What Is Chasing Steam?
In sports betting terms, chasing steam refers to the betting strategy of watching line movements and jumping on the same side of substantial line moves. This strategy can be applied both to spread sports like football or basketball as well as moneyline sports like baseball and hockey.
The theory is that the big move is an indicator of where the sharp bettors or betting syndicates are putting their money, The bookmakers obviously respect the pros, and as a result, they’ll adjust the line towards the sharp action.
The main advantage of chasing steam is that you don’t need any knowledge about the sports or the teams; all you have to do is follow the moves through an odds service and pounce on what looks like steam moves and you’re virtually guaranteed to be on the same side as the sharp money.
While this sounds easy enough in theory, you’re going to want to avoid these pitfalls when chasing steam.
Avoid These Pitfalls When Chasing Steam
Betting at a Sharp Bookmaker
First of all, as a steam bettor it’ll be near impossible to make money chasing steam if you are funded on just one sportsbook, and you definitely do not want to bet at any of the “sharp” bookmakers. Two of the most renowned sharp bookmakers are Pinnacle and 5Dimes, and while you do not want to bet there as a steam bettor, these are two of the most reliable bookmakers in the industry and the bookmakers you’ll use to detect steam moves.
If you notice that a line is on the move on a sharp bookmaker, compare the line at a softer bookmaker with slower odds movement where you’ll place your wager. Examples of soft bookmakers are Bookmaker, Betnow, GTBets and MyBookie.
As an example, if you see that a moneyline on Pinnacle has made a quick jump from -130 to -160, you’ll want to shop around and find a bookie with as close to -130 as possible.
Betting Too Late
Jumping on the train too late is arguably the biggest mistake you could possibly make when chasing steam. If we use the same example as above with a line moving from -130 to -160, only because the sharps found value at -130 does NOT mean that there is still value at -160. It’s possible the sharps stopped getting their money down at -150 and further line movement is a result of other steam bettors getting involved.
Falling For Head Fakes
It’s not unheard of that steam chasers get trapped by the sharps with a “head fake”. This is when the sharps make smaller wagers to telegraph to the public/book that they like a certain side of a wager only to induce a move of the line in favor of the bet they really want to make… the opposite side!
In conclusion, while money can be made steam betting, it’s also time-consuming and even then far from guaranteed to profit. If you plan to invest a lot of time in your sports betting you might as well learn how to handicap games properly.