In sports betting, drifters and steamers are terms used to describe the movement of odds or betting lines for a particular event or game.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at drifters and steamers in sports betting, explore the factors that cause them to occur, and discuss whether you should bet on them.
A drifter refers to a team or player whose odds have lengthened or drifted out, meaning the perceived likelihood of them winning has decreased, and therefore, the potential payout for a successful bet has increased. For example, if a football team was originally priced at 3.00 (2/1) to win, but their odds have drifted out to 4.00 (3/1), they are considered a drifter.
steamer refers to a team or player whose odds have shortened or steam in, meaning the perceived likelihood of them winning has increased, and therefore, the potential payout for a successful bet has decreased. For example, if a football team was originally priced at 4.00 (3/1) to win, but their odds have shortened to 3.00 (2/1), they are considered a steamer.
Why Do Drifters & Steamers Occur?
Drifters and steamers occur in sports betting due to various factors that affect the perceived likelihood of a particular team or player winning an event or game. Here are some of the main reasons why drifters and steamers occur:
- Betting Market Activity: The most common reason for drifters and steamers is due to the amount of money being bet on a particular team or player. If a lot of money is being wagered on a team, then the bookmaker may shorten the odds, resulting in a steamer. Conversely, if there is little interest in a team or player, the bookmaker may lengthen the odds, resulting in a drifter.
- Team News: Any news that affects a team or player’s performance, such as injuries, suspensions, or changes in lineup, can cause the odds to drift or steam. If a team suffers an injury to a key player, the odds may drift out as the likelihood of them winning has decreased.
- Weather Conditions: Weather conditions can have a significant impact on certain sports, such as horse racing. If the weather forecast suggests unfavourable conditions, such as heavy rain or strong winds, the odds may drift out as the chances of horse performing well decrease.
- Public Perception: Public perception can also influence the movement of odds. For example, if a team is very popular and has a large following, the odds may steam as more people place bets on them.
Overall, drifters and steamers occur due to a combination of factors that can impact the perceived likelihood of a team or player winning a game or event. However, it is important to note that the movement of odds is not necessarily an accurate reflection of a true probability as the market is only correct on average, and not in every instance.
Should You Bet On Drifters Or Steamers?
Whether you should bet on drifters or steamers depends on your individual betting strategy and the specific circumstances of the event or game in question.
If you believe that the odds have moved too far in one direction, for example, a team’s odds have steamed in too much, you may decide to bet against the trend and place a bet on the opposing team, or Lay that outcome on the betting exchange. Conversely, if a team’s odds have drifted out too much, you may decide to bet on them, hoping to capitalise on a potential overreaction in the betting market.
However, some bettors often fall into the trap of assuming that an outcome’s chances of winning are determined solely by its odds movement. For example, some may believe that if a horse’s odds have drifted out, it’s no longer a viable betting option, or conversely, if a horse’s odds have steamed in, it’s a sure-fire winner and a good bet. While there is truth to the idea that odds generally reflect a horse’s true likelihood of winning, it’s important for bettors to consider the current value of the odds as a top priority.
The big danger of assuming that odds movements signal potential winners and losers is that it can lead bettors to ‘jump on’ a horse that has already seen significant movement. By the time the odds have shifted in favour of a particular horse, the benefit of betting on it may have already passed, making it a less profitable option. Ultimately it’s crucial to pre-empt odds movements, or act fast and place your bets early, to maximise your chances of success.
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