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Fading the Public in Sports Betting

by November 6, 2018

There’s a fantastic piece of advice I received when I was a young, naive, child suffering from eating too much candy in way too short of a time: Everything is good in moderation. Beer is good. A whole case of beer at one time is bad. Gatorade tastes pretty good. I once witnessed someone rushed to the hospital from consuming too much Gatorade in one day. Football Saturdays and Sundays are the best. There’s nothing that will make you feel like quite as much of a blob as getting up off the couch after knowing you just watched 10 straight hours of football on a beautiful fall day. Everything is good in moderation. Remember that.

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Sports Betting is Hard

Not to sound too much like an ESPN 30 for 30 film, but what if I told you that Las Vegas sportsbooks won a record $248.7 million in 2017? Would this knowledge instantly instill confidence in you to follow the public and go bet loads of money on whatever the “popular” bet of the day is? I’d hope not. Las Vegas sportsbooks did win a record $248.7 million in 2017. Much of those winnings were off of the most popular bets in the most popular sports. The sportsbooks won $76.8 million on football, $87.4 million on basketball, and $36.8 million on baseball. Want a sure-fire way to lose money betting on sports? Don’t do any other research and simply bet on the most popular bets, every time.

Sports betting is not easy. There’s a reason why even some of the best sports bettors in the world win only 53, 54, 55% of the time. If you could follow the trends that those small percentage of winners bet on, sure! Or by all means, if you have a friend who just guesses right 55% of the time, follow his lead and bet the house! For the rest of us normal people, Vegas sports books are in business for a reason. If we’re following a betting trend, it’s the trend of people who lost a combined $248.7 million to Vegas sports books last year. Yeah, that should instill some serious confidence. Go us.

Following the Pack

So, why ever follow the pack? Well, remember that solid piece of advice from above? Everything is good in moderation. If through any research method you encounter what you feel to be a good bet, trends should not matter. If you win a bet, you don’t care if you’re the only person in the world, or one of a million, who won. Just because a game has a heavy trend is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can even be a reassuring, positive indication. Just always remember, Vegas sportsbooks made their $248 million profit for a reason.

Going Against the Grain

If you’re not going to follow the pack, then you’re left with one option: Go against the grain. This is also known as “fading the public.” Fading the public is simply betting against the popular public choice. Often times, fading the public takes on a negative connotation as being one of the only strategies amateur bettors know how to enact. If you, however, truly believe betting against the public opinion 100% of the time with no exceptions is going to net you a huge profit, then you, my friend, probably have no business betting on anything. Of course, fading the public all the time, every time, is not going to work. Heck, if it did, everyone would do it, and it would no longer even be fading the public. Remember our motto: Everything is good in moderation.

Action Plan

So, how can this strategy be implemented with success, you ask? To put it simply, by recognizing and noticing when trends present an increased opportunity for success. When a bet or team becomes a popular pick in Vegas, oftentimes the bookkeeper will improve the spread or odds for the other team to help cover themselves. When this happens, a major opportunity opens up for bettors and is a perfect time to fade the public. Many sports bettors do not realize, but when one team garners 80% or more of the bets, the other team wins 53% of the time against the spread. And when the other team is also the underdog, that number jumps up to 56%. Winning 53-56% of the time is good. Very good.

Recognizing when an opportunity like this presents itself is not as difficult as it may sound, either. By simply searching online for public betting trends, many websites offer all the information it takes. Check for games with very large differences in the public betting percentages. When one is found, check around for the best, most generous, spread on that game, and bet!

Trends tell much of the story in today’s sports betting world. Whether you choose to follow them, or buck them and fade the public, is up to you. Just never forget what you learned as a young child: That first piece of Halloween candy tastes amazing, but the 16th will give you a stomachache you’ll always regret.

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Alex Altmix is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Alex, check out his archive.