Why "Line Movements" Matter in Sports Betting

Published on February 26th, 2021 11:08 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Projections in sports is a big business. Moments after the second Conference Championship comes to an end, sports books across the world will release their lines for the Super Bowl.

In some cases, the line doesn't move much from this point.

In other cases, the line will move significantly.

What is "line movement" in sports betting, and why does it matter?

First off, sports books only initially set lines based on the information that they have at their fingertips.

Once the line is available to the betting public, the sports book only cares about one thing - minimizing their potential liability and trying to come out ahead.

In order to do this, the books must move the lines constantly in order to ensure that their potential payouts on both sides are as equal as possible.

So, let's say that the New England Patriots open up -3 to win in the Super Bowl. A flood of money comes in on the Patriots right away.

In order to try to even up their payouts, the sports books will almost certainly move the line at this point in favour of the Patriots' opponent.

So, the line might move from -3 to -2.5. If you know football, you know how unappealing this half point loss would be for people who want to back the Patriots.

Due to this line movement, the money on the Patriots might slow, which is what the sports books want.

The sports books don't care if the line goes from -3 to -30 - as long as their payouts are the same (or as close to the same as possible) on both sides, the books won't care. They are simply trying to make a market and collect via their "vig" at the end of the day.


Savvy sports bettors understand a couple of things when it comes to line movements.

They know that if they get their number as soon as the line opens, they need to bet it right away, as other people will likely see the value as well.

They know that if they don't get their number right away, they should wait to see if the line moves in their favour before the game is played.

They also know that the heavy betting on favourite franchises/fighters can cause large movements in line that can be exploited for profit (see McGregor vs Mayweather fight as an example).

Amateur sports bettors don't pay attention to line movements - they will essentially bet on their favourite team at any price.

Professional sports bettors have their own projections for a game before the books even release their lines, and they will exploit any "mispriced" lines as much as possible.

Related Articles