Sports Betting - Sharps or Squares

Posted by CAPPERSMALL STAFF on 05.22.2012

If you’re brand new to sports betting, you might not be familiar with some of the terms and phrases that get thrown around in this industry. These words have specialized meanings, and there are no two words more meaningful to handicappers than sharps and squares.

On the surface, the difference between the two groups is obvious. A sharp bettor makes smarter decisions than the squares who populate the casual betting public. It’s easy to tell which bettors fall into which category. The sharps are the ones making money over the long term. It takes a lot of luck for squares to reach the magic 52.4-percent success rate needed to break even on standard –110 bets. Luck is invariably short-term.

What isn’t quite as obvious is the relationship between sharps and squares. The sharp handicappers win the money that the square bettors lose, with the bookmaker taking its 10 percent “juice” or “vigorish” as a transaction fee. To take advantage of this relationship, a sharp doesn’t focus only on sports, but also pays attention to the betting habits of squares.

If it sounds a bit predatory, that’s because it is. Sharps will lie in wait as the squares gather around matchups involving public teams with national television exposure, like the Boston Red Sox or the Los Angeles Lakers. Squares will place bets on these teams for a number of irrational reasons. Being a fan is a common reason. Civic pride is another. These are not good reasons for risking money for any purpose other than entertainment.

A sharp player looks at a square as a negative role model. Whatever the casual bettor is doing, the sharp will be inclined do the opposite: betting against the public teams and supporting undervalued “small market” clubs with less of a media footprint. That includes teams on the West Coast (especially those north of Los Angeles) who usually don’t start their games until 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

By adopting the ways of the sharp, even a novice bettor can get a leg up on the square competition. Yet it isn’t as simple as flipping an on/off switch. The sharpest handicappers are the ones who have access to the best information, know what to do with it, and spend the most time on their craft. Everyone has limitations in all three of these categories. Meanwhile, thanks to the spread of the Internet, the betting public as a whole is getting sharper every day. It’s up to you to stay ahead of the curve.


Reprinted from 5/7/2008


sports betting | shaprs | squares

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