Contrarian Sports Betting – Why It Makes Sense

Why contrarian sports betting makes sense.

Key Points

– Inflated lines go hand in hand with contrarian sports betting.

– The house wins more often than the public.

Contrarian Sports Betting Makes Sense

Nowadays, perception is everything. Everyone has an opinion, and thanks to the numerous social media platforms currently available, expressing it is all too simple. 

In the world of sports betting, perception can be problematic because most bettors only look at a team’s performance over the previous game or two. Yes, momentum can carry over from one game to the next. The idea that recent performance is the best measure of future success is one that sportsbooks use to their advantage.

Sportsbooks will inflate lines specifically on teams that the public backs. It’s one of the big reasons why contrarian betting, or betting against the spread, makes plenty of sense for bettors.

First, we identify contrarian betting and then we examine how to use it to gain an advantage.

What Exactly Is Contrarian Sports Betting?

To start, we must first define what it means to be a contrarian bettor. A contrarian bettor is someone who bets against the odds and takes advantage of public bias. 

You would, by default, take the value presented with the Tigers and bet against the public if, for instance, the Yankees were playing the Tigers and the Yankees were receiving around 80% of the action. 

The adage “the house always wins” is well known if you’ve worked in the sector for a while. Since the sportsbook is acting as the “house” in this scenario, it is typically preferable to take their side rather than try to outperform them along with the public.


Why Do Inflated Lines Exist?

When it comes to sports betting, inflated lines are a real thing. It is always a good idea to be aware of and how to recognize inflated lines. Inflated lines are more common in NBA and NFL games, particularly in point spreads. 

Let’s take an NFL game as an example. The betting public, of course, likes to wager on teams like the Chiefs, Packers, and Buccaneers, for example. 

Regardless of the point spread in their games, bets will be placed on these teams and bookmakers and oddsmakers will modify their lines appropriately. 

Imagine that the Lions and Packers will be playing on Sunday Night Football in Green Bay. The public enjoys placing bets on home favorites and Overs in primetime football games. Sportsbooks already know this. As a result, sportsbooks will raise the spread and the total by a point or two. They can do the same with first half lines

The true line might be Green Bay -6 but, knowing the public will bet on the Packers regardless of the spread, oddsmakers pump it up to Green Bay -7.5. This is an example of an inflated line. It’s also a great example of how bettors can find value betting against the public.

Speculating on Inflated Lines

Understanding inflated lines is important because it helps the contrarian bettor find value. If one knows where to search, contrarian sports betting is a strategy that can be successful. 

Like any strategy, it’s not a guarantee that you win all the time. However, it can be comforting to know that you are on the side of the sportsbooks. The best online sportsbooks win much more often than they lose, which is why they remain in business. 

Now, you can also speculate on lines that may inflate and use that to your advantage as well. Take an NBA game as an example. 

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the NBA teams that draws a ton of support from the betting public. LeBron James is part of the reason why. Remember, the public loves popular teams and star players. When those teams win, the public support is even greater.

Anyway, let’s say the Lakers open as a 2.5-point favorite over Toronto. In order to generate some action on the Raptors, bookies move the line to -4 in favor of the Lakers. Being a contrarian bettor, you may have speculated that this move was going to happen. 

You actually like the Lakers and jump on them at -2.5. When the line closes just before game time at -4.5, you have beaten the closing line by two full points. Continually outperforming the market against the closing line is something that successful bettors do. 

If you liked the Raptors in this case, you would wait for the line to move and jump on Toronto at the best possible number. In this case, that is +4.5. By speculating on a line to inflate, you grabbed yourself an extra two points of security and value.

The bookmakers opened this game at the Lakers -2.5, which tells us they anticipated it was going to be a tight game. Understanding inflated lines and waiting for this one to move, you can get the Raptors at a better price, which has more value. Essentially, you are getting an extra two points because the public overreacted to the initial line.

Is Betting Against the Public Risky?

No risk it, no biscuit as former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians used to say. Sometimes, you have to take some chances in sports betting to get where you want to be. 

In the world of sports betting, playing the contrarian takes persistence and courage. Contrarian sports betting means backing underdogs, away teams, teams under .500, and often teams that appear to have no chance of winning or covering a spread.

It can be tedious and mind-numbing to support low-scoring football and basketball games. However, it really doesn’t matter as long as you continue to place winning wagers. The majority of the time, it pays to side with the house. You just have to figure out when it makes the most sense.