Sports Betting Lesson From NFL Week 8: What Do These Big Bets Mean?

Posted By Matt Perrault on October 30, 2019

Last week, ESPN writer David Payne Purdum ran a poll on his twitter account asking his followers if they liked when he reported on large wagers being placed at legal sportsbooks around the country. The results were surprising to some because getting over 8 out of 10 people to agree on anything in this country right now is hard.

The vast majority of those who voted in the poll wanted to see the large wagers continue to make news and be shared with the public. Some feel like it’s overkill to have books report big money bets because in the end, it doesn’t really matter to anyone except the player and the book.

There’s no question folks like the content, but why do so many people want to know about the five-, six- and seven-figure bets that are placed each weekend? Sure, the bet might move the line a little, but if you aren’t playing that specific game, why do you care about that information being made available?

The answer isn’t straight forward.

Is this information valuable?

While it’s easy to see the fun of living vicariously through another person’s bet and to imagine what it would be like to have $100,000 down on one game, some gamblers use the information to bet the other side. The theory is that large plays are not made by professional gamblers and the chances are good that the player will lose.

Veteran sportsbook operators will tell you is that there is no correlation between how much someone bets on a game and the skill level they bring to sports gambling. If a person bets $50,000 on an under of one NFL game, that might be equivalent to when you bet $50. Everyone’s bankroll is different. Sure, fading public plays are generally a good idea, but it’s not a foolproof strategy. The public does win sometimes.

Another line of thinking is that big bets are good to fade because sharp bettors and professional players rarely drop six or seven figures on a single game outside of the Super Bowl. Pros normally are capped by the books for how much they are allowed to get down on a single bet and thus, their wagers aren’t being reported by the sports gambling media. A $10,000 bet laying three points isn’t nearly as sexy as a $100,000 wager on the same game.

It makes sense, right? If a player has hit a book consistently for massive amounts, that book might think twice before taking the action again. If the book is actively reporting the wager, and taking the action, wouldn’t it would wise to believe there is a reason? Could it be that the book is comfortable taking the action? And if the book is comfortable taking a bet that they could lose six figures on, then fading that bet might be a smart move, right?

More entertainment than a resource

On Monday Night Football this week, the South Point in Las Vegas reported a $100,000 wager on the Steelers at -850 to beat the Dolphins on the moneyline. The bet would win $11,000 for the player. You have to wonder how that person was feeling when the Steelers were down 14-10 halfway through the 3rd quarter. The Steelers did end up winning the game and cashing the ticket for the bettor.

The best way to handle big bets being reported, in my opinion, is to ignore them and not have them impact your plays in any way. At the end of the day, wagers of large quantity are fun to learn about and watch, but when it comes to your action, they shouldn’t be factored into your decision making.

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