How Can Bookies Spot Sharp Lines?

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:

The House always wins but they're not always right.  Sportsbook operators rely heavily on so-called sharp action.


You as the bookie would want to monitor odds providers that offer this type of information.  Sharp gamblers and groups of gamblers typically hit a line as soon as it is released.

Most bookie software providers watch the line moves and set the odds on your behalf so you won't be caught flat footed.  Discovering sharp lines is like an art form and not all of us have a keen understanding of fine art.

A perfect example of a sharp line was Sunday night's Chiefs-Jets game at KC -8. 

If you were one of the 75% who bet the Chiefs spread, easy money was on the way with the Chiefs up three points in the final two minutes and on their way to scoring a touchdown that would take this game up 9 to 10 points, thus sealing the deal.

But that wasn't exactly in the cards.

Mahomes, who had a 25-yard run on third-and-23 to extend the drive, ran for 9 yards on another third down to the Jets 2 with a little over a minute left in the game.  That was enough time to run the clock out and that's exactly what the Chiefs chose to do as opposed to scoring the touchdown.  In theory, had he chose to run the ball for a touchdown, enough time would be left on the clock for New York to score a field goal and then go for the onside kick for a touchdown to tie the game.  Pretty much anyone not named Mahomes might have scored the touchdown in order to pad their own numbers.

By Sunday afternoon one could spot the potential for a sharp line with Bookmaker moving the number off the 8 to 7.5 despite all the money already coming in on KC.

Some of these lines may be more obvious.  An example being when all the books are moving the line on a favorite down a point or more even though all the money is coming in on said favorite. Two weeks ago the books moved the Colorado-Oregon line from Ducks -16 to -21 even though all the action was coming in on the underdog Buffs.  They certainly could have moved the line back down towards 16 to encourage more action on Oregon.  Books mostly sat on 21.

Our friends at AcePerHead explain the process:

"A pay-per-head website such as sets its odds by using an average of the biggest books in the world and then manages them based on the action they are getting on each side, combined with where the sharp action is coming in. In addition, they have a team of lines guys that have decades of experience in the industry and monitor and manage the odds 24/7.

"This makes it very easy for the bookies because the odds are set and handled by professionals and this allows the bookies to have more time to focus on acquiring new players."

Ace also allows bookies access to their backend for moving any of the lines if they so choose.

"Even though this is not recommended, because it is safer and better to let the pros do it, the option is still allowed and can be utilized by bookies if they so choose."

This feature comes in handy if you happen to be a good handicapper or know of a good capper that swears by a particular team's ability to cover.  It's also an option that can be used for local games where action may be more one-sided than in other regions.

- Aaron Goldstein,

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