WNBA Betting Trends: How To Follow Sharp Money
Since its introduction nearly two years ago, Bet Labs has been allowing customers to create winning betting systems based on years of historical archived data. Although the focus has been directed at the six major US sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAAF and NCAAB), yesterday we introduced a slightly less popular league — the WNBA.
Now many bettors are likely to scoff at the idea of betting on the WNBA, and it’s easy to see why. The WNBA is as about as popular among sports fans as lima beans or Brussels sprouts are among elementary school children. If you don’t believe the low TV ratings, we consistently see WNBA games receiving about twenty times fewer bets than the average NBA game. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored by bettors.
In fact, the WNBA’s lack of popularity actually presents a unique opportunity to bettors as oddsmakers are not likely to be well-informed about a sport that doesn’t drive much revenue. Perhaps that explains why we routinely see the type of 4+ point changes to the spread or total which we rarely see in the NBA.
With limited exposure to the sport, I was curious to see whether some of the same sharp money indicators that we utilize in other sports were equally profitable for WNBA betting. Specifically, I wanted to know whether we could track the action of sharp bettors by focusing on reverse line movement. Since we routinely see massive line moves on the spread, we chose to first create a WNBA spread betting system.
The first step to creating a good reverse line movement betting system is to make sure we are betting against the public, so we selected the “spread %” filter and chose to examine those receiving 40% or less of public bets. The next step was to take the “spread change from open to close” filter and examine lines that moved between -1 and -14 points. This ensures that, despite a majority of bettors loading up on one side, the spread actually moved against the public.
Reverse line movement at the 40% threshold produced a 10.4% return on investment (ROI) with a significant sample size of 178 games. It’s also interesting that this system has been profitable for both underdogs (66-52 ATS, +11.74 units) and favorites (34-26 ATS, +6.84 units). Similarly, it has been profitable regardless of whether you’re examining visitors (56-41 ATS, +12.84 units) or home teams (44-37 ATS, +5.74 units).
My next goal was to determine whether similar contrarian strategies would work when betting on the total. We quickly found that betting against the public at the 40% level was profitable on the over (173-152, +12.92 units), but not on the under (409-397, -5.73 units).
The next step was to examine reverse line movement on the over by selecting the “O/U change from open to close” filter, and looking at all positive number i.e. instances when the total went up. This resulted in positive results (43-35, +6.23 units), however, the small sample size was cause for hesitation.
To flip the script, we decided to examine all instances in which the total dropped from the time it opened until the time it closed while maintaining our betting against the public philosophy at the 40% level. This resulted in a record of 208-197 (51.4%) for +1.45 units and a 0.4% return on investment (ROI). Although this shows a slight edge for bettors, it’s hardly profitable enough for bettors to follow. However when we focused solely on the over, our results changed dramatically.
The screenshot above, which is taken directly from Bet Labs, shows that the Over has gone 96-74 for +17.28 units and a 10.2% ROI since 2006. This actually makes a lot of sense, because bettors typically love to pound the over and root for high-scoring games. Although it does not track reverse line movement like our earlier spread system, it shows how WNBA bettors can take advantage of lines that are artificially inflated by square bettors.
We offer a 6-day Bet Labs trial for just $49, so any interested bettor can start creating their own winning betting systems today. Have any questions? Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 877-838-2853, or utilize our live chat to speak directly with a customer service representative.
9/4/15 Update: Since this article was originally published, our spread system has gone 9-5 ATS with +3.61 units won while the over/under system has gone 15-8 with +6.27 units won.