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Betting Against the Public
Over in the Basic Lessons content we introduced a few concepts that will be discussed in greater detail here, in the Advanced Lessons section. Understand this, first, as this is what you absolutely must know about betting on sports:
The most common fallacy in sports handicapping is oddsmakers and sportsbooks are only interested in balancing the action on the lines.
This old saying has never been true. The conventional wisdom is – sportsbooks are only interested in making the more or less guaranteed profit of about 5.4% (rounded). This profit is generated by holding the bets placed on either side of the contest (spread, total, moneyline) and only paying out the winning side. The vigorish or juice collected on each wager is held by the book on the losing wagers as profit.
What is actually going on with many bets is the sportsbook makes no attempt to even up the money bet on both sides. Hence, the book is taking a betting interest in the outcome of the contest. Clearly, the book stands to make substantially more profit when the betting underdog side or total covers. Do not forget this.
Seasoned veteran sports bettors still believe this is true. Do not make this mistake.
The Internet is awash with various types of market trackers. If you have ever made a wager on a stock in the stock market, the concept is the same. The stock market shows a bid and ask and how much stock is for sale or to be purchased at those bids and asks, so you know where the market is. The same idea holds for sports bets.
I use SportsInsights.com free site for this information. SportsInsights gathers the information from several reporting sportsbooks (most online, but Westgate in Las Vegas, NV, was added in the Summer of 2018) and posts the numbers on its Free Odds page. I have provided a link to the college football odds, above, but odds on most other major American sports can be found on this site.
Mind you, this is not a plug for SportsInsights, as I receive absolutely no remuneration for this recommendation. I am simply providing you with an excellent resource for this type of data. There are other resources available, I encourage you to find what works for you.
So, what does this all mean? As Advantage Players, we are constantly seeking an advantage with the wagers we make. Otherwise, why make the wagers at all? We could throw darts at a dartboard and expect 50/50 results. Yet hitting only half of your wagers makes betting on sports a losing proposition, unless you only bet plus money underdogs.
As discussed previously in the Basic Lessons content, we are often interested in betting against the public. Oddsmakers are very good at what they do and will often put public bettors on the losing side of sports betting lines. We want to bet with the book most of the time. Understanding where the public action is on a side, total or moneyline gives us a very useful tool in our sports handicapping toolbox.