Sports Betting: Can You Win Betting Against the Public?

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Sports Betting: Can You Win Betting Against the Public?

Whether it is in the forums, sportsbooks or at the corner bar you always here the infamous "the public is all over this team, take the opposite!". I have lost count of all the "anti-public" systems that have been claimed to be "bookie killers" and were simple as fading the public. You can actually see the public data here at Pregame using the Sportsbook Spy feature. Here is something that I think might come to a shock to everyone, but the public is not that bad people! Blanket fading what the public likes will do nothing but eventually make you go broke unless you are the one booking the action. Here is why in one simple math equation:


There you go. All the systems for the most part go up in flames. You see, the sportsbook hopes to hold 4.5% of every single dollar wagered by their players based of the -110 in vig/juice they charge on losers. Let me paint the picture another way:

Bears -7 (75% public)
Lions +7

Lions lose by 3 and the public loses, but (and a big but) the sportsbook collects at +110 profit while you are only getting +100.  By taking the side of the sportsbook you do so giving up the almighty vig that is what in the end allows the book to have an edge over the player. Say the opposite happens and the Bears destroy the Lions. The sportsbook is only paying out at even money while you are paying your loss with an extra 10% tacked on.

Obviously, the above scenario just points to blanket betting, which moves on to the next system that is very popular among the forums the past few years. This system involves seeing the public all over a game but the line staying the same of moving the other way. The automatic assumption is it must be the "wiseguys" on the other side holding that line steady. Okay, first off, NO ONE knows what wiseguy action is officially but the wiseguys themselves. Did the line move because of weather or a possible injury? Are the professionals looking to move the line a certain way and buy it back in bulk, this making the flip side the real play? Is there a tout on a hot run that just released? Also, do not forget, not all professionals are going to agree on the same side or total. Does in some fashion this theory make sense; sure. The main dilemma when using this system is getting the best number. A few years back there were a group of guys posting picks on the forum using this system and KILLING IT. I mean at one point, I think they were up like 70 units. Where are they now? Bueller? Bueller? What I argued with the ringleader back than eventually happened, the true math of if all played out and they ended up being buried. Why? Well here is why:

Bears -7, line goes to -6.0 by Sunday (75% public)
Lions +7, line goes to +6.0 by Sunday

The game ends up with the Bears winning by 7, thus a push for the wiseguys, but a loser for the steam chasers. A few years back I took 3 months of every game with a huge public side and than took the theory of the line movement going the opposite way. I broke it down into two columns, one with the right number and one with the number after the move. At the very end of all the adding and subtracting, the bottom number had the wiseguys + and the steamchasers -. Same games, same bets, but with DIFFERENT NUMBERS. The simple fact someone trying to figure what is sharp but not getting the number they professional played will not work long term. The most important thing in sports betting is getting the best number possible. If a play is a play at +7 and it is now +6, the real professional is going to pass on the game and maybe start planning for a possible middle. Playing bad numbers will do nothing but make you go broke.

I am not saying their are not systems that can use public data as a tool, because personally I use it as part of what I do on a daily basis. But to think a hold % that a sportsbook has with people laying -110 is enough to warrant you "fading" the public is a bad move and eventually will not be profitable.

If there are any good public systems, I would love to hear them and maybe together we can do some back data and try and find that diamond in the rough.

In the meantime, thanks for listening to me ramble and best of luck to everyone today!


  • thanks for the feedback.

  • Never lost a bet i did,nt make,like that saying from mr.bebe.bottom line for me going forward,If you dont know ,if your not sure,dont make the bet,If you are sure make the bet,even if the line moves the other way.If its football and the line moves to 7 or 3.5,better be real sure.I dont think there are any masters,at least ones that put their pants on one leg at a time so its just a matter of trusting that little man in your head.less doubt =wins,more doubt=losses and of course keep in mind your going to lose sometimes even when you have no doubt

  • Excellent article....worth reading a few times.

  • tgambler, I think they go into it trying to balance the action. BUT, the wiseguys hit it first, the line moves around and what it closes as it usually the correct line. trying to get the best number is the hard part. even when i am watching lines and have multiple outs, i have beaten a move, but it ends up moving the other way late even more and i get fucked. very tough thing to master.

  • thank you for you answer . Ive always felt the oddsmakers had a better than average idea of who they thought was going to win and set the line to get public on wrong side.

  • Really interesting article...thanks for posting JD.

  • I do not have stats to back up my opinion, but in a big marquee game the public money is going sometimes trump a wiseguy move so you can get te good number. What I mean by that if Ohio is playing Marshall and the public loves Marshall -7, but the sharps like Ohio +7, despite the $ being on Marshall that line could drop to -6. But say that game is for the National Championship, there could be enough public money for the books to hold the line steady. The balancing of action is usually a myth when it comes to the majority of games.

  • JD

    what are your thoughts on public movement on the marquis games versus ones that are buried under the rug.

  • With MLB season starting and the fact going from +130 to +120 on a dog wager JUST to fade the public, could cost you money at the end of the season.

  • another interesting read here...........good insight as usual JD....

  • Thanks. Appreciate the feedback.

  • Nice article.  Betting on the NFL is a crap shoot at times, and yes it is very much like the stock market as far as the point spreads are concerned.  Injuries play a key role as well.  It is tough to gauge the affect of an injury because usually the handicappers have already put their assumption in on the line.

  • hope that answers your question, if not, i can explain further.

  • Hey JD, I had a question that you may have partially answered in your blog.  Do you put more value in a pick where the line was -4, the public % is 50/50 and went up to -4.5,  or with the same -4, the public is 70% on the underdog, and it goes up to -4.5?

    -----the second if I had to choose. the thing is, it is difficult to know what caused the line movement. an injury? steam? a hot tout like Dr. Bob? to use the public system you need to be on top of all line movements and filter those out. for example, say someone is not playing in a game and the news pops up on a paid lines feed and people like me hammer the game because we know once it his mainstream the line will change. the public % could be leaned toward the one team because they are not aware of the injury yet. so us middlers hammer the game, the line moves and you see the data and think it is steam. there is no steam there. we are assuming once the books or public see the injury, the line will have to be changed to compensate for it and we can buy the game back.

  • I believe the lines we use on the lines feed at Pregame are from CRIS. Remember, BOOKMAKER is a skin of CRIS.