Why Line Movements Are Important

Sports Betting Line Movements
Line Movements in Sports Betting

Learning Line Movements are a Must for a Bookie

It is almost a given that an opening betting line and a closing betting line are different. Betting lines move up or down for a number of reasons, but why are line movements important?

First, we must understand lines and what causes them to move.


Line Movement

In sports betting, it is common to use the term “lines” to refer to a number of different things. “The line moved” could refer to a change in odds on a certain bet or it may be used when a point spread changes. Line movement may also refer to a shift in a game total.

These movements – a change in odds or a change in point spread or total – are all referred to as line movements in the industry. Now, the big question is why do lines move?

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Reasons for Line Movement

There are essentially just a few factors that cause lines to move. One is a group of external factors that could influence the outcome of a game. These are things like weather, injuries, or key players not playing in a game. 

When a starting quarterback doesn’t play in an NFL game, that is going to have an impact. The same is true of a pitcher missing a start in baseball or a goalie being scratched in an NHL game.

The big reason why lines move is an economics lesson. Sportsbooks are in the business of making money. As a result, they will shift lines to ensure they come out ahead. Take the following example at America’s Bookie.

            Philadelphia 76ers      +5.5 (-110)

            Chicago Bulls              -5.5 (-110)

Bettors initially wager $220,000 on the Sixers to win $200,000. Bettors also wager $165,000 on the Bulls to cover. The winnings would be $150,000 if Chicago covers.

Sports Betting Line Movements

Not Good Business

If the Sixer win or lose by five or less, the sportsbooks payout $200,000 in winnings. The problem is they only collected $165,000. That’s not good business. 

So, sportsbooks can adjust the point spread to bring in more wagers on the Bulls. The closer sportsbooks can get to an equal amount wagered on both sides of the bet the better. This same logic can be applied to adjusting a game total or adjusting odds.

Line movement also occurs in response to sharp bettors. These are professional bettors and they can have an impact on betting lines. Bettors will often follow sharps and bet on the same side. Sportsbooks will shift lines to discourage that.

Pay Attention to Line Movement

Bettors should pay attention to line movements. It’s like watching gas prices. You might be inclined to fill your vehicle up a few days before a major holiday. Spikes in travel typically cause gas prices to go up. You take advantage by getting a better price before it rises.

It’s the same in sports betting. A typical strategy involves getting in on a favorite early. If you like a favorite, bet it early because the public tends to like favorites. That tends to lead to line movements.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a 2.5-point favorite at home. With more bets on the Chiefs, sportsbooks shift the line to make Kansas City look less attractive. At closing, the Chiefs are a 6.5-point favorite. Getting in early means your Chiefs only have to win by three or more instead of seven or more.

Ultimately, watching line movements can help bettors get the best prices and influence their bottom-line success.