Understanding Reverse Line Movement

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Line movement is an important metric to consider when looking for a profitable betting opportunity.

But you should not make bets based on line movement alone.

Here’s why.

Why Do Betting Lines Move?

Sportsbooks set odds in the hope that they attract an equal amount of money on either side of the line.

As a result, sportsbooks make a profit by embedding a margin into their odds.

In the event that they don’t get an equal amount of money on either side of the line, they will adjust the odds.

Specifically, they will make the side that isn’t getting as much action more attractive to bettors, while making the other side less attractive.

By doing so, sportsbooks will reduce their liability. 

How To Calculate Sports Betting Margins


While the number of bets made on either side of the line is important to a sportsbook, they also take note of where that money is coming from.

In particular, sportsbooks pay keen attention to bets placed by professional sports bettors and syndicates.

These people are known as sharps and have a very good idea of how the game will turn out.

As such, they have significant influence on betting lines.

For example, a losing customer that usually bets $100,000 on a match may not be enough to convince a sportsbook to change their odds, even though they have a potential high liability.

On the other hand, if a successful, winning sports bettor bets $10,000 on a game, a sportsbook may be more inclined to adjust the odds based on this information alone.

Bottom line:

Sportsbooks are willing to risk being wrong to casual or losing bettors, but will almost always adjust their lines when winning players get involved.

Sportsbooks will limit the accounts of players that win too often for their liking.

In some cases, they may even close their accounts completely.

The practice is known as gubbing and is all too familiar with professional sports bettors.

This is why winning players use sportsbooks like Pinnacle and Cris – they actually accept winners:

Pinnacle Welcomes Winning Players


While lines will move based on the above factors and for the above reasons, reverse line movement is different.

What Is Reverse Line Movement?

Reverse line movement (RLM) is when betting odds move contradictory to market betting percentages.

In other words, RLM is when most betting activity occurs on one side of the line, but the line moves in the opposite direction.

Here’s the deal:

Betting percentages are not related to the total amount of money wagered. Instead, they are related to the number of bets on either side of the betting line.

How To Calculate Sports Betting Margins

The key to profiting from RLM is twofold:

  • Calculating how much money has gone on either side of the line;
  • Knowing which side of the line sharps are on.

It’s almost impossible to work out which side is the average bettors are betting by line movement alone as they account for most of the money.

Here’s an example to illustrate RLM.

Let’s say we were looking at the following game:

These odds don’t necessarily mean that this sportsbook expects the Chiefs to beat the Titans by 7 points.

It’s actually a line to encourage an equal number of bets on either side.

Now, in theory, if more bets were placed on the Chiefs, the line would move to -7.5 or -8 to encourage more bets on the Titans.

However, if there was reverse line movement, a bet on the Titans would actually move to +6 ie moving in the opposite direction. 

The reason behind this suggests that, while the sportsbook will have a larger liability on Kansas City, sharps are actually betting on Tennessee.

Of course, this is a very simple explanation of what could have influenced this ‘unexpected’ line movement.

There are so many other factors in play, such as the weather, injuries, change in officials, etc.

Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Reverse Line Movement Alone

Firstly, as mentioned previously, it’s almost impossible to determine where the public money is going.

Also, it’s important to know what type of sportsbook you are paying attention to.

Those that accept sharps, like Pinnacle, will move the line based on where professionals and knowledgeable bettors bet their money.

On the other hand, those that focus on casual bettors will move their money based on where the money is going. 

This is why betting percentages don’t paint the full picture.

How To Create A Sports Betting Strategy

Here's everything you need to know

How To Create A Sports Betting Strategy

Here's everything you need to know

Finally, sportsbooks may adjust their lines when new information comes into play.

This can be in the form of changes to the lineup, updates to the weather – pretty much anything that could affect the result of the game without any bets being placed.

If you’re using a tool or source of information that shows you uneven percentages where line movements contract such numbers, you could be mislead as the line was actually moved by a completely different reason.

What To Do Instead

RLM is not a shortcut – it’s a tool to help you make better sports betting decisions.

You should use it in conjuncture with your overall betting strategy.

Some people try to use RLM as a way to avoid the hard work that goes into finding a profitable betting strategy.

The reality:

Those people lose.


One of the reasons why our Premium service is profitable is because we don’t beat around the bush.

Our experts spend hours looking at details, including RLM, alongside other pieces of valuable information to gain an edge.

There aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to sports betting.

Crunch the numbers, analyze the games and you’ll be much better off over the long-term.


These are the basics of reverse line movement.

It’s a great tool to use when creating a strategy but don’t solely rely on it to make you a winning bettor.

Now we’d like to hear from you.

Have you used RLM in your strategies and what were your results?

Leave a comment below or let us know on Twitter.

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