers and requesting demo accounts to verify the information presented in our article. You will notice that in almost every category we are the most integral and robust option.