What is a Line Movement in Sports Betting?

Line Movement

Sportsbooks are frequently adjusting and tinkering with odds. In addition to this, they line balance betting markets. In a perfect world, they want an equal amount of money on both sides of every bet. They can take a little off the top and have no risk. When one side of the bet gets significantly more action, they are also at risk of losses. The sportsbook doesn’t like this, and they move the line.

This way, they try to entice more betting on the other side and combine a potential vulnerability. That is the basics of line movement. It is quite common in sports betting. Moreover, they change due to public backing and new changes done by a sportsbook. In this short guide, you will get complete knowledge about this strategy. 

What is Line Movement?

Knowing the best time to place a bet can be the difference between a modest win and a big profit line movement is essential. However, the term “lines” represents a lot in sports betting. In addition, it refers to odds on a bet or particular lines such as point spread or the over/ under the total. Drastically, these lines change between the times they are initially set by the sportsbook up until the game starts.

There are several reasons betting lines can move, but you need to start with the most common. Generally, sportsbooks want to have as close to an equal amount of action on each side of the bet. Regardless of who wins, they will profit from the commission they charge. Remember that it is an amount the sportsbook takes of every bet before it is paid out.

If there is more action on one side of the bet, the sportsbook risks losing money if that side of the bet wins. The sportsbook makes the less famous side of the bet more attractive to encourage an equal amount of money to bet on both sides. They do this by changing the payout odds or moving the point spread or total. Here are different forms of line movement.

  • More valuable odds, like a very high positive value on the money line.
  • Change the number of points, give or take away from a team
  • Make a change in the predicted point total of a game. Usually, any time you feel that the odds, points, or totals in a bet change, the lines have been moved.

Why Betting Lines Move?

Generally, lines move because the most money is a bet on one side of a single bet. The sportsbook doesn’t like this because if all those bets win, they will lose a lot. When the sportsbook and even the books, it will move the line. In this way, they make that side of the bet more attractive. Another possibility of line movement is that a big amount of money is a bet on a small number of bettors, especially when the line moves erratically or unexpectedly. When the lines move in contradiction to the public betting percentage, it is a reverse line movement. However, most bettors place a bet on one side, and the line moves to make the other side more attractive.

It tends to point out sharp money. Some external factors are separate from the betting, and the reason for line moves. For instance, if 3 major players from one team cannot play the game due to sudden injury, which is likely to reflect in the betting lines. Some other factors include suspensions, team selection, tactical announcements, or weather. Remember that sportsbooks are not always trying to set lines that they consider fair or balanced.

The major concern is to make money. It usually means balancing the action since they can’t when there is equal money on each side of the bet. The major thing is that sportsbooks move betting lines with the expectations of player and team factors. It is because they consider it provides them the best chance of making money.

Line Movement Example:

NFL is become the king in sports betting. Therefore, consider the NFL line to illustrate what line movement looks like. In this example, the New York Giants visit Dallas Cowboys. 

  • Opening line list Monday before the game starts
  • Giants +4 (-110)
  • Cowboys -4(-110)
  • Similarly, Saturday before the game starts
  • Giants +3 (-110)
  • Cowboys -3(-110)

In this case, the sportsbook drops Cowsboys from a 4-point favorite to a 3-point favorite. It means the Cowboys need 4 or more points to win and cover a bet on the closing line. Opposes need to win by 5 or more points to cover a bet on the opening line.


The major concern of sportsbooks is to make money. Therefore, they try to do something that helps them to fulfill their main concern. Line Management is one of those forms that sportsbooks use. After reading this article, you will understand what it is and why sportsbooks move lines.

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