Line Movements And How To Read Into Them

Written by on November 17, 2016

In sports betting, or any betting for that matter, you will rarely find the lines staying static at the opening number. This is based on the fact that, as soon as the lines go live, the betting public begins to pound on the side they like, and as a result, the books are forced to move the line either positively or negatively with the aim of trying to attract equal action on both sides of the line for the sake of balancing the books. This action of change in the betting line (spread) is what we call line movement.

Besides the rudimentary reason of trying to attract action on both sides of the line, line movements can occur due to a variety of other reasons and a keen betting eye is required in order to read and interpret the line moves in sportsbooks. Below we will be taking a look at some the reasons behind line movements and how bettors can use that knowledge to read and find value in the betting line moves.

In Depth Analysis On The Line Movements And How To Read Into Them


Line Movements Due to Smart Money

Usually, the public bets on games progressively so the books rarely have to move the line in a big way. If, however, you notice that a line opens at let’s say -4, and then it rapidly moves by a point or two within hours of being released to -5, -6 or reversely to -3 or -2; then chances are that the line is almost exclusively moving as a result of smart money. In the case of movement to -5 or -6, it means that the smart money is coming in heavy on the favorite. On the flipside, the movement to -3 or -2 shows that there is a ton of action on the underdog. As a candid betting rule, you should always trust your own research and gut feelings when betting, but when you notice such sharp movements, it is advisable to take a keen note on the side that the smart money is going to, as the sharps are often correct when it comes to judging good value in the betting boards.

Line Movements Due to Public Money

Line movements that typically take time to move are often because of public money. If a line, for example, opens -4, and then takes a bit of some time to move -4.5, and then eventually -5 or -5.5 a couple days later; that’s often a sign of public money coming in heavy on the favorite. The public generally loves betting on the favorite, and that’s why such line movements occur. You should, however, note that while the public and the smarts often find themselves rooting for different values, there are times that they both bank on the same side, so you should be careful not to always look at public and smart money as mutually exclusive entities.

Reverse Line Movements

A reverse line movement is a term that is often associated with line moves that are believed to be influenced by smart money, where the movements seemingly goes in the opposite direction of what is logically expected to happen. For example, if Team A opens at -3 and is getting the majority of the public money as per the betting percentages but the sportsbooks move the game to -2 or -1; it means that a reverse line movement has occurred. In a few cases, it may be because the books are trying to balance action on both sides, but for the most part, such a movement is highly likely based on smart money coming in heavily on the underdog.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that line movements are just one aspect of handicapping games, so you need to consider other handicapping tools such as game analysis, betting trends and gut instinct if you are to find the much-needed betting edge over your bookies.