What is the difference between a sharp book and a square book in sports betting?
We’re sure that by now, you know how fun and thrilling sports betting is. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about NFL sports betting, right? And we totally get it!
NFL sports betting offers dozens of ways to keep you entertained right beside the actual football games. There is futures betting, point spread betting, prop betting, parlays, and the list goes on and on and with dozens of sportsbooks available wherever you are in the world, you’re not going to run out of entertainment soon! If you’re only looking for some extra excitement, you can place a wager on anything and let your luck do its magic.
However, if you really really want to cash out profit from NFL betting, you need to dig deeper and learn all about the industry and not just the surface.
When betting on NFL games, there are two important terms to understand: sharp and square. So hold on tight as we explain to you what these are.
Sharp book vs. Square book
In simple terms, sharp books are those books that follow the flow of money and move the lines accordingly. These books also take in a disproportionate amount of money. They are also the ones setting the lines for the market. One example is BetAnySports.
Square books on the other hand rely on the former in posting their lines. They follow the sharp books’ movements, not moving their lines until the latter does. Often, square books will move their lines to convince the betting public to place wagers on the favourite. Some examples of square books are DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Sharp bettors vs. Square bettors
Setting these two apart is quite easy.
Sharp bettors are those who make more informed decisions and tend to win more bets than they lose. They are your so-called veterans in the world of betting, the professional bettors. They do research, study every game they need to properly play predictions, and they also play more often than everybody else. Because they play often, they are naturally big money spenders. They like to bet on underdogs. Their decisions are based on statistics and trends, no simple wins or losses. When they see value in a pick, they go for it.
Square bettors, on the other hand, make more uninformed decisions and typically lose more bets than they win because they follow their emotions and their guts, not thorough research and analysis. This type of a bettor is easily swayed by the public. Additionally, because squares don’t do research, they only base their decisions on recent events. They then pay the price of their uninformed decision by losing.
For example, the Ravens are 13.5 point favourites over the Browns. Sharps prefer the Browns, but believe they can persuade the square books to back the Ravens because they are barely under the 14-point mark. The public gets behind the Ravens, pushing the price to 14.5 or more. Sharps will wait and let the market determine the price, then manipulate the line to maintain it there. Sharp bettors will then pour on the Browns right before kickoff.
The assumption is that the squares will bet on the popular team and popular outcomes, while the sharps will be more selective in their bets, often looking for value where the squares may not see it. Because of this, sharps are generally considered to be more successful over time, as they are able to get better odds on their bets.
However, the most common misunderstanding is that sharps bettors exclusively play sharps books and vice versa. That isn’t fully correct. Many sharp bettors have activities in both and will play square books because sharps prefer underdogs and square books provide them more value.
Of course, square bettors can also think like sharp bettors. This is particularly true for beginners who want to become sharp bettors and those who just want to have some fun and are still smart about their wagers. Aim to be this kind of beginner. Learn the ins and outs.
What are some strategies for a sharp bettor?
Sharp bettors are looking to maximize their earnings, that is their main priority. They are seasoned professional bettors. They have made betting a regular source of income, kind of, and unlike square bettors will immerse themselves in thorough studies of game and player statistics.
An important piece of NFL advice is to avoid betting on favourites all of the time. This is a square betting behaviour. Not to imply that you should never take favourites, but squares do so roughly 75% of the time.
Sharp bettors will shop lines and look for the sportsbooks that will offer them huge playing grounds. Obviously, they will place more importance on sharp-friendly bookmakers like BetAnySports, which offers reduced juice (-105 odds rather than -110 odds), and BetOnline, which is generally the first book to publish its odds.
Here are things to consider when choosing a sportsbook:
- Is your sportsbook friendly to smart players, or does it restrict their play?
- Is the juice in your sportsbook reduced?
- Is your sportsbook’s betting limit small or large?
- Do they have unique odds at your sportsbook, or do they follow the odds set by other sportsbooks?
In general, sharp books will feature higher betting limits, unique odds, and sometimes lower juice. Squares-friendly books, on the other hand, will feature lower betting limits and no special odds. They’ll instead go with the odds of other large sportsbooks.
Other than shopping the lines, sharps also value statistics as previously mentioned. Professional sports bettors make selections based on a large amount of data that can span decades. You’re better off tossing a coin without this data than making a wild guess.
You might be wondering how statistics are used to make a decision. So, here are some instances of how to analyze a matchup:
- What is a team’s current form?
- How do the two teams do at home compared to when they’re away?
- What are the current opponent’s individual player statistics?
- Is there a scheduling advantage for either team?
- Do the teams have injured players?
- What is the history of both teams’ encounters?
There’s always more to think about because it depends on the sport you’re handicapping. Always keep in mind to conduct thorough research.
What are some behaviours of a square bettor?
There’s not much discipline in the betting behaviours of this type of bettors, unlike a sharp bettor. Square bettors bet according to public opinion and their own emotions. It’s like throwing a dart blindfolded, or tossing a coin. It’s all according to their luck.
This type of bettors may suddenly decide to place a wager on a show currently playing on the telly, without knowing anything that might help them make an informed decision. Or they might place a wager on a favourite at -7.5 even if other sportsbooks posted the odds at -7 because they didn’t bother to shop the lines.
Additionally, they are easily seduced by parlays! If you are familiar with parlays, you know how if you got lucky you can cash out more money in a single bet. This easily lures them, making them take a tremendous risk.
Everything about this type of sports bettors is impulsive.
One more fact about square bettors is that a lot of them love major sports betting events and only come out during this time of the year. We’re talking about Super Bowl-scale of games. Because of these squares, betting markets are suddenly flooded during these seasons. There’s a huge influx of new accounts at online sportsbooks, Las Vegas is jammed pack, and even non-fans will join the commotion. These squares are much more interesting than the squares that play even outside major events because they are even less experienced.
Conclusion: Sharp vs. Square
The distinction between sharps and squares is important to consider when placing a bet on the NFL. Sharps know football, grind out the specifics of their bets, and know how they can find value in the market. Squares just want a quick payday, don’t do any additional research beyond what is public, and may not even watch the game to see whether or not their team can win.
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