Sports betting has evolved so rapidly in recent years that many attempted winning tactics are no longer possible. I’ll explain this through an accessible analysis of the “fade the public” betting strategy because many gamblers are unaware of this or are quick to dismiss strategic notions that go beyond conventional wisdom. Here, I’ll discuss why this technique was successful in the past but is no longer preferable to tricking teams at random. After reading this blog, you will better know the current betting market and how to profit from it.
Fade the Public Explained
Betting against popular teams is referred to as fade the public. A professional sports bettor enters a sports bar and listens to, and possibly engages in, talks about various athletic events as an illustration of how this system operates. His goal is to discover which teams the other patrons in the bar believe will cover the spread and which are out of the running. He goes through the same routine at other sports pubs. Once he’s convinced that there is a strong fan preference for a given team to cover the spread, he makes a wager on the opposing side, “fading the public.”
This was an extremely profitable strategy in the early to mid-00s, and many people who adopted it combined with disciplined bankroll expansion strategies became wealthy. Unfortunately, for those that continue to use the system, while it is superior to blind team selection, it is no longer a profitable technique. To understand why we must first consider why “fade the public” used to work.
Why Did Fading the Public Work Once?
Fading the public worked when supporter biases heavily influenced betting point spreads and odds. Each week, there were dozens of games in which the bookies could estimate which side of the game would receive the most bets and then set the line appropriately. In baseball, for example, when the New York Yankees faced the Kansas City Royals, the bookmaker knew that no matter what odds he set, most bettors would choose the championship-favored Yankees over the perennially cellar-dwelling Royals.
To maximize earnings, he’d fix the Yankees’ odds so high that anyone betting the Royals was getting a better price than genuine odds and thus had a wager with positive expectation (+EV). This worked because the betting limits were low, and the bookie accepted more Yankees bets than Royals bets.
In 2003, the maximum wager on NFL sides varied from $500 to $10,000 at every bookmaker, with the lower end being, the more popular. Whales with a track record were frequently allowed to bet more, although sharps (professionals) were often barred or allowed to gamble a fraction of the amount offered to others at each bookmaker. Because bookmakers primarily served recreational players and it was difficult for pros to get significant action, lines were opened and changed based on anticipated recreational action.
Professional Friendly Betting Sites Changed the Market
Around 2004 or 2005, a few online betting firms noticed the internet gambling boom was ending, at least in terms of new players registering to start accounts. While other sites offered huge cash incentives and +EV bets to entice new players, some sites shifted their approach. These sites determined that professional bettors, whom they had recently banned and limited collared, were more profitable clients in the long run. This appeared to be a risky proposition, but as long as the lines were appropriately established, the unbalanced action didn’t matter too much because the bookmaker would profit in the long run from their theoretical hold, which is their name for what we gamblers call juice or vig.
Things began to shift in an instant. This site, in targeting pros, adopted the phrase “sweat the game, not the payment.” Their business concept was that no matter how much you won, you’d be paid on time and without difficulty. They were one of the first professional betting sites. Meanwhile, CRIS started posting betting odds a full day before Las Vegas. Subsequently adopting the motto “where the line originates” because professional sports bettors frequently waited for betting lines to open to spot something of value to get the first crack at. Pinnacle Sports, already recognized for its professional friendliness, would take things further by giving -104 pricing on NFL sides and -105 pricing on other betting markets. They were among the first to compete on price, using the $1.10 to win $1.00 -110 pricing approach. Pinnacle has raised the bar in other ways, such as offering previously unheard-of betting levels (sometimes up to $100,000 per side) and lightning-fast payouts. They even competed with CRIS by being first with opening lines.
Today, these three businesses remain the leaders in professional activity, while the Bookmaker site also highly accommodates smaller players. This site has a $5K maximum bet on NFL sides, the bookmaker site has a $40K limit, and Pinnacle Sports essential has no limit. At Pinnacle, you can bet up to $30,000 on NFL sides at once and place numerous maximum bets.
These professional betting companies can’t use traditional tactics like shading a line to make a profit. In reality, they must work hard to establish a line where the smart money is no longer interested in betting. The key to their profession is changing the lines as bets come in until they have what is deemed a “sharp line.” Once they have this, line movement is minimal, and neither side is a positive EV bet.
Recreational Sites Must Follow Professional Sites
I must draw special attention to what follows, as this is where most people need clarification about the betting market. While the number of specialists capable of capping well enough to recognize value on opening lines remains modest, thousands of well-funded sports bettors, as well as those just starting, understand how to cap the market. Allow me to illustrate this with an example:
If Pinnacle Sports offers a team at -6 -104 and www.Bovada.lv offers their opponent at +6 +105, an arbitrage is feasible. To take advantage of this, bet $1040 to win $1000 at Pinnacle -6 -104, and risk $995.12 to win $1,044.88 at Bovadalv on +6 +105, and you will earn $4.88 regardless of which team wins. Bettors can risk a big amount of their bankroll because there is no risk. Remember that Pinnacle boasts the highest limits and the lowest margins in the business, making it ideal for professional bettors. When these spots appear 95% of the time, the other site, not Pinnacle, is offering the +EV bet. If you’re not afraid of taking risks and have a solid bankroll management and growth strategy, you’d be better off betting simply the Bovada +6 +105 line and avoiding the arb.
To summarize, this approach is understood by thousands of gamblers, if not tens of thousands. It is now easy to notice when recreational sites offer terrible lines, as they used to, previous to the advent of professional betting sites. Compare lines at Pinnacle and bet anything that appears out of place. As a result, when a recreational betting site attempts to shade the line, they are met with a barrage of small to midsized bets, forcing them to follow the same lead as professional sites. They must change the line so that smart money, or, more importantly, those who follow smart money, no longer have an interest.
It makes no difference whether a website is professional or not. The last available line before the game’s commencement (the closing line) was a betting proposition in which neither side was +EV. Fading the public may be better than blindly picking teams, but it will not result in a profit in today’s betting market. If it does, there are two possibilities: there is a factor that the betting market hasn’t yet identified, and it will fix itself in a week, or the bettor is experiencing short-term volatility that will revert to the mean over time.
Betting the small home underdog, rated favorite underdogs against non-ranked favorites, or other strategies that were profitable for years have all dried up for the same reasons as fading the public has.
In a nutshell, smart money, not recreational money, drives the lines in today’s betting market.
In terms of dollars wagered, smart money now far outnumbers recreational money by a considerable margin.
Winning in Today’s Betting Market
In today’s betting market, derivative betting may be the most successful non-handspring intensive technique for winning. A derivative betting market is derived from a larger betting market. My favorite NFL football prop bet is which team will score first. This prop is a tight derivative of the game’s first-half total and point spread betting line. Other instances include Runs + Hits + Errors betting in baseball, which is a derivative of the odds maker’s stated total; the puck line in hockey, which is a derivative of the moneyline; and so on. These are profitable because, whereas huge markets continually adapt to become more efficient, the derivative market frequently lags. In the article “NFL Bet Betting,” I discuss this method for a specific mid-market prop.
Teasers are the second most successful strategy to profit in today’s betting industry. In the teaser betting guide, I go over these in great depth. Teasers’ betting method is simple to understand and a fantastic location to start looking for +EV bets.
Finally, let me state that every strategy article on this site is up to date. Unlike most strategists, who would regurgitate low-level strategy that frequently does not work or needs to be updated, our papers are current and relevant to the betting market. They are all authored by professional bettors with a proven track record of success.