Editors Note: This article was initially published on March 30, 2015:
Prior to the start of every season, we release a series of betting against the public articles which discuss the optimal thresholds for fading the public. Using the public betting percentages from our seven contributing sportsbooks, we analyzed over 25,000 games from our historical database in order to build a historically profitable betting system for our readers.
Last season we published an article highlighting a system that had gone 298-367 with +100.73 units won since the start of the 2005 season. This system finished the year with a 16-13 record and +11.72 units won which meant that we did not want to make any significant changes to our system. However, we were able to make a few minor tweaks which helped improve both our overall units won as well as our return on investment (ROI).
We utilized our Bet Labs software to determine the ideal public betting percentage range and found that the value was on teams receiving 30% or less of moneyline bets. While betting all teams fitting these criteria would have actually resulted in a loss of -11.39 units, taking every underdog in this range would have resulted in gains of +11.07 units.
We also knew that a lot of value is lost to the juice when taking large underdogs, so we wanted to know the ideal moneyline range for MLB betting against the public. Although last season we found that the ideal range was between +130 and +200 (+48.42 units), this year’s analysis revealed slightly loftier figures between +120 and +200 (+64.76 units). This seemingly minor adjustment increased our overall sample size by 1,183 games while also improving the system’s ROI.
We already knew from last season’s analysis that mediocre teams (defined by teams with a winning percentage of less than 60%) have been undervalued when they square off with the league’s elite (opponent winning percentage of at least 60%). This fits perfectly into our contrarian viewpoint which not only highlights the value of betting against the public, but also the importance of buying on bad news and selling on good news. The addition of these two filters leads to a 570-708 record with +150.61 units won and an 11.8% ROI.
We’ve also proven time and time again that underdogs are particularly valuable in games with high totals. Essentially, when games are expected to be high-scoring there tends to be more unpredictability and this volatility disproportionately benefits the team receiving plus money i.e. the underdog. The table below shows how higher totals lead to improved returns.
|Total Range||Record||Units Won||ROI|
You can clearly see that the return on investment gradually increases as we examine higher closing totals with the optimal range coming on over/unders of at least 8.5.
We mentioned the value of buying on bad news and selling on good news earlier, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by taking advantage of the public’s tendency to overreact to recent results. Square bettors will happily take teams in the midst of a winning streak with little regard to the price. This is one of the main reasons why many public sportsbooks (e.g. Bovada, Sportsbook.com and Sports Interaction) will shade their lines towards the favorite. This creates additional value on the underdog for opportunistic bettors.
When teams fitting the aforementioned criteria are facing an opponent who won their previous game, the number of system matches decreased by 307 games but our return on investment jumps from 16.5% to 21.5%.
When building a winning betting system we look for a strong driving hypothesis, significant sample size and consistent year-to-year results. Betting against the public has been supported by years of research and with over 500 past matches we clearly have a large sample size, but what about the year-to-year results?
This system has had only one losing year over the past decade (-3.93 units in 2012) but has earned at least +9 units in eight of the nine additional seasons. In fact, this system has gone 28-24 (+18.32 units, 35.2% ROI) over the past two seasons.
The results graph below, which utilizes line data from Pinnacle, displays the year-to-year results of our system.
Bet Labs users can receive all current game matches by copying this system from our Bet Labs Think Tank. Bettors can also track the latest odds and public betting trends by visiting our free MLB odds page.
Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9/19/16 Update: This system finished the 2015 season with a record of 8-3 (+8.59 units). During the 2016 season, it has gone 21-17 with +14.71 units won which pushes the all-time record to 271-284 (+125.99 units).