If you miss the initial line movement, it is usually best to wait, and continue monitoring (and shopping) the line up until game time. Most of the time, the line will settle back down closer to the release number. If the line continues to move further away from the release number, it is probably best to simply pass on the game.
It is important to recognize key numbers. For example, you will lose considerably more value on a football side that moved from -2 to -3.5 than you would if the same game moved from PK to -1.5, because far fewer games land on 1. With NFL football sides, you can still play at worse than a ½ point off as long as the line has not moved on or off any key numbers (3, 4, 7, 10, 14, etc.)
What you absolutely DO NOT want to do is play at “peak” numbers and/or at lines that end up being worse than the closing line.
Example: We release Over 49.5, the line moves to 50, 51, 52.5, 53, 53.5, 53, 52.5, and ultimately closes at 52.
You want to avoid playing near the peak number of 53.5, and try to beat the closing line of 52. Learning to time the market comes with experience of tracking line movement. Monitoring a premium live odds service such as Don Best or a free one such as Vegas Insiders, can really help you predict which direction a line is likely to move in. A line will typically move faster offshore before it will move in Vegas. That trend will likely continue in other US markets as well. If you find yourself often playing lines that end up being worse than or equal to the closing line, chances are you will not be successful, and you need to change what you are doing.
As is true with any type of sports betting, line shopping is critical to optimizing results. Giving yourself access to multiple sets of lines can easily enable you to get a half point to a full point better on many releases, particularly if you missed the initial line move and are still looking to play the game. Line shopping can be helped considerably by using a live odds service (Don Best). This simple practice will improve your long term results significantly. If we play 100 games during the NFL season and you miss two lines that ultimately cost you a win and end up a loss, you’ve just given up significant units. Instead of being 55-45 you are now 53-47 and cost yourself 2% in a winning percentage.
DO NOT buy points, or play teasers, for the sole reason of trying to get closer to the release line. In the long run this will hurt more than help. Only buy points when buying points is the right thing to do on its own merit, such as on/off key numbers (3, 7). Do not ever pay more than 10 cents per 1/2 point bought. Buying off the 3 is worth a little more but paying too much to buy off numbers will ultimately eat into your overall profits. Do not ever buy points on totals.