What Is A Sharp In Betting? – Learn Sharp Sports Betting Strategies

Overall, the majority of sports bettors fall into two categories: sharp or square bettors. Most bettors are squares, and only a few are good enough to become sharps – but, what exactly is a sharp in betting?

To find out more, let’s look at how sharp bettors operate in the world of sports betting, and list some handy tips and examples on how to place wagers like a sharp bettor.

What is a Sharp Bettor?

In a nutshell, a sharp bettor is an experienced and professional bettor with a high success rate. Similarly, sharp sports betting entails a professional approach to betting with profitable results, unlike those who simply bet recreationally for fun.

Several other characteristics also define sharp bettors. Most notably, they are skilled and spend hours doing research into betting markets and analyzing the data to make informed betting decisions. They also use diverse sports betting strategies to maximize their winning probabilities. Moreover, they avoid betting with their gut or emotions, eliminating all biases.

Sharp action bettors are also very selective. They mostly focus only on value bets. To this end, they only make bets on events that they are sure of and avoid betting on events with uncertain outcomes. Interestingly, sharps usually bet against the general public sentiment more often than not.

They also tend to stake huge amounts of money via bigger bets because of their confidence, enabling them to make big profits. Interestingly, sharp bettors can form groups of betting syndicates to maximize their betting opportunities and winning probabilities. One of the most famous sharps is Billy Walters, who has won millions of dollars betting on sports.

Interestingly, sportsbooks often notice sharp bettors because their success and betting accuracy make them stand out. Moreover, some bookies know how to identify sharp bettors, and even move their lines based on insights from the sharp money movements. Now we’ve answered the question: what is a sharp in betting?, let’s look at the exact opposite – what is a square in betting?

What is a Square Bettor?

A square bettor defines most of the sports bettors today. They usually bet recreationally for fun and profits. They also don’t bet full-time, but rather only when they can create some free time outside their main jobs and personal lives.

Sports betting has seen a huge increase in the last few years with the global sports betting market expected to be valued at $155.49 billion by 2024. Such a rise has presented plenty of opportunities for sharp bettors, but the vast majority of bettors remain recreational square bettors.

Most notably, squares are not as skilled as sharps, and some even let emotions influence their betting decisions. For example, some square bettors place over/under bets because they hope to see their favorite teams score more points. Unsurprisingly, their lack of skills reflects their success rate, which ranges around 50% of their bets (and many post even higher losing rates).

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How Can You Tell What Sharps Are in Betting?

Following the sharp action in betting can help you make successful bets. However, identifying sharp betting picks is not easy, considering the sheer volume of bets. Fortunately, the following three clear signs, such as reverse line movement, can help you follow sharp investments:

  • Reverse Line Movement – Reverse line movement refers to the betting line moving away from the originally popular side. For example, consider a basketball match between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, where the Nuggets have a spread of -5.5. Reverse line movement occurs if the Nuggets’ spread moves from -5.5 to -4.5. This would mean that the bookmaker wants to attract more bets on the Nuggets, which would imply that the sharp money is on the Lakers.

What Is A Sharp In Betting

  • Steam Movement – Sharp bettors form syndicates and place huge stakes on their bets, as mentioned earlier. To this end, putting money into a betting market can suddenly move the lines across multiple sportsbooks. This sudden line movement is known as steam movement, and it is one of the clearest indicators of sharp action in betting.
  • Bet vs. Money Percentage Discrepancies – Sharp bettors tend to stake huge amounts of money because they bet for a living. They can stake thousands on a single bet. To this end, comparing the amount of money staked to the volumes of bets can help you track where the sharp money is going.

Top 5 Examples of Sharp Bettor Behavior

Sharp bettors share certain common characteristics and behaviors that set them apart from square bettors. Here is an overview of their most common traits:

1. Sharp Bettors React When the Line Becomes Available

Sharps always monitor the betting markets for mispriced or undervalued betting lines. Such betting lines are usually available immediately after the betting market goes live because bookmakers often adjust their betting lines based on bet volumes and other factors.

For example, a point spread of -3.5 on a favorite team can change to -4.5 over time as more bettors place their bets. To this end, placing a bet on the original line gives sharp bettors an added advantage over the bookie and square bettors. As such, sharps usually react immediately after bookmakers release their betting lines.

Interestingly, sharp bettors also react immediately to live sports betting lines when they first appear, tricking square bettors into following their leads before betting on the other team. Unsurprisingly, their huge bet sizes often cause changes in betting lines.

2. Sharps Bet Using Their Own Models

A reliable sports betting strategy often means the difference between winning and losing. Some betting strategies are basic and easy to learn, making them popular with square bettors. However, sharp bettors develop their own unique betting models and strategies personalized to suit their preferences.

Sharps base their betting models on thorough research and exhaustive data analysis, in addition to their experience. Overall, they are optimized to find a betting market’s true odds, enabling the sharps to make accurate betting predictions for their sharp betting picks.

Sports betting sharp models are flexible enough to adapt to different betting markets and circumstances, enabling them to minimize risks while simultaneously increasing their betting opportunities and winning probabilities. Moreover, the betting models evolve continuously to accommodate changes and new developments in the betting markets.

3. Sharps Go Against Public Money

One way to identify sharp bettors is that they often bet against public money. This is not surprising, considering that they usually focus on value bets with mispriced or undervalued lines, where the underdogs have high odds and a high likelihood of winning. In contrast, most square bettors usually bet on the favorites – also known as ‘betting the chalk‘.

