How and Why the Line Moves: Insight from Professional Bettor Anthony Best

August 1, 2023

When sportsbooks release their betting lines, bookmakers employ quantitative and qualitative methods to establish the opening lines and the associated odds. However, the factors influencing line movement can be quite complex. 

In this article, we sought the expertise of veteran professional handicapper Anthony Best to shed light on how bookmakers set their lines, why they adjust them, and how professional bettors capitalize on this knowledge.

Setting Initial Lines: What Bookmakers Hope to Accomplish

Bookmakers consider key factors when setting their initial lines, such as team history, records, injuries, home and away performance, and advanced analytics specific to the sport. Despite these basics, bookmakers guard their proprietary methods for generating lines, keeping the process undisclosed.

The Ideal Initial Line for Bookmakers

Ideally, bookmakers aim to attract equal action on both sides of a line. They apply a “juice” or “vig” to every line, usually 5-10%. In a perfect scenario, bookmakers would receive equal wagers on both sides and collect the vig as their profit. However, achieving perfect balance is rare, prompting bookmakers to employ strategies to encourage equitable action.

Factors Influencing Line Movement

Bookmakers rely on the principles of supply and demand to adjust lines and odds. When they observe insufficient betting volume, they will increase demand for the other, hoping for a more balanced betting pattern. This can involve adjusting the line or shifting the odds to make it more attractive to bettors. Conversely, if the betting volume becomes too high on one side, they may make the line less appealing to decrease demand and balance the action.

Insights from Anthony Best, Professional Bettor

Q: How does the betting line move, and do professional bettors beat bookmakers?

Anthony Best (AB): Bookmakers claim they are only interested in making a 10% vig to broker the bets, appearing to assume no risk. In reality, however, they aim to beat the bettors. While they still hope for balanced action, it only sometimes happens, and they have tricks up their sleeves to maximize profits.

Q: Can you elaborate on how professional bettors affect line movement?

AB: Professional bettors, armed with their formulas and handicapping expertise, bet early and seek value in the initial point spread. Their smart money influences bookmakers to adjust the lines. The media and public sway the line as the game approaches based on their betting preferences. Then, professional bettors strike again with late money, often taking the underdog while the public typically bets on the favorite.

Q: How do bookmakers use this information to their advantage?

AB: Bookmakers sometimes post a point spread skewed against the players’ interests. For instance, if the actual spread should be -7, they might open it at -10, knowing that the public will bet on the popular team, driving the line even higher. As the line moves, professional bettors invest in the opposite direction, seeking to capitalize on the value.

Understanding line movement and how bookmakers adjust odds is crucial for successful sports betting. Professional bettors like Anthony Best use their knowledge to anticipate and bet against public sentiment, seeking the most favorable numbers. 

The ability to predict line fluctuations and shop for the best odds is vital for intermediate and high-level strategies. By grasping the intricacies of line movement, bettors can make more informed decisions and improve their chances of success.

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