Reverse Line Movement

How to make profit with the Reverse line movement? Explained

Reverse line movement is not among the most common terms used in sports betting. However, it’s something that happens quite often with betting lines.

For bettors looking for the best strategy to maximize their winnings, there are specific elements of handicapping that they need to follow. 

Keep an Eye on Reverse Line Movement

One thing all bettors should keep an eye on is reverse line movement. Knowing how to use it as an advantage can make it an essential tool in any player’s betting strategies.

Players must first learn why bookmakers use this strategy to understand reverse line movement. Sportsbooks typically set the lines and adjust them according to the amount wagered on both sides, which they want to keep as close to 50/50 as possible. 

With the house taking juice on each wager made, a sportsbook with equal action on both sides of the line ensures that they can’t lose. Conversely, if the bets are unbalanced, the bookmaker risks taking a loss. 

Things Vital for a Bookmaker

While it’s vital for the bookmaker to keep track of the number of bets coming in, they also pay attention to who makes those wagers.

Professional handicappers, known as sharp bettors, can often beat the lines. When one of these bettors makes a maximum bet, the lines are guaranteed to move

Many sportsbooks welcome this sharp action to adjust their lines even further. At the same time, some bookmakers only want recreational players who donate to them daily and don’t actually make an effort to win. 

How Does Reverse Line Movement Work?

Reverse line movement is when a large majority of bets are placed on one team, and the line is adjusted in the opposite direction by the sportsbook.

This movement can be spotted quickly by bettors that use public betting percentages as part of their handicapping. 

For example, in an NFL game, the Patriots are a +7 underdog to the Jets, who are a -7 favorite. The public has been betting on the New York Jets to cover by more than 70%. However, the line at all major bookmakers moves from -7 for the favorite to -6.5. 

Reverse Line Movement Reveals

Although the public may be overwhelmingly betting on the favorite, the reverse line movement reveals which teams the professional and sharp bettors are picking and at what number when creating betting strategies.

This is especially true if other things like injuries and weather that sometimes affect the line can be ruled out as the reason behind the movement.  

Why Sportsbooks Use Reverse Line Movement

The sharp bettors in the previous example saw some reason to bet on the New England Patriots that others, including the bookmaker, did not. When these professional handicappers make bets, the sportsbook will take notice. 

Those that respect the sharps enough will move the line to be on the same side as that bettor. This can be somewhat risky for bookmakers, as they make their own value bet by going with the sharps because they are successful a higher percentage of the time than regular bettors. 

However, by reversing the line, the bookmaker stands to make a much bigger profit if the sharp money is correct. The reverse line movement will also apply to the game’s moneyline odds, as it directly correlates with the spread.

How Bettors Can Use Reverse Line Movement

When a bettor notices a reverse line movement, it may already be too late to act. Once they see the line has moved, the edge is already more minor. The key is finding the old line offered at another sportsbook before they have time to react. 

Searching for the old line at several bookmakers is the best way to take advantage of the reverse line movement.

Bettors may not always be able to take advantage of the old line in their betting strategies, but if it can be found elsewhere and matches the same line the sharp bettor got, players shouldn’t hesitate to make a bet. 

Tracking Betting Lines and Public’s Betting Percentage

Bettors can track betting lines and the public’s betting percentage using many sources online. However, finding the percentage of total dollars placed on one side or the other is more challenging. 

So, although a reverse line move may show players where the smart money is going, it shouldn’t be assumed that those bettors are making the right choice. But this strategy has made some bettors a bigger overall profit in the long run.

The Downside of Reverse Line Movement Betting

Researching and wagering on reverse line movements is far from the perfect strategy. Bettors can’t know with 100% certainty where the money is going.

Many tools can give a rough percentage, which typically shows the number of bets, not the total amounts wagered. 

For example, a sportsbook may show a 70/30 split, which refers to bets but not the overall amount. Unless players have access to the exact amount of money wagered, they will not have the whole story. 

Sportsbooks sometimes move the lines based on pre-game news such as a trade, bad weather, or injuries, meaning the line could have shifted without any wagers being made.

Even Percentages

However, if bettors use a tool that shows uneven percentages with line moves that contradict those numbers, this could mean the line was moved for an entirely different reason. These few things can throw off the whole strategy of betting on reverse line movements.

People sometimes think of wagering on reverse line movements when researching their bets as a shortcut.

They also think tracking these movements is a flawless strategy that will make profits in the long run. However, companies that sell tools to show bettors where the money is going using percentages will rarely show precisely how they’re obtaining that data from the bookmakers.

Can You Make a Profit Betting Reverse Line Movements?

While bettors need to realize that there is no shortcut in sports handicapping, tools that show players the percentages on each side of the betting line aren’t free.

The company the data was purchased from is also tracking the reverse lines themselves. However, it’s important to remember that reverse line movement almost always results from sharp bettors, who can bet large amounts on just a few games. 

Betting Alongside Professional Handicappers

Bettors that play them are betting alongside professional handicappers who spend many hours breaking down the numbers for each contest. Anyone can make a bigger profit using this method but must trust in the long term to see any results. 

Not all line movement is related to money being wagered, so bettors must do a lot of research on their own to ensure oddsmakers aren’t changing lines because of things like injuries.

There are also times when the sharps don’t influence a game, while the public favors one side heavily over another. In this case, the bookmakers will sometimes adjust the odds to attract the sharps to come in and balance things out.  

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Reverse line movement FAQs

Smart money refers to the money wagered by professional handicappers known as “sharps.” These players can move betting lines with their large wagers and superior betting knowledge. Bookmakers will always value the opinion of sharp bettors over the general public, which is why reverse line movement happens.

When betting on a game with a reverse line movement, the wager should be made on the side opposite of the higher percentage of action, called the “non-public” side. Reverse line movement isn’t related to the number of bets but the percentages on each side and the wagers the sharps are making.

Reverse line movement can’t be found before it happens, but there are signs to look for. For example, a reverse line movement may occur if a team is an overwhelming public favorite with a lot of early action. 

When it occurs, many sportsbooks may not react fast enough or not change their odds at all to reflect the change. Finding reverse line movements after they happen is easy by just looking at the betting odds and line movement and then comparing the public percentages on each side. 

Anytime the spread, points, or total in a betting line has been changed, it means the line has been moved. This can occur at any point after the opening odds are posted and are usually a reaction to things like injuries or weather. Line movement can also be influenced when the majority of wagers are placed on one side of the bet over the other.

The handle is a term specific to sports betting, which is the amount of money wagered by players. It’s the amount that has been put into play at land-based and online sportsbooks. A bookmaker’s handle is different from its revenue. 

A sportsbook’s revenue is calculated after all bets are settled and the winners collect profits. The handle can also be used as the percentage of wagers on one side of the betting line. In this context, the handle is all the money bet on the game while calculating what percentage was wagered on each team.