What Does a Line Drop Mean in Sports Betting?

In the world of sports betting, a straight line drop (also known as a flat race) typically indicates that one or more sports odds makers have taken an adverse action against one or more sporting events. A line drop can also be a good thing, however, indicating that one or more bookmakers have adjusted their odds in your favor.

The Example Of The Tampa Bay Rays Vs. New York Yankees

Let’s examine the 2019 MLB schedule, starting with the Yankees’ home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 4th. On March 24th, the Yankees released their opening day roster and adjusted their odds in several games, including the Tampa Bay Rays – New York Yankees game. On this day, their odds in the game were 4.60 to win and 3.20 to win, respectively. A few days later, on April 4th, the Rays’ opening day roster was announced and the line dropped for the New York Yankees – Tampa Bay Rays game. This game was a true test of wills as the Yankees came out on top, winning 7 – 1.

When Is A Line Drop Not So Good?

While a line drop can be a wonderful thing, it can also be a bad thing, especially if it occurs in a game that you feel you should have won. When that happens, it can leave you pondering the question, “What does a line drop mean?” Let’s take a quick look at some of the less-than-perfect scenarios in which a line drop might arise:

A Scheduling Issue

One of the primary reasons for a line drop in an NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL game is that one or more of the teams involved in the matchup were unable to resolve their differences and meet the terms of the agreed-upon schedule. Sometimes this requires one team or the other to push back the date of their scheduled game by one or more days. In most cases, these types of adjustments can only be made prior to the start of the season, but in the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants, 2020 was a bit of a special case as the two sides were able to hash out their differences and keep the game on schedule. In any case, as long as both teams are conscious of their shared responsibility for making the schedule work, things usually go smoothly.

An Injury To One Of The Participants

Another scenario that might result in a line drop is the injury of a participant in a sporting event. In the world of sports betting, this type of scenario is referred to as an “injury-abroad” situation, as the odds are generally considered to be altered due to a player being sidelined for a stretch of the season.

To give you an idea of how this might play out, let’s examine the 2021 NBA schedule. The Milwaukee Bucks were supposed to host the Toronto Raptors on the evening of January 16th. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the game was postponed and it was eventually rescheduled for February 26th. In the interim, due to an injury to star forward Kawhi Leonard, the Bucks’ odds in the game shifted significantly in his favor. After the postponed game was finally played, the Bucks went on to win that game by 15 points, despite not having Leonard in the lineup due to his injury. At the time, their odds for the game were 1.88 to win and 2.05 to lose.

A Refusal To Trade

In the case of the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, both teams were initially scheduled to play each other in the preseason. However, the trade deadline for the 2020-2021 NBA season came and went before the two sides were able to agree on a reciprocal deal. For whatever reason, the Raptors wanted to lock in some discounted rates while the Heat wanted to renegotiate for a better deal. As a result, neither side was able to reach an accord and the rivalry game was moved to the regular season. For the sake of argument, let’s say the Raptors win that preseason matchup by 20 points or more. In that case, the Heat’s reaction would most likely be, “No thank you, I’ll keep my original odds.” Even though the two teams were unable to come to terms, it is likely that the Heat would not have accepted a change to their original odds even if they had been offered.

What Changes Does A Line Drop Impart In The Odds?

When one or more odds makers enter into a line drop with another odds maker, there are several implications that this might have for your own betting activity.

First and most importantly, if the line drops in your favor, you will want to make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity by laying or taking a position on the upcoming game. One of the primary reasons for this is that there is a chance that the line could come back in your favor once the other side adjusts their odds in response to the drop. Also, if the line drops in your favor, this is generally a good indication that your team is going to win the game or contest. Of course, you should always keep in mind that a line drop is merely an indication and not a scientific certainty that your team will win.

One of the more interesting things about a line drop is that it can be quite the contrary, dropping in opposition to your team. In these cases, you might want to consider increasing your wager since the bookmakers are, in effect, giving you credit for a win in this circumstance. Generally speaking, though, if the line drops in your favor, you are going to want to push as hard as you can to make sure you take advantage of this opportunity by laying or taking a position on the upcoming game.

Now, if you are the type of person who likes to hedge their bets, you might want to consider taking a short position instead of a long position in games in which the line drops. In these cases, you are going to lose some of the value of your wager initially but you gain the ability to make additional wagers, without the risk of losing more of your initial investment. For more information about short and long positions, check out our sports betting guide.