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Reverse Line Movement

Reverse Line Movement

Sadonna Price
Sadonna Price
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What Is Reverse Line Movement
Why Betting Lines Move
Flaws Of Reverse Line Movement

Reverse line movement is quite a trend in sports betting. Advanced bettors track line movement. They aim to catch an anomaly where a bookie moves the line opposite what logic says.

Sharp bettors study the lines and how much they move around to find these rare events. Once they find them, they make the most of it. Why would a bettor go to so many lengths to find these reverse line movements, though?

We got you. This is an in-depth explanation of what reverse line movement is about.

What Is Reverse Line Movement?

After this long introduction, we get to the reverse line movement. The setup above is necessary, so you understand why sportsbooks will move lines.

Reverse line movement refers to when the bettors see a lot of bets going on one side. But instead of moving the line to the team with less action, the book moves the line in the opposite direction.

Keeping our example. Bettors use different tools to find out which team is getting the most bets. Let’s say the Giants are getting 80% of the money. Common sense would tell the book to move the line to encourage bettors to go for Washington.

For example, move the line from -2.5 to -3, -3.5, or even -4. This way, Washington becomes more attractive. By doing this, the book gets closer to the desired 50/50 split.

But in this case, a reverse line move goes otherwise. With 80% of the money coming New York’s way, the book still improves the line in the Giants’ favor. From -2.5, they can move it to -2 or -1.5.

This means the sportsbook is really confident in Washington winning.

Bettors who follow line movements see this as a hint that the sportsbooks firmly believe in Washington. Due to this, the bettors back Washington too. That’s the whole trick of reverse line movement.

Why Do Sportsbooks Set Reverse Line Movements?

Generally speaking, online sportsbooks make money by attracting close to even money to both sides of the game. From that point on, oddsmakers collect their juice. Let’s have a quick example:

– New York Giants -2.5 (-110)

– Washington Football Team +2.5 (-110)

Let’s assume $55,000 is a bet on the Giants. Another $55,000 came in for Washington. No matter who covers the spread, the sportsbooks will pay $50,000 in winnings but keep $55,000 for them. Their profit is $5,000.

Of course, this would happen in a perfect world. Oddsmakers themselves will tell you it’s not what happens most of the time.

Why Does The Line Move?

It is quite difficult to get the bettors to go an exact 50/50 split on a given game. As a result, oddsmakers move the lines to adjust supply and demand.

This is like the stock market: if demand is high, people buy, price increases. When the people don’t want that stock, they toss it off; hence the price decreases.

NFL betting lines operate sort of the same. The oddsmakers adjust the action to make the demand higher. Using our example above:

– New York Giants -2.5 (-110)

– Washington Football Team +2.5 (-110)

This time, let’s assume $110,000 in bets come for the Giants, but $0 wagered for Washington.

Sportsbooks are in serious jeopardy for this game. They need bettors to wager for Washington because a Giants win would hurt them badly. 

To avoid this situation, they are moving the line. If Washington +2.5 is not attractive enough, they will move the line to +3, +3.5, and so on until bettors find it valuable.

Line movements are vital for sportsbooks to survive in green numbers. The thing is, they don’t always move it as a result of this, and here’s where it all gets tricky.

How Sharps & Squares Influence Line Movement

If all wagers were the same, the sportsbooks would adjust the lines like described above. The fact of the matter is money is not usually distributed in an even way.

Bettors have two major categories: squares (public bettors) and sharps. Square bettors are recreational, and yes, they lose a lot. Sharps are pros who earn their living by betting.

Sportsbooks know how good sharp bettors are. Because of that, oddsmakers trust their market predictions. How do we know this?

Sportsbooks will adjust lines based on who the sharp bettors are leaning on for a game. They trust a few sharp bettors than where the overall money is flowing.

Assuming 60% of the money is in New York, and only 40% of it is in Washington. Let’s say a sharp bettor places a bet on New York.

Oddsmakers will keep the line where it is, even when they need more bettors to go for Washington. They could even move the line in favor of the Giants.

Oddsmakers know sharp bettors win in the long run. Trusting them is a good strategy to mitigate risks.

Flaws Of Reverse Line Movement Strategy

Tracking and betting these reverse line moves is a risky strategy; it has too many flaws.

For starters, bettors can’t know where the money is going in exact numbers. Having rough percentages is not a certainty. And on top of that, percentages give you a number of bets rather than amounts of money.

A sportsbook may show an 80/20 split, but those are bets numbers, not money. The big flaw here is that those 20 bets valued at $100,000 are equal to 80 bets of $25,000. In that case, percentages are misleading you in a big way.

Pay close attention to the sportsbook you’re following for the line moves. Some books take sharp action, and others lean towards less-informed, public bettors.

A sportsbook with sharp action moves the lines based on where the sharp bettors are putting their money. A sportsbook with more recreational players moves the lines based on where the money is. 

Their goal is to look for the 50/50 split. Again, this is why these broad percentages don’t tell the entire story and can be the downfall of a bettor.

Also, sportsbooks can shift lines if injuries, personnel changes, or weather come into play. This means the changed lines without money being bet.

A tool can show you bloated percentages with line moves that contradict the numbers. In reality, the line was moved because of external reasons, not bettors’ inclinations.

Hard Work & Research Are Still Your Best Bet

Reverse line movements are NOT a shortcut to handicapping. There is no such thing as shortcuts in betting. Tools that let you see where the money is flowing at sportsbooks (or percentages) cost money. And then, they track reverse lines themselves.

They sell the idea that tracking reverse line movements will make you money in the long run. But, they have little transparency on how they get the data from the sportsbooks.

Also, the credibility on whether the winning percentages are as good as advertised.

The best way to succeed at betting is to study the sports you bet on. Crunch the numbers, pick the games yourself, the ones you are confident on.

Reverse line movement is an excellent tool to use every now and again, but it must not be your main or exclusive wagering strategy.

Thirsty For More Betting Knowledge? Check Our Sports Betting Guides Hub.


About the author

For almost two decades, Sadonna has remained at the forefront of the gambling industry in the US and abroad, covering the latest news and legal update...

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