The Case of Betting on Home Underdogs

What happened to betting on home underdogs?

Key Points

– Betting on home underdogs has changed over the past several years.

– Value is still the key when betting on home underdogs.

The Case of Betting on Home Underdogs

What happened to betting on home underdogs? You probably have read or heard that betting on home underdogs can be profitable for successful sports bettors. 

Maybe you are an experienced bettor and have had some favorable results betting on home underdogs. It was generally profitable, but times have changed. 

You can still make money betting on sports, but you can’t simply bet on them at will and expect to come out ahead in the long run. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. The big question is why?

Blind Bets Don’t Work Anymore

When a sizable enough number of knowledgeable sports bettors start making excessive profits from sportsbooks, the sportsbooks take note. The books monitor the bettors’ activities and then take action to eliminate the advantage. Sportsbooks work to entice bettors to wager on the opposite side of the bet. That way, they always make money.

Sports books adjust the odds when betting on home underdogs because they are aware that some players place these bets without taking into account a lot of other game-related factors. 

Ten years ago, a home team might have been favored at -6. Today that same home team is more likely to be favored at -2 or -3. The sports books will move the lines around until they find the spot where they can profit the most. That takes the advantage away from betting on home underdogs.


Sportsbooks & The Most Accurate Line

Don’t sportsbooks always want to have a line that most accurately reflects the outcome of a game? Not exactly.

Never make the assumption that a sportsbook wants to have a line that accurately predicts the outcome of the game. The No. 1 rule for any successful sportsbook is to make money. It’s that simple and that is how lines are set. 

Often, making money and creating betting lines that accurately predict a game’s outcome go hand in hand. That’s not the case all the time.

Consider the following. Let’s say you operate a sportsbook in the heart of Ohio State football country. You will adjust the line against the Buckeyes for each game to profit from the large number of fans who will still bet on OSU. 

For example, Ohio State might be a -7.5 favorite, but a sportsbook knows that public bettors that love Ohio State will bet on them no matter what. They move the line to -8.5. The money keeps flowing, so they jump it to -9.5 and so on. In the end, the closing spread might be -13.5, but the original line of 7.5 is actually more accurate. 

Sportsbooks want to be in a position to profit when the majority of the public places its bets on poor value. Sharp bettors will bet the other side in response to adjusted odds. These bets are closely monitored by sportsbooks. If too many bettors start placing bets on the opposite side, the line may be adjusted again. 

When betting on home underdogs, bettors will often not get the best line. Without value, there is no reason to bet on the home dog.

Sneaky Sportsbooks Kill Betting on Home Underdogs

Another way that books generate income is, of course, by adding vig to every game and making sure that bets on each side of a game are equal. When the amount of money wagered on each side is equal, the sports book makes money from the vig regardless of the outcome.

Why then do sportsbooks not always want balanced wagers? The best time to offer an adjusted line that makes more money on a bad bet is when it is more profitable to do so.

If the money is on the side that offers the book the best value, well-run sports books can afford to have more money on one side of a line than the other. Bettors using multiple sportsbooks should be careful trying to bet on a home dog. Here’s an example to show how this works.

A bookie has adjusted the line on Ohio State from -4 to -8. If the same game were played 100 times, on average, Ohio State would win by 4 points. They will occasionally lose and occasionally win by 20 points, but on average, the margin of victory is four points.

When Ohio State wins by nine or more points and the book has bet $500,000 on the Buckeyes and $100,000 on their opponents, they stand to lose a sizable sum. However, Ohio State will win by a score of 7 or less enough of the time to cover the few times they lose.

How to Succeed When Betting on Home Underdogs

Backing home underdogs requires the same sound reasoning as choosing to place any other bet. It’s fine to take into account the fact that the home team is the underdog, but it should be just one of many considerations.

When betting on MLB, you still need to take into account things like the starting pitching matchup, injuries, the weather, etc. Basketball betting requires you to look at the recent schedule, travel times, injuries, and more. Being the home team is just another factor.

In addition to everything else, bettors should try and determine if the line has been adjusted to persuade you to bet one side or the other. The bottom line is that bettors should still seek lines that have value.

Every action a sportsbook takes is intended to maximize profits. Use this information to identify bets, whether on home underdogs or not, offer the best value.