Sport betting has evolved so much in recent years that many long time winning strategies are no longer profitable. As many gamblers are not yet aware of this, or are quick to write-off strategic ideas that span beyond conventional wisdom, I’ll discuss this using an easy to understand analysis of the “fade the public” betting system. Here I’ll explain why this system was profitable, and now, while still better than blindly picking teams, is no longer so. After reading this article you’ll have a better understanding of the current betting market and how you can profit from it.
Fade the Public Explained
Fade the public simply refers to betting against popular teams. An example of how this system works, a professional sports bettor visits a sports bar and listens for, and perhaps participates in, discussions about various sporting events. His goal is to find out which teams the others in the bar are certain will cover the spread, and which teams have no chance. He repeats this process at other sports bars. Once he’s confident that there is a strong fan bias for a certain team to cover the spread, he makes a wager on the opposite side, “fading the public”. During the early to mid 0 decade, this was a highly profitable system, and many who used it with disciplined bankroll growth strategies grew wealthy. Unfortunately, for those still using the system, while it is better than blind picking teams, it is no longer a profitable system. To understand why, we need to first look at the reason “fade the public” once worked.
Why Fading the Public Once Worked
Fading the public worked at a time when betting point spreads and odds was largely based on fan biases. There were dozens of games each week where the bookmakers could predict which side of the game they expected to take the most bets on, and then set the line accordingly. For example, in baseball when the New York Yankees played the KC Royals, the bookmaker knew that no matter what odds he set, most bettors would take the championship favored Yankees over the perpetually cellared KC Royals. To make maximum profits, he’d set the odds so steep on the Yankees, that anyone betting the Royals was getting a better price than true odds and therefore had a bet with positive expectation (+EV). This worked because betting limits were small, and the bookmaker took far more Yankees bets than Royals bets.
To cover a little about betting limits, in 2003 the maximum bet on NFL sides ranged from $500 to $10,000 at each bookmaker, with the lower end of this range the most common. Whales with a proven track record were often allowed to bet more, while sharps (professionals) frequently found themselves either banned or only allowed to bet a fraction of the amount granted to others at each bookmaker. Bookmakers serviced mostly recreational players, and it was difficult for professionals to get considerable action; therefore, lines opened based on anticipated recreational action, and were adjusted based on recreational action as well.
Professional Friendly Betting Sites Changed the Market
Around 2004 or 2005, a handful of online betting sites realized the internet gambling boom was nearing its peak, at least in terms of new players registering to open accounts. While other sites were giving out massive cash bonuses and +EV bets to lock in new players, a couple sites changed their focus entirely. These sites decided that professional bettors, the ones they had recently spent time banning and limit collaring, were more profitable clients over the long term. This seemed a risky idea, but as long as lines were set correctly, the lopsided action didn’t matter too much, as the bookmaker would profit over the long haul from their theoretical hold, which is their term for what we gamblers call juice or vig.
Just like that, things started to change. TheGreek.com in targeting pros adopted the slogan “sweat the game, not the payout”. Their model was that no matter how much you win, you’ll get paid timely and hassle free. They were one of the original professional friendly betting sites. Meanwhile, because professional sports bettors often sat waiting for betting lines to open, in hopes of spotting something of value to get first crack at, CRIS (also known as bookmaker.eu – use bonus code THEGEEK) began posting betting odds a full day before Las Vegas, while later adopting the slogan “where the line originates”. Pinnacle Sports, already known for professional friendliness, would take things to the next level by offering reduced juice -104 pricing on NFL sides, and -105 on other betting market. They were one of the first to compete on price by going against the standard $1.10 to win $1.00 -110 pricing model. Pinnacle stepped things up in other areas as well, offering unheard of betting limits, often $100,000 max per side, and lightning fast payouts. They even competed with CRIS by beating them to the punch on opening lines.
Today, these three companies remain the leaders in professional action, while Bookmaker.com is also quite friendly to the smaller player. TheGreek.com allows $5K max bets on NFL sides, bookmaker.eu offers 8 times that at $40K, and Pinnacle Sports essential has no limit. At Pinnacle, up to $30,000 can be bet at a time on NFL sides, and multiple maximum bets are allowed.
