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Sports Betting 101: Contrarian Betting Fade the Trendy Underdog and Overs

April 13, 2020 10:29 PM

Over the last few days we've discussed why contrarian betting is a smart long-term strategy, which sports and bet types to target and how to identify profitable betting against the public opportunities. Now it's time to put all of these guidelines into action so bettors can make smart contrarian decisions on their own. In other words, we've mapped out the theoretical contrarian blueprint, now we need to apply it literally to the sports betting market. 

Contrarian betting operates on the premise of first knowing where the public is. The vast majority of the time Average Joes will bet on the favorite, the home team and the over. However, this isn't always the case. 

The public almost never wants to bet on an underdog. Why? Because underdogs are perceived to be the inferior team and casual bettors are psychologically programmed to want to bet on the superior team. However, while it doesn't happen often, every now and again the public will fall in love with an underdog. Maybe the team has a compelling storyline that ropes them into rooting for them. Or maybe the public overvalues the underdog and thinks they're getting too many points to pass up.

In these rare instances that the public bets heavily in favor of an underdog, or "loads up" on an underdog, it signals pure and unique bias. This creates rare contrarian value to bet on favorites. 

For example, let's say the North Carolina Tar Heels are traveling to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face the Duke Blue Devils in the most heavily bet game of the night in college basketball. Both teams have impressive winning records and high rankings. The oddsmakers open Duke as a 5-point favorite on its home court. Typically the public would be all over Duke as a big-name team and home favorite on a short spread, but because of its equally impressive opponent, the public says 5 points is too much to lay with Duke, so Average Joes load up on North Carolina + 5. After all, UNC could even win the game straight up. How can you not take the points?

Maybe 70% of bets are hammering the Tar Heels + 5. This heavily lopsided betting creates liability for the house, which means the sportsbooks would then be rooting for Duke to cover. 

Anytime the public bets heavily on an underdog, contrarian bettors are afforded the unique opportunity to bet an undervalued favorite. This is popularly referred to as "Fading the Trendy Dog." In this case, betting Duke -5 would be a smart pick for savvy contrarian bettors. 

Always remember: Dogs have value when they are unpopular because you can capitalize on public bias and extract additional value in the form of shaded or inflated lines. However, once dogs become popular, they lose their favor. Betting on an unpopular dog means you are placing yourself on the house’s side. But betting on a popular dog means you are betting against the house, which you never want to do because the house always wins. 

The same Fade The Trendy Dog system can be applied to totals. Just like favorites, public bettors love taking the over because it's much more fun to root for a high-scoring, entertaining game. However, just as there are rare situations where the public falls in love with an underdog, there are rare situations where the public falls in love with an under.

For example, maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers are facing the Washington Nationals. Two of the best pitchers in baseball are facing off with Clayton Kershaw taking on Stephen Strasburg. The total for the game is 7.5 runs. The public sees two studs on the mound and automatically thinks it will be a low-scoring 2-1 or 3-2 game. As a result, they load up on the under to the tune of 75% of bets or more. With such heavy under betting, this creates a unique opportunity to bet against the public and sweat a rare contrarian over. 

Long story short, while the public will back favorites, home teams and overs the vast majority of the time, this doesn't mean it's a guarantee 100% of the time. Situations exist where going contrarian means backing a favorite or an over. And while they are rare, they present excellent contrarian value because it represents heavier than usual public bias. 

It takes a lot for an Average Joe to bet a underdog or under, so when they all load up on that side, it's the ultimate bias play to go against. The overall premise is simple: Bet against the public and place yourself on the side of the house. Fade the Trendy Dog and Contrarian Overs are one of the few opportunities that contrarian bettors get to bet a favorite and over but still bet against the public.

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