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What is a Sharp Sports Bettor? What Does Sharp Mean in Sports Betting?

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

What is a Sharp Sports Bettor?

A sharp sports bettor is someone who has a track record of winning and often bets bigger amounts than the average public gambler. Sharps generally have earned the respect and attention of sportsbooks and can often cause line movement depending on which side the sharps bet on. Sharps also often bet early on, sometimes as soon as the line is released to get in before any potential line movement. By doing this, if the line moves the way they think it will, they consistently beat closing line value (CLV). 

What Does Sharp Mean in Sports Betting?

Sharp means that the bettor is proven to be successful and has specific methods and intentions when placing a bet. If someone sees a game starting in five minutes and wants to bet it for fun, that is absolutely not sharp. Sharp bets beat the CLV and are big enough to potentially influence line movement. 

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How to See What the Sharps Are Betting on:

There are a few different ways to get an idea of what sharps are betting on, but none of them are perfect. One is to identify sharp bettors that make picks public or personally know them. These are not your average TikTok handicappers, but people that can have actual influence over the lines. 

Another way is to look at reliable data sources that show the percentage of bets on one specific side and the percentage of money on one specific side. Having both bets and money is crucial because the discrepancies could reveal sharp action.

If only 20% of the bets are on a side but that same side has 60% of the money, it’s obvious that some of the bettors in that 20% are laying down big money. 

When this occurs there can sometimes be reverse line movement, which is often an indication that there is heavy action from the sharps. Imagine for example that the Nuggets opened as -9 favorites and 70% of the bets have been on the Nuggets, but the line has fallen to -8. If there was injury or other relevant news that could explain the move, but if not it would be considered reverse line movement because the line has moved in reverse of how it “should” based on the bet percentage.

Another example of identifying what the sharps are betting on is finding steam moves. A steam move is a significant line movement across multiple sportsbooks due to large bets being placed by sharps. The problem with this method is that once the steam move has happened, you may have missed the value. 

What is Sharp Action?

Sharp action is when the sharp bets do indeed cause line movement or alter the strategies of the books. 

What is a Square Bettor?

A square bettor is a member of the general betting public that gambles more for fun in small amounts without a successful and proven method. Square bettors may often bet on their favorite teams, or take an over just so they can root for points. Blindly betting favorites to cover the spread is also sometimes square, “because of course, the better team will win by more than X points.”

Should You Always Bet With the Sharps?

Sharps are sharps because they do consistently win so somehow following them exactly would be a good strategy, but in reality, it’s not possible (or at least very difficult). The books are constantly adjusting to ensure they are taking close to an equal amount of money on both sides, so if you’re looking at sharp action after it has already occurred then it is likely too late. Even if you can’t exactly follow the sharps, it is still always a good idea to be aware of which side they are on and can educate your betting choices.


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