Which Way Do Betting Lines Move When the Public Bets with the Favorite?

When you’re watching sports live, one of the things that can seem quite random is the movement of the betting lines. Now, it’s not unusual for oddsmakers to move their lines after a big injury or big play, but sometimes it just seems like the numbers spin around for no good reason. For example, take last night’s Denver Nuggets / Los Angeles Lakers game. The Lakers were up 11 points with 1:50 left in the third quarter. Suddenly, the line moved to within 4 points. It was quite the opposite for the Nuggets, whose line actually went up 11 points after the Lakers came back to within a point! What’s up with that?

Well, it’s not like gambling isn’t an opportunity to learn, right? After all, it’s not like sports betting is illegal and the information comes from a reputable source. If you do your research before placing a wager, you can learn a lot about the teams and players involved in a given matchup. So, if you’re really curious about what caused the shift in betting odds after that particular point in the game, you could head over to vegasinsider.com and see what Line Shift reveals regarding the betting movement in that game. Maybe there’s a pattern that can be followed and, you know, maybe there’s not.

Why Do Some Lines Move More Than Others?

The reason why some lines move more than others is that it’s all about supply and demand. When the public is demanding more money on a team, the lines will generally move in that direction.

Looking at the 2019 NBA Draft, for example, the betting public was clearly demanding more shots at the ball than usual. Sure, there’s always a chance that a superstar could fall to the end of the first round, but for the most part, the betting public wanted to see more high-percentage shots than usual from the guards and wings. In other words, the public was demanding more evidence of what they deem as ‘ballers’ and less evidence of what they deem as ‘busts’. The oddsmakers knew that this is exactly what the public wanted to see and consequently, the spread of the first round moved further away from the mean, setting a new record for the most points moved in a first round.

The Influence of Social Media

Speaking of the public, social media has undoubtedly influenced the way they view sports and how they engage with it. Thanks to platforms like Twitter and Instagram, viewers can keep up with all the breaking news and in-game highlights almost as easily as they could if they were actually there. Even more so now that many games are also being shown on television, with the rise of the Big Four Networks and ESPN, sports are more accessible than ever before.

This is why, when there’s an important game, significant injuries or big plays that garner a lot of attention, the lines will often shift in favor of the popular team or player. In the 2019 NBA Draft, for example, many people expected Zion Williamson to go first overall to the New York Knicks. However, after the draft had been finished, the betting public had apparently changed their minds and now favor the Los Angeles Lakers to land the next NBA superstar.

Why Does It Always Seem Like the Favorites Are Going Up Against The Spread?

Some people believe that the favorites are going up against the spread because the oddsmakers know that they’re going to win. It’s pretty obvious when you consider that most people expect the team that they’re backing to win, so the spread will naturally gravitate towards zero. However, this theory doesn’t satisfactorily explain why some games see such big spreads. Take the 2019 NFL Draft for example. In that year’s draft, most people were expecting the New York Giants to take Eli Apple with the fourth overall pick. However, after the draft was over, it was the Oakland Raiders who took Apple, much to the surprise of many fans and sportbooks, who had Apple ranked 25th on their board.

The point is, we often hear about big spreads in major sports, like the NFL and NBA, but why are they so significant? It would be beneficial to have an explanation as to why the lines keep moving in the direction that they’re moving, especially since there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

What About The Underdog?

Now, here’s another way that the lines move that makes more sense. When an underdog has a good game and performs well against more established teams, the lines will generally move in their favor. The theory behind this is that the oddsmakers believe that the underdog has a good chance of winning and therefore, they’ll move the line in that direction.

There are numerous examples of this throughout NBA history. Take the 1977 NBA Playoffs, for example. The Boston Celtics were considered underdogs during that time period, going up against the defending champion Cincinnati Royals. Although the series was close, it was the Boston Celtics who came out on top, upsetting the odds makers, who had the Royals pegged as the favorites. The following year, during the 1978 NBA Playoffs, the lines for the Celtics were set at +2, while the lines for the Royals were set at +4. This time, it was the Royals who upset the odds makers and took a 2-1 lead in the series. The next year, during the 1979 NBA Playoffs, it was the Celtics who were once again considered underdogs, this time going up against the Philadelphia 76ers. The series was close but the Celtics pulled off an unlikely victory, taking the series 3-2, moving the line for them to -2.

The list of underdogs who upset the odds makers goes on and on. The 2019 NBA Playoffs were no different, as in the end, the Toronto Raptors shocked the basketball world by upsetting the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks, taking them to six games before the Milwaukee Bucks finally advanced to the NBA Finals. To this day, the line for the Toronto Raptors is -2.5 and it’s still -2.5 as I’m writing this, almost 24 hours after the first game had ended.

Key Takeaway

Although we live in a digital world, where information is at our fingertips, the theory of betting lines still holds true. Today, with games being shown on television and mobile devices, lines don’t move around as much as they used to but, for the most part, they still move in the same direction.

When there’s an important game, significant injury or a defining moment during a game, the lines will generally move in that direction. It would be beneficial to have an explanation as to why this happens but, for the most part, it’s just because the public wants to bet on something and the lines are moving in the direction of the bets.

In conclusion, sometimes it just seems like the odds just don’t add up. When there’s a big play or an injury during a game, the lines will shift because it benefits the public’s interests but sometimes it feels like there’s no rhyme or reason for it. Still, we learn something new every single time. Just remember to do your research before placing a wager.