In sports betting like in many other fields there are facts and there are myths. Some of these are so popular that keep getting spread around. These kinds of rumors are taken at face value simply because they “sound right.” But the truth is that in handicapping sports you need to get rid of the biases, so the time has come to bust some of these myths.
Sometimes these beliefs are accepted because it serves some purpose in explaining losing wagers. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the most common ones.
Sportsbooks Have Insider Information
The Facts: This sports betting myth is known as the “trap game” or “the book knows something I don’t” effect. Books aren’t trying to trap people on one side of the game or the other, that would be gambling. Sports betting sites don’t gamble. They take the house edge that they already have and try to mitigate as much risk as possible. Their goal is to get perfect 50/50 action on both sides of the game. This almost never happens, of course. Still, why would a sportsbook wager millions on a game when they make money with balanced betting?
This isn’t to say that books don’t make or lose money when they don’t receive balanced action. In fact, that is usually the determining factor in whether a book shows a profit or not. But the book’s goal is not to try and trick you into betting the wrong side. Their job is to try and balance out that action. There isn’t any information that the oddsmakers know that you don’t have access to. They may just be better at interpreting that information.
The Public is Always Wrong
The Facts: Any time a game gets labeled as a “public” bet, you can bet there will be an outcry. People will say the public side is the square side and the opposite side is the sharp side. What I want to know is, who decides what is a public bet? Is it always the favorite? But, favorites don’t win any more often than underdogs, really. Then it must be the team that gets the majority of action on one side of the game, right? This is a common theory. There are places where you can see how much money has been taken on one side of the game. The problem is that there is no evidence to back up the idea. There’s no proof that the team with more bets always loses. As with most blind systems, even if you do win a few games using this idea, it eventually regresses to the mean.
This probably comes from the times that these teams do lose. On paper these teams look like easy winners. They are favored by 14 points at home and have every edge you can think of. Then they lose the game outright. What happens is these situations tend to stick in your memory. The four times you bet a team in the same situation and they won fades into the background. That happens because the outcome is exactly what you thought it would be.
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