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What is Reverse Line Movement?

by January 7, 2022
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For a sportsbook to be profitable off a game, they want as much action as possible on both sides. This means that if one side is receiving the vast majority of wagers and cash, the sportsbook will likely move the line to garner more action on the opposite side. If a sportsbook can have a 50/50 split between the two sides, they will be profitable every time because of the juice. However, sometimes sportsbooks will “take a stand” on a game and either not move the line, or move the line in the opposite direction from where the cash and tickets are coming in. This is called reverse line movement.

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What is reverse line movement?

Reverse line movement is when a sportsbook moves the line of a game against the side that is taking the majority of the action. If 85% of the bets on the game are coming in on the Orioles +150, the sportsbook will usually move the line to something like +140 to incentive bettors to wager against the Orioles and balance the bets out. If the sportsbook were to do the opposite and move the line to Orioles +160, that is reverse line movement.

Why does reverse line movement occur?

Sportsbooks know who their sharp bettors are. Their action is monitored and highly respected by oddsmakers. Let’s say a line is +7 and the majority of bets are coming in on the favorite. If a sportsbook sees the sharp bettors are hammering the underdog instead, they might move the line to +6 to respect what those sharp bettors think and take a stand on the game. When the sharps are betting one side, the oddsmakers have more reason to believe that side is going to win and adjust their lines accordingly, even if the cash and ticket splits are uneven.

How to track and take advantage of reverse line movement?

It’s important to always be monitoring lines and cash and ticket splits of games. Websites such as BettingPros can help you do that. If you notice a line is moving in one direction but the money is coming in on the other side, that’s a sign that this is reverse line movement and the sharps are on one side. Looking across multiple sportsbooks or “odds shopping“, can give you an opportunity to bet a good number at one sportsbook that has already been moved at another.

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Jack O’Brien is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jack, check out his archive and follow him @JackOBrienNFL.

Betting 101, How-To