by Doug Harper - NFL Handicappers and bettors use the term Sharp Money often, but not everyone knows what it means, how to identify it, or when to use it to your advantage.
What is Sharp Money?
Definition - Sharp Money is money wagered by "professional" bettors/handicappers. They study all aspects of the NFL, eliminate emotion, developed their own power charts, etc… Sports books are very cognizant of sharp money and quick to adjust point spreads when sharp money comes in. They react quickly because these are the kind of bettors likely to make sizable wagers, big enough to cause serious pain.
Identify - Sharp Money is often easily identifiable by watching point spread movements. Sharp bettors know the "fair" point spread of an NFL game before sports books post it. Early shifts in the line usually indicate sharp money, particularly when the spread moves across a key number ( i.e. 3, 4 or 7. ) Another indicator is a "backward line shift," this is when you see the line move opposite of public betting trends/percentages. For example, Dallas -3 is getting hammered by the public with 75% of the money bet, but the line moves to Dallas -2½.
Make Your own Sharp Money - There are many theories and opinions about following Sharp Money, the important thing is to duplicate what the Sharp's are doing or avoid going against them.
The easiest method is to avoid betting against a Sharp Money move, simply check the line movement before making your wager. Look at what happened immediately after the spread was released and see if any line movement contradicts the percentages bet. Sports Insights is a valuable site that offers excellent information about line movements.
Following Sharp Money requires that you have several sports books to choose from and the ability to act quickly. When you spot a sharp move at one site (Seattle -3 moves to Seattle -3½ right after the line opens), immediately check your other sites and get your bet down at the best price. Here's a list of options that should cover the bases on NFL line movements...