The Difference Between Lines and Sharp Lines | PayPerHead®
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The Difference Between Lines and Sharp Lines

The Difference Between Lines and Sharp Lines

When it comes to running a sportsbook, few things can eat into your profits. One thing that can? Steam plays. Pay per head agents that know the difference between lines versus sharp lines can ensure their sportsbook’s bottom line health. 

Online gambling is on the rise. Most estimates assume a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from now until 2027. 

Because sports betting is one of the fastest-growing segments in the gaming industry, most per head agents can assume they’ll grab a cut of the annual growth rate. How much of an amount depends on the bookmaker’s size, how fast the bookie wants to grow, and whether the agent wishes to become a master agent.

Whether a bookie wants to grow their business to the stratosphere or not, they must know some things about betting on sports that can help them guarantee a profit. Sports markets are like other markets.

All markets have market movers. In sports betting, a market mover is a player that makes a bet so large it changes the odds on the opposite side.

In 2021, a market mover wagered over $3 million on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +3 ½ against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Because of the bet’s size, oddsmaking professionals changed the odds on the Buccaneers from +3 ½ to +3.

Some sportsbooks changed the odds a full point to Tampa Bay +2 ½ in anticipation of further bets on the Buccaneers. Why did some books make an additional half a point change on the line?

The books that made the extra half a point change defined the current +3 ½ line as sharp. If you’re confused, don’t worry. Keep reading, and soon you’ll discover that explaining the difference between lines and sharp lines can lead to more profit.  

First, what is a bookie?

Before getting into the difference between standard betting lines and sharp betting lines, we must answer the question, what is a bookie? Although you know the answer, the defined answer may surprise you.

Your answer, the cookie-cutter explanation, is that bookies offer betting opportunities. The real answer is bookies provide a service. 

The service entails sports betting options, casino betting choices, racebooks, or horse racing betting propositions. Bookies provide these opportunities as a service, which means bookmakers are more like restaurant owners, providing a menu of items than cigar-chomping, ruthless bankers looking to foreclose on your home.

Second, how much do bookies make?

The answer to how much do bookies make is simple. It depends. What matters is the question.

Why does the question matter more than the answer to the question? Because it’s a great segue into how bookies make money. 

On the surface, the answer to the question about how bookmakers score profit also seems simple. Sportsbook operators make money by providing platforms where players can make wagers. 

The more bets your sportsbook provides, the more money you can make. Although true, the statement isn’t a full answer.

Bookies can make money with more action. But bookmakers must manage player betting action to make a profit.

Sportsbook owners can’t hope that every bet they get is a losing bet. They also can’t expect players will always bet the money in their accounts or that players won’t jump on sharp lines.

What’s the difference between lines and sharp lines?

Players call bookie agents all the time looking for favorable betting odds. Those players aren’t sharps because they don’t follow sharp line plays.

As a bookmaker who runs an online sportsbook, you want players calling you and asking for better odds. Providing players better odds, moving the line is a great way to instill loyalty. 

Sharp players won’t call bookie software agents looking for a line change. Sharp players follow steam action. 

Often, players work together to pounce onto a betting line. Here’s the way sharp players create sharp lines.

  1. Player A makes a bet
  2. Player B, C, and D make the same bet

Player A’s bet is the initial wager. Player B, C, and D wagers are called steam bets. Most of the time, you can handle Player A’s bet via your layoff account.

You can also handle the other player bets via your layoff account. Suppose it’s a one-off situation, no problem. Use your layoff account on sharp lines and pocket the juice. 

But if it becomes consistent, that’s when you can run into issues. As you might imagine, if you don’t catch enough sharp lines before they create steam, it could hurt your sportsbook. Now the question is, how do you see a sharp line before it creates steam? 

PayPerHead’s Sharp Checks looks for sharp line players

The best way to prevent steam betting is to set up sharp checks. PayPerHead has a database of sharp players.

You can use our sportsbook software to check. The system runs a check through the database. 

They find consistencies among players. Those consistencies tell you how sharp players have created lines that turn into steam.

Our method is the same that Vegas uses to discover the sharpest blackjack and sports betting players. By using the same manner as Vegas establishments, you can protect yourself from steam plays.

There is no charge to use Sharp Checks. Like PayPerHead’s free betting software platforms, you pay nothing more than your PPH sportsbook fee. 

If you haven’t imported your players, do so when you can. We always run multiple promotions that give you an edge. Also, by signing up with us, you can take part in our referral program. It’s the best in the industry, so make sure to check it out.

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