How to Ensure Market Movements Work for You

Bookmakers, betting markets, etc.

There is a certain amount of significance to price movements in successful betting, and while advanced punters can utilise these fluctuations to profit via a back/lay system, there are also plenty of reasons for standard sports bettors to monitor markets and place their wagers accordingly.

The significance of recognising price drops/increases before they happen, and having the speed of thought to take advantage, is essential, as is a basic understanding of football and why market moves occur prior to a ball being kicked or a whistle being blown. Master these, and you’ll be well on the way to maximising your return on your bets.

In truth, often price movements occur because of information….or misinformation. If the price of Team A drops significantly in a short space of time, then bettors may assume a key event has occurred; maybe a goalkeeper or a star striker has been injured or rested. In this case we would term this a smart bet.

But occasionally misinformation or misreading of the signs can occur. Sometimes a bookmaker will adjust their prices to reflect those offered elsewhere, punters misinterpret that information and they too place wagers on Team A, even though nothing has actually occurred to warrant them doing so.

Clearly, understanding market movements is essential in ensuring bettors are investing their money in the right places.

The Law of Supply & Demand


It is this factor that is usually the cause of market movements. The law of supply and demand has been around in business speak for centuries, and relates to a golden principle that has helped successful entrepreneurs build their empires across the globe: if demand is high, then it is possible to increase prices and thus increase profit.

The same idea applies to football betting but in reverse: if there is enough demand for a selection, e.g. Arsenal to beat Chelsea, then the bookmakers can reduce the odds, minimise their loss and still attract plenty of wagers from the betting public.

The horse racing betting fraternity actually has its own terminology for the three types of price movement, and these are:

Steamer – a selection that is well backed in a short space of time, causing its price to drop quickly and significantly.

Mover – where individual bookmakers slash the odds of a particular selection.

Drifter – a selection whose odds slowly lengthen over time.

Clearly, all of the above are inextricably linked to supply and demand. Recognising that this is the main source of market movements will help you to avoid many of the common pitfalls.

Identifying Market Moves Before They Happen

If we could do this on a regular basis then we would all be millionaires – particularly those who favour the betting exchanges, with the potential to ‘buy high, sell low’ in a back to lay transaction clearly a winning formula.

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So how do we spot market patterns? In football, things can happen before a ball is even kicked that alter the outcome of a match. An awareness of these, and keeping a keen ear for information, will help you get into the boxseat and provide you with an edge over the bookmakers.

For example, these days team news is delivered on social media sites like Twitter and made publicly available in advance of kick off. Has Team A rested their star striker? Are they having to play an inexperienced defence due to injuries? A quick analysis of team selection, and bets that arise from this, will keep you on the front foot and enable you to wager at a better price than if you merely react to the news AFTER the bookmakers have altered their odds.

Despite occasionally being incredibly annoying, Twitter is a fantastic source of news that can impact upon market prices. During the 2015/16 season it was broken on the social media site that Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka had walked out on a team meeting on Saturday morning ahead of his side’s game against Charlton. Clearly this was going to have an impact upon the team, and so smart punters would have backed Charlton, despite them being bottom of the league table.

What was the end result? 2-0 to Charlton, and numerous punters had Twitter and their own quick wits to thank for some easy profit.

Overreactions, Artificial Drops and ‘Behaviour of the Crowd’

We’ve kind of covered these three phenomena already, but make sure you are aware of the power they can have on market prices.

Overreactions occur when punters see a significant drop/increase in price. These can be for genuine reasons (team selection/managerial sackings) or not (bookmakers getting ‘in line’ with competitors), but punters who utilise price comparison platforms will be alerted to the movements. They may overreact’, and bet big – thus artificially moving the market – as a result.

Artificial drops are the corrective measures that bookmakers take to fall in line with one another. There is very rarely complete agreement across the board as to what price a certain event should be quoted at, and often one bookmaker will attempt to eat into a competitor’s market share by changing their own prices.

Linked to the law of supply and demand and overreaction is crowd behaviours, patterns which ultimately cause market fluctuations. If enough bettors back a selection than a price alteration will almost always follow; this is a bookmaker’s natural response in protecting themselves.

Remember the Value Equation

To conclude, the important thing to remember about price fluctuations in a betting market is this: it doesn’t matter how far the odds change if the selection doesn’t represent value in the first place.

So a team may be lengthened from 2/1 to 5/1 to win a match; great, but who’s to say that the 5/1 represents good value when taken in isolation? On the flipside, you fancied a favourite at 11/10 – are they then worthy of a price of 8/11 if the market moves?

Pre-empting a market move is a great skill to have at your disposal, but ultimately it is your ability to spot value that is crucial. Price fluctuations can help in this, but you must stick to the basic tenets of football betting if you wish to be successful long term.