Reverse Line Movement – If you’ve heard the term but don’t know what it’s referencing, then in a few hundred words you will. Remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. So, here we go.
These days there are any number of sites that publish the ticket count for games, which is exactly what it says, ticket count. Specifically, the number of bets on the game and betting consensus. Often times you will see cases where there are far more tickets on one team than the other, and yet the line is moving away from the team with more bets. That means there is more MONEY on the team with less tickets.
Here’s an the rotation for May 15th.
The column marked “spread” is the run line, and obviously the ML column reflects the money line. I don’t think I need to explain “total.” As you can see, the Astros are attracting 73% of the ML tickets, and yet after opening at -118 they are down to -109. The same can be said for Toronto, grabbing 87% of the tickets yet moving down to -131. Quite simply, that is RLM.
However, there’s more to it. First of all there are only 1086 tickets on the Houston game, which isn’t much. For comparison’s sake an NFL game will have tens of thousands of tickets on it. You’ve also got to factor in the time of day, since often times a syndicate will move a line one way, knowing they want to come back and take the other side at a better number. That’s more common than you might think.
Since there are multiple sites with bet percentages, you’ll often see different numbers on the same game. You might ask how is that possible, and I’ll give you the answer. Most sites have affiliations with a specific set of sportsbooks, so they’ll get different numbers. Each cross-section of sportsbooks might be different. So, if you’re going to use these numbers it’s advisable to use the same site over and over, because over time you will see patterns, and that’s what we’re looking for.
I get asked fairly often how many tickets is enough to make a judgment call, and the answer is always different. Obviously in baseball there are going to be less tickets, so the baseline will differ. The time of day matters, so you’ve got to “take readings” at similar times.
As I spoke about earlier, it’s not uncommon for a service to give out the team with the reverse line movement in their favor, and typically late in the day. Actually, it’s quite common. You don’t need a service to tell you that. More importantly, if you’re late to the party you are just not (ever) going to get the best number. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bet the game.
If you’re going to use this method on your own, you’ve got to do one of two things. Either develop yourself a baseline of parameters as to what is and what is not a bet, or alternatively bet them all. The reason for betting them all is that there is no way you (or anyone, for that matter) can truly tell you what is and what is not sharp money every single time. You’re using a system is all.
It can work, but don’t be fooled by people telling you they are truly handicapping a game when they’re giving these picks out an hour before first pitch. To be brutally honest, I’ll follow some of them myself, but I’ll make it clear that that’s what we’re doing, because many recreational bettors don’t even have the time to look themselves.
Dave Essler is a handicapper from Pregame, featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, & more.