If you’re unfamiliar with what a “sharp” is in the world of sports betting, it is simply a professional gambler with the ability to move a moneyline based on the amount of cash they are willing to put down on a game.
Specifically, they have the ability to “sharpen”soft opening lines or shift lines that have tilted heavily due to public over-betting.
If you want to think and bet like a sharp bettor, one rule to keep at heart is actually to take the heart out of the equation altogether.
Many everyday bettors -as well as pundits- will say, they have a feeling about a team’s chances, so (almost) regardless of the line, they’ll be laying their bets on those preferences. Sharps on the other hand are always looking for value. As a result, their search is the right number as opposed to the right team.
They decide to bet when they feel the spread reflects an edge based on their own research for what constitutes the right spread.
Take for example a football game where the sharp has created a model where a favorite to win by 8 or more points has a 45% chance of success. There is also a 45% chance the favorite either wins by six or less or loses outright. The remaining 10% is the odds of a 7-point win.
Based on that model if the opening line has the favorite winning by 7.5 points, the sharp knows the underdog has a 55% advantage (45+10) and will bet accordingly. On the other hand, if the opening line is 6.5 points then the odds are reversed and the sharp will bet on the favorite with that 55% advantage.
If the line opens at 7 then the sharp will pass since there is no clear advantage in either direction.
Interestingly, that sharp who lays money on the underdog at 6.5 points might have such an effect on the odds that they rise to 7.5 or more. In that case, the sharp may then also put money on the favorite. A seven-point win will mean the sharp goes 2-0 in the game. But it’s certainly possible to go 0-2 or 1-1.
They could still come out ahead on a 1-1 result depending on which outcome they bet more on.
The lesson to be had here is that if you want to bet like a sharp, then do your analysis of the teams at play and have your own number in mind before checking the spread and then act accordingly.