author: andriev   4 March 2021Print page

What is reverse line movement in sports betting?

Have you ever heard about line movement? Have you ever asked yourself why do bookmakers move the lines? We would try to explain and answer all the most common questions about the betting lines, their movement and how punter can benefit from them in this very sports betting guide.

reverse line movement betting guide
What is behind the line movement?Reverse line movementThreats of RLMSummary
What is behind the line movement?

If you are reading this sports betting guide, then you should probably have even a slight idea about what the odds & lines are. Top online bookmakers are always offering the odds for the events they cover. These betting companies set their odds (or lines) in such a way so they would attract more or less equal action on both sides of the market, as well as make profits by adding the betting margin. You must have also noticed that the odds for the same exact event are constantly changing, which is exactly what line movement is. This happens when the book notices that there is an uneven action on one of the sides, hence moves the lines to balance it out and reduce its liability.

The amount of money or volume of betting action is not the only thing bookmakers pay attention to when it comes to their betting lines. There is one more equally important aspect, and that is who the money comes from. Bookmakers are constantly monitoring their markets, especially the more popular ones. So, when they see that some sharp bettor stakes much on a wager, they will immediately adjust their lines in order to limit their losses and encourage the market to bet the opposite way (which is also one of the mechanisms to cut down on losses). However, if the book sees that the punter, who’s losing the majority of their bets, is going all-in on the midweek football fixture, the book is likely to leave them be and take a risk.

It is not something new that online bookmakers love losing punters. One of the biggest issues of online betting operators is that they are limiting or even closing accounts of constantly winning punters. This helps them get rid of undesirable losses, however, kills all the fun for the bettor.  That is why it is important to have accounts at multiple betting operators.
Reverse line movement

The part where we talked about losing and winning punters is actually more important than you think. It appears to be the fundamental of the reverse line movement. What exactly it is, though? Reverse line movement or RLM usually refers to the situation when, despite the majority of the bets coming on one side, the line moves in the opposite direction. Thus, it is important to keep in mind the fact that betting percentages are not a good representation of the money wagered on the market but rather of the number of bets accepted by the bookmaker on each side of it.

The only issue here is to exploit this phenomenon. If you would like to take advantage of the reverse line movement while betting, you would not only have to figure out how much money is staked on the market but also which side is more favoured by sharp punters. Not only it is quite challenging to do, but the amount of money wagered on the market by the average punters makes up almost the entire market volume, thus making it nearly impossible to calculate it by only monitoring the line movement.

Let us show you a quick example to help you better understand how it works in reality. Assume that one of the leading online betting operators listed Barcelona (-1) against Sevilla (+1). In reality, the handicap offered by the bookmaker does not necessarily mean that the book expects Barca to win by at least 2 goals. What that line actually does is acting as a kind of a marker in order to encourage equal action on both sides of the market.

Usually, if there would be a higher percentage of bets placed on Barca, this should theoretically push the line even further, let’s say Barca -1.5 or even -2, which should make Sevilla a more attractive option. However, in the case of RLM, the bookmaker would simply shorten the line for Sevilla. Supporters of the reverse line movement betting would reason the opposite line movement by saying that the bookmaker simply saw that more sharp bettors are backing Sevilla. Although it is a very simplified way of putting it, but at least it shows you the principle of how it works. While such information may or may not be important, the bookmaker’s decision of moving the line in a reverse manner would definitely be affected by a whole bunch of other important factors.

Threats of RLM

We have mentioned that the betting percentages are the key to exploiting the RLM. Well, it is kind of true, and the fact that such information is widely available online makes it even more attractive. What is more, the majority of the top online bookmakers are displaying this data completely for free. If you ever come across such a data set, you have to look for situations where despite the higher betting percentage for one (losing) side, the line was still moved towards the opposite one (winning side).

Here is the thing. Finding such information on your online bookmaker website will give you a really raw data set. Thus, punters usually turn to numerous online betting services or so-called professional tipsters who offer already arranged and ready-to-go packages of such data. There two main issues with such products. First of all, it is not free, which, in the case of purchasing, will factor in an extra cost to the already small profit margin. Second of all, it has been proven to be not quite accurate, with such tipster commonly tweaking their percentages in order to attract more sales.
While being able to exploit such line movement will give you an extra opportunity to beat your online bookie, building your betting solely around it appears to be problematic. Not only it is really hard to see such a market situation, in general, but it will also require you a couple of additional tools to assess it in the proper way.

Obviously, you will find lots of punters who would advocate for reverse line movement strategy being very profitable, but, in reality, most of them are just trying to lure you into their trap. Personally, we suggest sticking with more traditional betting approaches like handicapping or other popular and field-test betting methods.

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