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
Tuesday 17 October
Boston Celtics 20:00 Cleveland Cavaliers +166 -200 Odds
Houston Rockets 22:30 Warriors +325 -417 Odds
Wednesday 18 October
Charlotte Hornets 19:00 Detroit Pistons +164 -196 Odds
Brooklyn Nets 19:00 Indiana Pacers +147 -175 Odds
Miami Heat 19:00 Orlando Magic -137 +117 Odds
Philadelphia 76ers 19:00 Washington Wizards +247 -303 Odds
Milwaukee Bucks 19:30 Boston Celtics +227 -278 Odds
Pelicans 20:00 Memphis Grizzlies +114 -135 Odds
Atlanta Hawks 20:30 Dallas Mavericks +195 -238 Odds
Denver Nuggets 21:00 Utah Jazz +114 -135 Odds
Wolves 21:30 San Antonio Spurs +222 -270 Odds
Houston Rockets 22:00 Sacramento Kings -435 +300 Odds
Blazers 22:00 Phoenix Suns -149 +126 Odds
Thursday 19 October
Chicago Bulls 19:30 Toronto Raptors
New York Knicks 20:00 Thunder +580 -833 Odds
L.A. Clippers 22:30 L.A. Lakers -222 +185 Odds
Friday 20 October
Atlanta Hawks 19:00 Charlotte Hornets
Blazers 19:00 Indiana Pacers
Boston Celtics 19:00 Philadelphia 76ers
Detroit Pistons 19:00 Washington Wizards
Cleveland Cavaliers 19:00 Milwaukee Bucks -145 +122 Odds
Orlando Magic 19:30 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 20:00 Wolves
Sacramento Kings 20:30 Dallas Mavericks
Warriors 21:30 Pelicans -278 +227 Odds
L.A. Lakers 22:00 Phoenix Suns
Saturday 21 October
Philadelphia 76ers 19:30 Toronto Raptors
Orlando Magic 20:00 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 20:00 Miami Heat
Detroit Pistons 20:00 New York Knicks
San Antonio Spurs 20:00 Chicago Bulls
Dallas Mavericks 20:00 Houston Rockets
Warriors 20:00 Memphis Grizzlies
Blazers 20:30 Milwaukee Bucks
Sacramento Kings 21:00 Denver Nuggets
Thunder 21:00 Utah Jazz
Phoenix Suns 22:30 L.A. Clippers
Sunday 22 October
Atlanta Hawks 15:30 Brooklyn Nets
Wolves 19:00 Thunder
Pelicans 21:30 L.A. Lakers

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.