Chances are you have seen or heard of the term “Sharp Money” with regards to NFL handicapping. If not, I strongly encourage you to read over this article carefully.
I’m going to define it, explain it and show you how to follow it. All of which is going to help you increase your profits on the gridiron this season.
Defining “Sharp Money” in NFL Sports Betting
In the sports betting industry a “Sharp” player is someone who the books take seriously. Unlike your recreational gamblers, these guys are serious investors who bet large sums of cash.
It can be a single individual or a group of people, which are often referred to as “betting syndicates.”
So when someone says “Sharp Money,” they are referring to the side of a game that these experts are on.
5 Easy Steps on How to Follow Sharp Money in Pro Football
These sharp players are known for their ability to profit long-term against the books. That’s why there’s such an infatuation with trying to spot and follow their bets.
If you are tired of losing on your own and want to try following the sharps, here are the 5 steps to betting the same side of the professionals.
Step #1: Understanding How the Books Operate
One of the biggest myths in sports betting is the books are trying to get equal money on both sides of a wager. That’s simply not the case.
Oddsmakers have a great understanding of how your average “public” player likes to bet. They simply can’t help themselves from betting on favorites. They also love to cheer for high scoring games, so they will almost always side with the OVER on the total.
Sportsbooks will use that knowledge and shade the lines in favor of the side they think the public will be on. The more popular or dominant the team, the more they will inflate the line.
Step #2: Watch for Line Movement & Betting Percentages
You are going to need to find an odds feed that shows the betting percentage, opening line and current line. It also helps if they have easy access to the odds history for each game. I personally recommend using this NFL odds feed at SportsCapping.
Before we move on, I want to make sure you know what the bet percentage is referring to. It’s the number of tickets that have been issued for that specific game. Not the total amount of money that’s been bet on that game.
The reason you need both the opening and current line, is so that you can compare the two. You want to be able to easily tell which direction the line is moving.
Step #3: Look for Reverse Line Movement
This is where it all comes together. You want to look for games that aren’t moving in the direction you would expect. Let’s say there is a game that has a 65% bet percentage and the current line is -4. We would expect that to move to -4.5.
That doesn’t always happen. The line will sometimes shift in the other direction. Instead of it going from -4 to -4.5, it jumps from -4 to -3.5. This is what is know as a “Reverse Line Movement.”
What this tells you is while 65% of the tickets are on the favorite, there’s more money coming in on the underdog.
Keep in mind that the majority of the wagers coming in are from amateurs who aren’t betting huge amounts. This is often referred to as the “public” side of a game.
For example, lets say there were 100 bets on a game and 65 people (65%) all placed $100 on the favorite at -3. The other 35 people (35%) wagered $500 per game. Those 65 tickets make up for just $6,500, while the 35 big bettors accounted for more than double $17,500.
The liability with the books is on the underdog. They are going to move the line to try and entice even a bigger percentage of tickets on the other side.
Just note that while you are on the same side as the experts, you are almost always going to get a worse line than them. It might cause you to lose a few games, but long-term it should result in a decent return on your initial investment.
Tip #4: Look for Steam Moves
This requires a little more time glued to the betting odds, but can also turn a profit. Earlier I mentioned that the sharp action could be a group of people known as a betting syndicate.
How these groups work is they like to attack all of the books at once and force what is known as a “Steam Move.” Forcing all of them to adjust their lines at the same time.
Tip #5: Experts Like to Attack Early & Late
While not true for all experts, a lot like to attack lines right when they come out and right before they close.
By betting early they get to take advantage of the initial numbers. Tracking how the line moves at the beginning of the week can really help you spot where the sharps are lurking.
For the most part, the average public player doesn’t even place his wagers until the day of the game. Often waiting to see how much of the bankroll is left over from betting college football on Saturday.
The experts know this and will try to use it to their advantage. Instead of betting on a team right away, they will try to let the public shift the line as high as they can and then attack right before the game starts.
Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Follow the Sharp Action
The last thing I want to do is share with you some common pitfalls that people have when trying to do this.
#1 – Eliminate Other Factors that Could Result in Line Movement
You need to understand that there are other factors that cause oddsmakers to move a line. The most common being injuries. If they get news of a key player being out, they are going to try and get ahead of the action and move the line.
Note that they sometimes get the info before it’s made public. The line could shift and a key player could be still showing as questionable. It’s typically a good idea to hold off to make sure that injury isn’t what caused the move.
#2 – Don’t Try to Force a Play on Every Game
Don’t try to force action on every game. If there’s a reverse line movement that has only 51%/49% split, that’s not nearly as good as one with a 65%/35% split.
#3 – It’s Not All About Fading the Public
Yes, the majority of the time you are going to be going against the public when trying to follow the experts.
Just keep in mind that sometimes these two perceived enemies can be on the same side. Don’t get in the habit of just trying to bet every single game against the public.
#4 – Trust the Process
This is the biggest key of them all. This is not a bullet-proof system that is going to win 75% of the time. No one wins at rate for an extended period of time. Your focus simply needs to be on hitting 55% of your bets.
Don’t get discouraged if a few plays lose in a row. Understand that if you trust the process, you will add to your bankroll long-term. This also means putting your bias aside. Trust what the line movement is telling you and let the sharps make the decisions on who to bet.