Why the Line Moves: Expert Betting Advice and Analysis
If you want to take your skills from a good to great handicapper, there are several things you can do to achieve that. For starters, you can read all our Betting Tips pages. The second thing you can do is learn about money management . And the third thing you can do -if you have time- is watch and learn how point spread lines move and why they do so. Being on the right side of the line movement can be the difference between turning a profit or losing over the course of a season.
Sportsbooks are in the business of making money regardless of how you look at them. They want to ensure that they are turning a profit regardless of the result of a particular game. A sportsbook's worst enemy is the publics' side since the general betting public far outnumbers the "sharps" or "wise guys". The amount of money bet from the public will almost always be more than the amount bet by sharps, which would lead the sportsbooks cheer for the opposite side. However, in some cases there will be more money coming in on a particular side from a few sharp bettors that outweigh the number of tickets from the betting public. This is referred to as "sharp money" and can have a drastic effect on which way the line moves.
The sportsbooks main goal is to ensure that there is equal action on both sides of the game. This is how they make their money. By forcing bettors to pay vig for placing a bet with them, sportsbook are very rarely vulnerable to huge losses. Take this random basketball game for example; if there is $11,000 dollars bet on the Toronto Raptors to win $10,000 at -3.5 and $11,000 to win $10,000 bet on the Washington Wizards at +3.5, the sportsbook would profit $1,000 regardless of which side covers the spread.
That is the most ideal scenario for a sportsbook on any game. A not-so-ideal position would be if there was $20,000 to win $18,500 on the Raptors and just $3,000 on the Wizards to win $2,850. If the Raptors cover the spread, the sportsbook stand to lose over $15K on this game alone.
Books are most vulnerable when there is lopsided betting action on one team. Depending on the final result, sportsbooks stand to either win or lose a boatload of money. For this reason alone, sportsbooks will often move the point spread line in football and basketball with the hopes of lowering the risk to them and evening out the betting action.
For example, if the Boston Celtics open up at -5 against the Miami Heat and bettors absolutely love the Celtics in this spot, they will be sure to pound that line hard and sportsbooks will have no choice but to move the line up to -5.5 in order to persuade some bettors to take the Heat. If the action continues to pour in on the Celtics, the line will likely rise again to -6. Heat bettors who waited it out and prefer that extra point of security will now begin to bet the Heat, and the action will start to even out. At least that's what the books hope for.
Something to keep in mind is that the amount of betting action on a particular game will be the determining factor on which direction the line moves. The amount or the timeframe in which the line moves will always vary between sportsbooks because of two main reasons. The first being the amount of action the book is receiving on each side and the second being the risk the book is willing to take on a game.
The best sportsbooks in the world and the ones that makes the most money are the ones that move lines as quickly as possible and keep the action as balanced as possible. Staying ahead of the game is a crucial factor as sportsbooks try and stay in business.
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