Past research has conclusively proven that betting against the public will produce a positive return on investment, although many bettors are confused about why this is such a successful strategy. Contrary to popular belief, oddsmakers do not attempt to balance their book by attracting 50% of the action on each side. Instead, they shade their opening lines to capitalize on public perception and allow their sharpest bettors to shape the line throughout the day. In some heavily bet games with one-sided public action, sportsbooks will also adjust their numbers.
For anybody unfamiliar with Sports Insights, we track public betting percentages from seven major offshore sportsbooks: 5Dimes, BetDSI, BetUs, Carib, GTBets, SIA, and Sportsbook.com. These betting trends reflect real bets placed by real bettors, as opposed to other websites that use “consensus” numbers. By including both sharp and square sportsbooks, our betting percentages accurately reflect which teams the public is backing across the marketplace.
We have archived these ticket percentages for over a decade, however, we are constantly working to add new and innovative features to help bettors make informed decisions and smarter bets. 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.
Most oddsmakers are able to anticipate which games will take one-sided public betting, so they will shade their opening lines to account for the predictable flood of public money. If the liability becomes too great, they will occasionally adjust their number to encourage action on the other side, thereby mitigating some of their risk. That’s where the contrarian bettor jumps in.
Although we have found that betting against the public is a winning strategy, the optimal threshold varies greatly from sport to sport. Prior to the start of the season, we explained that the sweet spot for NBA contrarian betting comes when we examine NBA teams receiving no more than 30% of spread tickets. Using our ticket percentages, NBA betting against the public has continued to yield profitable returns this season.
|Public Betting||Record (ATS)||Win Rate||Units Won||ROI|
As you can see, fading the public has been incredibly profitable for NBA bettors — particularly at the 25% threshold. It’s also interesting to note that the return on investment (ROI) consistently improves as we examine increasingly one-sided public betting. This is valuable information, but what happens when we implement the same betting against the public strategy using money percentages instead of ticket percentages?
Sportsbooks aren’t looking to perfectly balance their book; however, they will adjust the spread if there’s extremely one-sided public betting. That’s especially true if it’s a heavily bet game (i.e. Spurs vs. Warriors), or if there’s not enough buyback from sharp bettors on the other side. By waiting until public money has artificially inflated the line, bettors can capitalize on public perception and find additional line value.
The table below displays the results from betting against the public using our newly added money percentages.
|Public Betting||Record (ATS)||Win Rate||Units Won||ROI|
It’s important to point out that we’re dealing with a small sample size, but these early results are very encouraging. Based on the line movement in these games, it’s easy to see why bettors have been able to extract value.
My research found there have been 107 games this season in which one team was receiving at least 70% of spread dollars and their opponent was receiving no more than 30% of spread dollars. By comparing the opening line with the closing line at Pinnacle, you can clearly see that public money leads to artificially inflated lines. In these games, the line moved against the money on 16 occasions, moved with the money on 71 occasions and remained unchanged on 20 occasions.
In other words, bettors could consistently get better numbers by taking teams receiving no more than 30% of spread dollars. As an example, let’s examine last night’s game between the Clippers and Wizards. Los Angeles opened as 4.5-point road favorites at Pinnacle and, according to our public betting trends, received 78% of spread dollars. This one-sided public betting caused the line to move from Clippers -4.5 to -5.5.
In other words, bettors could have gotten a free point based purely on public perception. By consistently gaining that additional line value, bettors can expect to substantially increase their long-term winning percentage.
Many NBA bettors wait until shortly before tip-off to place their wager, which means it’s crucial to wait as long as possible before betting against the public using our money percentages. As sportsbooks are hammered with public money, they become increasingly likely to adjust their spread to encourage action on their opponent.
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