Understanding the strength or weakness of a betting market is critical to becoming an advanced sports bettor. A strong sports betting market is one that is active, liquid, and tends to be more accurately priced given the amount of information "baked into" the odds on offer.
In contrast, a weak sports betting market is characterized by lower volume and less liquidity, but as a result is less efficient, potentially providing more attractive betting opportunities.
The fine folks at BetHQ.com tell us that a betting market is, "a specific type or category of bet on a particular event. Bookmakers typically offer betting markets on each event."
A sports betting market is a complex beast. Just like a traditional market, they have buyers, sellers, suppliers, and middlemen. Size-wise, some markets are, metaphorically speaking, as big as a Super Target, while others are the size of that tiny mom-and-pop bodega at the end of your block.
As is the case when choosing your market, you don't always want to shop at the large joint. Super Target might have a huge selection of batteries, but unlike that mom-and-pop shop, they don't stock gourmet rigatoni.
It's the same deal with sports betting. Big and small markets — or, in this case, strong and weak markets —each have their pros and cons. To that end, let's pit the strong versus the weak.
Let’s take a look at some key factors that apply to both markets, and tally up the points at the end to see who wins in these vital areas.
In a weak market, there's generally less money bet. Thus, the oddsmakers might be paying less attention to the bigger picture — or feeling less incentive to have cutting-edge data to determine their lines.
There's often a greater potential for iffy prognostications from the numbers guys as a result, so you may benefit from better odds on certain games or matches that seem obvious to you. This leads to bigger payouts if you play it right. Point: Weak market.
A strong market usually has multiple sportsbooks offering action, and more sportsbooks equals more coin. The greater amount of books also gives you versatility and the opportunity to use tools such as an odds comparison machine, or your own independent eye to notice where odds differ.
This is how to increase or maximize your profits in a strong market, as opposed to banking on favorable lines from a weaker market’s limited pool. Point: Strong market.
In a strong market, you'll tend to find the odds quickly converge, so most sportsbooks will have relatively similar prices. In weaker markets, there's typically a bigger difference between books, so bettors might find better odds overall.
The greater disparity between point spreads rewards gamblers who watch the lines closely, so they can capitalize on either generous opening numbers or fluctuations right before the games start. Point: Push.
Generally speaking, the stronger the market, the more bet types that are available. If the strong market oddsmakers expect a lot of action and are confident in their prices, they'll offer options like alternative lines and prop bets. In weaker markets, there are generally fewer and more restrictive betting choices. Point: Strong market.
The less people betting on an event, the better the chances of finding favorable odds. Why? Firstly, because fewer bets mean the bookmaker has less information coming in from the public, which makes it more difficult to price the market.
Action from the public influences stronger markets’ odds, and more bets makes it easier to get a pulse on what the general public is doing and where sportsbooks are more likely to take the most juice. Also, in a weaker market, there's less competition for finding value bets. Point: Weak market.
Weak markets often have fewer oddsmakers, many of whom are inexperienced, which potentially offers bettors a level playing field. In an especially weak market, the bettor may actually know more than the oddsmaker.
While that rewards the bettor to a certain extent, if a sharp can stand out in a stronger market, their opinions hold more weight and validity. An argument can be made for either; in a weak market, the sharps generally aren't as well-versed. Point: Push.
Most large sportsbooks have oddsmakers who are experts in more obscure sports such as rugby or darts. The smaller books, on the other hand, might lack the resources to hire even an MMA guy.
So, bettors who feel they have an expertise in sports that aren’t as mainstream have golden opportunities to find success wagering on those contests. Point: Weak market.
There’s nothing super scientific about this study, but weak markets seem to offer a slight edge as opposed to their stronger counterparts. Now, this isn't to say you should focus strictly on the little guys. The variety and bigger pot can still make a medium-size fish in a big market — well, pond, to continue the metaphor — can earn as much or more in sports betting as the biggest fish in a weaker market.
Whether or not gauging the strength or weakness of a sports wagering market is a viable betting strategy is more a function of circumstance than preference, especially for those who are getting in on the game as sports betting legalization sweeps across the U.S.
Bettors who are in states on the precipice of legalized wagering or are newly legal for sports betting have a real chance to get ahead of the curve.
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