Should I go with, against or ignore the public consensus? What do I do with line moves? Are they one and the same? You ask some good questions.
Probably at one time or another you have joked, or maybe were quite serious when you said something to the effect, “Bet against my buddy, JoeBagOfDonuts. Every game he picks, he loses.”
I knew a old hand sportsbook clerk who maintained fervently that every time some loudmouth came into his sportsbook and bragged that the oddsmakers were giving away money on a particular game or that a line was so far off, then plopped down $25 on such a “sure thing”, the clerk would immediately go to another casino and bet the other side.
He vowed that about 70 percent of the time, the big bragging, small-playing egomaniac would lose.
In actuality, the basic philosophy behind that is very compelling. Fading public consensus plays—contrarian plays—can be actually be a very genuine and priceless starting point of handicapping. A little known fact is that the oddsmakers very much study public betting trends when making the line.
That is, in many circumstances, the linesmaker before he even posts a line, knows that recent data shows that the public is going to lean towards betting Team A against Team B, regardless of what the line is. Hence a team that should be a 14 point favorite is posted as a 16-point chalk. Just an extra half-point here and an extra point there can prove huge over the long run.
The great equalizer would of course to have the exact information of which teams are overpriced because of public perception. As we like to say, you can use the oddsmakers’ knowledge against them.
I have heard both first hand and second hand stories about guys who ran parlay card operations (for amusement only of course) who every week would compile a consensus from among their hundreds of participants.
They would then bet against all of biggest consensus plays and do very, very well. We have found that the public consensus plays as found at contest sites such as Bigguy and Sports Insights have been very accurate in measuring public perception. Generally the top consensus plays at those sites and from outlaw information that we get fairly parallel.
OffshoreInsiders.com only considers something above 70-percent to be significant enough for “fading” purposes. Consensus plays that overwhelming are often few and far between, but just like in everything else that we do, we set the bar very high.
However, so often the public confuses line moves and “public plays”. Line moves are much more affected by the sharp player than the majority, thus merely tracking line moves does have some value, but is not a foolproof indicator of fade plays.
That’s why I compare the information that I get from my outlaw book acquaintances, offshore contacts and compare them to the Internet contest sites. When all such information coincides, we have the chance to fade sucker plays.
Schleps can be of great value to smart players. The more you fade them, the brighter they begin to look.