Alternate Lines Explained

Sometimes, that extra half-point or so can make a world of difference for sports bettors. Oddsmakers seem to have an uncanny knack for finding the right numbers as many bets are decided by the smallest of margins.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have a little more control over the numbers you’re betting on? Thanks to alternate lines, you can. Alternate lines open the doors to different options than what bettors will find on the main game listings.

The odds will be adjusted based on the risk you’re taking on or mitigating. Here’s everything you need to know about betting on alternate lines in Ontario, including where they’re offered and the best practices for using them.

Best Ontario sports betting odds

There are plenty of choices for Ontario sports bettors to make, from the different sports to various bet types and even places to play. The choices also extend to the odds, which are constantly moving. We make it a breeze to see where the market stands on our customizable live odds feed. Just click the odds to claim the bonus when ready to bet.

What are alternate lines?

You’ll find the main game listing at legal Ontario sportsbooks for all of the top sporting events, many of which will feature the odds for moneyline, spread, and totals bets. For the spread and total, there’s the listed number set by oddsmakers along with the betting odds.

Alternate lines provide bettors with additional options beyond the listed numbers. For example, NHL games use a puckline that’s set at 1.5 goals. If you check out alternate lines, you’ll see options for other amounts, such as 2.5 goals.

The odds will be adjusted to the amount of risk involved. If you take on more, the potential return rises accordingly, while it drops when you give yourself more of a cushion. Bettors love having options. Alternate lines are one way that sportsbooks provide them.

More about lines and bet types:

Sports where alternate lines are available

Alternate lines are most commonly associated with major team-based sports. At the top legal Ontario sportsbooks, you should find a solid selection available in the following.

They can also be found in some of the major individual sports. For example, you may find alternates from the main listings on the round finish in a UFC fight or on the spread for a Tennis match. If sportsbooks are confident that they’ll see at least a decent amount of volume, then alternate lines will be available.

Which sportsbooks offer alternate lines?

The sports betting industry is a copycat one. If one top shop offers something that gains traction, it’s just a matter of time before you see it introduced elsewhere. As such, alternate lines have grown to become pretty standard across the industry.

You’ll find them at the major books like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars, as well as at other operators like PointsBet and the Score. You can find what’s available by clicking through on the main game listings for your sport of choice.

How do the odds work with alternate lines?

When you view the main game listing at legal Ontario sportsbooks, you’ll see the odds for the main pregame bets of moneyline, spread, and totals. Using the runline for an MLB game as an example, it’ll look something like this.

 Decimal OddsAmerican Odds
Toronto Blue Jays-1.5 (2.1)-1.5 (+105)
Detroit Tigers+1.5 (1.8)+1.5 (-125)

If you click through the game listing, you’ll see the available alternate lines for that contest. There will be a range of different choices listed out, all of which will have odds attached.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds
Blue Jays+3.51.1-1200
Blue Jays+2.51.2-620
Blue Jays+1.51.3-355
Blue Jays-2.52.4+142
Blue Jays-3.53.1+210

In a nutshell, the more risk you take on, the more the potential return increases. When you give yourself more leeway, the profits will decrease. Finding the sweet spot where alternate lines make sense and where they don’t is part of the challenge.

More on this topic: How do sportsbooks create odds?

Alternate line examples

All sports have different ranges to be aware of when it comes to spreads and totals, so exactly how alternate lines are applied will vary. Let’s walk through some examples of alternate lines in action for some of the major sports.

NFL Alternate betting lines

The main game lines for the NFL will receive lots of attention in advance of kickoff. Those who are looking for something a little different will find odds for alternate spreads and totals offered by sportsbooks. For example, a standard spread might look like this.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds
Seattle Seahawks-1.51.8-115
Indianapolis Colts+1.51.9-105

Alternate spreads can be found by clicking through the game listing. The number of options may vary by operator, but you’ll generally see a wide range of options, ranging from a few ticks of difference to a whole host of points in either direction.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

If you take on more risk on the Seattle side, you have the chance for bigger returns, while lessening the risk means that fewer profits would come back your way. The same applies to bettors on the Indianapolis side in the opposite direction.

