Sports Betting Definitions

What is a Sharp in Sports Betting?

Sharp Sharps (AKA “wiseguys”) are sports bettors who are “sharp” (pun fully intended) enough to make a living off the game.
✍️ Written by
Uno July
🗓 Updated
Apr 3rd 2023

    What Are Sharps In Sports Betting?

    Sharps (AKA “wiseguys”) are sports bettors who are “sharp” (pun fully intended) enough to make a living off the game. It takes a special level of skill, understanding, intuition, and analytical observation to play the odds that well, and sportsbooks are fully aware of this reality. 
    Granted, their word isn’t definitive gospel; no human being can definitively know what the future holds, and all kinds of variables can affect how that future materializes. That said, sportsbooks take the authority of these sharp’s word so seriously that they’re often influential (for better or worse) in the movements of their betting lines. 
    With a mix of superhuman-level analytical fortitude and the luck of a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow, these sharps have successfully separated themselves as the cream from the crop, the wheat from the chaff, the sharps from the squares.
    What separates these sharp bettors from square bettors? Consistent winning odds of roughly 55% or more, and all of the tracking strategies we’ve taken the generous time to outline below. 

    What Do Sharp Bettors Look For?

    Sharp bettors tend to look for a smaller set of wagers than square bettors, but place more money on these bets. They often like to live by the principle of “work smarter, not harder”, and doing so is also a smart way to divert attention from the bookmakers and oddsmakers. Sharps are methodical, and take careful, meticulous care to study the 
    Sharps who are really dedicated to their craft may enlist the assistance of “beards”, AKA money runners, who are almost akin to a handicapping team that finds the wisest wagers to place. That said, this is a legally gray practice in most betting markets, so sharps should take careful care to abide by the rules of the game – as well as the law.
    If they don’t enlist other people, sharps may enlist the assistance of betting algorithms to predict the odds and most likely implied probabilities of future outcomes. That said, these sharps tend to primarily bet on the opening odds of a wager, which is part of the reason why their word is so influential for oddsmakers.
    Beyond opening bets, these sharps also like to place big betting wagers on one side in order to even out the overall line, and may do so across multiple accounts on multiple sportsbooks. Sharps tend to look for opening lines where they can play these odds to their advantage from the outset, and play them with smart, focused, and studious fortitude.

    How To Track Sharp Betting

    Now that you know what sharp bettors tend to look for when making sharp, focused wagers, how can you look for signs of sharp betting action? If you’re a run-of-the-mill square bettor, then here’s some telltale evidence to discern whether or not wiseguys are informing the movements of your betting line:
    Looking at drastic changes in bet percentages relative to money percentages
    Drastic line movements that move antithetical to public opinion, sometimes in a diametric reversal from it
    Drastic line movements across the overall sports betting market, often known in the betting world as “steam movements”
    Formerly drastic line movements on one side that are now moving closer to equilibrium
    Your mileage may vary on how effective a wagering strategy it is to follow betting sharp actions. As a square and general member of the betting public, you’re only seeing signs and slivers of what’s going into a sharp’s betting decisions, and these decisions and sharp actions could be setups for additional sharp actions that drastically swing the betting line toward a completely different direction.
    For your best bet at following sharp bets wisely, you should consider following multiple prominent, credible sportsbooks that are widely seen as pioneers in the industry. Across over a dozen states and the District of Columbia, players currently have the freedom to enjoy legal online sports betting markets, and it’s only a matter of time before they sweep the rest of the nation.
    Some of the best online sportsbooks in the biz include names like:

    Caesars Sportsbook

    FanDuel Sportsbook

    PointsBet Sportsbook

    BetMGM Sportsbook



    Unibet Sportsbook

    Golden Nugget Online

    Borgata Sportsbook

    DraftKings Sportsbook

    888 Sport

    Sugarhouse Casino

    Fox Bet Sportsbook

    BetAmerica Sportsbook

    Tipico Sportsbook

    The Score Sportsbook

    SI Sportsbook


    Betfred Sports


    Whether you’re a square or a sharp, all of the above are great places to play.

    Sharp Vs. Square Betting

    We’ve already touched on how sharps and squares encompass two different classes of bettors, but what exactly differentiates them? Whereas sharps are bettors who hit consistent winning odds of 55% or more, squares’ most consistent odds usually fall within a 48% winning average. 
    These squares account for the general, recreational, more casual betting public, so the fact that sharps’ have enough finesse and fortune to outperform the majority (as well as the house advantage) makes their winning feats all the more impressive. In order to break even across the board, bettors need to find success with at least 52.38% of their bets in order to break even on their money.
    As you can imagine, this is an exceedingly easier feat said rather than done. The house facilitates the game and sets the ground rules for the game, so naturally, they have the betting edge. Depending on the moves they intend on making, sharps may need to find a betting edge over two parties: the house, as well as the general betting public.
    Sometimes the unpopular decision may wind up being the right call at the end of the day, and it’s on the sharps to determine whether or not these really tough calls are the right ones. The world’s sharpest sharps often hit consistent winning odds around 60%, and even fewer are able to exceed 65% overall winning odds. 
    By and large, it’s a tough game. But whether you’re playing it as a casual recreational bettor or a routine sharp bettor, we would be more than happy to help you.

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