Many NFL bettors want to know where the smart money is before they place their wagers each week. If you simply followed the sharp money and faded the public, you would certainly see a profit over the long haul. So, how can you tell where the smart money is? I’m going to answer that question in this piece.
Square bettors are usually looking to wager on favorites, while sharp bettors wait for the price on an underdog to rise to get that inflated number they are looking for. Many of these sharp bettors have developed systems that they use to set their own line, and if that line is a few points off of the actual number, they look to pounce.
The best way to find out where sharp money is would be to follow reverse line movements. If 80% of the bets have been placed on the Packers -7 and the line has dropped to -6.5, you know that the sharp money is on the underdog Lions. You would expect that the line would go to Green Bay -7.5 or more with 80% of the bets, but a couple of large wagers have obviously been thrown in on the Lions +7 to move the line the other way.
There are also situations where the Packers are -7 with 80% of the bets but the line doesn’t move at all. This also would tell you that several big bets have been placed on the Lions +7. Sportsbooks want even action on both sides of the line, so even with 80% of the bets on the Packers, there is even action on both sides since the spread hasn’t moved at all.
Sharp money doesn’t necessarily come in at any certain time. However, I would say the majority of it comes out when the lines are first released. That’s why it is important to follow early line movements to see where the sharp money is being placed. You also want to follow late line movements, especially on underdogs. If a sharp bettor is looking to pound a dog, he will sometimes wait for the public to back the favorite in hopes that the dog will catch and extra 0.5-point or so. Then he will unload just before game time.
Obviously, most bettors want to wager on several games every week. However, if you can be disciplined and simply follow these reverse line movements throughout the season, I have no doubt you will come out ahead every year. Why would you want to be a square when you can simply follow the smart money each week?