Profit from NFL Public Betting Percentages
This article explains what the Public Betting Percentages are actually telling you, and also how you can use this information when making your picks in the NFL.
Many sportsbooks will provide what are known as public betting percentages either to their customers or to companies that track odds and report on what bettors are doing. There really is no harm in doing so and public betting percentages are simply the amount of bets that are placed at a sportsbook, not the amount of money that is bet on either side. From a public betting percentage standpoint, sportsbooks do not differentiate between a casual bettor placing a $22 wager on the Chicago Bears or a professional bettor placing an $11,000 wager on the New York Jets. Each team is credited with having received one bet.
What the sportsbooks will not do is provide the betting percentages in relation to money wagered on a game.
Using the example above, the Jets would be receiving 500 times the amount of money bet than the Bears. While the sportsbooks won’t release the information, many times you can get an idea of which way the money is coming in on a game by watching the line movement.
You won’t be able to make a precise guess, but if the public betting percentages were showing 50% of the wagers on the Bears and 50% of the wagers on the Jets and the line moved from New York -1 to New York -2.5 you could reasonably conclude that more money is coming in on the Jets, even though the number of bets are the same.
People will use public betting percentages in several different ways. Some bettors like to be on the same teams as their fellow gamblers and look for those games in which there appears to be a consensus on one team. Whether it’s a belief in the old adage of two heads being better than one and since everybody agrees they must be right, or just a feeling of camaraderie by needing the same side as everybody else, these bettors find a degree of comfort in the safety in numbers train of thought.
How to Profit from NFL Public Betting Percentages
The more popular method of using NFL public betting percentages, however, is going against the betting public, a theory which on the surface seems to make good sense.
The majority of sports bettors are going to lose over time, so when the majority of bettors are on one team, why not go against them?
It’s hard to fault that logic, but unfortunately it’s not quite that easy. A bettor who hits 50% of their plays is going to be a losing bettor, but if you happen to bet against them, you’ll also be a 50% bettor and will end up on the losing side of things. In order to show a profit by betting against somebody, you need their winning percentage to lower than 47.62%, as the break-even figure in sports betting when laying 11-to-10 odds is 52.38%.
But there are several instances in which a bettor can profit from public betting percentages and going against the public when they are overwhelmingly on one side.
NFL Public Betting Percentages on Road Teams Receiving 25% or less of public money
Another NFL Public Betting Strategy is taking road teams receiving 25% or less of the public wagers have shown a 58-39 record since the start of the 2005 season and you can boost your winning percentage a couple of points if you focus on teams which missed the playoffs the year before.
NFL Road Dogs with under 20% of Public Betting Percentage
Closely related is taking NFL road underdogs who are receiving 20% or fewer of the wagers on a game, as these teams have covered the spread close to 57% over the past 10 seasons.
You’ll notice that both methods that were mentioned have you jumping in when at least three out of four bets are coming in on one team and then going the other way. As a result, you’re frequently going to be on some ugly teams and are you going to suffer your share of blowout losses, but remember that you don’t get style points in sports betting and losing 38-7 with a seven-point underdog is no worse than losing 21-13. Likewise, a number of the games that you win will be nail-biters, but once again, having your seven-point underdog lose 20-14 is no different than watching them win 28-17. The second scenario might be a little bit easier on your stomach, but your bet pays the same amount. In sports betting you either win or you don’t and if you happen to go against the huge public favorites, you’ll find yourself winning more often than not.
NFL Public Betting Percentage Reverse Line Moves
Another situation that can lead to a profitable betting strategy using NFL pubic betting percentages is to focus on teams that have a low percent of the public money, but have the line move in their favor. This usually happens when there are a few large bets from so called "Wise guys" or Vegas professionals. Notice in the graph below the line moves from -4 down to -3 with only 25% of the public money on Pittsburgh. This is known as a Reverse Line Move.
Hopefully this article was helpful.
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Author: Rob Holiday
My background is in business, consulting, finance and entrepreneurship