Sports Betting Guide

Reverse line movement in sports betting?

Do you know anything about betting odds & lines? How good are you at reading them? Well, since we have already discussed what the odds are and how to read the lines in sports betting, let us talk about something called reverse line movement today.

The concept of line movement

We assume that you already know the basics about the odds & betting lines, however, if you do not, then please visit our sports betting guides library for a more detailed explanation. In short, all the online bookmakers do offer odds & lines for every single event they cover. These online betting operators set their betting lines in such a way to attract as much equal action on both sides as possible. What is more, you have to remember about something like betting margin, which is an integral part of every sports betting market. Such a margin is a handy tool that ensures the bookie is getting its profit share from every single wager placed.

Sports Betting Guide - How and why to calculate bookmaker’s margin?

Moving on, you must have noticed that the odds are constantly changing, what is more, there is this one phrase that you could have seen around  - «odds are subject to change». If you know what we are talking about, then you know what line movement is. This sports betting market phenomenon happens in the situation when there is an unequal volume of bets on one of the sides of the market. In such cases, top online bookmakers are moving their line to balance the action, as well as encourage more action and reduce liability. 

Bookmakers are constantly keeping their eyes open and monitor every single wager on the market. It is not only crucial keeping track of the amount of money punters wager but also which punters do it, and which do not. In fact, how much money has been wagered and who has wagered them is equally important in terms of determining the position of the bookmakers’ lines. If the operator catches one of the so-called sharp bettors backing one side, they will immediately adjust their lines in order to limit their losses and encourage the market to bet the opposite way. As a result, the book will protect itself from undesired losses, as well as encourage more action on the other side of the market. Unfortunately or not, the same practice does not apply to losing punters even if they stake large amounts. Usually, bookmakers simply take a risk and wait for the outcome. However, there are certain cases when bookies are closing the entire market if they see any unusual activity, especially from losing punters. Such a situation is more common for exotic or less popular lower-division markets.

Having said that, we should also remind you about one very important aspect - online bookmaker love losing punters. The reason behind such unconditional love is quite straightforward, losing punters bring more money… While bookies will do everything to keep a losing bettor around, they will do the complete opposite to the frequently winning clients. Most of the time bookies «take care» of the winnings punters by limiting or even restricting their accounts. This has been a huge issue among the betting community, since it basically kills all the fun for the bettor and even makes it unprofitable. Thus, we suggest taking a look at this sports betting guide, where we explain the benefits of having multiple accounts across numerous betting websites.

Reverse line movement

We hope that the topic of odds & betting lines is now much clear to you. Without further ado, let’s talk about the reverse line movement. Something that you might have never heard before but is always around. This sports betting market phenomenon has a lot to do with winnings & losing punters, to be honest. As a matter of fact, those two groups serve as a very fundamental of the concept. So what exactly it is, though? RLM or reverse line movement usually refers to the market situation when the line moves in the completely opposite direction from the side that has been largely backed by the market. 

One more thing before we move on. Keep in mind, betting percentages that can be found even on the bookmakers’ websites are never a good representation of the money wagered on the market. Instead, those percentages have more to do with the number of bets accepted by the bookmaker on each side of the market.

Sport Betting Tutorial - How being wrong can make you a better punter?

Being honest with you, the only issues with RLM is the way to exploit it in your favour. Taking advantage of the reverse line movement will not only require you to figure out how much money is staked on the market but also which side of it is more favoured by sharp punters. Just for the record, this is not the easiest thing to do. The problem with this step is that the majority of the money wagered on any of the markets offered by any online bookmaker comes from average punters (including the losing ones). This is actually the most challenging part of it since calculating the share of the money wagered by the winning segment of the betting community is nearly impossible and would require additional tools to succeed.

Just to make things a bit more clear for you, let us show you a quick example of what the reverse line movement could look like. Imagine that one of your favourite online bookmakers opened the market for the upcoming Champions League fixture between PSG (+1) and Barcelona (-1). Given the fact that these indicators represent the Asian Lines, we can tell you right away that the book does not necessarily mean that Barca is expected to win by at least 2 goals. What that line actually represents is the marker, which is supposed to encourage equal action on both sides of the market.

Thinking about normal line movement, the book would usually push the line even further for Barca, to make it look more like -1.5 or even -2, if there would be more action on the Catalonian side. This would make punters consider PSG as a more attractive option, thus force more bets their way. Well, since it is a reverse line movement, the book would not move the line for Barcelona but instead will shorten the line for PSG. Many supporters of the RLM theory would say that this happens because the bookmaker saw some activity from the sharp bettors towards the PSG.

Note, this is just an example, what is more, simplified. Thus, do not take it literally. There are way more aspects that make the bookmaker reverse move its lines than just sharp punters.

Things to be aware of when practising RLM

As we have already stated above, betting percentages are the key to successful RLM execution. The good news is it is widely available online and provided by the majority of the top online bookmakers for free. Whenever you get your hands on such a data set, you have to look for situations where despite the higher betting percentage for a losing side, the line was moved towards the winning side (in the opposite way).

Unfortunately, things cannot be that rosy. The information provided by the bookmakers (especially) is very raw, makes it less attractive for punters who are trying to beat the bookie. This is one of the main reasons bettors turn to various online portals that provide such data but in a more sorted & organised form. These services also know this and exploit this demand the way they want. As a result, there are a couple of issues tagging along. First of all, the extra costs. Such products & services are never free, thus, keep in mind the fact that you would have to factor those expenses into your profit margin! Second of all, it has been proven to be not quite accurate. Such data is usually being sold be the self-proclaimed professional tipsters, who would go the distance to sell you their product. It is very common among such services to tweak their results & show fake data to lure desperate punters & get more sales.


We suggest treating the reverse line movement approach as an additional way of beating the market. Obviously, it is another awesome opportunity to gain that edge over your online bookmaker, but achieving this task by solely using the RLM would be extremely complicated, even for the most advanced punters. Not only it is really hard to spot such a market situation, in general, but it also requires you a couple of extra tools to make it work properly.

Obviously, you will find lots of punters who would advocate for reverse line movement strategy being very profitable, but, in reality, most of them are just trying to trick you into their traps. We suggest sticking with more traditional betting strategies and getting more familiar with them first rather than jumping into something unknown and quite sophisticated. The best approach would be working with handicapping and other popular field-test betting methods. More information about betting strategies & staking methods could be found in our sports betting guides section.

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