These professional betting sites cannot get away with the old tricks of shading a line to increase profit. In fact, they have to work quite hard to find a line where smart money no longer has interest in betting. The trick of their trade is moving the lines as bets come in until they have what is considered a “sharp line”. Once they have this, line fluctuation is minor and neither side is a plus EV bet.
Recreational Sites Must Follow Professional Sites
I need to call special attention to what I’ll cover next, as this is the area most fail to understand about the betting market. Today, while the number of professionals capable of capping well enough to spot value on opening lines is still small, there are literally thousands of well financed sports bettors, as well as those just starting to get a bankroll built, who understand how to cap the market. Let me put this into perspective with an example:
If Pinnacle sports is offering a team is -6 -104 while www.Bovada.lv is offering their opponent +6 +105, we have a situation where an arbitrage is possible. To take advantage of that, risk $1040 to win $1000 at Pinnacle on -6 -104, and risk $995.12 to win $1,044.88 at Bovada.lv at +6 +105, and no matter which team wins you profit $4.88. Considering there is no risk, bettors can risk a large portion of their bankroll. Remember, Pinnacle has the largest limits and lowest margins in the industry and is friendly to professional bettors. When these spots come up 95%, it is the other site not Pinnacle offering the +EV bet. If you’re not prone to risk, with proper bankroll management and growth strategy in place, you’d be better off betting only the Bovada +6 +105 line, rather than taking the arb.
To sum this up, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of gamblers who understand this same strategy. When recreational sites offer poor lines, as they used to do prior to the days of professional betting sites, it is now easy to see. Compare lines at Pinnacle, and bet anything that is off. As a result, when a recreational betting site tries shading the line, they end up being hit with an arsenal of small to midsized bets that force them to follow the same lead as professional sites. They need to adjust the line to the point where smart money or, more important to them, those following smart money, no longer have an interest.
It doesn’t matter if a site is professional or not. The line which was the last available prior to the game starting (the closing line) was a betting proposition where neither side was +EV. Fading the public might be better than blind picking teams, but in today’s betting market it will not result in a profit over the long term. If it does, there are two reasons: There is a factor the betting market hasn’t spotted yet, and this will correct itself in a matter of a week, or, more commonly, the bettor is experiencing short term variance which will regress towards the mean in time.
For the same reasons that fading the public is no longer profitable, betting the small home underdog, the ranked favorite underdogs against non ranked favorites, or betting other systems that were profitable for years has also dried up. The reason in short: In today’s betting market, it is smart money, not recreational money, that moves the lines. In terms of dollars bet, smart money now greatly exceeds that of recreational money, and this is by a wide margin.
Winning in the Current Betting Market
Perhaps the most profitable non handspring intensive approach to winning in the current betting market is derivative betting. A derivative is a betting market derived from a larger betting market. For example, one of my favorite prop bets in NFL football is which team will score first. This prop is a close derivative of the betting line on the game’s first half total and point spread. Some other examples: in baseball, Runs + Hits + Errors betting is a derivative of the odds maker’s posted total; in hockey, the puck line is a derivative of the moneyline, etc. These are profitable because while large markets are constantly adjusting towards efficiency, the derivative market often lags behind. I cover this strategy for a specific mid market prop, in the article about “NFL Prop Betting”.
The second most effective way to profit in the current betting market is with teasers. I’ve covered these in great detail in the teaser betting guide. Teasers betting strategy is not difficult to learn and a great place to get started finding +EV bets.
Finally, let me conclude by telling you, every strategy article here at TheSportsGeek.com is up to date. Unlike most strategists who will regurgitate low level strategy that often doesn’t work, or is outdated, our articles are relevant to the current betting market. They are all written by professional bettors with long term, and current, winning track records. If you appreciate these tips, please support us by opening an account using this link to www.bookmaker.eu. Thanks for taking the time to read this article and as always, we wish you the best of luck.