One of the most important aspects of successful sports betting is a thorough understanding of betting lines and odds. It is also extremely important to have an understanding of how and why they move. Millions and millions of dollars have been won or lost on a half point here or there in a single game. Your goal as a sports bettor is to make those half points work in your favor and not against it.
In a sport like football, especially in the NFL when the betting lines are released by the online sportsbooks well in advance of the game itself, there is going to always be some gradual movement as you get closer and closer to kickoff. When it comes to sports like basketball in the NBA and Major League Baseball, the betting lines are released 24 hours or less, so movements are limited to a much tighter window. Regardless of the sporting events that you do bet on, it is always in your best interest in tracking a betting spread, total line number or moneyline odds from the moment they are released to the moment you pull the trigger on an actual bet.
A good starting point to making these movements work in your favor is to understand why they are moving in the first place. Today’s advanced technology and computer software capabilities have resulted in much sharper betting lines for all the major sports. Lines for NFL games are probably the sharpest, but lines and odds have even gotten much sharper for sports such as college football and basketball even when it comes to the Mid-Major conferences.
Any early movements when a line is first released can be traced to the initial reaction of the betting public. Since the lean in any type of sports betting is towards the favorite and the OVER on the total, that is usually how these early line movements will trend. When they do not, that brings up an interesting scenario. More frequent and abrupt movements in the line can sometimes be traced to a big play or early action by the sharps (professionals) on what they perceive to be a soft line. Either way, it is always important to track these movements to give yourself the best number you can find.
Timing is everything when it comes to betting on sports. If you really like a betting spread or moneyline on a favorite or the OVER on the total line when it is first released, the general rule of thumb is to bet it right away. As mentioned, the betting public tends to lean this way with their money and that will move the lines against the favorite or the OVER as time wears on.
If you are the type of bettor that likes to go against the betting public, they waiting closer to the start of the game you are looking to bet on could work in your favor. Sometimes lines will move one way early and then come back and go the other way closer to the game, so there is always a level of risk with the strategy of betting right away or taking a wait and see approach.
Much is made about the impact of sharps and other betting syndicates in sports betting and line movements. The sharps can and do have a huge impact on a betting line for certain games, but not all of them. If you happen to see the spread for a football game move more than half a point in a relatively short amount of time, that could signal smart money on that game. Larger movements could signal a soft line by the oddsmakers.
The bottom line in tracking line movements is to use them to get the best number you can. If an opportunity does pass you by, you are much better off passing on that game to catch the next one coming your way.