Following the Sharp Money Can be Profitable
by Mike Hayes - 09/21/2006
Sharp bettors pounded the books this past weekend and those that followed their lead shared the wealth as there was significant line movement in a number of NFL games. In each instance, the house lost.
Just as many horseplayers will stare at the tote board to see where the "smart money" is before placing their own wagers, football bettors have the unique opportunity for the same type of review. With close to a week between the time the lines are released and the game itself and always-improving technology via the Internet, players can track the money in ways they never could before.
"This wasn't one of the better weeks for the books," said Bodog bookmakers. "It's not necessarily that (bettors) are ahead of the oddsmakers, but rather that the public moved very quickly on public teams in terms of action."
The biggest line move occurred in the Baltimore-Oakland match-up where the Ravens opened as an 8-point choice over the hapless Raiders. Sharps jumped in and pushed the line to higher than 12 at some books before kickoff. Three touchdowns wouldn't have been enough to lift the Black-and-Silver over the top as they fell 28-6.
In two games early sharp money turned dogs into favorites. Carolina, which had been listed at many sites as a favorite to win the NFC, opened as a field-goal choice over the Vikings in Minnesota. By game-time the Vikes found themselves as a 1.5-point favorite and responded with a 16-13 win.
The Packers opened as a 2-point choice over the Saints, but again the Sharps jumped and by game time the Saints were a 2-point favorite. Again, the books lost as the Saints dropped Green Bay, 34-27.
The Chiefs managed just 10 points in an opening week loss to the Bengals and lost QB Trent Green in the process and that point total was matched by the Broncos in an opening week loss at St. Louis. For their week two match-up, the books must have figured their respective offenses would begin to click and set the total at 41. Sharp money dropped the total to 38 and under bettors were rewarded when neither team was able to even match their first week output in a 9-6 Denver win.
To the bettor that was able to put a couple of these games together, the weekend proved even more profitable. "Parlays and teasers added up very nicely for public bettors on Sunday," said Bodog bookmakers.
According to Bodog, several factors go into line changes. "Movement across other books, coupled with the action coming in, are the major factors in the movement of a line."
An added advantage of simply following the sharp money is that it takes emotion out of the gambling equation, making it more like a math problem. Paying close attention to such movement and acting on it will also result in betting on games in which you have no strong opinion either way. While emotion and rooting for your favorite team can be a significant part of the gambling experience it can also cloud the judgment of even the best gambler, so it can be advantageous to follow sharp money when the situations are so obvious. The key is to join in on the action before the line moves to such a point where the value has evaporated.
Week three action brings with it a couple of lines worth keeping an eye on as kickoff approaches. The most significant change has, so far, been in Miami where the Fish opened as an 8-point choice over Tennessee. This game quickly went to 11 with the Sharps predicting a second consecutive blowout loss for the Titans.
The Panthers opened as a 1-point choice over the Bucs in Tampa Bay but the Panthers, whose season would be close to on the brink with an 0-3 start, are now a 3-point choice over the also winless Bucs.
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