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Understanding How Lines Move

With time and practice, reading lines and projecting line movement will become an acquired habit or skill. Recognizing and reacting to line movement can help you get the best possible price on your bets. Also, something unfortunate could have happened to the Giants. For example, there was an injury or suspension of an important player. Using an NFL point spread as an example, let’s see how a line can move from a betting line’s opening to the game’s kick-off. McNeil believed that money, guts, and brains make up the three essentials that every bettor needs.

Reverse line movement takes place when a large majority of bets are on one team, yet the line moves in the opposite direction. For example, in the two cases above, at least 75 percent of all bets were placed on the Chargers and Wisconsin respectively. Yet, the Chargers line dropped from an opener of -7 to a closing line of -5½, while Wisconsin fell from -6½ to -5. You all now know what transpired on the field on each occasion.

If you’re taking Denver, you’re following the “smart money,” but you are doing it with a worse point-spread. You don’t want to make all your bets based on what other people are betting. You don’t want to become overly-enamored with a team getting better and better value as the week wears on.

Not every change in a betting line is due to the distribution of betting action. Our Bet Signals at Sports Insights can give you real-time reverse line movement notifications. And if you’re paying attention, you can often get a good number at your book after it’s already moved at a market-setting book. Or, in a moneyline sport, if the Yankees moved from -180 to -170 while receiving 70% of bets. Sports betting lines (spreads, moneylines, over/unders) don’t move easily, but they certainly aren’t stuck in place. However, not all sportsbooks will do this and sometimes lines can be moved on or off-key numbers.

If a line moves in a different direction than expected, it is most likely because there was a greater percentage of money placed on the other side. Even though in the above hypothetical 78% bets were placed on the favorite, it is possible that only 25% of the money wagered in total was on the favorite. As a result, sportsbooks are forced to adjust the line in order to entice a larger percentage of money on the other side. It’s not going onto day 7 of being stuck in the losing column, and what better way to get back on track than wagering on as many games as you can for football Sunday, right? If you are in a funk with your betting, it probably is because you haven’t been looking at the right trends or analyzing the correct statistics. Perhaps you have solely been betting favorites in hopes of hitting a few “easy” bets or centering on underdogs to win back what you lost.

As a result, sportsbooks will provide more favorable lines for the side that’s likely to entice more wagers from the public. In sports betting, line movement describes when the odds or point spread for a game changes from the time the bet opens to the time the game starts. Also, be sure to brush up on your basic betting knowledge with abe’s “How to Bet” hub, which features deeper dives on how to read and bet point spreads, Over/Under lines and other forms of wagers.


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