Ultimate Guide to Line Movement in Sports Betting

Ultimate Guide to Line Movement in Sports Betting

We’ve all heard the saying, “timing is everything.” But with regards to sports betting, it should read, “timing is money.” What you bet — side, total, etc. — is obviously important but when a bet is made can, over time, have a huge impact on a bettor’s bottom line. We’ve previously discussed the importance of line shipping, how to read an odds screen, and the art of betting into a game that has already moved. Today, we’ll add our pre-bet tutorial by analyzing the optimal and sub-optimal times to make a bet.


When to Shop for Lines/handicap

Ideally, you can shop for lines any time before the game actually starts. However, there are a few potential times during the week that can really influence a shift in the lines.

Opening Lines/handicap

Opening lines is when many sportsbooks provide bettors with their initial lines and odds. For some sites, this can be as early as Monday for the upcoming Thursday Night Football game and the following Sunday games. For baseball and basketball, it could be right after one game ends. It really depends on the frequency of each sport’s games during the week.

Opening lines do have some value because some books might have misjudged their lines and odds. They also can’t predict what’s going to happen throughout the week. There’s a good chance that the lines will shift before the game starts, so you might be able to catch a sportsbook that’s incorrectly judged the betting market when the lines first come out.

Mid-Week Lines/handicap

This might not be an official term, but I’ve seen lines change or go off the board during the middle of the week due to injuries and other news. For sports like football or NASCAR, the middle of the week is when teams make official announcements like injury reports, practice session updates, testing results and more.

In the case of football, if there’s question over a star player participating in the next game, it could really affect the lines. If an announcement is made on Wednesday that Tom Brady is out for the upcoming game due to an injury at practice, then quickly scan your sports betting sites to see if anyone still has odds and lines where the Patriots are still the favorite. If there is a site that fits the bill, then you might be able to find some tremendous value on New England’s opponent, like with their moneyline or the spread.

With sports like NASCAR or UFC, the weeks leading up to the event are filled with practice or training sessions and press conferences. So, the mid-week is a great time to get updates that could affect the lines.

End of the Week Lines/handicap

Fridays are another day that can influence betting lines. This is also largely due to injuries, athletes not training, and end of the week practice sessions. So, if a football player isn’t practicing on a Friday, then there’s a good chance he won’t travel with the team and/or won’t be available on Sunday’s game. If a NASCAR driver crashes during practice sessions or fails a late week inspection then he will have to start at the end of pack in the upcoming race. Friday’s are also when MMA and Boxing PPV’s hold their weigh-ins. A fighter not making weight could definitely impact a weekend bout.

Keep an eye out for potential line movements based on Friday’s news. There may be value in shopping around for potential line movements.

Last-Minute Lines/handicap

Sometimes, lines can significantly move right before a game, race of fight. This could be due to a last-minute injury or a large volume of bets on one side. If you are looking to place a last-minute bet, make sure to monitor if any of your sports betting sites have seen any significant movement on the lines you are interested in. If so, then jump onto a site that has yet to experience the movement or go with the action.