Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Appalachian State Mountaineers quarterback Zac Thomas
- Before placing your bets for the first day of bowl season, you might want to know which bets sharps are making.
- Sharps are bettors with long track records of consistent success.
- Their favorite Saturday plays include a bet on the North Texas-Utah State point spread.
We made it. Bowl season is finally here. And while that may mean fewer games to bet on Saturday, there will still be excitement aplenty (I hope).
For experienced gamblers, one advantage is the rush of casual bettors who will come out of the woodwork to bet on college football.
Recreational bettors are typically focused on factors like records, rankings, and against-the-spread performance — none of which actually lead to profitable bets.
Because of that, this time of year is among the best to bet against the public.
Unfortunately, betting strictly based off contrarianism will probably have to wait until after the first weekend. No bowl game participant is receiving less than 35% of bets to this point.
As for the sharps, well, they might be able to help us out a little bit. And I stress, a little bit.
A few of Saturday’s five bowl games have seen some significant line movement, but with that movement often moving to the popular side, it’s been a little tougher to gauge which, if any, sides sharps are playing.
Some games have drawn smart money to both sides, and some have seen little to no wiseguy activity at all.
There is one matchup where sharps have made their opinion clear, however, so let’s start there.
But first, a few vocab words to bring you back to the SAT prep days.
Betting Terms to Know
Sharp (bettor): A bettor with a long track record (years, decades) of success. Sharps have the ability to shift lines when they bet on games.
Steam move: Sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the market caused by an overload of sharp action from respected players.
Reverse line movement: When the betting line moves in the opposite direction of the betting percentages. It’s a top smart money indicator.
Line freeze: When one side is getting heavy betting, but the line won’t budge, indicating sharp liability on the other side.
Juice: The tax or commission that bettors must pay sportsbooks in order for them to accept your wager. A -115 juice means a bettor would have to wager $115 to win $100.
New Mexico Bowl: North Texas vs. Utah State
2 p.m. ET | ESPN | Albuquerque, N.M.
Sharp angle: North Texas (moved from +11 to +7.5)
Sure, North Texas may be drawing the majority of bets in this game, but 54% of tickets isn’t dropping a line by more than three points if it’s made up of bets by Joe down the street.
Instead, it has been sharps among that 54% who have caused oddsmakers to significantly shift this number.
Two Sports Insights Bet Signals — in the form of steam moves — have hit North Texas since opening, indicating at least two instances of sudden, market-wide line movement caused by sharp action.
On top of that, the 54% of bettors behind North Texas have generated 72% of the actual money being wagered on the matchup. That means bigger bets — the ones more likely to be made by sharps — are taking the points.
Together, those factors have put too much liability on North Texas, causing oddsmakers to lower the spread in an attempt to draw Utah State bets.
Camellia Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern
5:30 p.m. ET | ESPN | Montgomery, Ala.