Hello! For my inaugural post, I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Sharps and Squares. If you don’t know these terms, here’s a brief synopsis:
Sharps (a.k.a Wise Guys) – A professional gambler who makes their living off of sports betting. This person, whether he or she, is looking at lines the moment they are posted to see if they can grab a good number before all the Squares get wind and drive it one way or the other. This person is researching constantly, understands the ins and outs of each match up, and usually is betting on underdogs and unders because they ask themselves, “Why would I not take points when they’re given to me?” and they don’t care about scoring, they care about winning. Their unit sizes are very large, and Vegas HATES them because they cost them money all the time.
Squares (a.k.a Public) – Someone who’s a casual gambler with a small unit size. This person, whether he or she, usually looks at lines the day of, does a bit of research, remembers what they saw the week before, and takes a shot. This person is likely to hit favorites and overs because they constantly ask themselves, “why wouldn’t this team, clearly better than the other, win by this many points?” and of course, they love scoring. Vegas LOVES Squares because when you put enough of them in the same room (like a sports book inside of a casino), a lot of money can be made.
Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s good to look back at the weekend to see who was right: the Sharps or the Squares. Every week, I’ll be reviewing the five games the public bet on the most and who came out on top. Let’s begin:
GB Packers (-4) @ LA Chargers – 81% Public Bet
This week, the Packers played on the road (just kidding, there’s no such thing as an LA Chargers’ home game) as a four point favorite. With the Chargers being terrible and Aaron Rodgers looking like he’s about to go on an F-You tour, there’s no such reason why you wouldn’t bet on the Packers. Especially given that this would essentially be a home game, it seemed like the Pack would be ready for an easy blow out.
Except that didn’t happen. The Chargers won 26-11 in a blowout victory that should have been an easy game for Aaron Rodgers to turn on his magic and come back in the second half only being down nine points midway. Looking back, we actually can see why this might have happened, and it’s in the realm of “Strength vs. Strength.” The Packers’s strength comes from obviously Rodgers and the passing game as they pass the ball 59% of the time, and they have the 8th best passing offense in the league. However, as bad as the Chargers have been all year, they hold the 5th best passing defense in the league. With the Packers’s running offense in the middle of the road and their scheme focused on the pass, it’s easier to understand why Rodgers was held to 161 yards.
I still wouldn’t recommend betting against Aaron Rodgers as he’s known to pick apart defenses regardless of how good they are, but nonetheless, it looks like we know who came out on top in this one.
CLE Browns (-4) @ DEN Broncos – 78% Public Bet
The Cleveland Browns opened up as -3 favorites on the road against the Denver Broncos with the line closing at -4, and who could blame anyone for betting against the Broncos? Even though the Browns might not be all that great, the Broncos have been incapable of scoring points and planned on starting a quarterback who had yet to take an NFL snap up until this game. This game has a similar feel to the Packers/Chargers game in which a team that relies heavily on the pass came up against a team that is… really good against the pass. Cleveland passes the ball on more than 61% of their plays but is ranked 18th in pass offense (if you didn’t realize, Freddie Kitchens is actually very dumb).
Now, the Broncos aren’t great either in that they rank in the cellar of passing offense, but you have to throw that number out with a new QB. This is a good time to remind you that you are not actually required to play every game on the board. If you feel like you have incomplete information (like how someone might perform at the most important position in all of sports), you can always not play a game.
Baker Mayfield of Cleveland was one really good pass to OBJ away from coming back and forcing the Broncos into a spot they rarely thrive at, but in a stadium like Mile High, the air was just a bit too thin to breathe.
NE Patriots (-3) @ BAL Ravens – 73% Public Bet
There’s a good rule that Sharps remember whenever lines post: If a line seems fishy, it probably is. What does that mean exactly? It means that when the Vegas sports books, which are comprised of the some of the smartest people that get plucked out of Harvard, MIT, and Cal Tech and get paid in the yacht loads, post a line that everyone raises an eyebrow at, it’s best to pay attention. In simpler terms, if Vegas comes up with a line that seems to be against conventional wisdom, just accept that you are wrong and they are right. This game was a good reminder of that rule. When the Patriots – with the greatest coach of all time, one of the greatest QBs of all time, and a “historic” defense – are playing on the road against a 2nd year QB and only giving up a field goal, conventional wisdom says you take the Patriots. It makes even more sense when you remember the Patriots have covered 70% of their games since 2017! How could Vegas just give the Squares such a layup!
Well, that’s because like you, they are Squares, and that’s how Vegas makes money. In a game like this, you have to throw out the numbers because the Patriots have faced horrendous competition, and Lamar Jackson is a different kind of quarterback. Beyond that, the Ravens clearly shelled out everything for this game (Ed Reed came out with a SHIELD), and it was primetime at home.
Sometimes in sports betting, it’s best to look at individual spots – an opportunity when the numbers don’t tell the full story – and this was one of those spots.
WAS Redskins @ BUF Bills (-10.5) – 69% Public Bet
What a beautiful story it is for the Bills to be on this kind of a run. Their franchise has one of the most, if not the most, dedicated fan bases (if you are unaware of Bills Mafia, you’re welcome), and it seems like they are finally being rewarded. Josh Allen is coming into his own, and with this kind of a schedule (teams they’ve beaten are a combined 9-41), how could they not be anything less than elated?!
I personally stayed away from this game because the Bills are… well still the Bills, and as bad as the Redskins are, we know that bad teams can still beat apparently good teams (see Dolphins/Jets). Furthermore, I don’t really ever recommend betting on a team laying ten, let alone the hook, given that aside from the 49ers and Patriots, the average margin of victory is less than ten.
However, I forgot that the Redskins are actually still very bad, and they started a rookie quarterback against the third best passing defense in the league (there seems to be a theme this week), and sometimes that’s all you need to know.
*If you don’t know these terms, when someone is “laying points,” it means they’re betting on the Favorite.
**The hook refers to the half a point over a given number. Sharps look for this extra half point for increased value.
SF 49ers (-10) @ ARI Cardinals – 69% Public Bet
Which side do you think is the right side when you put up the best passing defense in the league up against a rookie QB? If you’ve been reading thus far, you’d say to yourself “Well the 5th best passing defense stopped Aaron Rodgers, so the best pass defense should probably stop at Kyler Murray.” This is a good opportunity to introduce you to the Gambling Gods; the Gambling Gods are cruel beings who look down upon us sports betters and laugh at us as we start to think that we can outsmart gambling. As I mentioned earlier, 10 points is A LOT of points for any team, even the last remaining undefeated team in the league.
While the 49ers did end up winning the game, nobody cares (well maybe people with money line parlays, but we can discuss that another time) because it’s about whether they covered the spread. And unfortunately the best pass defense in the league gave up an 88-yard passing touchdown with a successful two-point conversion with only four minutes to go, making it all but impossible to cover the ten points.
I hope you enjoyed this, and now that you know just how much better someone else is than the Public, the best thing you can do is just find out who they’re betting on, and then bet the other way.