Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger
- Reverse line movement (RLM) is when the line moves in the opposite direction of the betting percentages.
- RLM is an indication of sharp action on a game.
- Using the Bet Labs database, we examine how over/under bettors can take advantage of RLM when playing college football bowl games.
Bowl season in underway. To help you profit on postseason games, we’ve shared a number of strategies including betting moneyline underdogs, fading ranked teams, buying low on bad against the spread teams and wagering on unpopular underdogs.
These are all great tips but none of them give over/under bettors an edge … until now.
One way to profit in sports betting is to be on the same side as the sharps. Using reverse line movement (RLM), we can identify games the pros are playing.
RLM refers to situations in which the line moves in the opposite direction of the betting percentages. For example, in Saturday’s Camellia Bowl, 72% of tickets were placed on the over, yet the total decreased from 48 to 45.5.
Georgia Southern defeated Eastern Michigan, 23-21, finishing under the total and cashing for savvy bettors.
This outcome was no fluke. Since 2005, it has been profitable to bet unders in bowl games when there is lopsided action on the over. The under is 105-85 (55.3%) when 70% or more of tickets are on the over, per our Bet Labs data.
In these matchups, if the over/under stays the same or decreases — an indication of RLM — the under becomes even more profitable:
This is an interesting trend but some bettors may be hesitant to follow it because of the small sample. However, tailing unders with reverse line movement is a sharp strategy because of the increased handle during bowl season.
With fewer options, each bowl game receives more action from casual bettors who historically favor overs.
Since 2005, the over has a received a majority of tickets in 434 of 466 bowl games. Oddsmakers understand this tendency and will shade the lines toward the over.
This helps create value on the under even after the line has decreased.
Currently, two bowl games are a match for this system. It is recommended to wait until closer to the start of these bowl games to place a wager as the betting percentages and lines will change (see live odds) as more money hits the market.
Bowl Game Unders
- Cincinnati-Virginia Tech (Dec. 31, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Georgia-Texas (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)