Burke: The truth about sharp money

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

February 7, 2022 11:05 AM

Throughout my time at VSiN, I’ve gotten a lot of good reader questions about a variety of betting topics. That remains true with our VSiN Help Desk project in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI and I encourage everybody to submit their questions so that one of our experts can answer them.

One thing I wanted to address in today’s Blurb is the concept of sharp money. It is an oversimplified concept. The reality is that “sharp” money is going to be on both sides of a game more often than not, particularly in a heavily bet league like the NFL or NBA. Respected individuals or groups will have differences of opinion and they will fire on the sides that they like at the prices that they like.

Not all sharp bettors are created equal. Some have more money, more liquidity and more reach, so their positions will carry more weight, both with their bets and also with the bets of those that follow what they’ve wagered on. Some sharps are stronger in one sport over another and their opinions will be respected more in the leagues that they do the best. Sportsbooks have state-of-the-art tracking data to flag accounts that they know are sharp and also know which accounts consistently beat the line.

You’ll hear a lot about “sharp vs. public” splits and it doesn’t mean that a bunch of beginners, recreational bettors and novices are all on one side and all of the sharp bettors around the world are on the other side. That isn’t the case. In general, it simply means that MORE sharp money (or more sharp money with influence) is on the side with the line movement.

It would be more correct to say the “sharper” side instead of the “sharp” side.

Also, it’s really important to quickly define what makes a bettor “sharp”. You actually don’t need millions of dollars to be sharp. You just need to consistently beat the closing line (usually by a decent margin) and win a high enough percentage of your bets to be viewed as a threat (that number can vary based on bet size, strength by sport, etc.). Sharp bettors oftentimes get the best of the number. Their bets carry influence because sportsbooks respect the positions that they take. Yes, sharp bettors do win (a lot) more than the average bettor. But, their wagers carry a lot of weight for a variety of factors, not just because of wins and losses.

With Super Bowl LVI, you have sharp money on Rams -3.5 and -4. You have sharp money on Bengals 4.5. You have sharp money on Under 50 and Over 48.5. What you likely don’t have is significant sharp money on Rams -4.5 because that, to this point, is the worst of the number.

Try to keep this in mind as you hear all of the discussion about the Super Bowl and as you follow along with the odds in the lead-up to the Big Game.

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