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Joe Q. Public

   by Bryan Leonard - 03/28/2011

So who is Joe Public? Of course, Joe Public is everybody not connected with the professional sports betting field. Joe Public is the average bettor, the guy who just HAS to bet on the Super Bowl or the ESPN Wednesday night college basketball broadcast because he needs action on the game he’s watching. All right, fine. But following that model won’t turn you a profit over the long haul in sports betting, which – to me – is the whole purpose. I don’t put money in the stock market “just to have action” on a particular stock. I do it to grind out a profit. The same model applies when I wager on sports.
Public teams in football are the ones that have the largest fan base nationally, like the Cowboys, Packers or Raiders. Or the ones that happen to be currently winning the most (winning straight up, that is, not necessarily against the number). It’s the same in basketball. You have to understand that oddsmakers are not interested in setting a number based on who they think will win the game by X number of points. Their purpose is to get equal amounts of money wagered on both sides, so they then pay off the winners and keep their 10-20 percent cut. It’s a tried and true paradigm of economics.
In basketball, current public teams are the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics. Two have had recent success appearing in the NBA Finals, while one is in a media hub and made a big trade to acquire a star player (Carmelo Anthony). The Lakers, Celtics and Knicks have a fan following that goes beyond New York and LA.
Notice that the Knicks, despite having star power on offense, don’t play any defense and have been a bad team against the spread, a 2-5 ATS run. Also, the Knicks are a flashy offensive team so Joe Public would lean to the over with them, though note the Knicks are 11-5 under the total in their last 16 games as an underdog. A few years ago, when they had far less talent, the Knicks started the season 18-32 overall against the number and 9-18 ATS at home! The thinking by Joe Public is that the Knicks play their best basketball at home, therefore plenty of money backed the Knicks at home, but they were fell fledged money-burners.
The defending champions can often become public teams, as well. Currently the Lakers are 7-22 ATS in their last 29 home games vs. a team with a losing road record. Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic were in the NBA Finals two years ago and currently are 1-7 ATS as a favorite.
A few years ago the T-Wolves and Pacers were public teams, before their recent decline, because of their talent and a record of winning in the playoffs. But they had all kinds of problems, and underachieving Minnesota fired their coach in midseason following an 18-32 spread run, including 9-18 ATS at home and 13-27 ATS as a favorite! If you bet like Joe Public, start changing your thinking, unless you prefer “action” to turning a profit.

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