Last Updated: 2017-03-29
There aren’t a whole lot of certainties in sports betting. Variance is everywhere. It’s a big reason why a lot of sports bettors are considered really successful if they can consistently hit at a rate of 55 percent or slightly higher. That being said, there are still some certainties and they come in the form of what is called “public money”.
It sounds like a negative when you hear experts talk about it. There is a certain connotation to it, but public money can be on the winning side as well. What it boils down to is that the public is very consistent. Maybe a better word for it is that the public is predictable. The public is going to bet favorites and overs, especially in primetime games. The public is going to latch on to teams that they can trust. Generally speaking, a lot of these are big market teams or teams that draw a ton of buzz in the mainstream media and have for a while. The “good” teams.
Sometimes, the spreads don’t even matter. The Dallas Cowboys are going to see public money. The Alabama Crimson Tide are going to see public money. The Golden State Warriors are going to see public money. The Green Bay Packers. The Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chicago Cubs (now). Sometimes this is also referred to as “square money” being bet by “squares” or “Joe Public”.
It’s not necessarily that these segments of the betting populace are stupid or ill-informed, it’s just that there’s a level of trust with good teams that they will get the job done no matter what. You won’t see public money on the Philadelphia 76ers, the Tennessee Titans, the Arizona Coyotes, or the Texas State Bobcats very often. Public money is also prone to fall in love with short-term streaks or highly-publicized achievements.
A lot of times, you’ll get situations where the game becomes a “Pros vs. Joes” struggle. The sharp players will be on the opposite side and the public will keep betting against them. Some handicappers even talk about the successes that they have had “fading the public”. The public has gotten smarter with the amount of information out there and with how mainstream sports betting has become, but the public is still stubborn in some respects. Oddsmakers know this and the lines will reflect this for some of those games with public darlings and those primetime matchups.
Again, public money isn’t always wrong. It’s just wrong more often than sharp money. Take that into consideration if you find yourself on a public side. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a public and sharp side. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide. If you like a public side, those win, too. It’s all about having the information that you need and this is part of that process.