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Why Do Betting Lines Move?

Shopping the lines is something that you will learn to start doing very early on as a sports bettor.  When you shop the lines, you are looking for the friendliest points spread on a given event.  Online betting sites “shade the lines” by assigning positive points to underdogs and negative points to favourites.  They do this so that they can make money.  As a rule, the majority of bettors are going to bet on the favourite, because that is the team that they favor to win.  A minority of bettors will go for the underdog, which is essentially what makes them the underdog. 

Online betting sites want to make it look more attractive to bet on the underdog and less attractive to bet on the favourite, which essentially is why the lines are shaded the way they are.  Betting lines move in the time leading up to an event for various reasons.  In general, lines will move further and further against the favourite during the time leading up to an event.  This is a great reason to jump in on a bet early if you are planning on betting on the favourite.  If you plan to bet on the underdog, it can pay off to wait before you place your bet until closer to an event since you will get a better points spread.

So why do betting lines move?  The usual gradual move is just a result of more and more people betting on the favourite during the time leading up to the event.  The more people back the favourite, the more attractive the betting site needs to make the underdog in order to balance out the bets and profits.  If on the other hand the movement in the lines is really abrupt, it may mean that the “smart money” is on the favourite.

Occasionally you will see the opposite—you will see the lines move in a way that seems counterintuitive, or you may see them holding when you would normally expect them to change.  This may be because some of the “smart money” is actually on the underdog this time and not on the favourite. 

Paying close attention to the way the lines are moving can give you insight into what is going on.  If you see abrupt movement in the usual direction, you might want to bet on the favourite because the smart money is on the favourite—of course, you will have missed out on the best betting conditions by betting late. 

If you see no movement or “backwards” movement on the lines, it may be a good time to bet on the underdog and try your luck on the road less traveled.  It will become more and more attractive to bet on the underdog the closer you get to the event.  Over time, you will get an intuitive feel for what is going on.  Take good notes and you may start to notice other patterns in line movement that can help you to win! Read about how a betting journal can help you bet.


Horse Racing Betting

A list with selected bookmakers that offer extensive coverage for horse racing betting.

New to sports betting?

If you are new to online sports betting you might want to read through the basic steps for sports betting and start your experience with confidence.

Bookies with Live Streaming

Top list of online bookmakers for Live Streaming services. Watch sports and bet live! Read more...

Bookmaker of the Month

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Gambling on the Internet

A few things to consider when gambling online:

  • Take advantage of first deposit bonuses
  • Have a budget and stick to it
  • Don't lose more than you can afford
  • When drunk, don't bet!
  • Don't chase losses
  • Bet on markets you know well
  • Don't abuse bonuses