Tracking Sharp Action Isn't The End All Be All To Make Money

Thu, Jan 5, 2023

Today's blog will be about a commonly used method by bettors. I will use the term "retail bettors" as a term for casual bettors that try and make money betting. These types of bettors aren't the kind of people who are just looking to have fun with massive parlays but, bet somewhat similarly as a sharp would without the same results. A common method among these retail bettors is "Tracking Sharp Action". Basically, what this method does is look for line moves on a particular game that would signify movement caused by a sharp bet.

For those who don't know, a sharp is a professional who bets on games for a living and is able to make profits consistently. I consider myself a sharp and is why you should pay me! Or not, I don't really care I just enjoy giving out the information, the money doesn't matter to me (maybe matters just a little). 

Back to the lesson, these retail bettors find line movement that corresponds with a sharp bet and tails that pick. Seems like a good strategy at first, who wouldn't want to bet on the same side as the expert right? It makes sense until you understand what sharps truly look at. One of the biggest differences between sharp bettors and casual bettors is that sharps are betting numbers while casual bettors are betting teams. For example, take the analogy of the stock market and choosing a specific stock. Analysts aren't buying a stock blindly based off the company, they are buying the stock at the price that it is at with the belief there is value to the upside. If a stock is overvalued they would either short the stock or not buy it. The idea applies to sports wagering as well. When betting on a team we must analyze the two teams and how valuable the given spread/total is. If there is a presented edge then it is advisable to place a wager. If the spread is where we would expect it then it should be left alone. Many casual bettors would bet on a specific team no matter what the line is. This is a sentiment that sportsbooks capitalize off. In reality, a good bettor would be open to betting on either team depending on the line offered. 

Now, how does this tie in with the strategy presented of tailing sharps? Well, often times when a sharp move occurs, it is recognizable by a line move. The line that the sharp took is no longer there as the sportsbook has adjusted. What this means is that the value observed by the sharp is reduced and often removed from the bet all together (Vegas is very rarely off with their lines and when there is value it is rather minimal). The retail bettor then swoops in and tails the sharp action thinking it is the correct side even though the number is different. 

This strategy can work however, the bettor must understand how to read value and if value still remains. For example, in football, 3 is a key number. (Key numbers will be discussed in tomorrow's blog). Say Browns +3 is the spread when the sharp places a bet and the book moves to Browns +2.5. The retail bettor comes in and takes Browns +2.5 because there is sharp action disregarding the absence of the key number. Browns then lose by 3. The sharp gets a push while the retail bettor loses. This happens more than people think and is a very common occurrence with the tailing sharps strategy especially in football with the extremely common score difference occurrences. 

In conclusion, I am not actually bashing the "tailing of sharps" and think it is a useful strategy at times however, it leads people down a confused path if they don't understand what is truly going on. I will discuss further in future blogs about when you should tail sharp action and different occurrences of sharp action. Believe it or not games are not "fixed" and betting experts sometimes disagree which can be reflected in line movements. This type of information is able to be derived from lines and betting percentages. Fear not I am here to teach you! As I said earlier I could teach a semester long course on betting and the different analysis techniques. This is a hard profession but profitable if you work really hard. Lastly, if some of this went over your head that is fine, the big message you need to take away from this is DON'T BLINDLY TAIL SHARP ACTION.