Sports Betting 101: Betting Against the Public

Steelers Fan Alone
In sports betting, it can pay to fade the public (photo credit: Imagn/USA TODAY Sports)

There’s nothing in the world that quite meets the entertainment and adrenaline rush of sports betting. Sure, it’s fun to root for your favorite team, but having a bet on the outcome or a few player props can make a game far more exciting. Plus, betting on sports can provide the kick your interest needs when your favorite team isn’t playing.
Of course, we all want to win when we place sports bets, right?

In the betting world, there are sharps and there are squares. A sharp is often what a professional or a smart gambler is referred to. A sharp is someone who is making a source of income from his or her sports-betting practices. A square is the opposite, it’s the casual bettor. The square bettor is often doing it for fun, but the idea of earning substantially from his or her sports betting practices is generally secondary. When it comes to betting on sports, it pays to be a sharp thinker. That applies even if you don’t consider yourself a professional gambler.

How can you make money sports betting? One way is to think more like a sharp and bet against the public.

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Betting Against the Public

Generally speaking, you’ll want to “fade the public” when betting on sports. In the most general of definitions, this means you’ll want to do the opposite of what the public is doing. In other words, take the sharp side. See what we did there? That’s the side you want to be on.

Using one of the various tools you can find online, you can get a good sense of which side the public is wagering on and look for opportunities to take the other side. There is a lot of parity in the NFL and bookmakers do a really, really good job at setting point spreads. When the public is hammering the heavy favorite and most popular team, it can pay to go against the grain and fire a bet on the opposite side.

Another thing to keep in mind when looking to fade the public is to understand how the point spread comes about. When a bookmaker decides on a point spread, it’s sometimes due to public perception. Bookmakers might hang a line that is a little higher on a game if a team is a heavy favorite with a lot of public-driven hype. Why? The bookmakers have a good sense that public bettors will still wager enough to balance the money on both sides.

The casual sports bettor, or the square, doesn’t want to bet against the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Green Bay Packers. The regular person would rather bet on these teams and not have money riding on the likes of the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, or Jacksonville Jaguars. Look for spots where you can take advantage of the overrated public hype and bet in line with the sharps of the world.

Fading the Public in the Sports Betting Contests

When it comes to contests such as the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, fading the public can lead to a huge payday. Of course, there are going to be years like 2016 when all of the public favorites are hitting left and right, but those years are more anomalies than anything else.

Oftentimes in contests, games with heavy public volume are the games most often picked. While these games may be more surefire locks to earn points or wins, keep in mind that it’s hard to gain ground and move up the leaderboard if everyone else is earning the same points.

That’s not to say you don’t need to go with favorable picks, but there should be times when you happily pass up a public favorite to go with a less popular selection.

At the end of the day, it often pays to be different. Many of the world’s most successful bettors have done well fading the public and you should look to do the same.

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