If you follow any sportsbettors on Twitter then you have seen trends before. Inexperienced gamblers love to justify the picks they make by citing obscure and insignificant repetitions in past events. Has a pitcher gone 8-1 in his career when facing a division rival on rainy Wednesday nights? How about a team’s games going over the total 15 of the last 16 times after a travel day when it is sunny outside? Despite how tempted you might be to include sportsbetting trends in your handicapping, it will end up being one of the worst decisions you could make as it pulls you away from proper betting procedure.
The obvious problem with Sportsbetting Trends
Without looking too deeply into the issue, sportsbetting trends raise one obvious red flag. For every useless trend you can find, there is an equal and opposite useless trend that contradicts it. Why do you think these trends are so odd and specific? Someone had to dig deep to find a set of recurring events that fit the narrative they wanted to force on a game. Has some random team failed to cover the spread in 7 of their last 8 afternoon games? I am sure you will also find out that they have covered the spread in 10 of their last 11 games when they were on the road in cold temperature. It is all meaningless.
And even if you believed that a trend was so good it could not be countered. I should not have to bring up the obvious in stating that each game is it’s own unique event. Just because I have flipped a coin 10 times and every time it came up heads does not mean I am any more or less likely to flip heads again on my 11th toss. While these things seem obvious, it still is not the real issue when it comes to sportsbetting trends.
How profitable sportsbetting works
In order to understand the real problem with sportsbetting trends, we must understand profitable sportsbetting procedure. Beginner sportsbettors often decide what they are going to bet on by picking the sides they think will win. I understand that it might sound strange, but that is absolutely not what you want to do. This is how 99% of sportsbettors pick their matches, and why 99% of sportsbettors end up being career losers. Profitable sportsbetting comes from identifying expected value. The lines you see at a sportsbook do not directly reflect it’s true winning percentage. For instance, if an NFL football game is lined at 6.5, that does not mean that the favorite covers -6.5 exactly 50% of the time. While it is best to assume no absolutes when it comes to sportsbetting, you can expect that in the majority of circumstances a game is not going to feature a line that is strictly based on true win probability.
Oddsmakers adjust their lines based on the way a game is going to be perceived. This allows them to control the incoming flow of action. Let’s say two teams are playing each other. It is determined that the true spread of the game should be 5.5. This would allow both teams to cover the spread as close to 50% of the time as possible. Now lets say the public perceive the home team as being the more dominant side. Oddsmakers understand that there are likely going to be more bets coming in on one side than another. They can adjust the spread by making it worse to bet on the home team, and better to bet on the away team. This puts the home team bettors at a disadvantage (as now they are betting on a -110 market that loses more than 50% of the time). Oddsmakers sometimes aim to have an even distribution of bets on both sides of a game (in order to collect the profit from the vig), but they will not be afraid to take a position on a game if they can put a large portion of the action on a disadvantaged side.
Profitable sportsbetting comes from identifying how the oddsmakers modified a line from it’s true value. Once you determine which side of a spread, moneyline, or total they made “better”, you will know where your bet is. Now you are getting a better win percentage (or payout) than the true line would suggest, which is positive expected value (+EV). This is how people make money betting on sports. It all comes down to knowing the market. Betting based on who you think is going to win or which side of the total the game is going to land on will only put you in the red. Your precious “sports knowledge” is useless when looking at the big picture.
The Real Problem with Sportsbetting Trends
Now that we understand how profitable sportsbetting works, we can clearly see the problem with sportsbetting trends. If someone tells you that Indianapolis Colts home matches have gone over the total at a rate of 18-1-1 in the last 20 games, then you might be tempted to bet on the over. Making a wager based on this information violates everything described in the previous section. You are not considering the betting market, but rather wagering because you think the over is going to win.
That is why trends are so dangerous. They are a gateway drug to unprofitable sportsbetting. Once you accept sportsbetting trends into your life as your lord and savior, do not expect salvation. They put you on a path to failure that some people never get off. I sound like I am exaggerating the issue but I actually do not think that I am. The more you distance yourself from giving profitable sportsbetting a chance the least likely you are to ever win.
Fading Sportsbetting Trends
While reading this article some savvy individuals might have thought up the idea of fading trends. If oddsmakers base the final line off the way a game is being perceived, and trends are often used by the public, than should fading trends put you on the right side of a game? I have heard a lot of people mention this to be, and once again I have to urge you to avoid this mentality. You never want to approach sportsbetting in absolutes. Refer back to the first section of this piece where I mentioned that for every useless trend there is an equal and opposite useless trend that goes against it. Just because you saw some moron tweet out that the Baltimore Orioles are 10-1 on Sundays, does not mean every person in the world saw it. Not every person sees the things you see. One thing you can do however is to pull apart these trends to see why it occurred, and if there is anything you can learn from it.
I have spent the better part of this article bashing sportsbetting trends into the ground. And I believe my actions were justified given the damages that they do to bettors across the world. The truth is that there are some things we can learn from trends. While the trend itself is a cancer that eats away at our minds, what created it could be of use. This only applies to recent and non-detailed trends. We want to only consider games that involve more or less the same group of players. We also do not want to consider overly-specific trends that were nit-picked to fit a narrative. Recent against-the-spread and over-under data will be eligible for trend deconstruction.
We want to figure out why a team has covered the spread frequently in their last few games. Have oddsmakers been adjusting the lines to attract action to their side of the game, giving them more favorable spreads? What do we expect them to do for the next game? Remember to never place a bet from the spread itself. We only want to use this as a potential clue into the minds of oddsmakers. Never lose sight of the fact that it could simply be nothing but variance.
I hope this article has shined some light on the dangers of sportsbetting trends. There are many problems with using them in your handicapping; some of which are more obvious than others. We have talked about how profitable sportsbetting works, and why trends are counterintuitive to the process. I hope you learned some valuable information from this piece. Be sure to click here to check out more free sportsbetting guides from American Betting.