Sports betting: How to use line movement to your advantage

No matter how inexperienced or novice bettor you are, one thing is certain: you will have surely come across the term line movement and you will have surely seen betting lines changing throughout the time from the opening line till the game is actually on. 

If you are a basketball fan and have experimented with NBA online betting in the Philippines or in any other part of the world, the whole thing about betting line and line movement is not new. The opening lines of a Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat game, for example, will be different from the closing line just before the game starts. 

What is causing the line to move and how can line movement be used to your advantage in sports betting?

Overall, line movement is caused either by external factors or by the bookmakers’ search for a balance in a bet which has accumulated an enormous bet volume on one side, while leaving largely unpopular the other side of the bet.

In this case, when sportsbooks see that the majority of bettors or the large volume of money going to one side, they want to even things out and attract bets for the other side as well. This is the only way to make sure that they will keep on earning bigger and bigger profits. 

Now, in the case of external factors, there can be several drivers that can activate line movement: from players’ injuries to specific team issues and from the weather itself to other exogenous conditions that we can’t control. 

Think of the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat game starting with Giannis Antetokounmpo suffering a severe knee injury. This means that he will most likely sit on the bench and the dynamic of the team is going to certainly change. The line will change too for the game. 

Being able to ‘read’ line movement is a very critical thing for bettors. This can give them a betting edge and an advantage that will make the difference from winning some money to earning long-term profits. 

There are two broad ways to get advantage from line movement:

1. Observe line movement to decide ‘when’ to bet

Line movement can help bettors make more effective decisions regarding the “when” of their betting. Suppose you want to bet on an upcoming game where there is a clear favorite in the opening line. 

Now, the general rule in betting on favorites is that you should go about doing it in the beginning, with the line opening, because it is then that they can be of greater value. Being the favorites means that they will eventually attract more and more bets and this will cause sportsbooks to want to even things out, by moving the line against the favorites. 

So, if you want to bet on the favorite, it’s better to do it early enough when the line opens. 

If you want to bet on the underdog, it is the opposite. 

Assuming that the underdog will eventually have the lines moving in their favor – to even things out because of the public’s bet on the favorite  – it is better to wait and see how much value they will gather. Sportsbooks will try to make this side of the bet more attractive by changing the lines in favor of them and so it will be smarter to bet later on.

2. Observe line movement to decide ‘what’ to bet

In some cases bettors want to wager on a game, but they are not sure which side to pick. Observing the line movement can help them make a smart decision in this manner. 

If you track a big change (not a gradual, smooth change) in the line of a bet, then it is most likely that there has been a strong influx of money to one side. Strong influx means that possibly sharp bettors or those who tend to wager big money, have gone after this side, which further means that there might be something there. If the line moves quickly and the move is big against this side, then it is very likely that there will be value there. 

And since the betting market is not a homogeneous one, you should search for the opening line by shopping around across other sportsbooks. In case you find bookmakers giving the bet in the opening line (before it was changed sharply due to the great influx of bets), you should definitely pick this bet and place your wager, because there is value there.