Every week in this space we highlight the most interesting line moves at the market-setting offshore sportsbooks — typically Bookmaker and Pinnacle — which take the highest limits and therefore attract the sharpest bettors. By contrasting the opening and current lines with the public betting trends from our seven contributing offshore sportsbooks, we are able to determine how public betting has affected the line.
We are also proud to announce that in addition to our public betting percentages, we now offer real money percentages, which reflect the percentage of total dollars wagered at one of the sharper offshore sportsbooks. This allows bettors to easily monitor all the factors influencing line movement.
It’s important to know which side is receiving the majority of tickets, but it’s far more crucial to understand which side is receiving a majority of the money since books are far more likely to adjust their lines if they have significant liability on one side. By waiting until public money has artificially inflated the line, bettors can often capitalize on public perception and find additional line value.
In most games, the ticket percentages and money percentages will match up fairly closely, but it’s quite telling when there’s a large discrepancy between these two numbers. This information, which is available exclusively to Sportsbook Insider subscribers, is essential in determining what’s causing the line to move.
This week’s edition of Line Moves That Matter examines three games where public money has affected the spread in a unique manner.
Cincinnati Bearcats at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Friday at 8:00 PM eastern)
Although this may not be the sexiest matchup, we have seen some interesting betting trends in this AAC showdown. Tulsa opened as 19.5-point favorites at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook, and early public betting has been extremely one-sided.
Not only has the percentage of spread tickets (68%) favored the home chalk, but the percentage of money splits has been even more dramatic with 99% of all spread dollars taking Tulsa! This unbalanced public betting has contributed to a three-point line move.
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With the market steadily pounding Tulsa, oddsmakers have been forced to adjust their number multiple times, eventually landing at the current line of Tulsa -22.5. Although it may look like public money is solely responsible for this three-point line move, there are other factors to consider.
As you can see from the line chart above, the spread moved from Tulsa -19.5 to -21 within just two minutes of opening. When the line moves that quickly after opening, it’s usually an indication of sharp money — not public money. In other words, sharp bettors hammered Tulsa immediately after the line was posted which caused the line to move from -19.5 to -21. After the line settled, public money poured in on Tulsa which caused the line to move from -21 to -22.5.
Auburn Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide (Saturday at 3:30 PM eastern)
In this year’s Iron Bowl, Auburn opened as 18-point road underdogs at Pinnacle. Although the Tigers have received just 46% of spread tickets, they have dropped from +18 to +17. This line movement can be easily explained by our money percentages, which show that Auburn is actually receiving 78% of total dollars wagered.
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Although the ticket count is evenly split, the majority of money has taken Auburn to cover. With more than three-fourths of the money taking the Tigers, the line has moved one point from Auburn +18 to +17. That’s fairly significant since “17” — like any combination of 3 and 7 — is considered a key number.
It’s interesting to note that Alabama has already received less than 55% of spread bets in four games this season, which is fairly surprising considering they’re usually one of the nation’s most public teams. Casual bettors tend to believe that rivalry games are always competitive, so they are increasingly willing to take the underdog in these matchups. As the week continues, it will be interesting to see whether the majority of tickets ultimately take Auburn and the points.
Utah Utes at Colorado Buffaloes (Saturday at 7:30 PM eastern)
Colorado has been the nation’s best ATS team this season, but bettors have been hesitant to back the Buffaloes over the past few weeks. Just one week after receiving 35% of spread bets as home favorites against Washington State, bettors are once again avoiding the Buffs.
After opening as 10-point home favorites at Pinnacle, Colorado has received just 30% of spread tickets and 19% of spread dollars. Despite this limited public support, the Buffaloes have moved from -10 to -10.5. This reverse line movement indicates that early sharp money has been taking the home chalk.
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Many bettors believe that oddsmakers are looking to balance their book by attracting 50% of the action on each side thereby mitigating any risk. That is pure fiction. Sportsbooks shade their opening line to capitalize on public perception and allow their most-respected clients to move the lines. In this example, there’s been an influx of public money on Utah, but large bets from well-respected clients have taken Colorado.
Interested in checking out our new money percentages and line charts for the entire slate of Week 13 games? Sign up now for an extended 6-day trial of Sportsbook Insider Pro.
In addition to the features shown in this post, subscribers also have access to our entire suite of live odds, public betting trends, steam moves, smart money alerts and our in-house Best Bet picks. This week we have six pending college football Best Bets including:
- Boise State at Air Force
- Rutgers at Maryland
- LSU at Texas A&M
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