Line Movements and How to Read Into Them
Every game that is placed on the board for a sports bettor to wager on is given a line. The line is the watermark for all bettors and how they will wager on the game.
It controls the money and it is taken very seriously by all bettors. It’s taken even more serious by the casinos and sportsbooks that hire linesmakers to make the line.
The linesmaker must scrutinize each and every game on any given day and try their best to put a line on a game that will attract equal action on both sides. This is a monumental job because a wrong line can cost a place millions of dollars if not caught soon enough.
This pitfall makes this one of the toughest jobs in the industry and under scrutiny during every game. With this in mind this article will cover line movement and how it is affects the everyday gambler and how to track it.
Tracking the Beast
Line movement is not easy to track for several reasons. Nowadays there are a ton of sites that offer feeds with odds. Many of those sites do not grab the opening line from the same place and what you think may be an opening line really is not.
My suggestion is to find an odds site that tells you where they get the opening line from, then you can watch it.
Better yet, you can look at your sportsbook early in the week and write down the first line you see and then before game-time, see where it has moved to and basically track your own movement.
Line Moving Matters
The line movement matters and the reasons are simple. One of the first rules that bettors learn is that the public loses more than they win.
Line movements are based on money. The bookmaker wants equal action on both sides, so his boss will win juice and not payout a lopsided game.
If he is getting too much action than he needs to change the line to get action on the other side and that is the reason for the movement.
So moving of the line may tell you about the public on a side of a game, but it will definitely tell you about money coming in on a game.
Two Different Views
Line movement is viewed differently by different people. If the line moves it’s because of money being bet on one side more than the other.
One bettor may look at this and say the public is betting heavy on that team and so the line moved and the public loses more than it wins so fade the move.
The other theory is that smart money or wise guys are jumping on a play and that is moving the line, so you want to bet the move and jump on board.
This is where the gambling term “steam” comes from. When the line is steamed or steaming, all it shows is that the line is moving rapidly in one direction. This is often related with smart money making a last minute play on a good play, but this is not always the case.
What to Do
The first thing you want to do is to make sure it’s not the only tool you use when handicapping a sport, whether you are convinced fading the public or jumping on board with smart money. I recommend using a variety of tools to try and decipher what caused the line move and use that to your advantage.
In today’s day and age it takes plenty of money to move a line and many sportsbooks without superior linesmakers will follow the lead of other books just because they moved their line, not because of any money played.
Set the line on a game without looking at it and then look at the posted line last. When you see the line posted, you will see if you have value based on the line that you have set on the game.
When the line moves you can play based on the value you gain or lose with the movement in comparison to your original posted line. Then you do not get caught up in the reason behind the line movement, but the value that it brings.