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Sports Betting Strategy: When and Why to Fade the Public

Fading the public has long been a very popular strategy to employ in sports gambling. Simply put, fading the public is betting against the public. It’s a contrarian method of sports wagering where you wager against the gambling public, and its rationale is simple, too. The theory goes, the general gambling public is easily fooled by oddsmakers and sportsbooks and, therefore, tend to lose more than they win. Essentially, when you fade the public, you’re betting with the house. This is considered a smart wager because, as you may have noticed, the house usually does quite well for itself.

It’s Good Logic

Sports gamblers like to fade the public simply because it’s logical to do so. After all, how could a sportsbook stay in business if the gambling public won more than they lost? This is not a successful business model. Sportsbooks and oddsmakers always set the lines to get equal action on both sides of a wager. This way, they win all the losses and then collect the juice from the winners. However, when the gambling public load up one side, it’s the sportsbooks coming out ahead. Sportsbooks and their oddsmakers know what they’re doing, and their knowledge of the gambling public is what makes fading the public so logical. If the house is going to win, follow their lead.

What’s the Line Movement?

Once a point spread or line has been set, sports gamblers begin to place their wagers. As those wagers come in, they may be a little one-sided, favoring one team over the other. This puts the oddsmakers in a bit of a bind. However, they have a move to make. When this is the case, the oddsmakers in the sportsbooks will move the line. For instance, if the Pittsburgh Steelers are -8 point favorites versus the Cleveland Browns and are receiving all of the wager’s action, the oddsmakers will raise the number to entice gamblers to bet on the Browns. So, the point spread would change to -8.5, -9, or even -10, depending on how much money was coming in on the Steelers. This will keep the money on both sides of the bet even allowing the sportsbook to cover themselves. In theory, the house makes their money on the -10 or the -110 odds. This is what is referred to as the juice or vig. Watching the line for this movement can inform your wager as well. Depending on the movement of the line, you can see who is betting where and make a better bet.

Favorites and Overs

After all these years of sports gambling, oddsmakers have noticed a few trends and have adjusted accordingly to their benefit. The gambling public overwhelmingly wagers on favorites and overs. This is a well-documented fact in sports gambling. Although this is gambling we are talking about and there’s a financial risk, favorites and overs seem like safe wagers to the gambling public, and it makes sense. The favorite is supposed to win the game, after all, and they’ll probably score a lot of points while doing it. This is a general consensus. It’s this knowledge that allows the oddsmakers and sportsbooks to raise point spreads and totals in their favor. They know who and what the sports gamblers will play so they set the lines to reflect this. This is when you fade the public by betting against them. You’ll get the better points, the better odds, and the better payout, just like the house. The house is trying to win, too, and they’re the ones making the rules.

Run the Numbers

The NFL is the United States’ favorite sport to not only watch, but to gamble on. If you look at NFL games over the last 10 seasons where the gambling public was 75% or more on one side, they lost about 55% of the time. Big underdogs were the best wagers over this span, winning 55% of the games when the action was 75% one-sided on a favorite of at least +7 points. Road teams receiving the majority of the public’s bets were another great fade. In this scenario, you would have won over 56% of the time. 5 percentage points here and 6 percentage points there don’t seem like much on paper, however, even winning 50.5% of the time is big advantage, so consider winning 10 or 12 times as much. The sportsbooks are playing a long game while most sports gamblers are not and those three to five percentage points here and there add up when you are the one collecting.

Fading the public is the sports betting strategy that stands the test of time. The key is to think of sports gambling as a long game, just like the sportsbooks do. Fading the public doesn’t work every time. However, it will win considerably more often over an extended period. Sportsbooks know where the public money is and smart sports gamblers can track it themselves as well. To be successful, you must find wagers with value as well as the winners. The sharp money knows that sometimes you have to go against popular opinion to get that value, and fading the public is the best way to do just that.

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