What are Public Betting Splits? How to use Public Betting Data to Inform your Bets

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Ray BelkoraJuly 20, 2022, 10:16 PM

What does Public Money Mean in Sports Betting?

Public money in sports betting shows where the general public is leaning on a specific bet, whether it be moneyline, spread, or total. For example, if 65% of bettors are on the Colorado Avalanche to beat the Nashville Predators, the public money is on the Avalanche. 

What is Public Betting and Money Percentages?

Public betting and money percentages are two important statistics that experienced bettors look at to help them find an angle or an edge in a game. A lot of the time, these numbers are similar. It makes sense that if 75% of the bettors are on a specific side, 65-85% of the money would be on that side. 

However, sometimes there are large discrepancies in the betting splits. These splits can show where the sharp action is if you know how to read the information. More on that below.

What are Betting Splits?

The betting splits are the difference when comparing the percentages of public money (percentage of bets) and the percentage of the total money wagered, or “handle”. These are often similar, but a large discrepancy can alert you to possible sharp action.

For example, let’s say a commonly public team like the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Carolina Panthers. In this hypothetical matchup, the Cowboys are getting 82% of the public money, but the Panthers are actually getting 54% of the money coming in. This means that there is heavy sharp money coming in on Carolina, likely because the public money drove the line to a point where sharps identified value in Carolina. 

Line movement is a key aspect of betting splits because comparing the two can give a great idea of the overall picture of the action and potential reverse line movement. 

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Reverse line movement is when the public is on one team, but the line actually moves towards the other team.

For example, if the Rams open at -7.5 against the Seahawks and you see the public loves the Rams, common sense would suggest the line would be driven up towards 8 or 9. Instead, in this example, it falls to Rams -6.5. This can mean one of two things. Either the sportsbooks are comfortable being exposed on the Rams and are basically betting on the Seahawks, or more likely that big-time money has come in from the sharps on Seattle.  

Of course, if there are injuries, suspensions, or other factors that could organically alter the line that movement should be attributed to those before reverse line movement. 

How to use Public Money Percentage and Betting Splits to Inform your Bets:

One common slogan and strategy that is common in the betting industry is “fading the public.” The vast majority of sports bettors lose, which is why books exist in the first place and why Las Vegas has so much money to build with and spend. The house does have the edge in terms of the vig or juice (-110 odds on equal and opposite sides of the bet instead of even odds at -100) but the oddsmakers also find a way to outsmart the public. 

Fading the public should not be done blindly, but public money percentage and betting splits can inform or confirm certain ideas, opinions, and leans about why a line is what it is. Remember, oddsmakers are not trying to predict the exact point differential or total when creating a spread or over/under. Their main concern is to split the public evenly so that they can profit no matter what through the juice.

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If you see that the public bet percentage is very different from the money percentage, that means that big (and often sharp) money is coming in that sways the handle away from mirroring the public bet percentage.

If a team has only 20% of the bets but 50% of the money, in nearly all cases that means sharps love that team and are fading the public. Since the books are happy with the public split and don’t care which side they get their money from, it’s much better to be on the side of the sharps. These are proven and successful gamblers comfortable risking high amounts of money on their side. It’s better to be with them than the casual uninformed bettor.

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