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Don't Be Afraid to Bet Against Line Moves

Don't Be Afraid to Bet Against Line Moves
by Bette Middler of

Every now and then we get an email from a reader asking us how to decipher line moves and what to make of them. It's a tough question to answer, because there's a ton of different variables one needs to take into account when handicapping line movement. We could probably write a book about the topic but this article is going to have emphasis on why you shouldn't be afraid to bet AGAINST a point spread move. Ironically, I don't always take my own advice and missed out on a GOLDEN wagering opportunity where my gut said one thing but my head said the other after witness a line move that scared me off.

The game I'm referring to played on 2/18/10. The teams involved were the Wisconsin Badgers who were the visiting team against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Badgers are probably the superior team on paper, BUT, the Golden Gophers have played really well at home during the 2009/2010 college basketball season so my gut instinct was to handicap the game with hopes that Minnesota would prove to be a value play at -1.


The line opened at -1 and held pretty strong for half of the day despite the general betting public absolutely hammering the visiting Badgers to the tune of 70%.

After handicapping the game, I decided that Minnesota looked like a good play but I held off on playing it because some power ratings that I respect were showing that Wisconsin should actually have been favored in the match so I felt uneasy and thought I'd "wait a bit" to see how the line movement played out.

I had decided that if Minnesota moved even a half point up to -1.5 or more that I'd take the Golden Gophers and feel good about it.

As the day went along, the spread started moving to a pickem, then Wiscy -1. I let this freak me out so I decided I'd back off the game. This was really nothing new to me, backing off a game due to line movement that is, but I REALLY liked Minnesota, so as the day and evening went on it, really bugged the heck out of me. Sure has chit, the game plays and Minnesota ends up winning by double figures and there I sat feeling like a complete dumbass as I let the line move spook me. In most cases, it's really not a big deal to back off and end up with your initial pick covering the spread, but again, I REALLY liked Minnesota and to compound the issue, the "other" pick I made instead of the Golden Gophers ended up losing.

So in summary, I had lost 1.1 units for the day instead of winning a unit which is a whole 2.1 unit swing. All because of a line move that spooked me.

Don't let this happen to you. If you handicap a game and study the heck out of it and feel good about the likely outcome, stick with it! By no means are line moves any indication of how the final result of the game will play out. Heck, even the best handicappers out there only hit 57-62% long term, so it's not like your betting against a lock. (We all know there is no such thing as a lock, heck, that's why they play the game!)

May all your bets be winners!

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