The average bettor loves the favorite. This is common knowledge and it doesn’t matter the sport. Those casual bettors simply assume the sportsbooks know what they are doing when making a team a favorite in any sport. So they follow like a trained dog. Sharp bettors, meanwhile, can capitalize on the public’s naivety on sports betting odds if you do your homework and often wait until the last minute to put your money down.
Closer Look at How To Identify Valuable Underdogs When BettingThe Super Bowl is a good example. The public usually bets the favorite up for most of the two weeks prior to the big game. That’s an event where you will get more bettors lacking knowledge than any other game on the planet. It’s why you see the sharp money usually roll in heavy the night before the game on the underdog.
The power of heavy underdogs is easy to understand in that they pay off so well that they don’t have to win as often to make a profit. Think of it like a 3-pointer in basketball. Let’s say your team only shoots 2-pointers. You would have to make 50 percent of those shots to equal the same number of points a team would have in attempting the same number of 3-pointers and making only 33 percent of them.
So from a betting perspective: let’s say you bet $100 apiece on three NFL underdogs on a given Sunday who are all priced at +300. You would only have to hit on one of those to at least break even. If you hit on two of them, it’s a sweet payoff. Meanwhile, if you bet on a -300 favorite, you have to drop $300 to win only $100. Remember, game odds are set primarily based on what the public perception of a game is expected to be. Books aren’t projecting which team will win but hoping to get the same amount of action on both sides.
In a football game, I usually jump all over home dogs of at least 3.5 points because they can cover simply by losing only by a field goal. Remember, home field in a football game is generally considered worth 3 points to that team. You can often find better underdog lines on lesser games in college football. The sportsbooks devote fewer time and resources to doing their homework on a game between, say, Wyoming and San Jose State compared to Michigan-Ohio State.
You often can find great underdog value when the dogs are playing very popular teams — Notre Dame or Alabama in college football or the New England Patriots or Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. The casual bettors often simply bet on the teams they like the best. There are no teams more popular than the Pats and Cowboys in the NFL. Thus they are often favored by over-inflated spreads.
I also love home underdogs in Major League Baseball because obviously they have the huge advantage of being able to bat last and thus win the game without giving the other team a chance to tie it. Home underdogs that are coming off a home loss are usually great value. And I love home MLB dogs when the road team is playing the final game of a long road trip. The players just want to get back home.