Line Movements Explained

When it comes to sports betting, there is no science to guarantee a win.  However, there are certain strategies which casual players and seasoned pros both use to their advantage.  One of these is closely monitoring line movements.  While this may not guarantee a winning bet, if you can read the line carefully, then you will most probably have a good idea whether the bet you are considering is a sound wager or not.

First of all, what exactly is the line?  It is quite simply the odds given by a bookmaker on any given sporting event.  It is carefully considered and worked out, as the bottom line for any bookmaker is to make money.  Therefore a badly selected line can come at a cost of quite literally millions.  You can rest assured that the chosen line has been selected purely for the benefit of the bookmaker. 

However, this line is fluid.  After all, there are plenty of sports books and betting sites which now include a live odds feed, as the line is forever changing.  You will sometimes find that the opening odds on a specific match differ significantly from the odds that you will find on the same fixture on the day of the game itself.

Being able to understand how and why these lines are constantly changing can be a key to forging a sensible sports betting strategy.  In short, bookmakers move the line in order that they win more than the betting public.  If they feel that there is too much betting action on one side, then they will move the line accordingly.  Too much action on one outcome will inevitably lead to the line being shifted. 

So, the next question is why is there significantly more betting on one specific outcome?  There can be one of two reasons.  It may simply be that the broad public has decided that one outcome is more likely and are voting with their feet (and their money).  The other option is that the line is being closely monitored by the `wise guys´, the pros who understand how to read the line to their advantage. 

The golden question is whether to follow the `wise guys´ or not?  After all, the public tends to bet on the favourite and so if the pros are betting in the opposite direction, maybe you should listen to them?

Maybe, but it´s important to take a closer look at when the line is shifting in order to better analyse whether it can be used to your advantage or not.  Line moves in the day or so before a fixture can usually be put down to the enthusiasm of the public, which tends to bet late in the day.  However, if the line moves take place early on in the betting process, then there is a greater chance that the pros are at play. 

It is worth making a note of the opening odds being quoted for any specific match.  Compare it to the odds on the same fixture just hours, or perhaps a day later.  If they have altered significantly, then in all likelihood, you have a case of pro action.

There may be some inside information that these pros know, which indicates that the odds being quoted are generous.  If these kinds of line changes are occurring, then you can be sure that the bookmakers will soon redress the balance.  That is not to say that you must jump on board straight away.  There are plenty of other tools that you can and should use too, but line movements are an important indicator of betting patterns.      

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