It is a common belief among the sports world that Joe Q. Public doesn’t know how to bet let along pick the winning side.
This belief is rooted in the line of truth that on average most don’t. They put their $20 on their favorite team without minimal reasoning other than it’s their favorite team and their out with their buddies and want a little skin in the game.
So the question then becomes what can you do with this information?
Can you use this to your advantage to make profitable bets?
You will find many websites and networks that say yes. That if you can obtain this information usually through a pay wall that all you need to do is bet against this public information and you will be on the right side and be profitable. This idea comes from the understanding that “Vegas wasn’t built by winners.”
While this information about Las Vegas is accurate what many fail to realize that the Sportsbook is one of the least profitable areas in the entire casino and in my aspects a Loss Leader to get people in the casino to spend their money on slot machines.
Usually public betting information is presented in two different ways.
The Dollar Amount Wagered and the Percentage of Total Bets Wagered.
Where this is helpful is you can, in theory, compare the two and determine where their wagers are being placed and then simply bet against the public bettors to long term be profitable.
What this doesn’t take into considering is what the casino has already done to account for these wagers. The casino/sportsbook also has this information often well before you ever will and they have moved the line accordingly to account for this wagering.
Also is the public betting information you are often paying for accurate or is the information you are being presented now stale and no longer of add value.
We have found these two bit of information to combat against using this as a winning betting strategy.
Can this information be helpful?
Yes, we have found this information to be helpful in steering us away from more bets than actually helping us bet more often. This is just as useful when evaluating game line information. This is extremely helpful if perhaps there has been a substantial amount of public wagers and the betting line is now dead and the line has moved so far away from the opening line you have lost any advantage you may have had while completing your handicapping analysis.
This is most common with the NFL especially on games like Monday Night Football. The public has poured money into the game and moved the line so far away from your expectation the game is no longer worth of betting on
Over the long term where this information has been influential is on point totals. The public on average loves points to be scored and we love to play the under on point totals when totals shoot up. We don’t see this as much in baseball with run lines except for Coors. If Coors is on a Sunday Night we have seen the run line increase because of the inherent stadium bias of Coors.
It is important to understand how the public bets but it should not be your only principle to use when making your wagering decisions. You should complete your own handicapping and your own team analysis. Then use the public betting information to as part of your decision making.