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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

There are several key characteristics that tell you when somebody is “sharp” in college basketball betting, meaning they’re likely a professional, or a long-term earner that might also have other avenues of revenue. In fact, you can often tell when somebody is a true sharp or a pretender just by focusing on these keys.



Sharps bet the openers, because they already have their number mind before oddsmakers even act. Pro bettors don’t “wait to see the number” before starting their handicapping process. The process is complete before Vegas (or offshore) numbers go up. The general public doesn’t even know when openers go up. They check the board at their convenience, with a “that line seems too low, that one seems too high” mentality.

I should also note that sharps also bet late in the process after line moves have created new value. If a square is betting late, he’s probably betting a favorite at a poor price. If a sharp is betting late, he’s probably betting an underdog after a line move gave him some extra points. Both squares and sharps bet late…but the Wise Guys bet SMART in the moments before tip off.



Particularly in college basketball these days, sharps bet a lot of Over/Unders…some much more than team sides. They’ll tell you that team side lines are much sharper than they used to be because of all the analytics stats sites and computer models. Over/Unders are softer and easier to beat.

You might be surprised at how many sharps bet the bulk of their action on totals. The public hardly bets totals at all, except in the big TV games when they want to have something to root for (or, in parlay bets because they have a lottery mentality that needs more action). If you know a guy who mostly bets totals, he’s either a sharp or somebody who figured out that’s a great approach to take. If you know a guy who hardly ever bets totals, he’s probably not a sharp. The Wise Guys look for value wherever it’s offered.  



There are a lot of mid-major (and smaller) conferences on the board in Las Vegas. Squares just don’t bet those games unless they’re visiting from that part of the country over the weekend as a tourist. The public focuses on the Power 6 conferences…particularly the big TV games. Professional wagerers know that the major conference lines are tighter as a general rule, except if the public drives a favorite too high. If you see a guy betting mostly games from lesser known conferences, that’s probably a sharp. Particularly if he’s making “max” bets against the house limits. 

Now, there are degrees here. I do know some sharps who don’t mess with totals because it’s too time consuming. They’re content to pick off bad openers, focus on lesser leagues, then pop in just before tip off to take advantage of over-corrections. And, it’s possible to focus only on totals but still get caught with old techniques when the game evolves. But…the sharpest techniques right now involve smart timing, off-the-radar conferences, and Over/Unders. Squares haven’t changed much and probably never will. The public wants to bet favorites in the big TV games, and they don’t care about line value or “timing the market.”

I should add one more…



Sharps love betting in game on the apps they have for Las Vegas sportsbooks (or online at offshore locales). The public is much more likely to sit in a sports book rooting loudly for their full-game bets than worrying about in-game nuances. Now, in-game is gradually becoming more and more popular with the public. So, this dynamic could disappear in a year or two. For now, you can at least assume that in-game bettors are smarter and more savvy than those afraid to try. Many Las Vegas stores are scared to death of the sharps in terms of in-game, which is why availability and limits are inconsistent around town. Sports books want to make money off people who are betting for entertainment, not give money away to elite bettors.

I hope today’s discussion gave you something to think about regarding your own approach. Are you taking the worst of it on too many bets because you prefer taking favorites in the TV games even after lines have been up for several hours and moved against you? Do you even know when opening lines go up at your favorite store? Do you have a number in mind a day or two in advance…or do you just wait to “see the number, bet the number?” Are you looking for value wherever (and whenever) it’s offered? You still have time to apply a more effective approach in advance of the tournaments.

You long time readers know that college basketball has always been my favorite sport to handicap and bet. I’m happy to be at your service if you need additional help making your nightly choices. You can purchase my nightly BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. I have very affordable rates for basketball through March Madness or the NBA Championships.

Thanks for reading. I’ll have another report for you direct from Las Vegas at the end of the week. This is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and memorable postseasons ever. I’m looking forward to giving you the Las Vegas perspective here on these pages from now through the Final Four.

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