A bettor who consistently wins, and wagers high stakes, is known as a sharp. Sharp bettors don’t look at sports gambling as a hobby, they look at it as a career or extra source of income. Everyone wants to be a sharp, but very few are. Sharps have a different perspective on sports gambling than the average Joe. I am going to run you through how to read sharp lines and give you some tips on how to think like a sharp.
Lets first start with reading sharp lines. The standard way a line is considered “sharp” is if there is reverse line movement against the public. The public side is the side with the larger percentage of wagers. If the line is moving in the opposite way of the side with the majority of bets on it, that means there is large money coming in on the other side. This large money is sharp money. Let’s do an example. The Patriots (-4) are playing the Lions (+4), and have received 77% of the total bets placed. A couple hours before kick off, the Patriots line moves from -4 to -2.5. This 1.5 point line movement would be reverse line movement. This line movement is a sign the Lions are the sharp side. As we mentioned in the How Book Makers Set Lines article, the ideal situation for a book maker is there is an even amount of money on both sides of the spread. Since we know the Patriots are receiving 77% of wagers, that has to be large money coming in on the Lions forcing book makers to move the line to try and even it back out. The opposite of the sharp side is the square side. In this example, the Patriots would be the square side.
A line does not necessarily have to have reverse line movement for it to be sharp. If a line receives 60% of the bets and the line moves 3 points towards that side, this would also be a sign that side is sharp. An example of would be if the Patriots line moved from -4 to -7 while receiving 62% of wagers. Book makers would not move this line this drastically unless the Patriots are receiving a large handle of the money wagered. In this scenario, the Patriots would be the sharp side.
Think Like a Sharp
Sharp bettors typically like to fade the public. They know most average gamblers lose, and they typically “bet on Vegas”. Book makers have been doing this for a long time, and are very good at what they do. Sharp bettors respect this, and know when Vegas opens a line that seems off, there is likely extensive amount of stats to back this up. Remember, book makers aren’t in the business of handing out free money. When a line seems super easy, the opposite is probably true. Sharp bettors realize they do not know more than Vegas, and take this into account when making their bets.
Sharp bettors also have several key situations that they love to exploit. The first situation is betting on a teams regression. When a team is coming off a great game where they largely over exceeded expectations, sharps love to fade that team the next week. Let’s say the Jaguars (+14) played the buccaneers (-14) on MNF, and end up beating the Buccaneers outright. Most square bettors will think the Jaguars are turning a new leaf, and bet on them next week. Sharp bettors will do the exact opposite and bet the Jaguars will regress back to their mean the next week. Knowing Vegas’s preseason team win totals is a great way to decide when a team is due for regression. This type of situation is also referred to as “Let down games”.
The other key situation sharps consistently take advantage of is teams in look ahead spots. Lets say Georgia is playing Boston College in football this week. Next week, Georgia has Bama on their schedule. Sharps will take advantage of Georgia “looking ahead” to their match up against Bama and back Boston College’s spread this week.
Should you Bet Sharp Lines
Not all sharp lines win, and not all public bets lose. Since we know sharps are typically professional bettors who consistently win, it is definitely something you need to take into account. You also need to consider that historically, the public loses. When you combine these 2 stats, sharp bets are good bets. A true sharp can pick between the good sharp bets, and good public bets by exploiting key trends and stats.