Sharp Betting Term Meaning
‘Sharp’ is one of those betting terms which could have a multitude of definitions, but has come to mean a very specific type of punter, which we will explain below.
A sharp is a bettor who places smart wagers. They are sometimes known as wise guys, but with the negative connotations attached to that name (mostly due to its Mafia gangster association), most wise guys prefer the term sharp.
Typically these punters are well informed and usually specialise in a small number of sports. This allows them to meticulously research every aspect of the teams, players, coaches, officials, etc, and learn all they can about them. This, in turn, allows them to place smarter bets, oftentimes for sums of money which are large enough to affect the odds offered by the bookmakers.
The opposite of sharps are known as squares, the uninformed bettors of the general public. They will usually follow the market, betting smaller amounts on the shorter odds which look to be more low-risk.
All sharps have to be very patient and have a great eye for detail. Waiting for the correct bet would be the difference between getting paid and not getting paid, but picking the wrong bet could result in a huge loss, which would be even worse. Many sharps are professional gamblers, so they know that their income relies on finding the best market value that they can.
Bookmakers will often use known sharps as a way of checking their lines and margins. If a particular wager has odds which are longer than they should be, chances are a sharp will spot it and bet big. Other times a sharp will bet big on a market which is reasonably priced, in which case the bookmaker may be forced to lower the odds for fear of a big loss if others follow suit.
Before online betting became the norm, sharps were able to send a runner or beard (a trusted associate) to place their bets for them. This meant that the sharp’s identity remained secret, and it was hard for the bookmaker to keep track of the high rollers.
Nowadays, however, every online transaction at the sportsbook is stored and analysed, so it’s incredibly easy for bookmakers to identify potential sharps. If you’ve placed a few big wagers and they all happen to be winners, you can be sure that your account will have been flagged and the bookmaker will have taken notice.
You would never be able to tell, but your betting patterns would be closely monitored along with other potential sharps. The system would be looking for any strange betting activity that might require the bookmaker to shorten or drift the odds.