One of the most overlooked aspects of successful sports betting is reverse line movements and how they work. While many handicappers understand what a reverse line move is, they don’t truly understand the logic behind a reverse line move. Here is a look at what to watch for when it comes to reverse line moves.
The Reverse Line Move
There are times when a small reverse line move is merely a correction of posting a bad number by the sportsbooks. When the sportsbook posts the opening point spreads, many times those numbers will change over the course of the day. The primary reason for line movement is money wagered on one side. For example, if the Cleveland Cavaliers open at -6.5 against the Atlanta Hawks and the majority of the money is wagered on Cleveland, then the point spread will likely move to -7.5 in order to compensate for all of the action on the one side. The point spread change in theory is to try to influence bettors to find the Hawks more attractive at +7.5 in order to try to entice some action on that side. When it comes to the reverse line move, the opposite happens of what should, in that the point spread in our example above would move to Cleveland -5.5, even though the majority of the action is on the Cavaliers. Reverse line moves can also occur on the money line used in baseball or hockey as instead of the point spread the odds for the games will change.
Why Reverse Line Moves Occur
The biggest reason for reverse line movements is the money that is bet on a particular side. A team that receives the majority of the wagers in a particular game, but the other team can have more money wagered on them. This creates a situation where the larger amount of money shifts the line back the other way against the more popular play in terms of overall wagers. You will often hear the term “smart money” used to refer to the big money that drives these reverse line moves. Another reason why the reverse line moves occur is that the sportsbooks use a soft number for their opening line. Since reverse line moves are calculated by using the opening line, a weak opening number can show a reverse line move when one really hasn’t occurred. It’s important to understand the difference when it comes to evaluating the line moves and understand where the bulk of the money is usually wagered.
While it’s important to understand the reason for reverse line moves, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow them and bet them blindly. The most important thing to remember is that while you don’t want to bet blindly on the same side as a reverse line move, you might not want to bet against it on the other side if you know large amounts of money are being placed against the side that you are on. The reverse line movements usually provide a good indicator of where the smart money is so by being aware of the lines you can usually figure out which side of a matchup you should be on with red flags for lines you should probably consider avoiding altogether.