Consider an example of a match between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks, with the Bucks’ opening line set at -3.5 points. Sharps may see an opportunity for the Knicks to win. In this case, they bet huge stakes on the Bucks to move the lines and coerce square bettors into betting. The sharp money can move the Bucks’ line to -5.5 points, at which point the square bettors bet heavily on the Bucks.

The square money can further shift the Bucks’ line to -6 points. The sharp bettors move in at this point and place bigger bets on the Knicks, thus going against the public money.

What Is A Sharp In Betting

4. Sharps Shop Around

Different sportsbooks and betting markets vary in many aspects. For example, some bookies offer more betting markets and better odds than others, thus giving bettors higher payouts and more betting opportunities.

Sharp bettors are very selective and always try to find the best deals for their sharp investments. To this end, they always compare sports betting features and offers from different betting markets and sportsbooks to find the best. Some of the most important betting features they consider include the following:

  • Odds
  • Bonus offers
  • Betting markets
  • Sports categories
  • Payment methods (transaction limits and processing times)
  • Customer support
  • Terms and conditions

Overall, shopping around for the sharpest sportsbooks enables sharps to find the best sports betting features and offers. It is also worth noting that sharps don’t necessarily settle on one sportsbook – they can open accounts with multiple bookies to take advantage of their varying benefits and overcome their shortcomings by switching from one bookie to another whenever necessary.

5. Sharps Find Value in Underdogs

Square bettors tend to bet on favorite teams because they have a higher implied probability of winning. In contrast, sharp investments and bets tend to go against the public money, meaning that sharps usually bet on the underdogs. However, they don’t bet on just any underdog – instead, they work out the expected value in betting, and underdogs have a higher likelihood of winning than the implied probability.

For example, consider a match between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, where the Raiders are the underdogs with odds of +220. The Raiders have an implied winning probability of 31.25%. However, the Raiders are a good team and sharps bet on the Raiders if they are certain that the team’s actual probability of winning is higher.

What Is A Sharp In Betting

It is worth noting that the underdogs always feature better odds than the favorites, meaning bigger payouts. As such, finding value by betting underdogs enables sharp bettors to make bigger profits while simultaneously reducing their risk exposure.

Should You Follow Sharp Action?

Sharp bettors win more often than they lose. To this end, following the sports betting sharp action is highly recommendable for struggling square bettors – overall, it is one of the easiest and most obvious tactics for improving your success rate. Moreover, following sharp action can help save you a lot of work and money trying to find and bet on the best betting opportunities, especially when sharp betting in the NFL.

However, always remember that sharps sometimes place misleading bets to trick the public into betting on the wrong teams. To this end, some caution is recommended when following sports betting sharp action – you can identify misleading sharp betting action by waiting until a few hours or minutes before the game starts.

Overall, following sharp betting action has many advantages and a few disadvantages, as listed below:


  • Higher success rates
  • Bigger payouts
  • Bets with lower margins and higher odds
  • Finding bookies with generous bonus offers & quality betting features
  • Less research and analysis
  • Instilling self-confidence in betting


  • Some sharp money picks are intentionally misleading
  • You have to be flexible and be able to act fast to changing betting markets and odds

How to Bet Like a Sharp

Betting sharps requires a calculated sports betting approach based on a reliable betting strategy. Fortunately, anyone can bet like a sharp by improving their overall betting skills and styles. Here are four sharp betting tips on how to bet like a sharp to help you get started:

  • Develop a Reliable Betting Model – A reliable betting strategy can improve your success rate by helping you minimize risk exposure and improve your winning probability. More importantly, it can help you determine bets’ true odds and winning probabilities. Your strategy should be versatile enough to accommodate different sports categories and betting markets – for example, you need a unique strategy when sharp betting on NFL picks and a different one when betting on NBA picks.
  • Do Thorough Research & Analysis – Research and analysis can help give you a clearer picture of a team’s overall performance, thus enabling you to make accurate predictions. To this end, sharp bettors spend hours researching betting markets. They also use sophisticated algorithms and programs to analyze huge data volumes based on their research.
  • Be Disciplined – Can you pass on a bet if you are uncertain of the outcome? Many square bettors can choose to take their chances and hope that luck works in their favor. However, a sharp bettor wouldn’t wager on an uncertain bet, regardless of how appealing it is – sharp sports betting is based on strict betting rules and principles.
  • Find Value on Each Side of a Bet – Sharp sports betting involves minimizing your risk exposure. Finding value on each side of a bet is the best way to reduce your risk exposure and boost your profits. It involves finding value bets and placing bets based on the earliest bet lines to take advantage of line movements. However, it is worth noting that winning bets on both sides isn’t always possible – pushes and losses are more common, but you still get the best value for your bet.

Sharp Betting Tips

Here are a few more basic sharp betting tips to help you improve your overall betting skills:

  • Use Multiple Sportsbooks – Odds, sports betting features and offers vary from one bookie to another, so using multiple offshore sportsbooks helps you shop around for the best offers.
  • Avoid Biases – Sharp bettors are dedicated and make bets based on factual data, not emotions and other biases, such as following a popular team or player.
  • Mind Your Timing – Being ready to bet early is one of the most useful sharp betting tactics, so mind your timing and track the betting markets to take advantage of new opportunities as they develop.

Overall, anyone can become a sharp bettor. However, you must be ready and willing to learn how to improve your overall betting skills and styles.


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What is the opposite of a sharp in betting?

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