Congratulations on your successful Monday Night Football wager after a big win in the Thursday night game — but before you declare yourself a sports betting expert and go HAM on the bets this coming NFL Sunday, consider taking tips from the sharps.
Who or what are sharps, and what does that have to do with sports betting and tips you should follow?
Well, we’re here to help shed some light on that, and potentially save you from a betting bender that erases all your profits from the prior, personally lucrative NFL week.
In the sports betting world, a sharp is a person — or a group of people in a betting syndicate — whose tips are taken uber-seriously by the sportsbooks. Why? Because they're bettors who win consistently. They’re professionals who have a level of knowledge or insight that gives them an edge over the general betting market.
Sharps don't look at themselves as bettors, but rather as investors — and these investors generally know their stuff. Like E.F. Hutton, when sharps speak, the sportsbooks listen. That often leads to a domino effect that can directly impact you and your betting choices.
To wit: If a sharp bettor lays down a large wager on, say, a Broncos-Chargers game because they believe the Chargers are being overvalued and shouldn't be favored, an oddsmaker might well rethink their numbers. Suddenly, the line and odds shorten in Denver’s direction.
Now that's power. And that's why you need to keep your eyes on the sharps.
It's also a good idea to pay attention to the opposite of a sharp, that being a square.
Simply put, a square is a bettor who doesn't go the extra mile. They might not do the research, they might wager with their hearts rather than their heads, and they might even use the close-your-eyes-and-point method. Don’t bet with emotion over reason. It almost never ends well.
Squares, who are sometimes referred to as "the public" or "public money," can also have a big impact on the odds, as the weight of their money forces prices in a certain direction.
It's not always obvious if public money is moving a line or if more sophisticated data is, but if you keep your eyes peeled for reports of big numbers of bets rather than large amounts of money being bet, that might be a sign that squares are picking the overvalued Chargers, per our aforementioned example, which we’ll continue to use out of convenience!
Be very skeptical of anyone who is selling sports betting picks based on some claimed track record – these people are called touts, and are often charlatans.
While it’s possible that some nice soul on the internet has a winning sports betting strategy that he’s willing to share — for a price — the vast majority of touts like Vegas Dave are frauds.
Think about it for a second: If Dave is so good at sports betting, why does he need to make money by selling "tips?"
If the sharps are all over Denver and the points, you should seriously consider drinking some Orange Crush with them. These guys know their digits. That said, it isn't a guarantee that the money movement you're eyeballing is sharp money.
A big bet from a sharp, or even a relatively small bet from a very sharp sharp, may cause the line to move to where the oddsmakers think the sharp bettors believe it should be. (If that sounds a dash confusing, that's only because it is.)
One of the riskiest things you can do as a sports bettor is to wager immediately after seeing a big line jump without really knowing what caused the drastic shift in the first place. This is a phenomenon known as "chasing steam." It’s among the worst sports betting tips you can follow.
When you do that, by the time the line has finished moving, the initial price might not be as good as you thought. You might not even know why you wagered the way you did, which I’m afraid, is even worse.
However, if you can get down your bet early enough, hopefully before the line has even moved in the first place, you could find yourself in a good position.
Public money tends to have a gradual impact on the line. The oddsmaker doesn't think the public is right, but sometimes in order to manage his risk, he will be forced to move the line in one direction.
Sharp money will tend to move it quicker, as sharps suggest the current odds are incorrect. You can also use this indicator to "fade the public" (i.e., oppose any big public move), but that isn’t a foolproof strategy.
Sharps won't bet every sportsbook at once, and the lines won't all move at the same rate. Watch for line moves at your go-to sportsbooks or with an odds comparison engine and see if other books follow.
This is a clear indicator that sharp money has gone down. Move quickly, and you can catch good value if or when the sportsbooks are slow to react.
Sharps will often bet at the start of the market and/or close to game time. Betting early means they can take advantage of lines that haven't been well-established. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to follow these bets, as there's constant movement.
Oftentimes, sharp bettors will look to bet into markets near game time, as this will be when the most money is being wagered. At that point, the highest limits are available, and they can get their bets at the size they want.
So, if you follow the sharps and squares, your Sunday might just be a happy one.
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