How Does Line Movement Work?

Understanding how line movement works is critical for anyone looking to achieve long-term success betting sports. In the simplest of terms, betting lines move when “enough” money has been bet on one side to force the odds makers to either move the number up or down depending on which side is getting hit. “Enough” is relative to what each sportsbook believes is sufficient to get a 50/50 action on both sides of a play and scoop up the vigorish regardless of the outcome.

Tracking Line Movements

Line moves happen because the sportsbooks are too heavily skewed away from that 50/50 split and attempt to force action for later bettors to make the margin as close to even as they can get.

Now, there is much more that goes into it and any novice sports bettor should spend at least a few days tracking line movements to further understand and grasp how exactly the process works. Ideally, bettors have a good general idea which way a particular line will move and will either jump on that side as quick as possible (if they believe it will move against their selection) or wait until as late as possible to get a better number on a play they figure the majority won’t support. Either way, tracking line movements is a key cog in predicting winners.

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Away Score Home Money Line
Monday 12 June
FT Cleveland Cavaliers 120 - 129 Warriors +340 -303 Odds

Why Do Betting Lines Move?

As touched on earlier, betting lines move mainly because the majority of money has come in one way and sportsbooks are attempting to even out the action. Imagine having two friends who were willing to bet on a coin flip and pay $6 to win $5 on their selection, and you (the sportsbook) only have to flip the coin to collect your $1 from the loser – while paying the winner their $5. That’s the goal of every oddsmaker out there and it’s how sportsbooks stay in business and profit handsomely long term. Now if others come in and continually bet ‘heads’ and it’s a 75/25 split, you’d have to bump up the price on ‘heads’ to minimize losses should that be the result – hence moving the line.

Money bet isn’t the only reason betting lines move though as key injuries on a team, coaches deciding to rest players, or good/bad scheduling spots can also impact a betting line. In those spots, there are fewer edges to be found from a betting perspective as all of that information is built into the betting line by the time the game starts.