Classifying Sharp Action – The Meaning of “X” and “Y” Known Bettors

When I first started posting big bets (sharp and recreational) on Twitter in January, the goal was just to show a window inside the action that was going on offshore. Starting in early February and going into late March, “known” bettor action had a pretty strong run. Fading “recreational” bettors during that time was also a strong bet. Given the performance during both months, people following on Twitter began to treat the “known” bettor action as a quasi sports service selection. Those following began to bet every bit of “known” bettor information. Yes, during that period it worked very well but I’ll stress again that’s really not the purpose of me posting.

The reason following every bit of “known” bettor action is not a good wagering strategy is you do not know exactly why the sharp is betting the game. Are they hedging something, doing some arbitrage betting, catching a middle between two books, trying to hit a stale line, betting due to value or the best type of sharp action…betting due to information. Unless you talk to the sharp themselves you never really know what reason they’re betting. Therefore blindly following is not the best idea. It is better to use the “known” bettor action along with your own handicapping of a game.

A common misconception when I post “known” bettor action is that the bet comes from only a small group of people. In actuality, there are hundreds of “known” bettors at each of the books I have relationships with. There is a chance that a “known” bettor I post today may not get posted again for a few month, maybe ever. Why? For me to post their bet requires the bet to be above average in size for the “known” bettor and it has to be on a side in a game that is seeing a concentration of sharps. If today I post a “known” bettor on the Utah Jazz and tomorrow I post a “known” bettor on Golden State…chances of them being the same “known” bettor are very low.

One request by those following has been to have some sort of ID number attached to the “known” bettors so you could identify one from another. First, I apologize but that would require a little more time than I would like to invest. I would have to do individual tracking of “known” bettors for that to work. Second, it really wouldn’t help you because in a 90 day period you’d probably see no more than three bets from any given “known” bettor. Such a small sample size isn’t really helpful. The other idea that came about was attaching a grade to the “known” bettor. It’s really difficult to attach a performance grade because there are so many variables that make someone sharp. What makes someone an A, B, C, D level sharp bettor? Do they have a good win percentage or a good ROI? A good ROI could mean they may make their money through betting volume so seeing just one of their plays, even if one of the best, doesn’t mean much for someone who operates on an ROI basis. Therefore even if that high ROI bettor deserves an “A” rating, does it help you given they will bet a number of games that night? Another request was if I have Mr. Poison what about a Mr. Aces or some name to denote a specific player who is one of the best sharps. Then like I do with Mr. Poison so you can fade, I would post Mr. Aces so you can follow. It’s not a bad idea and something I might do because I do it for my own information assessment purposes anyway. However there are pitfalls to this as well. I post to Twitter as a hobby not as a business. If one night I was unavailable and couldn’t post Mr. Aces and that was a big night for him, it completely throws off the correlation of his ROI equaling your ROI. Mr. Poison is easy to post because he bets usually 5-6pm ET each day. That’s easy for me to make myself available and make sure I get him posted. With a good sharp bettor, they bet all day long and secure key numbers so it makes following a little trickier. I will continue to toss around these and other ideas. In the mean time I think what I might do is test out the following grading system…

An “X” level “known” bettor is a targeted “known” bettor. It is a sharp bettor who does not bet volume but picks their spots and strikes. These would make for a better follow than a volume sharp bettor. Even if the volume bettor is opening the purse a bit on a bet, since they spread their strategy over large quantities of wagers, it may not be best to follow them on a specific bet. So looking for an “X” level bettor might help if you really want to blindly follow something. Usually these type of “known” bets are information or very big overlay price value situations.

A “Y” level “known” bettor is a volume “known” bettor. The bettor is profitable but they are profitable through a large volume of wagers where they grind out their margins. Even though this bet I am posting is above average for them, they will put a lot of money in action and aren’t necessarily targeting that specific game for a key information related reason.

We’ll give this a shot since the above “X & Y” system does not add any time to my posting. We’ll see if it has value and if it does I don’t mind keeping it. The book rates players in such a way so I can take the ratings from the book’s system when I spot the wager and convert them to the “X & Y” system I would use. Hopefully this helps filter the information a little. I will post these as “Know-X” bettor or “Known-Y” bettor. Even with the new classification, it still isn’t a good strategy just to blindly follow every bit of sharp action. It is a good tool though.

Good luck in your action!
~ The Sharp Plays