What Does Steam Move Mean In Sports Betting and Wagering?
In sports betting, blindly tailing a sharp or betting syndicate may seem like a great idea since they are perceived to “know what they are doing.” However, doing so is usually a solid way to drain your bankroll since you do not have key pieces of information as to why they are doing it. A “steam move” is something sharps and betting syndicates use for a number of reasons, including profit and to create a new line to bet into. As a new bettor, you never wanted to be fooled by a false “steam move” and find yourself on the wrong side of a game.
What Does Steam Mean?
If you hear someone using the term “steam” they are referring to a particular game line that is hit hard and makes a sudden and often times dramatic move across the entire betting marketplace due to heavy betting volume. The cause of this “steam move” is usually the result of powerful sharp bettors or betting syndicates that are well respected and have a big bankroll to play with.
How Do Steam Moves Work?
To understand how “steam moves” work and why they have a significant effect, you must first understand how sportsbooks operate. Sportsbooks employ linemakers to set a line that they think is fair on each and every game. There main goal is to generate equal action on both sides of the game. If the action becomes one-sided, the book will adjust that line in order to restore some semblance of balance. The books’ reasoning for doing this is to make a profit without a significant risk (if the betting balance is equal, this is easily done). A “steam move” happens when a significant amount of money is bet on one side in a short period of time from someone the books respect. Typically, these are “sharps” or betting syndicates that do the damage and cause the line to move a significant amount. There are usually one (sometimes two) “steam moves” per major event, which is why the closing line almost always differs from the opening line.
The Effects of a Steam Move
Often times, steam moves that are significant happen because large bets have been made in multiple books at the same time. This is the calling card of a betting syndicate. They love to spread money around for two reasons – the first being to try and keep a low profile by betting smaller amounts and the second is causing the line to jump in multiple spots. Sportsbooks who don’t react accordingly to the “steam” and keep the line as is would become vulnerable to serious bettors who hunt for lines that offer up a bargain.
Should You Chase a Steam Move?
For most bettors, chasing a “steam move” makes sense on the surface. They will often come across a big “steam move” and then proceed to look for a book that is slow to react and make the same bet (lower wager amount) as the one that caused the line to move in the first place. The reasoning behind doing this is rather simple – If someone else has the confidence to place a hefty wager on a game, then they must have some sort of inside scoop.
However, there are a few problems bettors run into when trying to mirror these bets which is why I wouldn’t recommend chasing the “steam”. First off, tailing blindly is a risky proposition because there is no way to know for sure who made the big bet or why it was made. Secondly, betting syndicates (who often cause “steam”) love to bet big on a certain line to cause it to move, which then allows them to bet even bigger on the new line. This is called the “buy back”. They’ve essentially created a new line to bet into and if you were an unlucky bettor who tailed the first steam, you will find yourself on the opposite side of a syndicate, which is usually the losing side.
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