NHL Alternate betting lines

Alternate lines for NHL bettors can revolve around the puckline or total. Both of those bet types fall into distinct ranges for the NHL: 1.5 for puckline and 5.0 – 6.5 for totals. A standard game puckline listing might look like this.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds
Ottawa Senators+1.51.8-130
Toronto Maple Leafs-1.52.2+120

Thanks to alternate lines, bettors have more options to consider than just the default bet. There will be a range of other options to explore at the legal Ontario sportsbooks, including ones in which the script on the game is flipped entirely.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds
Maple Leafs-2.02.5+150
Maple Leafs-2.53.8+275
Maple Leafs+1.51.5-200
Maple Leafs+2.01.3-400

If you think the Leafs have a chance to win by an even greater amount than the regular puckline or that the Senators can surprise, you’ll have several different options to explore, all of which will have the odds adjusted accordingly.

CFL Alternate betting lines

While there are distinct differences between the CFL and NFL, betting action works the same. The main game listings for both sports feature the odds for moneyline, spread, and totals bets. Alternate lines have other options for spreads and totals.

 TotalDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

Let’s say that the above total is for a meeting of the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks. While you can simply choose the Over or Under on the listed amount and hope for the best, you’ll also find several different ticks of difference to consider.

 TotalDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

Alternate lines bring a whole new strategic component into the festivities. You can find chances for better returns, as well as options for more safety for your selections, but always remember to wager based on your confidence level and not on projected profits.

NBA Alternate betting lines

Pregame betting lines for the NBA revolve around the main big three – moneyline, spreads, and totals. After the initial release, a standard spread can move around, but there are always alternate lines to be found. Before tipoff, it could look like this.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds
Boston Celtics+2.51.9-110
Toronto Raptors-2.51.9-110

If you’re happy with the lines as is, then you can place your bet on either side at odds of -110, give or take a few ticks as market action develops. For those who want more choices, alternate lines are the answer.

 SpreadDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

It’s challenging to bet the spread consistently on a long-term basis. For those who want some more flexibility with the numbers, alternate lines are an option but remember that the odds will adjust from the standard listing based on the line you choose.

MLB Alternate betting lines

For MLB bettors, moneyline, runline, and totals are the big pregame bets to zero in on. You can shop around on moneyline prices across the industry, while alternate lines are also available at the top legal sportsbooks. A standard MLB Over/Under might look like this.

 TotalDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

Totals for MLB games tend to range from 6.0 to 10+ runs with the average game falling between 8.0 and 9.0. While there are plenty of bettors who will bet on the standard line and call it a day, there are also lots of alternatives to explore.

 TotalDecimal OddsAmerican Odds

After looking at the standard listing, if you think that oddsmakers are either way off the mark or have made the total too tricky, you have options to consider. Alternate lines provide bettors with even more opportunities to find their comfort level.

When does it make sense to bet on alternate lines?

Alternate lines make the most sense when you have a really good read on a game or event, as well as for the times when you want a little more wiggle room on the standard pregame betting line. There aren’t any sure things when it comes to sports betting, but alternate lines provide bettors with a little more control and additional options to consider.

For example, they work for games in which you’d love to have an extra half-point or so on the spread. They also can work in the case of a contest in which you feel that the oddsmakers are off the mark, such as a 49.5-point CFL total that you feel is certain to be well over that amount.

There’s the potential for greater returns in comparison to the standard line when you take on more risk and more of a safety net with lower profit potential for other options. Whenever you bet, what’s in it for you is certainly one of the factors to consider, but be careful not to fall into the trap of wagering solely based on the potential.

Key takeaways on alternate lines

Alternate lines provide bettors with additional options to consider beyond the main spread and total bets for sporting events. They’re available at all of the top sportsbooks and can be found by clicking through on the main game listing.

The alternative could be as simple as a half-or full-point, but there’s generally a wide range of choices for each contest. If you take on more risk, you’ll have the potential for greater winnings, while mitigating the risk results in smaller possible returns.

For those who are used to simply betting on the market line while shopping for the best odds, alternate lines open up many more possibilities. It’s an intriguing option to consider as you build out your overall approach to sports betting in general.