Public Consensus Tail or Fade?

Some Swear on Fading the Public Consensus

The Public Consensus. In the world of sports betting, there is an age-old maxim that dictates you should always fade the public. Now, we’re not Immanuel Kant, but if there is a universal maxim that you shouldn’t adhere to, it’s this one.


So why do so many people talk about always fading the public? What about the vocal minority that suggests the opposite: you should always tail the public.

So who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Let’s answer the never-ending debate once and for all with a few hypotheticals in favor of both schools of thought.

Why You Should Fade the Public

Betting against the public (fading the public) is one of the oldest pearls of wisdom in the land of sports betting, but is it a winning betting strategy?

The origin of the strategy comes from the notion that the sportsbooks always make out like bandits, which isn’t entirely true.

Yes, sportsbooks tend to win in spots, but for the most part, sportsbooks aren’t always unified on a prototypically “public” side.

Sportsbook A could be receiving a lot of wagers on the “sharp” team, so much so that it actually needs the “square” side balanced out, so it doesn’t get crushed if the “square” side wins.

Sportsbook B could be dealing with the converse. A “square” number getting pounded would naturally mean they need the “sharp” side.

If you only looked at the volume for each book, you’d be divided on who the “public” side was. That said, fading the public is a good situational strategy because you will find yourself facing down opportunities where the media or public betting consensus is buying too much into a narrative. If you see a lot of sharp bettors lining up on the opposite side, it can be comforting to bet on the same side of the aisle as them.

But contrary to popular belief, sharps get crushed all the time, and so do people blindly fading the public.

Why You Should Tail Public Consensus

Despite the romanticized portrayals, sharp bettors don’t always win, and sometimes, they get demolished.

Sharps often hunt for underdogs or so-called “sharp” sides that almost always end up aligned with sportsbooks. It’s important to know the difference when learning to bet on sports.

However, there are times where the public absolutely buries the books. Take any Patriots’ post-New York Giants-era Super Bowls. In every game, the “sharp” sides were the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Los Angeles Rams.

Yet, in every instance, the sharp sides got butchered. Particularly in the Seahawks Super Bowl, which saw the favored Pats covering (although the line did close pick ’em in some places) and the number going over the total, a nightmare scenario for a lot of books. 

Again, there are times where wannabe sharps pick losers just for the sake of avoiding being on the same side as the public, but blind adherence to this philosophy may cost you more than it helps you.

How to Responsibly Bet With Public Consensus

Public consensus is an important variable to consider, but ultimately it should not dictate every bet. Instead, bet with what feels right to you. 

And always remember, you have the luxury that sportsbooks don’t have. If you don’t like a side, don’t bet it. Stay disciplined, and if the opportunity presents itself, wager where you feel confident, regardless of where the public or sharp money falls.