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Gambling 101: What Are Circled Games?

Our Sports Gambling 101 series continues with a breakdown of the betting term “circled games.” We reveal why bookmakers circle games, how it affects the odds and if bettors can wager on them.

Wagering options are circled at sportsbooks for a variety of reasons and are common across most betting markets. The primary difference, between regular lines and circled odds, is bookmakers limit the amount that can be wagered on circled games. A contest may be circled due to key injuries, a pending trade or adverse weather. In short, if major uncertainty surrounds a match, it will remain circled until bookmakers have gained a better handle on the situation.

How Are Odds and Betting Amounts Affected on Circled Games?

Opening odds are often circled. This is done to give bookmakers an opportunity to adjust the lines once the initial wave of wagering is complete. Betting limits also change. If a sportsbook has a $5,000 per bet maximum on regular lines, they may limit wagers to $500 on circled odds.

A bookmaker may circle a game if they have too much exposure on a contest that has heavy betting volume. Circled games stand alone and are not offered as prop or parlay betting options. Moneylines, game totals and point spreads often move just before circle status is removed.

Are Circled Games Worthy of a Wager?

Circled games should be treated as betting options that have a red flag. Prior to wagering on them, bettors need to determine why a game is circled. If a star player is listed as questionable, and ends up being ruled out, the lines will change prior to the match. Odds can move dramatically depending on the player and the sport. Bettors need to decide on the best spot to jump in so they don’t get tied to heavy favorite odds and a team that may be without their top player.

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On the other side of the coin, bettors can gain value on circled games. In certain sports, like the NFL and NBA, ATS odds may drop from +8 to +5 points on an underdog once a star player is officially ruled out. Bettors receive improved odds if they make their wagers prior to the official announcement. Betting on circled games can be tricky and proper research is required before placing bets. Pounce if value is found - or wager on the action closer to game time.