Betting Guides

Betting Guide: Sharp Books vs. Square Books… Does it Matter?

You may hear talk that some sportsbooks are for Sharps and others are for Squares…

Is it really important to distinguish sportsbooks that are more favorable to professional players who are more sophisticated in their methods to sportsbooks that cater to a recreational betting crowd that is more emotional and less knowledgeable?  While you might see articles and forum posts telling you this is a big deal to know, you’ll be surprised that the answer is actually ‘not really’.

First, let’s get our terminology right here…

Are the terms valuable?  Not particularly, they’re quite silly and have absolutely no bearing on your profitability.  However, we are covering it because you looked for it and the terms may be referenced in this article AND only in this article.

  • Sharp (or “wise guy”):  These are professional bettors who place large wagers and move lines.  They are winning bettors.
  • Square:  These are non-professional bettors.  Commonly, a weekend warrior bettor who wants to bet on their favorite team or bet for the sake of making a sporting event for entertaining to watch.  These bettors rarely profit.

How Sportsbooks Use Sharps and Squares

Squares are the vast majority of bettors in the market, they are the ones generating revenues for sportsbooks.  They do not know how to handle promos properly, they bet recklessly, and they bet emotionally.  There’s no seriousness to the way they wager.  They get overly emotional about wins and losses.  It’s a recipe for a losing bettor.  They’ll follow “gurus” and pay for their services, but they will fall short with their bets regardless.  Squares are the lifeblood of the business.

Sharps are used and approached differently by sportsbooks.

  1. There are the sportsbooks that keep the sharps happy.  Yes, they may not necessarily make money on them, but the sharps are basically sportsbook line consultants that win bets 55% of the time.  They bet big, but the sportsbooks use them as their sanity filter on their internal lines or use them to adjust their lines.
  2. There are the sportsbooks that try to limit the sharps, but want them to help set lines.  They will use them as consultants, but place limits on their wagers to ensure that they do not take them down.
  3. There are sportsbooks that keep them out or kick them out.  This is predominant in U.S. regulated betting markets where taxes are very high on sportsbooks.

Is it important if you are using a Sharp or Square Sportsbook?

Only if you are designated as a professional bettor, these are bettors who bet large amounts and hit 54-56% of spread/total bets.  These professional bettors end up getting wager limited at some sportsbooks or removed altogether.  They are a small minority of bettors in the market who are known entities.

Getting limited by a sportsbook is crushing, but it means you are doing something right.  Often these professionals will have to resort to different methods to obscure themselves to place bets at certain establishments.

Focus on winning your bets, practicing sound money management, taking advantage of promotions, and line shopping to get your edge.  If you find success afterward, everyone will adjust accordingly.