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Sports Betting 101: What Is Sharp Money?

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Betting 101: What is Sharp Money?

Sportsbooks and bookmakers in the gambling world do not respect all money equally. It all depends on who specifically is risking that money. Sharp money occurs when a respected bettor or betting group with a winning track record places a wager on an event. Money coming in from a group that regularly sees closing line value and wins, is treated completely differently than money from less-respected bettors. 


Sportsbooks usually aren’t going to adjust their line when Floyd Mayweather or Drake places a bet, even if they’re laying millions of dollars. This is the exact type of action bookmakers welcome. If Drake and/or Mayweather were actually winning bettors, they’d have a much tougher time finding a sportsbook that is willing to take their action. This is why there were rumors that syndicates and betting groups were attempting to hire Mayweather to be their beard (a beard is someone who places bets for others at a sportsbook — either because they’re banned or they have lower limits than someone with high a profile who is a notorious loser). 

It doesn’t have to be the largest wager placed on an event, but a bet from a respected bettor won’t only move the line at that specific book where they placed the bet, but other shops will follow the move as well at their own book, even without a bet being placed. Sharp money has market influence for a reason, and smart bookmakers are willing to pay for that information. By “pay,” I mean willing to accept a large wager that another shop might not. 

It’s tough to figure out “square” and “sharp” money from a sportsbook’s posted betting splits, it usually means there’s either an injury or sharp action when you see the entire board move or light up on a single game. Chasing a sharp bettor’s steam (betting the same game at a worse number) isn’t a profitable long-term strategy. Now, finding a book with a stale number (one that is slow to move or hasn’t adjusted its number yet) might get you banned eventually but it is an easy way to place +EV wagers in the short term. 

Be sure to check out FTN’s entire Betting 101 series

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