Fading the public and chasing the steam are two sports
betting strategies that have been used for many, many years,
particularly in the US betting markets. We’ve covered them both
in a single article because they are both centered around the basic
principle of making betting decisions based on the opinions
and/or actions of others.
Both of these strategies are relatively simple, and there are
some notable advantages to understanding their main concepts. So
we definitely recommend reading through this page and trying to
absorb everything we write about. However, we’ll point out
straight away that these strategies are both relatively limited
in terms of finding real value in the betting markets. They are
therefore probably not strategies that you’ll want to rely on.
With that point made, please read on to find out more about
these two strategies and theories behind them.
Fading The Public
The dream of many bettors is to find a simple betting system
or strategy that is easy to use and will bring in consistent and
guaranteed winnings without the need for much effort. This is a dream
of ours as well. The fact is that no such system or
strategy exists. There are plenty of systems and
strategies that are easy to use and don’t require much effort,
and it’s possible to win money with some of them, but none of
them GUARANTEE winnings.
Sports betting just isn’t that simple.
Despite this, there are lots of bettors who cling on to their
dream. Some of them even go as far as convincing themselves that
certain strategies do give them the easy route to success that
they crave. Fading the public is one such strategy. The theory
is that by being contrary, and going against public opinion,
they will win more often than not. This theory is wrong, but it
doesn’t stop people using the fading the public strategy.
Now, in fairness, there is some degree of logic involved with
this strategy. After all, most bettors lose. Therefore, it’s not
entirely irrational to think that betting against the majority
is a viable way to make long term profits. And, in fact, there
was a time when this strategy did work.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the betting markets were
effectively determined by the recreational bettors, as it was
their wagers which shaped the lines and odds offered by
bookmakers. There were many independent sportsbooks in Vegas,
and other companies operating offshore and taking telephone
bets, and the markets weren’t anywhere near as efficient as they
The bookmakers were still making profits back then, but it
was relatively easy (compared to now at least) for smart bettors
to make some money. The odds and lines were often skewed quite
heavily towards what the majority of the recreational bettors
were betting on, particularly for games involving the most
popular teams. For example, you might have seen the following
New England Patriots (-10) -115
Nothing too unusual about this of course. But you would see
lines like this when the fair line would actually be something
like the following.
New England Patriots (-8) -110
The bookmakers were basically taking full advantage of the
fact that the public (i.e. the majority of recreational bettors)
would bet on teams like the Patriots even when the lines weren’t
even fair. What this meant was that the other sides of such
lines were more attractive than they should be. And that’s where
the smart guys put their money. They were fading the public, and
Fading the public worked to some extent during the early days
of online betting too, but things are different now. Betting
markets are much more efficient, and the odds makers who work
for bookmakers and betting sites are exceptionally good at what
they do. The inclination of the public to bet a certain way on
certain games is taken into account when setting the odds and
lines, along with many other factors. Value still exists in
today’s betting markets, but you have to be able to do your own
handicapping if you want any chance of making consistent
You will still find the occasional spot where a bookmaker or
betting site has overcompensated for public opinion, and this
can result in there being value in going against the public.
These spots are fairly rare though, and the days of there being
“easy pickings” by fading the public are long gone.
The main positive of this strategy is that you’re unlikely to
blow your entire bankroll if you decide to follow it. There are
plenty of bettors who do follow it, which is why there are so
many services that sell data regarding what the public is
betting on, but we don’t recommend that you join them. With that
being said, it is always worth considering how public opinion
may have affected the lines offered by betting sites.
Chasing steam is another strategy that has been around since
before the era of online sports betting. Unlike fading the
public, though, it has significant merit. It can be a successful
strategy if implemented correctly, although we should point out
that it’s not easy to find the right spots. We should also
explain the term steam before we continue with explaining this
In the context of betting, steam is when odds and lines for a
specific market start to move rapidly.
The theory behind chasing steam is that most steam moves are
caused by betting syndicates and/or a few high stake pros
getting their money down. The aim is to get your own money down
before the whole market has time to adjust. If you see a line
move at one betting site that you think is steam, for example,
you’d try to place the necessary wager(s) at another site that
hadn’t yet moved its line. You’re basically trying to follow the
smart money with your own.
This is obviously an entirely logical thing to do. After all,
if you could make all the same wagers as the professionals who
are making their livings from sports betting then you’d probably
be very happy. Of course even when chasing steam, you’re not
going to be replicating all of their wagers, but at least you
have the chance of taking advantage of some of the same
opportunities that they’ve spotted. And that’s the big benefit
of this strategy.
Unfortunately, there are three major challenges with chasing
You need to be watching the market at the right times to spot steam moves.
You need to be able to react quicker than the rest of the market.
You need to have funds in place at a number of different betting sites.
These challenges are not insurmountable by any stretch of the
imagination. But do you really want to spend hours upon hours
monitoring betting markets just in the vague hope that you might
spot a steam move? While knowing that, even if you do spot a
move, there’s every chance that all the other sites will have
adjusted their odds and lines accordingly before you have a
chance to take advantage?
Although there is undoubtedly some value to be had when
chasing steam, in our view there is a big question mark over
whether it’s worth the effort. We wouldn’t talk anyone out of
following this strategy, but it’s not one that we’d wholly
recommend either. There are probably better, and more
profitable, ways to spend your time.
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