Sports Betting 101: Tips to Reading Line Movement

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Have you ever noticed a live odds screen start to light up like a Christmas tree as soon as point spreads are posted for the following week’s football games? Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow predict which way a line was going to move? Though it usually takes years of experience to know what way a line is going to move, here are a few basic tips to get you started in the right direction!

Tip #1:  Know When to Bet

In sports betting, timing is everything! Knowing when to bet is just as important as what team to bet on.  A good standard rule of thumb is if you like the favorite, consider betting it early in the week. However, if you like the underdog, it may pay to wait until almost game time to make your wager!

The majority of the betting public believes that the favorite is the better team and will wager on them accordingly.  This often drives the line up on the favorite and may create further value on the underdog. Before placing any bet, ask yourself if you could potentially see a better point spread closer to kick off. Every half a point matters!

Tip#2:  Consider the Smart Money

We are not saying to never go against the grain of the sharp professional betting syndicates.  However, if a line moves by more than a full point (from -2 to -4 for example), you may want to pause and think about why the line moved that much.  Most of the time this indicates that the bookmakers hung a bad opening point spread and are desperate to get action on the other side. It could also be a sign that a key injury has just been announced.

Tip #3:  Never Forget That You Can Always Pass

Remember, if for any reason you are hesitant to bet on a game, you can always pass on it and find another opportunity.  Sometimes the best bet is to not make one at all.  Most bettors do not realize that one of their greatest advantages over the bookmaker is the ability to be selective! If the line has moved past a key number (especially 3, 6, or 7 in football), it is usually best just to pass on the game instead of taking a bad number!


Skybox Journalist

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He played college baseball and has been betting on sports for more than 20 years. He has a degree in Sports Psychology and covers the NFL and College Football for SkyBox Capping Club.