Public perception matters a lot in betting — to the sportsbooks, at the very least. A large majority of the sports bets are usually on the favorites, something that the oddsmakers know too well and always try to use to their advantage.
Novice bettors and bettors who bet on select occasions — such as the Super Bowl — exemplify this best, as they regularly choose to stick with what they consider the safer or more favorable result. This leads them to wager on the favorites more often than not.
Betting on the favorites is quite understandable. Their perceived consistency offers a familiarity to most bettors, giving an illusion of invincibility. This is why, to many, they always seem like safe bets. Plus, unless you have some deep insider info, it’s always difficult to pinpoint when a team on a lengthy winning streak will have a bad day.
However, the more seasoned a bettor one becomes, the more you know that always backing the favorites isn’t a good long-term strategy. This can also lead you to think that sometimes public perception can not only be wrong, but its inverse may offer greatly hidden value. This forms the basis of the betting strategy known as fading the public.
In the simplest of definitions, fading the public is going against what the majority of people are betting on in a game.
Take, for example, an upcoming game between two teams: Team A and Team B. Team A comes into its clash on the back of a great run, making it the clear favorite, while Team B comes in having not won a game in its last five outings. Because the public expects that Team A will win, a large majority of the bets coming in will side with Team A winning the game.
Fading the public would thus mean that you take note of what the public thinks is going to happen and is wagering on — in this case Team A winning the game — and place a bet contrary to the majority of bets and opinions; in this case, on Team B to win.
This means that a bettor looking to fade the public must first figure out what option the public is going with and then use that information to decide whether going against the majority would be a wise option.
Bettors who favor fading the public always keep an eye out for line movements. These occur when sportsbooks and oddsmakers alter previously released lines to try to give balance to both sides of a bet after one side receives a larger amount of the action.
Line movements are good indicators of how the public is siding on a given bet. For bettors who want to fade the public but are struggling to know which side the public favors on a given bet, monitoring line movements can be one of the easiest ways to figure this out. There are many cases where, after the public has had its say on a bet, lines move considerably, creating a great amount of value on the opposite side.
The New York Knicks are playing against the favored Los Angeles Lakers in an upcoming NBA clash. When the lines are released, the Lakers are favored to the tune of -7.5 on the point spread. Many of the bets coming in opt for the Lakers, even with the above spread.
The sportsbooks take notice of this and gradually alter the spread. By the time the game tips off, the line has shifted to -10.5. A bettor who had been looking to fade the public on this bet now has an option with a greater amount of value — the Knicks at +10.5 — compared to the initial line.
As is common with any betting strategy or formula, the question often shifts to whether the strategy is a viable long-term option with a proven track record of results.
If you’re looking at this strategy as a 100% full proof scheme, remember that no such strategy exists. Also, if you’re looking at it with the mind that always going blindly against the public will give you results, remember that the public mostly sides with the favorites, and the favorites tend to win more often than they lose.
As with anything related to betting on sports, this strategy depends on several factors, key among them being discernment. If done right in the long term, meaning that bettors also ensure that they stick to concepts like bankroll management and the necessary amount of research, fading the public could prove to be a useful tool.
And gamblers looking to maximize this method should always be on the lookout for great value. Fading the public using bet types such as moneyline bets, where the underdogs have higher odds than point spreads, is one of the strategies that bettors who favor this method use.
The following example explains this strategy better.
If you were to constantly bet on the underdogs at odds averaging around +500 to +800, using the same bankroll every time, you’d need to win two or three out of every 10 bets you place to remain profitable.
The most common strategy, however, is the above mentioned one regarding line movements where bettors keep an eye out for line shifts that could swing some great value in their direction.
Fading the public has come a long way. In earlier days, most sportsbooks gave very little value to favorites because public perception was stronger then, meaning that recreational and one-off bettors were almost always going to wager money on the favorites.
Therefore, lines like point spreads for NFL favorites would have a massive discrepancy, giving such favorites point spreads that were hard to cover.
Smart gamblers took notice of this and started wagering against what the majority of people were betting on simply because of the evident value. For a time, it worked. Most sportsbooks still made money then, but they weren’t as efficient in recognizing such gaps. However, as time went on, the oddsmakers realized such errors and gradually worked to give even value to both sides.
There are still multiple occasions where sportsbooks seem to side with the public and give massive value to underdogs, creating possible scenarios where fading the public is more than a valuable option; but those are a lot fewer now when compared to earlier.
The biggest downside of fading the public sports betting is the most obvious one: the public is known to side with the favorites, who tend to win. It is quite hard to pinpoint when a team on a good run that has been consistent in covering the spread will have a bad day at the office.
Because of this, a greater amount of research is necessary in this strategy, and bettors who have insider knowledge on select teams heading into a game — such as injury concerns that are unknown to the media — are the ones who are most likely to be successful in the long run. However, most bettors do not have the time to conduct such research, or the means to attain such crucial information regarding specific teams, putting a strategy like this out of their reach.
Also, for bettors to be successful in the long run using any given strategy, they need to win more than 50% and potentially closer to 60% of their wagers. If one were to rely on fading the public alone, it would be almost impossible to attain such a high success rate because you would almost always be going against the favored odds.
Instead of blindly choosing to fade the public every time, one can instead use public perception as a tool to help analyze possible wagers in upcoming games. This, in combination with one’s own knowledge and research, can help you build your discernment and also know when to trust your own judgment, especially in situations where you think the public might be wrong.
Public perception is also best used as a measure of value that appropriately gauges what a bettor is getting from a given wager. Take, for example, an upcoming game with the following odds:
Since the Giants are on a good run, you’re tempted to take this line. However, after close examination, you realize that the line opened at -4 and that the public has driven down the value of such a wager.
Because you took your time to research the above bet and realized that public perception watered down the Giants’ value, you avoid the mistake of blindly taking the bet and instead search for something else with great value.
Fading the public is one of those betting strategies that newer handicappers tend to opt for because of its appeal.
However, since it’s a strategy with varying results and success rates, the best way to utilize such a strategy would be to combine it with other strategies while also sticking to the core tenets of handicapping, especially if you’re in it for the long run.