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
Thursday 22 February
Brooklyn Nets 19:00 Charlotte Hornets +300 -357 Odds
New York Knicks 19:00 Orlando Magic +145 -154 Odds
Washington Wizards 20:00 Cleveland Cavaliers +230 -256 Odds
Philadelphia 76ers 20:00 Chicago Bulls -278 +240 Odds
Thunder 22:00 Sacramento Kings -323 +275 Odds
L.A. Clippers 22:30 Warriors +550 -714 Odds
Friday 23 February
Atlanta Hawks 19:00 Indiana Pacers
Boston Celtics 19:00 Detroit Pistons -114 -104 Odds
Charlotte Hornets 19:00 Washington Wizards +140 -156 Odds
Milwaukee Bucks 19:30 Toronto Raptors +305 -385 Odds
Wolves 20:00 Houston Rockets +310 -385 Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers 20:00 Memphis Grizzlies -217 +181 Odds
Miami Heat 20:00 Pelicans +125 -145 Odds
San Antonio Spurs 21:00 Denver Nuggets +115 -135 Odds
Blazers 21:00 Utah Jazz Odds
L.A. Clippers 21:00 Phoenix Suns -189 +166 Odds
Dallas Mavericks 22:30 L.A. Lakers +140 -154 Odds
Saturday 24 February
Orlando Magic 17:00 Philadelphia 76ers
Memphis Grizzlies 19:30 Miami Heat
Boston Celtics 19:30 New York Knicks
Thunder 20:30 Warriors
Chicago Bulls 21:00 Wolves
Blazers 21:00 Phoenix Suns
Dallas Mavericks 21:00 Utah Jazz
L.A. Lakers 22:00 Sacramento Kings
Sunday 25 February
Detroit Pistons 13:00 Charlotte Hornets
Pelicans 15:00 Milwaukee Bucks
San Antonio Spurs 15:30 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 20:00 Washington Wizards
Houston Rockets 20:00 Denver Nuggets

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.