Why Bookmakers Change the Lines After it Opens

by | Sep 26, 2019

Las Vegas Sportsbooks Opening Line Movements

Ever wonder why did the sports betting line open at 14 points but now it’s at 21 points? This is how bookmakers treat their opening odds and call it a “feeling out” period to limit their risk, during this time the oddsmakers are gathering much needed information from sharp bettors on the games they’re targeting and getting intel for where the line needs to move to in order to even out the money bet on each side. Now let’s discuss how Las Vegas and New Jersey Sportsbooks handle betting throughout the week leading up to kickoff.

NFL and College Football is a unique sport because gambling lines are posted nearly a week in advance. Baseball, Soccer, Hockey, and Basketball don’t have this luxury as lines come up closer to 24-36 hours before the games start. With football however the earlier in the week it is the lower the limits are at the sportsbooks taking the betting action. This is done in order for the books to protect themselves from getting hit by wiseguys who pounce on a soft opening number. This has been showcased here as Jon Price has been limited for his betting action early on and has thus had to result to selling his betting picks as an alternative way to make up for the lost revenue from the books not allowing him to have as much action on the games.

As the week progresses and the books have multiple days to diagnose the action, it becomes clear which side in the sharp side and they start to adjust the lines and vigorish accordingly. At this point the head oddsmakers and statisticians behind the scenes know the landscape of each game, including where the public is putting their money and where the wiseguys are. It’s easy for them to see who has more money on each side and how many people are betting on that side. Typically the side with the smaller amount of people but larger wagers is the sharp side aka Jon Price and his clients side. Most importantly, the line has been molded to its strongest number. This gives the house the confidence to “raise limits” and take in bigger bets. The Wynn Las Vegas Sportsbook limits spread beats on the opening line on Sundays at $3,000 and then gradually increases it to $5,000 and up to $20,000 if it’s approved “up stairs”.

As a result, the later a betting line moves showcases that this is the most meaningful because they’re coming from sharps who have an edge over the general betting public wagering larger amounts. Of course if the books allowed bigger wagers up front they would do so as well but the books want to limit their risk accordingly.

Here is an example from VSIN: “Just think back to last Sunday when the Detroit Lions played the Philadelphia Eagles. Detroit opened as a 7.5-point dog. On Wednesday Detroit fell to +6.5, then between Friday and Sunday the Lions tumbled to 6, 5 and then closed at 4. Detroit ended up winning 27-24. The fact that the line kept falling as limits kept getting raised (and we didn’t see any Eagles buyback) was proof that sharps were fully in favor of the Lions.”

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Sports Betting Lesson on Opening Line Movements

So the lesson here for novice and amateur sports betting is that observing where the line is changing throughout the week from it’s opening is extremely critical to find what the best in the business are betting on. Knowing these sports betting tips can make the difference between a profitable bettor and a losing one. If you watch how lines move right before kick off you will also see fluctuations from big wagers coming in from the sharp bettors. Tracking line movements when done correctly can be a very lucrative part of your sports betting arsenal.


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