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Let’s discuss some principles of sports betting. All sports bettors should know the information below. All other kinds of casino advantage players, including blackjack players of all skill sets, which includes card counters, should also have a good working knowledge of Expected Value.
“Balanced action,” which we discussed in a previous article in this series, is seldom achieved by a sportsbook. However, a sportsbook, whether it is located in Nevada, elsewhere, or even online, might look differently at its line, depending on whether the game has less or more public interest.
Sharps are willing to bet on any game, and the amount of money they are willing to bet depends on their perceived edge. The amount of money wagered on a game by unsophisticated bettors, sometimes called “squares” or “the public,” varies from game to game and sport to sport.
Some sports attract lesser amounts of unsophisticated action: NBA regular-season games, NHL, baseball, and regular-season college basketball games. If there is any big action on such games, it most likely comes from sharps. Lopsided action can mean somebody knows more about the game than the linesmakers.
Games that are not televised generally attract a lower volume of bets from unsophisticated bettors. If enough sharps agree that a team is good value, the amount of money they are capable of betting is huge.
Therefore, on games that attract less money from unsophisticated bettors, sportsbooks must be quick to move the line in response to lopsided action.
Games with lesser amounts of bets from unsophisticated bettors are the ones on which sportsbooks like to have balanced action, because a big imbalance of action on such a game might mean the sportsbook does not have an edge.
Games that are televised attract more public money than do games that are not televised. Playoff games attract more public money than do regular-season games.
The Super Bowl attracts the highest percentage of unsophisticated money, of course. The next highest percentage of unsophisticated money is on other high-profile games, such as the World Series, the NBA play-offs, and regular-season NFL games. College football and the NCAA basketball playoffs attract the next-highest proportion of unsophisticated money. After that come NBA regular-season games, NHL, baseball, and regular-season college basketball games.
On games on which the bulk of wagers come from unsophisticated bettors, the sportsbook might actually welcome lopsided action, if the manager of the sportsbook thinks that the side with the most action is the side most likely to lose. Sportsbook managers think like sharps; they are happy to have their books take risk as long as higher risk is accompanied by enough expected profit.
This is part of an occasional series of articles.
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