It’s time to bust some sports betting myths that I continue to hear year after year after year. These kinds of rumors are taken at face value simply because they “sound right.” But, you need to get rid of these biases when handicapping sports.
Sometimes these beliefs are accepted because it serves some purpose in explaining losing wagers. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the most common ones I’ve heard of. If you have any other myths you’ve heard, feel free to let me know and someone on the BoydsBets team will bust them as well!
#1 Sportsbooks Have Insider Information
The Facts: This sports betting myth is known as the “trap game” or “the book knows something I don’t” effect. Books aren’t trying to trap people on one side of the game or the other, that would be gambling. Sports betting sites (at least ones that want to stay in business) don’t gamble. They take the house edge that they already have and try to mitigate as much risk as possible. Their goal is to get perfect 50/50 action on both sides of the game. This almost never happens, of course. Still, why would a sportsbook wager millions on a game when they make money with balanced betting?
This isn’t to say that books don’t make or lose money when they don’t receive balanced action. In fact, that is usually the determining factor in whether a book shows a profit or not. But the book’s goal is not to try and trick you into betting the wrong side. Their job is to try and balance out that action. There isn’t any information that the oddsmakers know that you don’t have access to. They may just be better at interpreting that information.
#2 The Public is Always Wrong
The Facts: Any time a game gets labeled as a “public” bet, you can bet there will be an outcry. People will say the public side is the square side and the opposite side is the sharp side. What I want to know is, who decides what is a public bet? Is it always the favorite? But wait, favorites don’t win any more often than underdogs. Then it must be the team that gets the majority of action on one side of the game, right? I’ve heard this theory a million times. There are places where you can see how much money (or what percentage of wagers) has been taken on one side of the game. The problem is that there is no evidence to back up the idea. There’s no proof that the team with more bets always loses (or even loses more often than they win). As with most blind systems, even if you do win a few games using this idea, it eventually regresses to the mean.
I think this phenomenon comes from the times that these teams do lose. On paper these teams look like easy winners. They are favored by 14 points at home and have every edge you can think of. Then they lose the game outright. What happens is these situations tend to stick in your memory. The four times you bet a team in the same situation and they won fades into the background. That happens because the outcome is exactly what you thought it would be.
#3 The “Due Factor”
The Facts: This sports betting myth is pretty simple. “Due Factor” bettors look for teams on a losing or winning streak. They bet either on or against them based on a gut feeling that they think it’s about time for things to even out. The problem with this thinking is that you don’t know when a streak is going to end or how long it is going to continue. The reason sports are so fun to follow is that they are unpredictable. Just because something has never happened before does not make it impossible to happen. The improbable happens all the time in sports. Trying to capitalize on it at random is almost always a poor decision.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, betting myth or not, there are times when it makes sense. You feel like you should jump on or against a team in certain situations when they are on a certain kind of streak. What I’m trying to reinforce is the idea that these situations are not easy to identify. Most “due factor” bets are sucker bets.
#4 Games are Fixed
The Facts: This is one of the most common sports betting myths, and it comes with a disclaimer. I know that games have been fixed in the past. I know that there may be games fixed in the future. I know. The betting myth I’m looking at here is that games are often rigged.
The sports betting myth that there are a lot of fixed games just doesn’t hold any water. First off, there are few players that can influence the outcome of a game. Point guards in basketball, pitchers in baseball and quarterbacks in football come to mind. But what percentage of those players do you think would be willing to take the risk involved in trying to fix a game? Not professional players. The amount of money it would take for a pro player to fix a game is way more than the money that a “fixer” would be able to wager. College players may be more willing to take that risk. But they risk getting caught, losing a scholarship, and blowing the chance to play at the next level. That alone is enough for most players to avoid this pitfall. Like I said, it has happened in the past, but it’s not as often as the myth perpetuates.
#5 Injuries Give You an Edge
The Facts: Finally, let’s talk about injuries. Do injuries play a part in how the line is set? Of course they do! But the sports betting myth here is when someone thinks nobody knows about the injury. Guess what? The books already know about the injury and have factored that into the line they have set. Some of the most common questions I get are about whether I still like a game at the same line when there is a player out. Of course I do! Most injuries are pretty common knowledge. Almost always, they are already accounted for in the point spread. Now there are exceptions. Maybe there is a big line movement due to Tom Brady being deactivated two hours before the game. That is another story, but those instances are rare.
The thing about injuries is that you feel like you are getting exclusive information. People like to feel like they are outsmarting everyone else. They think that because the left tackle is out that they have some unknown advantage on a game. Just trust me. Everyone that matters already knows about the injury. The line has been adjusted if there is any significance to that player being out. Consider this betting myth busted.