BLACK FRIDAY -- 50% OFF
Start betting like a PRO

Reverse Line Movement in Sports Betting: Definition, Examples, How to Track It

Credit:

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Harper

Sports betting lines (spreads, moneylines, over/unders) don’t move easily, but they certainly aren’t stuck in place.

Just as the price of any commodity can increase with higher demand, lines can change based on how the market reacts to them, as sportsbooks may attempt to limit their liability on one side of a given bet.

If Duke opens as a 7-point favorite over Notre Dame, for example, and bettors immediately rush to back the Blue Devils, the books may increase the spread to -7.5 or -8 to try to even out the flow of money.

After all, if they’re able to achieve a 50% split, they’ll walk away with a profit no matter the outcome of the game (because of the juice).

The line, however, doesn’t always move toward the more popular side. That’s what we call reverse line movement.

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus
Full Review
Bonus = 20% of first deposit match
Max bonus is $1,000
Action's Preferred Sportsbook

What Is Reverse Line Movement in Sports Betting?

Reverse line movement in sports betting is when a line moves away from the side receiving the majority of bets.

An example would be the Patriots falling from -7 to -6 despite attracting 75% of spread bets.

Or, in a moneyline sport, if the Yankees moved from -180 to -170 while receiving 70% of bets.

What Causes Reverse Line Movement?

The most likely reason for reverse line movement is that the unpopular side is drawing a lot of action from sharp bettors.

Sharp bettors (sharps) have long track records of success, and their opinions are respected by sportsbooks. As such, when they load up on one side, oddsmakers have reason to believe that that side is more likely to win, so they’ll adjust lines accordingly.

How Do I Track Reverse Line Movement?

Our Bet Signals at Sports Insights can give you real-time reverse line movement notifications. And if you’re paying attention, you can often get a good number at your book after it’s already moved at a market-setting book.

See, some books welcome sharp action, while others don’t. Those that do will often move first when they get a big bet from a respected player, and the rest of the books will follow quickly after.

If you can time things well, you can pick off a good number at your book after it’s moved elsewhere.

At Sports Insights, you can sort reverse line movement only by certain books. Circa Sports in Las Vegas (and now Colorado) is a market-setting book for college football.

Take this example from the 2020 college football season. Our Bet Signals triggered reverse line movement on the Oklahoma-Kansas State total at Circa, and it moved from 61.5 to 60.5 across the market despite 98% of bets hitting the over.

Should You Follow Reverse Line Movement?

It’s not that easy, unfortunately. The reason being: once a line has moved, there’s little reason to believe that sharps are still finding value at the new number.

For example, if the Bills go from +7 to +6 behind just 25% of bets, there’s a very good chance that sharps were betting on the Bills at +7. But if the line doesn’t continue to fall past +6, there’s no reason to think that they still like Buffalo.

In other words, having the opportunity to follow reverse line movement usually also means that it’s too late to take full advantage of it — another reason why it makes sense to have multiple betting accounts at various sportsbooks.

Not all books move in unison, so if just one of your, say, four sportsbooks is still holding the Bills at +7, you can grab the number knowing — based on the reverse line movement across the rest of the market — that you’ve just made the same bet as the sharps.

Get $500 INSTANT Deposit Match
Full Review
100% Deposit Match
Get Bonus Funds Instantly
Great daily odds boosts

Next in Betting Education 101: The Betting Market

How would you rate this article?

Top Offers

Odds Boosts
See More >
Odds boosts are simply regular bets offered at enticing odds. They're available to everyone and there's no limit to how many you can bet.
Sportsbook Reviews
See More >
Discover the best online sports betting sites and take advantage of bonus offers from legal sportsbooks.
Expert Picks
See More >
See what plays the Action Network experts are making for all of today's games.
PRO Membership
See More >
Access betting systems and signals to get daily, actionable picks.
Download the App
See More >
Download the Action app to track all your bets in one place. Exclusive data helped you make smarter betting decisions.
Newsletter
See More >
The best sports betting newsletter with trends, insights and news - condensed in a two-minute read.
Live Odds
See More >
See live odds and the best lines for every game.

Follow Us On Social

Top Stories