The Truth About Betting Splits

The Truth About Betting Splits

Jack Andrews
The Process
March 7, 2024


Have you ever seen betting splits? A sportsbook is telling you that 52 percent of the bets are on one team but 66 percent of the money is on their opponent. Can you use this information to your advantage or are they just trying to trick you into wagering more? I’m going to break it all down for you.

Hi, I’m Jack from Unabated. I’ve been a professional bettor for over 20 years. In that time I’ve seen bettors use a lot of signals to try to gauge which side the sharp bettors are on. One of the more popular methods is in the form of betting splits.

What is a betting split? It’s simply information presented by media or sportsbooks that indicate the percentage of wagers that are on each side of a market, as well as the percentage of money that’s been wagered on either side of a game. 

Many bettors look at this and say, the majority of the bets and the money are on the Detroit Lions, that must be the better side. I’m going to bet that. Others look at it and say, the public never wins in the long-run, so I’m going to fade the public and take the 49ers opposite of what the majority is on. 

Or they see information like this, where the betting split says there are more wagers on Kansas City, but more money is on Baltimore. The bettor thinks that it indicates the professional bettors must be on the team getting more of the money wagered since pro bettors bet more.


Consider the Source

Who’s right? And is there a way to glean valuable information from these charts? First, let’s consider the source of this information. In past videos I’ve spelled out how there are sharp sportsbooks and recreational sportsbooks. The recreational books don’t tolerate sharp bettors, they impose heavy limits on winning bettors to discourage them from betting with them. 

You’re going to find that the sportsbooks that provide these betting splits are the recreational sportsbooks, not the sharp books. Some of them even give you this information right in their app. Now, if these betting splits were really useful in determining what the sharp pro bettors were on, do you really think sportsbooks would want to give you that information? 

It reminds me of any roulette wheel in a casino. There’s always a tote board next to it showing you the results of the last 20 rolls. People love to find patterns in randomness. By showing you the ratio of red to black or which numbers have been hot, they’re encouraging you to be fooled by that randomness. The roulette ball has no memory, the roulette wheel is not biased. It’s just a ploy to have you bet more.

Same thing could be said about these betting splits, they are a ploy to get you to bet more by thinking that these numbers tell a story. Does anyone remember back in grade school when you learned how to effectively communicate information? There are the 5 W’s:  Who, What, Where, When, and Why. 


Betting Splits Offer Incomplete Information

If you supply the 5 W’s you tell the complete story. Well guess what 5 things are missing from these betting split reports? Yep, the who, the what, the where, the when, and the why. 

You see, these betting splits tell a very incomplete story. They don’t tell you Who made the bets. You can assume that pro bettors bet more, but these sportsbooks don’t book sharp professional betting action. In fact, it’s the opposite. They raise the limits of VIP customers who they deem are bad at betting. So is it professional money betting more or is it really bad bettors who have higher limits skewing the report? 

Next, they don’t tell you What they bet, as in what line they got. Remember from past videos that sports betting is about price and probability. In a football game, if a sportsbook opened the line at 3 and through the course of the week moved to 5, there is a big difference between betting a team at -3 and at -5.

That’s exactly what happened in that Kansas City/Baltimore AFC Championship game. The sportsbooks opened Baltimore at -3 and by game day it was Baltimore -5. If the sharp action all came in at -3, betting them now at -5 would be a big mistake. Sharp bettors recognize this and at 5, they’re probably looking at the underdog Chiefs at +5.

The Local Effects

You also don’t know Where the bets were made. Most recreational bettors bet on their favorite local team to win. But sportsbooks aren’t in every state. What about a matchup between Philadelphia, located in the midst of many regulated sports betting states and San Antonio, located nowhere near a legal sportsbook? There could definitely be some regional bias in the number of bets placed on that game. 

You don’t know When the bets were made either. There are a lot of factors that impact why a line moves and one of the biggest might be injury information. Take a situation where the availability of a key player is not known until gameday. If the betting split shows a majority of wagers are on one side, were those bets made before or after the status of this key player was known? We don’t know from a simple pie chart.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the Why. Why is the betting split information showing that the money and number of bets agree or disagree? You don’t know because they’re not going to tell you that. It’s incomplete information and you can only assume to know why. And you know what happens when you assume.

You’re missing the Who, the What, the Where, the When, and the Why when you blindly follow betting split information. Even better is when those betting splits contradict themselves based on which sportsbook is providing the information.


Don’t Fall for Reverse Line Movement

One of the more misleading applications of this betting split data is the faulty concept of “reverse line movement.” Spend time around bettors who find signal in these splits and you’ll quickly hear about it. The theory of reverse line movement says that when the majority of wagers are heavily on one side, but the line doesn’t react to that and instead moves the opposite direction, this is reverse line movement. 

It’s said to be an indicator that the sharp bettors or the bookmakers know something that the public does not. In theory, this could be true. However, in actuality, it fails to have value due to all the same reasons that make betting splits fallible in the first place. 

There are many different factors that go into causing a line to move beyond just sharp action alone. There is news, injuries, and even weather reports. Handicapping based on reverse line movement alone is putting too much weight on something which probably has a different explanation. Again, you’re assuming.

You’re Missing the Line Moves with Betting Splits

But the bigger problem with taking your cue based on reverse line movement is that you’re betting after the line has already moved. That’s not how sharp betting is done. If there were sharp bettors, they got in earlier. Not after the fact by identifying the reverse line movement.

A lot of journalists and reporters like to report on these betting splits. It’s a constant source of content for them to report on and I’m sure they think they’re providing value to their readers. But it would be far more useful if they could provide some greater context in the form of the who, the what, the where, the when, and the why. Next time you see someone report on the betting splits for an upcoming game, press them for more context about the betting.

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