Sports Betting 101: Sharps And Squares

If you’ve spent any time around sports bettors, then you’ve heard the terms ‘sharps’ and ‘squares’ get thrown around quite a bit. Everyone seemingly wants to avoid squares – and being a square – while everyone is hunting to find these clandestine sharps. So who are these guys and where do you find them? Here’s the breakdown of sharps and squares.

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Who Or What Is A Square?
A square is just your average losing sports bettor. You might hear many synonyms for this as squares can sometimes be known as “the public” or “Joe Q. Public” or a “recreational bettor”. In short, a square is someone who doesn’t really do much research before placing a bet. They’ll wake up on Sunday morning, read a few tweets and then watch ESPN for about five minutes before placing a bet. This type of bettor is the opposite of well-researched and calculated.

Of course, the majority of bettors are in fact squares, although nobody would ever admit to being one. Everyone claims that they’re not a fool but the unfortunate truth is that most people lose in sports betting. The reason Las Vegas has billion-dollar hotels on The Strip and not lousy motels is because the squares far outnumber the sharps.

Tendencies Of A Square

  • Betting the lines right before game time (because they didn’t plan ahead)
  • Betting with emotion instead of betting with logic, such as betting on their “favorite teams”
  • Betting just because a game is on TV
  • Not fully researching a game, the matchup, injuries or other key factors
  • Not shopping around for the best price on a game
  • Betting parlays that have big payouts but small chances of winning
  • Someone who buys picks from professional handicappers

Who’s A Sharp?
Now that you know what a square is, you can guess what a sharp is: it’s basically the opposite. Some other names for a sharp bettor could be a “smart guy” or a “wiseguy”. These are the bettors that bet on sports for a living: they study the sports, they examine the lines and they’re very calculated. They’re the ones who really have some influence in Las Vegas and online in terms of the sportsbooks. The odds makers don’t really care what the squares do because those guys will lose money in the long run. However, they have to keep a close eye on what the sharps do because they’re the ones that are going to find value and take advantage of any inaccuracies in the betting lines.

Thee are many sportsbooks that avoid sharps because they don’t see them as a winning proposition. They’re rather book the recreational players and have them come in and lose a bunch of money with minimal effort. There are rumors that a number of the UK sportsbooks as well as companies like Bodog and SportsInteraction have been known to drop limits and halt sharp guys from playing. Some of the books that welcome the wiseguys are Pinnacle and The Greek. Those companies – as well as Las Vegas odds makers – track the sharps very closely and adjust lines based on their moves.

Tendencies Of A Sharp

  • Calculated bettor
  • Pro who does this for a living
  • Has multiple accounts at multiple sportsbooks to get the best price
  • Tracks their betting history to monitor wins, losses and profits
  • Bets the lines early
  • Tracks the line movement very closely
  • Bets bigger amounts than squares
  • Their bets will move the lines
  • Will find value wherever it is – even if it’s a smaller event
  • Many will have formulas or systems that they stick to
  • Are very patient (i.e. waits for an opening rather than betting just to bet)
  • Sticks to a specific betting pattern rather than betting random amounts on random games