Most people who bet on the NFL do their best to research what’s happening with the teams, their players, and coaches. They then make an educated guess as to which side to bet on. But there are other tools the bettor can use that have nothing to do with the sports clubs, and one such example is NFL public betting. They can look at the number of bets placed and the amount of money wagered on each side of a bet. Let me explain.
Just like in the stock market, you generally don’t want to follow what everyone else is doing. For some reason, the general public usually loses. If everyone is buying up a particular stock, you can be sure it’s too late, and the savvy investors are getting out.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty similar to NFL betting, so if most of the public is betting for the Steelers to win against the Titans, more than likely, they will lose the bet. This doesn’t mean it will happen all the time or almost all the time. It means that over a period of time and a number of bets, the average outcome is that the public will lose more often than it will win.
Get the NFL Public Betting Numbers First
Here’s how you can use this knowledge. Find out how much money is put down on each side of an NFL game bet from your sportsbook. That will give you the overall amount of money bet on each side, but it doesn’t tell you how much of that is done by sharp bettors.
You need to separate the sharp bettors from the betting public because sharp bettors are professional gamblers that win more often than they lose. If you could follow them, your odds of winning more often than losing would improve.
What you need to do is look at two numbers:
- Out of the total number of bets wagered, what percentage is bet on each side?
- Of the total amount of money (handle) wagered, what percentage is bet on each side?
Why Sharp Numbers are Important
Okay. So far, so good. Now, why would you need both numbers? We use them to do some deductive work—most of the public betting on the NFL is in smaller amounts, like $20 to $100. Most sharp players bet in much larger quantities – like $1,000 or more.
Let’s look at examples to show how this works:
NFL Public Betting Type One
Let’s say the Raiders are playing the Broncos, and there are 5,000 bets placed in total against the spread. If 3,200 bets are on the Broncos to beat the spread, that’s 64% of the bets.
But the total cash or handle being put down on this wager is $2 million, with only $750,000 for the Broncos. That’s only 37.5% of the total money placed on this bet. Where the majority of bets are placed is inconsistent with where the majority of funds are bet.
If a public player bets $20, it’s considered one bet. If a sharp player bets $5,000, it’s still just one bet. So, in the example above, it would stand to reason that the majority of public bets are on the Broncos, but sharp players are betting on the Raiders to beat the spread.
Alternatively, if the percentage of bets is consistent with the handle, more than likely, no sharp players are partaking in this bet. In that case, you should rely as much as possible on your own research, skewing your bias slightly away from the public (because they usually lose).
For example, if 65% of the bets are on the Raiders and 70% of the handle is also on the Raiders, more than likely, there are no Sharp players involved, and your bias could go against the Raiders. If your research shows that the Raiders got this one, go with that. If your research shows that the game could go either way, maybe go with the Broncos.
There’s a third possibility. If the percentage of bets and money are on the same side but aren’t similar, sharp players may be betting with the public. For example, if 60% of the bets are on Las Vegas to win but 85% of the cash is on Vegas, the public and sharp NFL players are more than likely betting on the Raiders. In this case, maybe you should pass on making a wager here.
If you’re a player, knowing how the public and sharp players bet can be a helpful tool when doing your research and improve your odds of winning. If you’re a bookie, your biggest concern is keeping the money percentage as equal as possible on each side of the bet. Your worry with sharp players is that they’ll skew the money by placing large bets on one side.
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