Public money, i.e. where bettors place their bets is a great way to help you decide who to back or who to bet against. NFL consensus is exactly this, a measurement of where the majority of bettors are putting their money.
NFL Consensus October 2019
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Betting Against the Public Consensus in the NFL
There are two types of bettors “the sharps” and the “public.” A sharp is a professional bettor who typically wins a majority of their bets. Sharps will often bet the opposite side/team that the public likes, which is how they become so successful in this field.
However, sharps aren’t betting the opposite side to be contrarian, but rather to find value. If the public heavily bets on one specific team, that will only increase the odds and the payouts for the others. Sharps pick their spots and know how when it’s appropriate to bet with the public and when it’s time to consider another possible outcome.
Sharps typically will bet as soon as lines are released or just before the start of the game to create an advantage. They prefer to bet earlier on games/outcomes to get better or more accurate lines before the public can influence them. This is just another example of how sharps find value in a line or a bet.
The “public” bettors are your everyday fans who look to bet for the fun of gambling, rather than making it a career. Public bettors are often betting on their favorite teams, rather than a game or a line that appears to have value. Usually, the public bets with their heart, rather than their brain.
“Public” bettors tend to make bets closer to kickoff or whenever convenient. They often don’t search for the best “lines” and are likely to be bet “big” games or night games, rather than a 1 p.m. kickoff. Unlike sharps, they aren’t betting for an income, but rather, for entertainment value, mostly.
Make no mistake about it, the “public” will still get a lot of their fair share of games correct, but sharps are more likely to be right in the long-term. The goal of a sharp is to make a profit over many events, not necessarily in one game. If a sharp can win over 50 percent of their bets over a year or several years, they are accomplishing their goal.
Another difference between sharps and public bettors is that sharps tend to stick to moneylines and to point totals, where the public will often bet on player/team props or on parlays.
While parlays have significantly bigger payouts, they are often too risky for sharps. Sharps prefer to win a bunch of smaller bets, rather than swinging for the fences on a big parlay. However, prop bets are designed for the casual fan to give them a rooting interest in a team or a player in a given game.
To find value, take a look at where the public is betting and consider when to bet with them or go against the grain. Is the public following a particular narrative or the "hot" team? If that's the case, it may be wise to look at their opponent.
However, do not blindly bet the opposite of the public. As mentioned before, the public will get games and lines right. But it's important to pick your spot and know against the grain. Before betting on a game, make sure to look where the consensus is putting their money and placing their bets.