Why Ticket/Money Percentages Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Last night for Game 3 between Toronto/Golden State I posted on Twitter that the sharp money was on Toronto and the public was on Golden St. When I posted I received a handful of comments and direct messages in which people sent me their ticket/money percentage numbers from various websites and line service providers. Ticket/money percentage is the data put out by sportsbooks that shows the percentage of tickets/money written on one team versus the other. Last night these various followers saw within their data that the highest ticket percentage was on Toronto. Their assumption was that the public was therefore on Toronto. So the pick, to fade the public, was to take GSW. It could not have been a worse assessment. It’s not their fault though. These various bettors were looking at data they felt told the whole story but which in reality only tells the 1st chapter.

I have said many times on Twitter that ticket and money percentages do not tell the whole story. Sure, there are plenty of times where the ticket percentages are high on the public team. There are plenty of times that the money percentages are high on the sharp team. However to take these percentages, put out by books, and automatically assume the team with the highest ticket percentage must be the public side and the team with the highest money percentage must be the sharp side, will leave you missing a BIG part of the picture. Often people will love to see a high ticket percentage on one side and a high money percentage on the other. Again, you just don’t know what’s under the hood of those numbers. Like anything, your assumption will be right some of the time and wrong some of the time. Is there value to that data, yes but not nearly as much as most people who follow the percentages put into it. What’s to say the high ticket percentage is not due to multiple tickets by a large quantity of sharps… which was the case yesterday.

How do books assess sharp/public action for their purposes? Within a book’s database tools is the ability to scan a market and see the percentage of tickets and money bet by bettors rated as sharp and by bettors rated as recreational (public) by the book. The second part of that feature is what gives the true picture of the market. If you cannot break down those ticket percentages and money percentages into what types of bettors are involved in them, you are taking a guess/leap in your assessment. Sometimes you will be right and sometimes you will be wrong. Here’s what the game yesterday looked like at one line service provider…

TOR 61%
GSW 39%

TOR 64%
GSW 36%

It would not be a stretch to surmise by the data above that the public was all over Toronto. You would unfortunately be wrong and investing your money in bad data.

Below is what that data looked like at one book I work with. The difference between the line service data above and the book’s data below is the breakdown of the action. The book I am referencing gives each of their bettors a grade of sharp or recreational. If a player has a positive ROI over a minimum sample size and that ROI exceeds normal variance (chance), they are considered sharp. If not, they are considered recreational. See the difference in the book’s data below to the line service’s listed above?

TOR 59%
– Public rated% 22
– Sharp rated% 78
GSW 41%
– Public rated% 71
– Sharp rated% 29

TOR 63%
– Public rated% 11
– Sharp rated% 89
GSW 37%
– Public rated% 82
– Sharp rated% 18

Those broken down figures are used to create the “sharp/public concentration” I calculate and discuss in my posts when covering the action in different games/matches. As you can see, 78% of the tickets on Toronto are from sharp bettors and 71% of the tickets on GSW are from public bettors. Even though more tickets are written on Toronto overall, it hardly meant the Raptors were the public side.

My purpose is to warn you that blindly following ticket and money percentages DOES NOT tell you nearly the whole story. It’s better than nothing but it should hardly be the main information on which you base your wagering decisions. It should not even be in the top 5.

Good luck in your action!
~ The Sharp Plays