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If you are going to learn how to bet on sports you need to know all of the terminology used by novice and experienced bettors.

One term that often pops up is the fade.  What does it mean and how can it be strategically used to win as a sports handicapping method?

Understanding the Concept of Fading Bets

When you talk about a fade with sports betting you are talking about betting against a particular outcome.

This could mean you are wagering against a team, handicapper, a mush, or the general public.

The psychological aspect of fading comes from the belief that the majority can be wrong and the value of going against the grain.

Fading Strategies to Win More Bets

There are a number of different fading strategies you can employ when handicapping.  I’ll list the most popular and go over them in more detail.

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Fading the Public

The general public is driven by emotion or recent performance.  They have plenty of cognitive biases they are susceptible to and can sometimes have so many bets pouring in that they can sway the betting lines.

This gives us an opportunity.  By fading the public you will be going against the popular opinion, which can be uncomfortable.

If the majority of backers are taking Team A, then you will want to take Team B.

You can normally tell how the public is taking with bet percentages.  If a large number of bets is on a certain team, but the money is about even then it’s time to consider the sharp money is on the opposite side.

Sometimes the sharp money even causes the odds to go the opposite way.  This is called a reverse line move.

A recent example was with Oregon v. Colorado in football.  All of the hype that Coach Prime brought to the table meant a lot of dumb money was on the Buffaloes, but the smart money was all on the Ducks.

Another example was when Connor McGregor took on Floyd Mayweather.  Every normal bettor was backing Connor to win, while all of the sharp money was comfortable laying the big number on the favorite.  Mayweather won rather easily.

The key to fading the public is that you have to have a large market and public sentiment has to be overwhelmingly behind one of the two teams.

Small, niche markets don’t provide that kind of opportunity because there isn’t a large number of smaller wagers to offset the big money sharps are willing to throw down to back their opinions.

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Fading a Team

Teams can go through highs and lows during the course of a season.  If you recognize these patterns you can turn that knowledge into profit.

You will want to look for injuries, poor matchups, bad situations, or internal conflicts.

If a team has been struggling because a key player was out, or because they had a really difficult schedule the general public is going to be wary of backing them.

In general, you will want to fade good teams that have been beating up on easy teams or media darlings.

You don’t generally fade bad teams.  If a team is really bad, no one wants to take them and the odds makers adjust their lines, sometimes too much.  Those are the real opportunities here.

Fading a Handicapper

Even the best experts can be wrong at times, occasionally for long stretches of time.

However, if their process is solid then this isn’t a reason to go against them.  They are just getting unlucky.

Handicappers are human though, and losing streaks can effect them too.  If the losses are mounting and the handicapper starts to press, they will take bets without the advantage they normally look for.

I don’t think this is a great time to fade them though.  Just because they don’t have the edge they normally do doesn’t mean their bets are so bad that fading them will lead you to profits.


I don’t think you can fade losing bettors and win long-term.  It’s rare someone is so bad that they hit worse than 47% of their bets.  By fading a normal losing bettor both of you are just losing the juice to the sportsbook.

If you want a fading strategy that wins it all comes down to so much money pouring in on one side that the books have to adjust their lines so they aren’t exposed.  This means fading the general public when everyone is not only against a side, but everyone is also betting on that side.

With enough money coming in on one side, the books might have to over-adjust the number to get some balanced action and not be exposed.  That is when your opportunity is there.