Not All Sharp Action Is Created Equal

Article was originally published within TSP Newsletter. I am adding it to the Articles section of the to save for future reference.

Let’s talk about sharp action and some misconceptions. Every day I am messaged by dozens of people as to whether sharp action exists on this game or that game. The easy and honest answer to any of the questions is YES!! It is actually rare to find a sports betting market that does not have some bit of sharp action. That’s awesome! We should have a ton of content if there is all this sharp action flying around each day…right?!?!? WRONG!!!! Not all sharp action is created equal.

First of all, it is important to realize that sharp money is in action for a lot of reasons. Sure one of the reasons could be that sharp bettors see value. Sharp action could also be betting to setup a middle, to buy out of a position, or even involved in an arbitrage situation. Not to mention that in a given day, 10% or less of all the sharp action in play could be considered “material” sharp action and about 20% of that action…or 2% of the whole card, will see the current price at or near the price that sharp action attacked. So, why would you care about the action that falls below the “material” line which is 90% of sharp action in a given day? Furthermore, why would you care about the 98% of sharp action that is neither material NOR carries a price anywhere near where sharp money attacked. It’s a fools errand to think you can follow sharp money, but do so at bad prices and come out ahead. Remember what I say all the time…the typical sharp bettor wins 53-54% of their games. The average public bettors wins 50% of their games. The difference between a solid sharp bettor and John Q Public is only 3-4 bets out of every 100. Which is why getting the best line is important because those points matter and are easily the difference in 2-4 games out of every 100 games you bet! You see it every day where a hook is the difference between a winner and a loser. Look at NBA totals and assess what would have happened if you played the line before it moved versus after it moved. Almost daily you will see the same OVER is a winner on the opening line, loser on the closing line…and that’s the key to betting sharp…getting VALUE. You can’t get value chasing steam at bad prices…by definition that’s not value!

So, it is for this reason that you will see lines flying all over the place but perhaps not see me report a single bit of sharp action nor see much in the way of sharp action on the TSP Live Analytics. While sharp action was active, the action is not active at current prices and thereby the analytics are not going to show that side as sharp…because at the current price IT IS NOT! Why would I walk you into a trap by reporting Tampa Bay -7 as sharp when really sharp money stopped betting at -5. Sure, Tampa is a sharp side…but at -5 which is useless to you right now at -7.

The infatuation with sharp action for most bettors started long ago when you were told that sharp action is the Holy Grail of sports betting. If you follow sharp action you will live like a king and make countless fortunes betting sports. Sorry to burst your bubble, that’s not how it works. First, if sharp action bet a game, usually by the time you look at that game the line has already moved away from any value. It’s an idea far too many people fail to grasp. I always get asked why Team B UNDER did not show up on TSP Live Radar when the line opened at 50 and is now 45…clearly that was sharp action. You are likely right BUT if sharp action stopped betting the UNDER at 48, why would the analytics show the UNDER as sharp right now at 45?? The current line is getting ZERO sharp action. Similarly, if sharp money took Team A +7 and the line is now Team A +4…why the hell would I report that action as sharp??? Not a single sharp bettor is on Team A +4. Even more so, why would you want to bet a team that moved 3 points off where sharp action stopped?? Just because there was sharp action at +6 or +7? OK, but the line is +4 now. If this still sounds like a good bet to you, there are a lot of books who would LOVE to have you as a customer.

Following sharp action is a tricky business. It’s not a blind follow. Not only is the material sharp action limited on a daily basis, but then making sure you are following at or very close to the price sharp action wagered is key. Successfully following sharp action requires assessment from a variety of angles, most of which are finding material sharp action and finding that material sharp action where the current price is very close to or at the price where the sharp action bought (and thereby saw value). The analytics I use publicly and privately aim to filter out all the noise and dial in to those angles seeing healthy sharp buying and which are at or very near the price with material sharp buying. If those two parameters are not met, it’s not even worth following…or spending my time or the robots time reporting! It’s definitely not worthy of your gambling money either.

The above is one of the reasons I enjoy the Oddsmaker’s Report for content. The report usually lays out key prices and sucker prices to help you assess the market. Knowing something is a sharp side is useless…knowing the price of the sharp money and being able to still bet that price is ESSENTIAL!!

Good luck in your action!