Betting Strategy

What is a Steam Line Movement?

A “steam move” or “steam line movement” in sports gambling is a large change in the gambling market due to new and/or heavy action. A steam line movement is caused when high-volume players or syndicates place large wagers on a game, thus moving the line and changing the odds. While the average public wagerings do have an effect on lines and odds it’s those big players that trigger the large line movements throughout the betting industry.

Steam Chasers

One of the best plays to make with the steam moves is what’s called “Steam chasing.”  When steam chasing, the idea is to note when there are steam line moves and then to place your wager as such. The logic goes like this: If a bet is large enough to create a steam move, the person or persons must know what they are doing so it only makes sense to follow their lead. A wager that can cause a steam move is smart money and if you bet with smart money, you’ll win. Gamblers are looking for any advantage they can get and following smart money by steam chasing is a good play.

How’s It Work

For example, let’s say the gamblers notice that the consensus line across the board of several sportsbooks has the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots game with the Patriots as -3 point favorites. After an update, gamblers notice that one of the sportsbooks moved their line to -4. This is a big move, particularly with the 3, which is a significant total in the NFL.

A few seconds after the line moves in one sportsbook, the rest of the market begins to move their line to adjust as well. There we have the steam. However, there are a few more sportsbooks that have yet to adjust their odds, and the Patriots at -3 are still available. Betting the Patriots here is called chasing the steam. The gamblers betting here have beaten the market move caused by the smart money and are locking in a price that is almost certainly going to be better than the closing number. Sportsbook and oddsmakers don’t like this and you can imagine why.

Those sportsbooks and oddsmakers are studying wagering trends just as much or if not more than any steam chaser so they can adjust their lines quickly. Some sportsbooks are slower than others though. In most cases, it’s a matter of only a few minutes. The sports gambling industry is finely tuned after all, so you can count on anything that can give you the slightest of advantages will be corrected as soon as possible.


Chasing steam line moves can be a very profitable strategy, there can be a few drawback concerns that gamblers should be sure aware of before using the strategy. First of all, sportsbooks don’t like steam chasers, particularly on a large scale. There is no way for them to even those odds once the line moves. If the only types of wagers you’re making are steam plays, you’ll find yourself with a frozen account pretty quickly. Chasing steam is much like counting cards, you allowed to do it, but I wouldn’t suggest getting caught.

Gamblers also need to be sure that the sportsbook they use is a fair and reputable one because most, especially online, simply aren’t. Many sportsbooks will carry a fine print disclaimer allowing them to void your earnings at any moment. Be aware of who where you’re wagering. Online gambling sites have been known for some shady moves when they find themselves down. There are plenty of sites with solid reputations ready for your action and will allow you to win using all the information you can. Find those good sites, find that steam, and you’ll find yourself up.

The Strategy

The best steam strategy to employ is to take it where you can get it. Know that steam chasing is tough, again, it’s akin to card counting. It takes time and a large bankroll in order to make all the work worth your while. It takes operating on several open accounts on multiple sportsbooks to be able to see the steam and then place the wager. In short, as profitable it is, it’s a tough play and shouldn’t be your only sports betting strategy. The more you look for steam, the more you’ll find. Just like anything worth doing, it just takes time and practice.

The best advice for this strategy is to make it part of your daily gambling routine. Once you are in your sportsbook, checking odds and noting line charges, look for games you’d expect a lot of action on. Big games with big fan bases. Primetime games, especially. Make a note of a few and move on. Once you’ve decided on all your action. Revisit some of those early lines. Then, complete your wagering, chasing steam if it presented itself. It’s a good way to practice and really become adept. It’s an important skill to have and one every successful gambler will need.

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