Chasing steam is a betting tactic that usually increases returns. However, it also risks having your betting account restricted or closed completely. We will briefly define what chasing steam is, give an example, and go through the pros and cons of using this tactic as part of your betting strategy.
What is chasing steam?
“Steam” in most sports betting is a sudden price movement in a game. It is usually the result of a betting syndicate or a large group of betting friends placing money on one side of the game.
“Chasing the steam” is a strategy where a bettor can act quickly to place a bet on a slower sportsbook that has not yet changed its line with other markets.
For example, say the odds on an EPL game suddenly change from +3.5 to +2.5. The move above 3 (rather than just a half-point move to 3) is a very significant line change in the EPL. In the absence of any new information, we can assume that this was the result of a lot of money being invested in the dog. With sports bettors around the world quickly updating their odds to the new market consensus (+2.5), some bettors will undoubtedly move more slowly than others. As a bettor, if you can get +3.5 odds from a slower bookmaker when the market moves towards +2.5 odds, you should opt for +3.5 odds. It’s chasing steam.
What about current news?
The strict definition of “windfall” usually refers to a strong move with no new information. The same strategies and mechanisms apply when new information triggers a strong price move. For simplicity, there is no need to distinguish between the two terms, just use the term “chasing the steam”.
Advantages of chasing steam
The advantages of “chasing the steam” are obvious: you can achieve a better figure than the market consensus. Unless you firmly believe in the efficient market hypothesis, chasing steam as the only strategy may not make you a long-term winner, but it will certainly help you get the best possible number. It should be one of your main goals as a sports bettor.
Disadvantages of chasing steam
The main disadvantage of chasing steam is that it can lead to your sports betting account is restricted or suspended. It’s no secret that sports bettors don’t like people betting on steam. They feel (rightly or wrongly) that you are taking advantage of their slow moves, and they are not very tolerant of someone whose only activity is chasing steam.
Another downside to chasing steam is that even if you have a good number, you are (for now) largely flying blind. You have no idea who lined you up and why. Some of the world’s biggest betting syndicates have deliberately moved the line to surprise the other side with more favorable odds. It is very difficult to tell who moved the line and why if you are blindly chasing.
How it is applied
Don’t get me wrong. Chasing steam is certainly useful in finding the best line. However, I think it is best to steam chase as part of a trading strategy that complements the underlying forecasting model. If you already see value on one side and that value evaporates with the steam movement, you might as well hit slower and lock in a favorable number.