Steam Moves In Sports Betting

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
5 minute read
Steam Moves In Sports Betting

Wondering what a steam move is or what chasing steam means? We are here to help you on your road to sports betting mastery.

Beating sportsbooks is a tough challenge, and as a smart player, your goal is to find as many holes in their game as possible and taking advantage. Quickly.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything about steam betting and find expert tips to start capitalizing on sudden line movements.

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What Is A Steam Move In Sports Betting?

Chasing Steam In Sports Betting

A steam move is a change in the sports betting market that happens due to heavy betting action. Steam plays are caused by high-volume bettors or betting syndicates.

Although public wagering does affect betting lines, high-volume top-level bettors are the ones to trigger large line movements throughout the betting industry.

In steam betting, the movements are caused solely by pro-level bettors wagering more than the general public.

The public generally doesn’t wager enough in a short amount of time to trigger a quick and sudden massive market move. Nor are the public’s opinions nearly as highly regarded as the wise guy’s high-stakes sharps.

One of the best ways to gain an edge on the sportsbooks is by following these moves triggered by wise money. This is known as chasing steam.

Steam Move Betting Example

Steam move in sports betting example

To show an example of what we mean by chasing steam, we’ll take a look at the betting market while a steam move is occurring.

Live betting odds can be found on dozens of sites these days, so getting updated live lines isn’t an issue.

Let’s use a game between the Eagles and the Cowboys for this example.

Bettors might notice that the consensus line across the board on a particular NFL game between these two teams is set on at 3. The Eagles, the underdogs are +3, and the Cowboys, the home favorite are at -3.

After an odds update, one of the most trusted online sportsbooks moved the line to -4. This is a major move, particularly on the 3, a significant number for NFL markets.

A few seconds after the line moves to -4 for the Cowboys at one sportsbook, the rest of the market begins to move their line to adjust as well. However, a few sportsbooks are slow to move their odds, and the Cowboys are still available at -3.

Betting the Cowboys in this scenario would be chasing steam.

We’re beating the market movements caused by wiseguy bettors and locking in a price that is almost certainly going to beat the closing number.

The sportsbook wouldn’t be able to offset your Cowboys -3 bet, since they would be forced to move the line to -4 or risk getting hit from even more sharps.

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Are There +EV Opportunities Chasing Steam?

Profitable opportunities with Steam Chasing

For the most part, yes. However, there are situations where bettors may get a better price with the opening number, or the chance that the line continues to move in the same direction.

Sharp sports bettors also know their wagers will cause the odds to move in many cases, and they may decide to bet one side to move the odds, only to “buy back” the opposite side with a larger wager.

This is an area a general knowledge of the sport can help you decipher what the sharps agenda is when a steam move occurs. Such as what day of the week or what time a line moves.

Steam betting may also set players up with a strong middling or arbitrage opportunity depending on where the line moves before game time.

However, the clear and profitable goal of chasing steam is finding an inefficient line and beating the closing odds at the top sportsbooks.

How Fast Do Sportsbooks Adjust To Steam Moves?

How fast sportsbooks react to steam moves

Rather quickly. Some sportsbooks may be slower than others to move their lines, but in most cases, we’re talking a matter of minutes, at most, and in some cases a matter of seconds.

Many things are automated these days, and the sportsbooks are running around-the-clock operations.

Keeping your eyes on the odds and betting immediately when you see a top bookmaker move the line in a key market is what it is going to take in many cases.

The sportsbooks are fast, but there is still time to beat some of them before the market fully adjusts.

Chasing Steam On Local Bookies

Although we don’t advise players to use offline or local bookies, this may be a spot where players can find some serious value.

Many locals are extremely slow to move their lines compared to online sportsbooks. If you have a trusted local, the edge gained may be larger than using a slow-moving online sportsbook.

Should You try Chasing Steam In Sports Betting?

Is chasing steam worth it?

Steam betting is a profitable strategy, but there are potential drawbacks that bettors should consider.

There are several reasons that sportsbooks aren’t fans of players who chase steam moves. For one, they’re following major market moves and the opinions of top oddsmakers and professional bettors.

Secondly, since you’re beating them on odds that they have to move, the sportsbook won’t be able to offset your action by accepting wagers from the previous odds.

Let’s review some valuable insights shared by our experts:

Getting your account banned

Sportsbooks don’t appreciate steam chasing, particularly on a large scale. If the only types of wagers you’re making are steam plays, you could be at risk of getting your betting account limited.

Getting your profits denied

Bettors have to be sure that the sportsbook they are playing at is reputable and won’t do something to void their winnings simply because they’re steam players.

Many less than reputable sportsbooks have a “syndicate, non-professional” clause in their terms and conditions. In some cases, this has led to funds being seized for steam chasing by rogue sportsbooks.

Sportsbooks limit you anyway

Although, the concerns of chasing steam may outweigh the positives. Sportsbooks will likely limit your action eventually if you’re a +EV player.

Chasing steam may speed up this process, but steam moves are still one of the easiest ways to profit when betting sports.

How To Extend The Life Of Your Account

It may be worth mixing in bets that are -EV to throw off managers and not attract attention, such as large parlays or teasers.

To reduce damage to your bankroll, they can be considerably smaller than your regular betting units.

Remember, a lot of maximum bets on steam moves are almost always going to draw attention.

If you max out on major markets, it may make a little more sense for someone overseeing your account.

When you’re max betting smaller or more obscure sports, that will typically attract attention faster.

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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