Sports Betting 101: What is a Steam Play

We are going to explain a steam play, and what you should do with them.

Key Points

  • Smart bettors should understand what a steam play is in sports betting.
  • Chasing steam plays has its advantages and disadvantages.

When the teapot on your stove reaches a certain point, massive amounts of steam begin to pour out of it. Picturing that steam and its accompanying whistle gives a bettor an idea of a steam play.

While the steam play in betting doesn’t come with a whistle, it does indicate that sharp bettors are betting heavily on one side of a betting line. Typically, a steam move occurs when action pours in on one side of a bet at multiple sportsbooks.


The “steam” drives the betting line across the entire betting market and is a sure sign that professional bettors are betting hard on one side a bet.

Betting Steam Play Moves

If you are looking to take advantage of steam moves, you have to act quickly. Take an NFL example where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a 3.5-point underdog against New Orleans.

Sharp bettors begin pouring money in on the Bucs. Sportsbooks will react to the money coming in on Tampa Bay by adjusting the line to Bucs +2.5. Remember, sportsbooks want to balance the action on both sides of a bet.

As the market adjusts, smart bettors will find a sportsbook (or sportsbooks) that are lagging behind the market and still offer the Bucs at +3.5. This is another good reason for bettors to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks.

Chasing a Steam

Since speed is the key, it is imperative that bettors looking to chase a steam play have some good resources. Tap into the top online sportsbooks in the industry (think big ones that dominate the industry) and check their lines.

When a large sportsbook moves a line by a full point, steam action is highly likely. Find a good resource that tracks line moves as well. This way, you can get ahead of the game by keeping an eye on the market.

Steam Play Pros

The benefits of chasing steam are pretty self-evident. Professional sports bettors are very good at finding betting value and consistently beating the market.

Chasing these pros can help you get on the right side of a bet (or many bets). Bettors also build their confidence knowing they are on the right side of the action more often than not.

If you can continually get the best prices, you stand to earn higher profits when following steam moves.

Steam Play Cons

There are some cons to searching for and following steam in sports betting markets. Sportsbooks have been in the business a long time. They have sophisticated software and can easily identify steam chasers.

Bettors that are only betting when there is high expected value will have their betting accounts flagged. Depending upon the sportsbook, you might be banned or your max betting limit may be drastically reduced.

Typically, most sportsbooks reduce your maximum bet amount. There are a number of sportsbooks that reduce a steam chaser’s limit to $10. You won’t be able to make any serious money with a $10 bet limit.

The other thing to watch out for is when sharps steam one side of a line just to get a better price on the other side.

Let’s reminisce a little. Our last article covered the 2021 NFL Conference Championship Weekend. Go see what we had to say.