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The Psychology of Sports Betting Patterns

By Hank Blaine

The psychology behind betting patterns is too difficult to decipher in a single blog. However, we can discuss how studying betting patterns can lead to more winning sports bets. Betting patterns can point to specific trends that allow us to read the market. Below, we dive deeper into this incredibly profitable skill.

How to Use Betting Patterns to Our Advantage

Studying betting patterns is a requirement in poker

Betting patterns exist in every form of gambling, but they exist most obviously in Texas Hold’em poker. A famous saying from the Texas Hold’em world is that you don’t play the cards, you play the player.

What this means is that you decide to raise, fold, or go all-in depending on how you read the player. In Texas Hold’em the other players at the table are the market. You want to read the market to determine what move to make.

The best way to read the market isn’t to look for a specific tell. Finding an opponent’s tell can help, but most poker players know this trick. So few, even few casual poker players, have a tell. At the pro level, no players have tells.

<>Again, tells can help but the real way to read the market, to read your opponent at the poker table, is to notice their betting pattern. Poker players, like all gamblers, fall into betting patterns. If you discover your opponents’ betting patterns, you can make educated guesses based on the current cards showing as to the hand they hold.

Using the poker method, we can determine viable betting patterns in sports wagers

Although the market in sports wagers is more vast than five players sitting at a poker table, we can use betting pattern analysis to determine whether a sports bet is an overlay or underlay.

Oddsmakers set a line. Oddsmakers then adjust the line depending on the money that flows to one team or another. There is such a thing as a collective betting pattern.

For example, in 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs went 5-11-1 against the spread. Usually, oddsmakers would set fair lines, but players kept pounding the Chiefs ATS even though week to week, in almost every week, KC failed to cover.

How did that happen? How could players be so wrong about the Chiefs covering spreads? The phenomenon is called a collective betting pattern.

Sports bettors have a hive mind in the sense that if enough of us jump onto a bet, we instinctively, tribally, go the same way. So the betting pattern becomes a part of being a sports bettor.

Another example from 2022 are the Cincinnati Bengals who won 12 games against the spread even though they participated in the 2022 Super Bowl against the Rams. Usually, a team that participates in the following season’s Super Bowl must contend with enormous, almost uncoverable, spreads.

But the Bengals covered spreads week after week and oddsmakers never adjusted. Why? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, those going for the Bengals to cover, those who rode the collective betting pattern made out like bandits.

Determining faulty betting patters will uncover overlay plays

The key to making money is to find a faulty betting pattern like the season long one on the Chiefs to cover.

If we had gone against the Chiefs in every game last season, we would have won 11-of-17 regular season games and would have made a lot of money.

Betting patterns can also help us uncover overlay plays. The best example of this is in horse racing where the favorite, especially in highly marketed races like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, attracts action from both pro and casual horseplayers.

In horse racing, betting on one horse raises the odds for all other horses in the race. So if we see false betting patterns that exist for several horses in a single race, we can discover multiple overlay options.

Work on discovering betting patterns. Doing so will help you find overlays in both the racebook and sportsbook and don’t forget that betting on overlays is the path to profit.

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