Sportsbooks and Sportsbetting
You don’t have to be a genius to realize there’s little value in going with the crowd and betting with the favorite all the time. Still, many beginners make this very mistake. They think they know this or that about the sport concerned and therefore they stand a pretty good chance of picking the winner. Well, I have news for you. You wouldn’t believe how many people possess such “skills”. These folks are the squares. They represent the source of the money for those who are skilled enough to generate money through their sports betting indeed.
Whenever the betting crowd decides to take a very unilateral stance on a match-up, value is born on the other side. Now the only problem is, how to find a match in which the public is overwhelmingly betting one side, while the other still stands a realistic chance to pull off an upset?
In NFL betting, there’s great hidden value on the home underdogs. Statistically speaking, home underdogs are nowhere near as bad as the money flowing in on the away favorite would suggest. The fact that home underdogs are a relatively good bet SU let alone ATS can be cut open and analyzed several ways. The home team is usually more motivated because of the fact that it plays in front of its home fans. That however is already reflected in the lines, so it doesn’t really represent an advantage here.
Another thing may be that some teams are more motivated when they’re clear underdogs, out of sheer desire to prove experts wrong. Still another factor that may contribute to the value on the underdog’s side in these games is the fact that some teams enjoy the game and play much better when there’s no pressure on them. The underdog status will certainly lift pressure from their shoulders. All these things may contribute to the value on the underdog’s side, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: The single most important factor that directly infuses the underdog’s side of the bet with hidden value has nothing to do with the game itself.
The bookmaker’s goal is to always balance (get an approximately equal number of bettors on both its sides) its match-ups as much as possible so that he can pay out winners from what the losers drop and keep the vig undisturbed. Whenever there’s a sudden influx of bettors on one side of a match-up, the bookie compensates by shifting his lines in order to make the other side look more attractive. Sometimes, the bookmaker will cover the square bets with his own money, but such moves are rare and far from optimal as far as the bookie is concerned. That little bit of extra value that the bookmaker is willing to give up on the side of the home dog is what makes it worth-while to bet on the dog.
While statistics about home underdogs standing up successfully against favorites are not exactly consistent (the whole thing is kind of streaky and generally unreliable) straight up or against the spread, one thing is clear: bettors do generally like away favorites so much that they place more money on them in around 95% of the cases. That is something that just cannot be ignored.
Download some of the games from sports torrent sites and corroborate data for yourself. Always remember: betting on a perfectly balanced match-up would be a 50-50 (0 expected value) move, were it not for the vig. In order to generate positive EV on your bets you need to exploit situations like the above described one. Games which do not carry a lot of hype are also good sources of hidden value. Keep an eye on the squares and whenever they flock to one side of a match up, try to locate some hidden value on the other side.
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