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What Is Line Movement?



A game's line, or spread, is not a static number. It moves, changes, and adapts based upon the money and information that materializes. Understanding how line movement works and, more importantly how to take advantage of it, can increase your likelihood to win at sports betting.


When a sportsbook posts a spread for the first time, it is called the opening line. The opening line acts as a blank canvas. When you bet against the opening line, you are betting against the bookmaker alone. No square, sharp, or syndicate has touched or influenced the line. If you do your homework and are prepared to pounce, it can be the most profitable time to bet. However, most of us are not sitting at the sportsbook, constantly refreshing our apps, or even prepared to bet when the opening lines hit.


When the bets start coming in, sportsbooks evaluate the betting percentage and the overall handle. The oddsmakers shift the line in reaction to the percentage amount bet on each team, the overall money bet on each team, and/or the person/syndicate that bets it. Typically, early week line moves are a reaction to smart money. NFL weekend line moves are almost always public action. It is prudent to try to catch the steam early in the week and fade the public move on game day.


Another reason for a line move is new information. If there is an injury, quarterback change, or other impactful information that materializes, the line can and, most likely, will move. If you can get to the information before the oddsmakers, you can get the right side of the line move. At Avoid the Vig, we have our NFL Beat that tracks NFL beat reporters as a means to get the information and bet as soon as possible before the line moves.




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