I came across another article recently that said the easiest way to make money against the sportsbooks football betting odds was wager against the public. Sounds easy right, but is it true?
This piece was well-written, but had the familiar refrain of how sharps make money year after year taking a contrarian position against the betting masses. As an NFL football handicapper I cannot disagree with this thinking. However, if this were truly the pot of gold you read about in articles like this, not sure what the real difference between that and some guy coming out of nowhere in forums or on Facebook and claiming he has not had a losing season in 10 years.
Wagering Against the Public in the NFL Makes the Most Sense of All Sports
While there are a number of sports bettors having limited or lack complete knowledge about different sports, when it comes to the NFL, EVERYONE has an opinion. Too often those opinions are based on regional or team bias and are born out of sports talk radio, reading specific team sites or viewing too many hours of ESPN football shows or related venues.
While there are genuine nuggets to be found in any of these areas, it's like the guy with metal detector walking at the beach or going through parks looking for coins. It can be time consuming to put a couple bucks in your pocket.
Because the NFL is a week to week sports, many times those placing sports picks will overvalue what they just saw from a particular team and base their opinion on recent events instead of a sample of work which is more reliable.
Being or becoming a contrarian can be profitable, but if you choose that direction for NFL picks, you have to be committed, because flipping back and forth can be even more costly.
Check the Masses Against the Number
There are a number of sportsbooks who showcase their NFL odds and line moves, plus, include the betting percentages. While this can be helpful, the amount dollars wagered would end up being more important. However, those are not available for public consumption, thus, you utilize the tools you have.
What to look for is say the first Sunday night game of the season, the New York Giants at Dallas. Most oddsmakers sent the Cowboys out -6, but many wagering outlets are now at -5.5. Let's say this line were to move to -4.5, yet the Dallas has two-thirds or more of bets placed, that would be in theory an indication sharp money is on New York and be a good spot to bet against the Cowboys.
In this example, 4.5 to 5.5 is a dead zone for lines, but just keep in mind roughly 25 percent of final scores year to year are between 3 to 7 points, making line moves and betting against the public more palatable in this general range.
Beware of the Trap
It used to be sharps would take numbers early in the week, because most normal or square bettors are more worried about their fantasy teams and make wagers towards the weekend at places like Heritagesports.eu.
That is not to say they still do not, but syndicate betting has become more prevalent in the cat and mouse game and weekly, they will try and steam numbers in a certain direction with the hope the public follows and unload say on a Sunday morning catching a more preferred number they wanted in the first place.
People will assume online sportsbooks are setting traps, but in truth it's the syndicates trolling and taking anybody who comes in their way with their net.
Know Your Public Teams
Oddmakers understand the tastes betting public and which teams they prefer and the old reliables in this time period are Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New England and the New York Giants. If the books have an opportunity to build in an edge it will be with these teams. In more recent years, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Baltimore and New Orleans have joined the list, but these will change depending on what kind of results they post.
The 49ers are likely to slide out of favor, with Indianapolis on the rise.
Watch for situations where these teams have 75 percent or more of the betting action, yet the spread remains the same or goes against these teams. This is usually an indicator of betting against the public.
Discipline and Investigative Work Still Required
What these articles I've mentioned don't tell you is there is still quite a bit of work involved in researching these trends and it is an acquired skill, not something you just start following and the money flows like lava towards you.
If you are willing to put in the time to learn the craft and follow the numbers, betting against the public most seasons will generate a profit, however, it will not be every week, month or year, thus patience and persistence are necessary.