Who are sharp sportsbook customers?
Sharp Players - also known as Wise Guys - know how to spot bad sportsbook lines, exploit them and profit. Sharp Players expose themselves after winning streaks. Eventually, sportsbooks will offer sharps adjusted lines to protect themselves from severe financial losses.
There is actually a group of players known as "sharps" or "wise guys". Their advanced knowledge of sports betting, lines, and oddsmaking allows them to consistently win at sports betting. The sportsbook gets taken to the cleaners, and the sharps make off with big wins. Sharp players bet at the most reliable sportsbooks, because they want to be treated fairly and paid on time. It would be pointless to place a winning bet at an online sportsbook that wouldn't pay out. Accordingly, Sharp Players know who the best operators are.
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How can someone become a "sharp" player or "wise guy"? Just because you win a few bets, you're not necessarily "sharp", you might just be lucky. To be a sharp player, you have to take advantage of bad lines and profit from a sportsbook's mistakes. Luck is not an important element: instead, you have to have a mathematical mind, fully understand how lines move, and keep a low profile so you're not exposed to a lot of heat from sportsbook management.
If you spot a bad line and bet a large sum of money, this tips off sportsbook staff about line calculation errors. It's better to join a few reputable sportsbooks and keep a low profile betting small amounts of money on a few games here and there. Later, bet big when the time is right. Look recreational before professional.
Is it illegal to be a sharp player? Absolutely not. You might not be popular with the sportsbooks, but there is nothing wrong with placing winning bets because a sports book made bad calculations. The sharp sportsbook player is much like the professional blackjack card counter: there is no law against card counting, but you may find yourself getting barred from casinos because they don't want your action.
How does a sharp player operate on the internet? Again, with a low profile. Believe it or not, sportsbook managers pal around with other managers. They readily share intelligence about winning players. If you're consistently beating sportsbook A, you might get "adjusted" lines when you signup with sportsbook B. So, though you might get away with one big score, subsequent scores with your name attached to them will become harder to accomplish.
If I buy picks, am I sharp player? This point is debateable. Most professionals would say no: buying sports picks is something everyone can do, and everyone that buys picks doesn't get tagged as a sharp player. The sharp player doesn't need to buy picks because they already know how to bet. Furthermore, sports handicapping is an entirely different body of knowledge that is in many ways unrelated to sharp play. Handicappers attempt to predict outcomes based on sports knowledge and technical game analysis, whereas sharp players look to exploit sportsbook weaknesses. Very rarely will a sports handicapper post a pick based on a bad line, simply because the sportsbook will get wind of it and fix their error pronto.
Sharp or not, winning at sports betting is still a tough gig. If you want an edge, study lines and learn the important mathematical formulas that go into computing them. Place "practice" bets on paper and see if you win before investing your money in a high stakes gamble. Keeping your edge requires as much time and attention as any other full time career.
Good Luck and Have Fun!