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What is Chalk Betting in Sports Betting?

Chalk Betting You might’ve heard of betting on favorites, but have you ever bet on the overwhelming favorite? Find out what betting the chalk means here.
Uno July
Author:
Uno July
Updated:
13 October 2021
Table of Contents

    What Does Betting Chalk Mean?

    Betting the chalk means betting on favorites - usually the strong or overwhelming favorite - in a wagering contest. This favorite could be an outcome, a team, or an individual entity, depending on the type of contest you’re wagering on, and usually befalls some really low odds, from -300 downwards.

    The “chalk” naming convention is believed to harkens back to the early days of horse racing; since there weren’t tickers, computers, or any digitized betting technology to speak of, oddsmakers had to physically write their odds systems out on chalkboards. These chalkboards were believed to sometimes be located at the track, or found at off-site betting parlors.

    Betting on low odds might sound counterintuitive, but you have to keep in mind that odds change and evolve more frequently for favorites than they do for underdogs. It’s common sense why more bettors would want to wager on the favorite more than they would the underdog, and you can primarily chalk (no pun intended) this up to two factors:

    There’s technically no upward limit to a favorite being a favorite, which isn’t the case with underdogs.

    It’s more exciting to root for events with higher scoring outcomes than events that aren’t so eventful. 

    Even in the face of lower odds, plenty of bettors still stand to make a killing off these chalk bets, and plenty do. In the wagering world, bettors who primarily concentrate on favorites are sometimes affectionately known as “chalk eaters”. If you’re looking to get a taste, then here’s everything you should know about betting the chalk.

    What Does Chalk Mean In Betting?

    We’ve kind of already explored the gist of them, but if you’re still curious, here’s another gist; betting chalk, in essence, is simply just the expected outcome. While there are higher odds of this predicted outcome happening, there is usually a lower potential payout than betting the opposite way would deliver. For example, every #1 seed in the NCAA’s March Madness Final Four is a pretty safe favorite or chalk bet, but it would generally deliver a marginally lower payout than it would if you were wagering on the underdog. 

    The house knows that betting the underdog is the riskier wager and the less popular one, so they will deliver higher payouts associated with that higher level of risk. When you’re betting to wager on the best of the best, there’s generally a lower risk of things failing to pull through, but that (generally) may translate into a slightly lower reward overall.

    Your personal mileage may vary on whether or not wagering exclusively on chalks is a wise betting strategy, but it would probably be wiser to utilize it for point spread bets than money line bets. You’re more likely to find even money through that avenue, so if you’re going to eat chalk, it would be wiser to taste it there.

    Finding Chalk Picks

    Now that you know how betting the chalk breaks down, you might be curious about how to narrow down the best chalk picks in your sportsbook. Here are a few pointers where we’d recommend starting:

    Studying the statistics: Observe windows for great wagering opportunities to open up. Chalks will have a very demonstrable track record of their successes, so you would be wise to study these track records wisely, and from across a multitude of sources.

    Consider consulting a professional handicapper: These handicappers make a living by studying sports info and selling their personal picks to willing bettors. If you’re struggling to find leads that could lead to great chalk bets, then a professional handicapper could point you in the right direction.

    Looking across a multitude of sportsbooks: No betting lines ever remain static, and many factors can influence their trajectory. For the most accurate results, you should consider evaluating the majority of what the nation’s most popular online sports betting sites have to say, continuously as they say it.

    At the moment, Washington D.C. and 14 states support online sportsbook platforms in the United States, and with sports betting being effectively made legal nationwide, more and more states are bound to open up regional sports betting markets in due time. 

    In any case, count on trusted sportsbook brands to offer you the most accurate, up-to-date results, major sportsbook operator brands like:

    Caesars Sportsbook

    FanDuel Sportsbook

    PointsBet Sportsbook

    BetMGM Sportsbook

    BetRivers

    WynnBet

    Unibet Sportsbook

    Fubo Sportsbook

    Golden Nugget Online

    Borgata Sportsbook

    DraftKings Sportsbook

    888 Sport

    Sugarhouse Casino

    Fox Bet Sportsbook

    BetAmerica Sportsbook

    Tipico Sportsbook

    The Score Sportsbook

    SI Sportsbook

    Betway

    Betfred Sports

    Bet365


    Most (if not all) of these sportsbooks offer live, up-to-the-minute, real-time results that allow you to follow changes as they happen. You can follow overs, unders, or every which way in between to find the desired betting outcomes you want.  

    Betting Against The Chalk

    As we’ve established, most bettors are inclined to wager on the over (or favorite) more than they are the underdog. However, if you’re not so inclined to do that, you could consider betting opposite chalk. When you do this opposite extreme and take it to such contrarian lengths, that betting strategy is known as fading the public

    Like betting the chalk, the efficacy of fading the public varies depending on the context, the sportsbook, and the overall situation. For example, if you were placing a parlay or teaser wager, then it probably wouldn’t be so wise to bank on most of your legs fading the public.

    However, diligent research, diligent risk assessment and the assistance of a professional handicapper are all great resources that can help you play the game as effectively as you can. In addition to studying sportsbooks, you should also refer to their deals, discounts, and no-deposit bonuses before playing. 

    All three are invaluable resources that can help you make the most of your wagers, especially if you’re just starting out as a novice bettor. We can help you find all three in one convenient, easily accessible location. 

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