Betting Against the Public

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Once you really get into wagering you realize that there is a wealth of information out there but sometimes it is hard to decipher. One of the terms that is often bandied about is “Public” which is this case is not the opposite of private, more it is the term thrown at wagers that seem to be the most popular, at least by ticket count.

The key is that last part about the number of tickets, which is not necessarily indicative of the amount of action (or money) on that side, therefore sometimes even when the “public” is “on” a game in a significant way - say 65% - the numbers don’t move. That is because most books move their lines based on dollars wagerer not popular opinion.

Depending on who you ask the “Public” are the undereducated masses. It’s not that they can’t be right but their support can often be predicted, they like home teams and overs, as well as teams that have large followings, think the New York Yankees in baseball or the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. The working theory is that they bet more on emotion than on logic which is why betting against them is often a touted strategy...as well as a way to often get the best of the number. Recent case in point the Super Bowl. The Public was all over the Carolina Panthers who had steamrolled the competition through the playoffs...Carolina is not usually a “Public” team but support for them kept driving that number up and up and up. Of course they could have won the game but we all know how that one turned out. Denver won outright but at a more micro level it definitely would have made a lot more sense to get get on Denver late after public money came in and raised the spread three points in most books.

The amazing thing about this strategy, even though it is well documented is that it is generally a winning one. Sure if there are small sample sizes (like the Super Bowl analysis above) you are not always going to emerge victorious, and you are certainly not going to kill your sportsbook by following a blind strategy but there is certainly money to be made by simply going in the opposite direction. That kind of action may not be as rewarding as those stab in the dark big money payoffs but in the end the object is not to lose, right?

For those looking to adopt this kind of strategy fortunately there are a number of places on the web where you can find this information. Almost all are posting information about ticket count only, at least in places where the information is free. There are “steam” sources as well where you better track the dollars but then you are getting into another aspect of market observation which would be following the “sharps” so to speak. The “Public” is definitely the easier side to monitor and we all are a part of it to some extent.