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What is Sharp Betting? The Downside to Following Sharp Picks

Online betting has opened the door for more people to support their favorite teams with some skin in the game. In the four years since the government legalized sports betting, Americans have wagered over $125 billion on sporting events. Yet, most of that betting goes unrewarded because public bettors keep making the same critical mistakes.

There is far more to successful sports betting than choosing winners and losers. It takes solid bankroll management skills and market knowledge to win at online betting.

Only a rare few understand the concepts of sharp betting and practice sound strategies to earn a profit. You might think that simply following the sharp money will improve your chances of making a profit, but it’s not that simple.

Keep reading this guide to why following sharp betting may not provide the best outcome. Learn how the principles of closing line value are a better approach if you are serious about online betting.

What Is Sharp Betting?

Attitude is the most significant trait separating sharp sports betting from the average gambler. Sharps, or wise guys, are respected gamblers because they make decisions based on thorough research. Yet, even as professionals, sharp betting is correct only 55% of the time. 

These players don’t bet for the thrills of competition or bragging rights with their friends. Sharps have little interest in the winner of games as long as there is an opportunity for value in placing the bet. And finding that value in the betting line is why sportsbooks give sharp money so much attention.

Professional gamblers earn a profit from long-term strategies with in-depth analysis. The sharp’s plays are often large enough to move betting lines at sportsbooks. Yet, by tracking sharp money plays, sportsbooks adjust lines to increase profits from the rest of the betting public, the squares.

Professional sports bettors live in those half-point movements and slim line changes to make a profit. So it’s natural to think you can gain an edge by following the sharp betting trends. But first, you must learn where the sharp money comes from and who is betting.

The Downside of Following Sharp Money 

Professional gamblers are like private investors. They take great strides to remain anonymous to the public. Often, sharps use runners to place bets on their behalf to avoid detection from sportsbook oddsmakers. 

Sharps also group in syndicates to create movement in betting lines. These groups are betting in large enough quantities to affect spreads and money lines, but they are careful to hide their patterns from the public eye and sportsbook handicappers.

But, suppose you could access the betting practices of a sharp betting professional. Would you know how to use that information to make profitable wagers? Some platforms claim to know where the sharp money is going.

Yet, the belief that following the sharp money is the path to riches is drought with pitfalls. Here are some ways sharp betting knowledge can actually hurt your bankroll.

Touts and Tipsters

Handicapping services fill the internet with people who claim to be online betting professionals. Yet, the tout often only provides only enough information about their record to entice your subscription. 

Some handicappers may make consistent profits from online betting. But if they are as wealthy as they claim, why would they share vital information with the public? Also, beware of tipsters who flash their wealth as advertisements for the service.

Professional bettors spend so much time scouring statistics to gain an edge they have little time for a jet-set lifestyle. Further, drawing attention to their craft would alert sportsbooks to their patterns. 

Sharp betting relies on finding closing line value to extract a slight edge in the gambler’s favor. A professional never taints the sharp money by announcing the pick to the world. 

Yet, it is possible to get value picks from a tout. But even if the play has value, you might be too late to find a sportsbook with those odds. 

Sportsbooks react minute by minute to dramatic changes in sharp betting. So an underdog bet at +6.5 by a sharp likely drops to +6 or less before you get the information.

There is another cost to playing bets from tipster services. If you are paying a professional to select winning picks, your bets are getting taxed by the amount of the service. The expense of getting a winning result puts more pressure on your bankroll management.

The Single Bet Stake Killer

Another factor to consider is how professionals practice their craft. Making a profit from sharp betting takes diligence and strategy. Choosing winners is only a tiny part of profitable online betting. 

Pros use their bankroll to spread sharp money over several bets. They aim to earn an overall profit from a volume of plays. Your single bet might earn you a short-term gain, but you can’t win every bet from sharp money picks. 

Remember, sharps make a living by being correct only 55% of the time. It takes years of strategizing to reach a goal of making a consistent profit. No single play earns sharp money for serious gamblers.

Pros look for value to maximize their earning potential over time. Unfortunately, the plays they choose often cause the lines to move. You will be chasing lines that no longer exist because of the sharp money play.

Learn About Betting For Value?

The difference between sharp betting and squares is to forget about picking winners. Much like investing, profit comes from finding value in the market. Tools like Sharpe Ratio and Beta will help you understand how professionals find their edge. 

Quality before quantity is an essential principle in developing a positive online betting strategy. Although eventual profit comes from making several bets, the value of each play is the critical factor. Use a Sharpe ration formula with beta to test your theories about each play.

The essential element to profitable online betting is the study of probable outcomes. The more you know about the game in question, the better you can gauge the quality of the betting line. 

Sharps generally use predictive skills to determine the likely result of games. Once they have a quantitative idea of how the game should end, the pro looks for discrepancies in betting lines across online betting sites. Finally, they look for odds that tilt slightly in favor of one possible outcome. 

The sharp money then goes with the side where the odds favor the bet. It’s less critical to the bettor who wins the game rather than which side represents the best quality bet. 

When pros place early bets, the size of the value bet will often alert sportsbooks to adjust the odds. And although it’s not true that all sharp money waits for the closing odds, many sharps use those adjustments to their advantage.

Closing Line Value

When sportsbooks provide opening lines, the oddsmakers believe they have represented a fair assessment of the game involved. Sharp betting strategies account for movements in those lines as they approach game time. 

There are many factors besides sharp money betting that affect closing lines. On occasion, changes in weather conditions or a player’s status can cause the odds to move. The goal for professionals is to beat the closing line with the best value bet possible.

For example, a bettor takes the Browns to cover +6.5 against the Bengals. If the line closes at +6, the sharp money has made a value bet. Yet, the money line can become more critical to your bankroll in this scenario. 

Gaining slight edges in closing line value across several money line bets represents significant swings in profit potential. Saving tiny portions of your bankroll with each bet accumulates for more considerable gains. 

If you were betting on NFL games, for example, imagine the significance of earning a half-point of value for every game on the schedule. Of course, you likely won’t bet on every game, but if you earned closing line value on even half, your bankroll would show notable savings.

The key to finding the closing line value is to pay attention, starting from the opening number. Develop sound strategies for choosing games and then watch the market for significant changes. 

It often pays to have accounts with several online betting sites. So if the line moves on one site, you might be able to beat the reactive nature of some sportsbooks and get your play down for value. In addition, you are more likely to find closing line value with a better system for predicting games than waiting to react with the plays from sharp money.

Sharp Betting Takes Sharp Strategy

Having the tools to predict outcomes and beat closing line value is the art of successful sports betting. You can learn much from following sharp money. But, if you want to earn profit like a pro, you must be willing to do the work. 

The good news is there are several tools like Sharpe Ratio and Beta available to the average bettor online. How you use them to your advantage is the critical factor. If you want more intensive training for developing a successful sharp betting career, have a look at my free course in sports betting strategy and make your own profitable plays.

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