Betting Against the Public: Expert Advice and Wagering Tips
If I polled 100 people and asked them if it's better to be a leader or a follower, 99 of those people will say leader. They will say that because leaders put plans into motion whereas the followers act on it. There is no better example than the sports betting marketplace, where there are leaders and there are followers. The leaders I am referring to are "sharp" bettors and "wise guys", who tend to bet "smart money" on certain teams before anyone catches on. Sportsbooks are terrified of these kinds of bettors since they have the power to move lines. On the contrary, the general betting public would be the followers and they would be at the mercy of not only the wise guys but the sportsbooks as well.
One of the main reasons that Las Vegas and the sportsbooks are extremely profitable is because the betting public very rarely has a clue what they are doing. They are the ones who keep the sportsbooks running, and it's their lost money that helps the sportsbooks pay out the "sharp" bettors who manage to beat the book.
Because of that, one of the best handicapping methods I've come across is called the "contrarian method". This method's core principle is to figure out what team the public really likes and then bet against it. The reason being is that a casual bettor who watches mainstream sports coverage like ESPN or TSN can be manipulated into thinking a certain team is better or worse than they actually are.
As I mentioned above, casual bettors get most of their sporting news by watching or following ESPN, TSN (in Canada) or any other major network that dedicates themselves entirely to sports. The problem with trusting these networks is that they are in the entertainment business and will follow up on any story that they deem entertaining. They will then spin it in a positive or negative light depending on the team and what occurred. The public (read: casual bettor) will then overact to that story and base their wagers accordingly. This is a losing proposition.
Another losing proposition that ties into public perception and any news stories circulating on the mainstream sports media is called "recency bias". Recency bias is a fickle thing that tends to get casual bettors in trouble. A casual bettor is likely only to remember a team's last win or loss and the manner in which it happened. They will then either be really high on a team or really low -- depending on the outcome -- and that plays right into the sportsbooks' advantage when they release the lines.
For example, let's say the Broncos went into Kansas City for a divisional game against the Chiefs. The Broncos are laying six points and they are firing on all cylinders leading up to the game. They proceed to lay an egg and lose outright to the Chiefs. The following week, the sportsbooks set the Broncos up as eight-point favorites against a lesser team. The betting public will remember the loss to the Chiefs and will likely not trust the Broncos laying more points than when they lost.
Recency bias is a real thing, and it's what keeps casual bettors from turning a profit instead of funding a sportsbooks' bottom line.
Sportsbooks are in the business of making money and will stop at nothing to ensure they turn as big a profit as they possibly can. They make most of their money off the general betting public who is wrong more often than they are right.
A linemakers job is to ensure that the sportsbooks receive equal action on both sides of the line. Equal action all but guarantees a profit, and the sportsbooks can breathe easy. However, there are occasions that arise where a sportsbook will make one side "too good to be true" and will suck everyone into betting that side. I've always been told "if it seems too good to be true, it usually is". When you see a line that is screaming at you to bet it, do extra research on it because it's likely a trap, and betting on it will put you on the "publics'" side, which is almost always the wrong side to be on. It's much better to side with the sportsbooks because the house always wins.
Betting Against the Public
When you look closely at past results, the numbers are quite staggering. Over the course of the past eight NFL seasons, games that featured a side with a 75 percent consensus lost the game outright around 54 percent of the time. Taking that one step further, underdogs of more than seven points covered the spread almost 55 percent of the time when the favorite was receiving 70-75 percent of the action.
If you can consistently hit winners at a 54-55 percent clip by betting against the public in certain situations, then you will be doing your bankroll a great service. Not only will it boost your account, but you will also have more money to play the sides that you have circled as key games. The more winners that you can accumulate over the course of the season, the happier and richer you will become.
While no betting system or trend lasts forever, betting against the public seems to be the one betting method that can be relied upon without doing much research of your own. Sportsbooks will always know which side the public will be on and which side the "sharp bettors" will occupy. One way for you to pick up on this is by taking note of the line movement and place your wagers according to the movement and consensus for each individual game.
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