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        As nearly every professional bettor will tell you, backing heavy favourites is a sure fire way to the poorhouse. That is common knowledge, right? Perhaps, but there’s one problem with that type of thinking: it’s dead wrong.

        The received wisdom will be the linesmakers skew their odds on heavy favourites because the public love betting on the best teams. The bookies undoubtedly see a flurry of parlays involving clubs like Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus every weekend. Surely there’s value in taking the underdog in these situations, isn’t there?

        In fact, numerous research has shown that blindly backing long shots is a losing proposition within the long term. To see why that is the case, we have to learn how a bookmaker operates. Considering that the bookies take most of their action on short-priced favourites, it’s often assumed they are exposed to big liabilities if all the hot teams win. Although this is sometimes the case, and lots of bookmakers suffer months of huge losses, you will find several ways a bookie can protect himself.

        You need to remember that most heavy favourites are combined in parlays involving at least three teams. A bookmaker only needs one loser to take his customer’s money. Therefore, there is little need to lower the odds on a “public” team. Many sportsbooks will even inflate the odds of a hot favourite to attract new customers, safe in the knowledge that parlay players won’t hurt their bottom line.

        In the event the favourite’s odds are an accurate reflection of it’s true probability of winning, the bookmaker must make adjustments elsewhere. That usually means offering worse odds on the underdog as well as the draw. Understanding the concept of theoretical hold will make this clearer.

        When creating lines, a sportsbook shall offer odds on each team that offer it a slight edge, ensuring a profit however the game turns out. This is called the Theoretical Hold and is expressed as a percentage. It represents the combined quantity of customers’ bets that the bookmaker expects to keep.

        It’s called theoretical because in reality a bookmaker rarely has balanced action on all sides. If a bookie takes the majority of his bets on a heavy favourite, he can offer it at a more generous price and accept a smaller profit margin. Short-priced favourites generally have small margins, but high volumes. Bigger odds mean bigger margins. There’s little incentive for Read Full Report a bookie to offer competitive odds on a big underdog if he will not expect much betting interest in that team.

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