When a Las Vegas oddsmaker wakes up in the morning and browses the slate of games for the night he has two numbers in his head – the actual margin of victory for a game and the margin that the bettors think will occur. These are the professionals and usually their first instinct is generally pretty close but every now and then the public gamblers will surprise the odds maker, which will cause the line to move. There’s generally three factors that will cause a gambling line to move in a certain direction – public percentage, heavy money, and injuries.
When you go to research a game online, many sites offer you access to consensus betting numbers. The public percentage on an individual game usually varies from 35% all the way up to the low 80’s. A smart linesman aims to have 50% of the action on both sides so that the casino can collect the juice money, regardless of game outcome.
The next factor that can decide a line move is an inordinate amount of money coming in on one side. Suppose a line opens at –2 and two guys quickly put a bet in. The first guy is a visitor to the sportsbook who just finished his 3rd Bloody Mary of the morning and wants to lay $25 on the Missouri Tigers -2 that night. The second entrant into the sportsbook is a seasoned gambler who noticed a line mistake and quickly dropped $10,000 on Missouri’s opponent. Even though there is 50% of the action on both sides, the house stands to lose about $9, 970 dollars if Missouri doesn’t cover.
Late injuries are the third factor that contributes to line moves because the Patriots without Tom Brady are less intimidating than if #12 is behind center. Usually, games with stars questionable will be off the board until the injury status is confirmed.
Line movement is a tough code to crack though because sometimes the odds will come out skewed in the hopes that the public all ride a certain team. If 80% of the public is on a certain team and the line stays firm, it’s a good sign the game is a trap. Generally, the best rule of thumb is to investigate each game and develop a logarithm that works for your particular research strategies.
Here are tonight’s top consensus NBA games for the night and their respective line moves:
Minnesota @ Phoenix -4 (69%): Top consensus play of the night. The line has stayed firm as Minnesota has lost 2 in a row and is down 2 point guards. Phoenix has won 5 of 6.
Charlotte @ New Orleans –6.5 (59%) – Bobcats 2-19 on the road and have lost 8 of 10 games. 59% of the public on the Hornets but line has actually dropped ½ a point from –7.
Milwaukee (-3.5) 62% @ New Jersey Nets – Deron Williams still out, public betting pushed the line from Milwaukee –2.
Washington @ San Antonio Under 206 (62%) – Opened at 205 with Washington giving up at least 100 points in their last 3 and San Antonio scoring 100+ in their last 2. Last meeting ended up exactly at 206.
Check back later for a breakdown of today’s consensus results.