Betting against the public, also known as “going contrarian,” is a smart long-term strategy for a number of reasons. First and foremost, more often than not the public loses. Casual bettors bet based on gut instinct and bias and largely ignore analytics and hard data. Average Joes bet with their heart, not their head, and focus on favorites, home teams, teams with better records than their opponents and teams with star players. The oddsmakers know this and set lines with public bias in mind, shading numbers toward the popular side. As a result, savvy contrarian bettors who are brave enough to back the unpopular side can extract additional value by taking advantage of artificially inflated or mispriced lines. Think of it this way: If you walk into a bar and everyone is betting on Team A, you want to be holding a ticket on Team B.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just figuring out where the public is and going the other way. Contrarian betting is a solid foundation, but you also need to do your homework and ensure you’re on the sharp side as well. This means being with the professional bettors who win at a high rate, have a track record of success, bet large amounts, have decades of experience and have the respect of the sportsbooks. Lastly, you need to make sure you shop for the best line and beat the closing number.