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Sharps vs Squares

Sharps vs Squares


Here is a typical conversation I have with up-and-coming sport’s bettors.

Bettor – “Which side is the sharp side of game x and which side is the square side?”

Me – “Well, what number did you get the game at?”

Bettor – “I got it at minus 3. But I just want to know what side the public was on and which side the sharps were on.”

Me – “Well, this game, like most games, really did not have a public or a sharp side. The sharps that I know who decided to bet the game just got the game at -2.5 or bet the other side at +3.5.”

Bettor – “That doesn’t make any sense. The sharps were on both sides of the game?”

Me – “In a sense they were. In reality, the sharps were just on both sides of the key number 3.”

Bettor- “I am not sure I believe what you are saying. So there was no public side at all?”

Me – “There was not necessarily a public side involved. A square bettor just bet the game at -3, +3, -3.5, or +2.5. The sharps just avoided betting those numbers and only opted for -2.5 or +3.5 when the numbers became available. If those numbers never came around, then they probably stayed away from the game.”

Bettor – “So I should never bet a game at -3?”

Me – “Of course there are times when -3 is a steal. In this particular case, the number was pretty much spot on, so those sharps that did bet the game only looked for getting the best of the number.”

Bettor – “When should I bet the best of the number and when should I bet the side that I like the most?”

Me – “You should try to get the best of the number every single game. Each extra point you can get is equal to value and money at the end of the year. The more times you can get the best of the number, the more times you are going to be on the winning side in the long run.”

Bettor – “Best of the number meaning what exactly?”

Me – “Think of point spreads as a sport’s stock market. Those numbers are prices assigned to each side of a game. If you can predict where the lines are going before they actually move, then more times than not you are going to win the bet.”

Bettor – “What makes a line move one way or another?”

Me – “Money, injuries, and public perception are the most common reasons.”

Bettor – “So how do you know if a -5 is going down towards -4 or up towards -6?”

Me – “Usually just by seeing the same scenarios play out thousands of times over. If you combine your knowledge of what has happened before with your knowledge of how both teams will play, then you will start seeing the game play out in your head a lot. You then take your informed prediction of what will happen in the game and compare that to how you believe the public perceives that the game will play out. In some games, you will see a larger discrepancy than others; these gaps between what are and what should be are actually the equivalent to “getting value in a game.” If you predict (based on research, public perception, or sharp money coming in) that a number will move in your favor then you wait; if you think a number will move against your prediction then you go ahead and place the bet.”

Bettor – “Should I do this with every game?”

Me – “You should definitely look at every game. Most games are going to offer little value though. The public doesn’t move every game and a lot of the time the books put the number pretty much where it should be; these are games that you should probably stay away from betting. You should look for bad numbers first and foremost. Then you should look at your numbers and compare them to the book’s numbers and note any major or minor differences. The next step is to learn everything you can about the game: history, trends, weather, public perception on tv and radio, how many bets have been placed so far on both sides, figure out the percentages of bets coming in, talk with people on message boards about the teams, etc. By now you should get a feeling of where the line is headed and can make a decision on what kind of number would offer you good value in the game. Search all of the books for the best number possible and get to work. The rest is history.”

Bettor – “Great. Would you recommend that I bet professionally on games?”

Me – “Hell no.”


By Rance Young  email me: ranceyoung@behind-the-bets.com

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4 Responses to “Sharps vs Squares”

  1. Sarah December 8, 2011 12:41 am at 12:41 am #

    I love this! I love the way you make it a convo style article and make your key points while doing so. Your site is great!

    • Rance Young December 8, 2011 1:02 am at 1:02 am #

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

  2. Matt December 12, 2011 3:52 pm at 3:52 pm #

    This is a great article. I have had many conversations with guys at books that have no clue how any of this works. Its fun to help but I think most walk away and still bet with their hearts.

    • Rance Young December 12, 2011 5:00 pm at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks for the comments, Matt. I am doing my best to let everyone learn how to win money and beat the books consistently. It is fun to have a winning gambling community. :)