Reverse Line Movement
Those who bet regularly generally know that money moves the line – if a lot of action comes in for a team, then the sportsbook adjusts the line / odds or point spread accordingly.
So for example, let’s say the New England Patriots are at -6 / -110 and the Philadelphia Eagles +6 / -110, if a lot of money came in for the Patriots, the sportsbook may decide to move the point spread half a point to -6.5, thereby making the Patriots a less appealing proposition and in turn attract some action on the Philadelphia Eagles (who would now be +6.5).
Just a point of interest, the line might even move out to -7 / +7 on the teams, but that would mean that a lot more action would have to come in on the Patriots. It would take a lot more money to move the line from -6.5 to -7 than it would to move the line from -6 to -6.5 because the number 7 is a key number on the point spread.
There are, however, occasions when the line doesn’t move as expected
Let’s say for example that 80% of the action has come in on the Patriots at -6 and only 20% for the Eagles at +6. Under standard market condtions you would expect the sportsbook to adjust the point spread to -6.5 on the Patriots in an attempt to attract money on the Eagles and bring some balance to the book. Yet in this case, the line on the Pats moves in to -5.5, with Eagles now at +5.5. Why?
This is Reverse Line Movement (RLM) in action. The spread hasn’t been adjusted as expected because ‘smart money’ has come in on the Eagles. Smart money is basically money from professional bettors, known to the sportsbook.
The sportsbook places more value on the smart bets than on standard bets from the general betting public.
Also note that the size of the bet is not always important. For instance, there are many unsuccessful bettors who bet large stakes and many professionals who keep their stakes reasonable. So if a ‘known loser’ places a $50 000 bet on the Patriots, it won’t carry as much weight as the ‘known winner’ or professional bettor placing a $5000 bet on the Eagles.
Of course, a sportsbook that ‘reverses’ the line, may not just have been influenced by a few sharp bettors. A whole host of other factors, such as weather, suspensions and players out through injury, may have come into play and influenced their decision.
Betting percentages for events are now widely available, and a few sports tipping services have started up offering alerts as to when Reverse Line Movement might be in play. So, as a bettor, should you follow RLM?
The advice would be not to be ‘lazy’ – don’t rely on reverse line movements as your sole method of analysing a game. Handicap the game as professionally as you can; if RLM is in your favour, let that give you added confidence in your bet if you wish.
Check out this video for further explanation of how RLM works: