Sharps, AKA wiseguys, could be the bedbugs of your sportsbook. Too far? Maybe, but if you’re not paying attention, they could infest your product, start eating away at your generic odds, and affect your bottom line. Then, they can multiply, bring in more friends, and dictate where the lines move, and hammer the missteps.
So how do you uncover wiseguys and prevent them from invading your pay-per-head product? We give a tutorial below.
What is a Wiseguy or Sharp Bettor?
First, let’s get you acclimated with what exactly is a wiseguy bettor.
A wiseguy is a player who has dedicated a large chunk of his life to sports betting and beating the odds. They understand how oddsmaking works and know a bet that is heavily in their favor. They pounce on line movements and even use their capital to influence line movement to exploit the other side. Essentially, placing decoy bets to get a better price down the road.
They may even be other oddsmakers, guys who know the ins and outs of their own business and therefore use that knowledge to exploit any holes in yours. If you’re doing your job and creating a viable pay per head sportsbook, you’ll have your share of wiseguys in the future.
Now, let’s get into what to watch out for.
Heavy Underdog and Under Bettors
In the betting world, most players love to bet on the favorite and the OVER. Why? It’s hard for most casual bettors to fathom a favored team not putting in a peak performance, and it’s even harder for them to fathom games not being high-scoring and competitive. For that reason, you’ll mostly see a larger percentage of those kinds of wagers.
Wiseguys, are sharper than that. You’ll see a balance of wagers and an interest in double-digit underdogs and UNDERs – which usually hit. While we can’t tell you what percentage of underdog and UNDERs you need to see identify a wiseguy, you’ll know by these types of bets and their ultimate success.
Place Single Bets Regularly
Everyone loves parlays. They are the hardest bet in sports to resist. The combination of bets that create a huge payday is something that a lot of your pay per head players will enjoy. Even still, you’ll have a group of players that will bet on teasers to create combination bets in their favor.
But when it comes to wiseguys … only singles. They know that parlays are called a “fools bet” and therefore stay away. Instead, they focus on betting on one game at a time and steadily build their bankroll – rather than try to win a fortune on one unlikely bet. They still have a multitude of wagers pending, but they’ll only bet one at a time. Allowing them to mitigate risk and only need one outcome to win or lose instead of several.
Also, the single bets they take will be individually researched, so there will even be times when they don’t take many bets at all as the game is too close to handicap. If you see an account full of singles and very conservative wagers. You may have a wiseguy.
Consistently Exploit Bad Props
You’ll never have perfectly handicapped player and team props. There are going to be holes. Or, in some cases, there are going to be props that are slightly different from the competition. While Las Vegas creates the sports spread, moneyline, and total that most books use. Props tend to be a little more of an in-house creation. For that reason, you might see a wiseguy take very specific props and hit a high percentage.
There’s a not-so-secret strategy that happens in the prop betting world: A wiseguy will trust a particular site for the most accurate props available and use those props to find other sites that aren’t as accurate. They’ll exploit this weekend until the bookmaker finally figures it out.
You’ll know you have a wiseguy exploiting these props when you see them betting on props without a discernable pattern. They’ll have some props on the NFL, then a handful on random NBA matchups. That means they’re simply comparing your props to someone else and exploiting the holes.
May Bet Both Sides
This one is big. Wiseguys understand that lines move and, in some cases, in extreme directions. A wiseguy will bet on a line very early in its creation and watch for a move in the other direction, then bet on the other side.
Imagine if a spread is -4.5, but after thousands of bets, the line moves all the way to -7. A wise guy will bet heavy on -4.5 to help line movement, then bet on +7 expecting the game to be won by 6 points. Playing both sides is a great way for a smart bettor to double their money.
You’ll tend to see these wise guys dump a bunch of money on an early line that they believe is moving, then just before the line is off the board, take the other side.
The best way to prevent this is attempt to stay as close to your opening line as possible, only shifting odds by a half-point if necessary. Instead, move the moneyline attached to the spread to balance action. Any bookie who moves their spread too quickly will pay for it.