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What is a sharp in gambling? Understanding Sharp Bettors

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If you’re familiar with sports betting, you probably hear the term “sharp” get thrown around a lot. A sharp in gambling is simply a bettor who’s consistent in getting their picks right. These bettors typically have a large bankroll and are sometimes capable of influencing line movement. Many casinos and sportsbooks do not allow well-known sharps to enter or play in their establishments. 

Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll talk more about sharp betting and what constitutes it. We’ll also discuss other terminology and explain what it takes to reach this level. 


We’ll start off by going over some commonly used terminology. First, we have to discuss the sharp vs. shark debate that’s commonly seen online. The proper term for gambling purposes is a sharp, but you’ll sometimes hear these used interchangeably. 

Think of a sharp bettor in terms of how you’d use the adjective to otherwise describe someone. Being sharp, by definition, means being quick-witted or keen in intellect. Therefore, a sharp gambler is someone who can recognize an edge and act on it quickly. 

In simple terms, being sharp means you’re good at what you do. Usually, this means your wins greatly outnumber your losses, sometimes to an uncanny extent. Considering that sharp bettors have more conviction in their picks than your typical bettor, the wager sizes tend to be larger. Casinos and sportsbooks might implement limits or complete bans if they catch on to an individual being too sharp for their liking. 

To Recap: 

Sharp bettor – a quick-witted individual who wins their bets at an impressive rate. 

Shark – a term that’s commonly confused with “sharp”, and honestly the term still makes sense. A shark stalking their prey in the wild is somewhat comparable to a bettor who patiently waits for an edge and then makes their move. 

Whale – might as well throw another animal term in here. In betting, a whale is an individual with an extremely large bankroll. For example, someone betting millions of dollars on each of their picks might be considered a whale. 

Wise Guy – another term for a sharp gambler. 

How To Be A Sharp

First of all, being a sharp really isn’t a title that you give yourself. People in the betting community generally catch on after years of consistent success. You can assume you’re getting there once your picks or ideas start to influence other people. Realistically, the word is subjective by nature, so there’s no true guidance in terms of becoming a sharp. 

The bottom line is that being a smart bettor will help you reach higher levels in the long run. Tracking your bets, for example, will help you identify your strongest sports and focus on them. A winning history and proven track record in a particular sport will eventually contribute to being sharp if you’re actively promoting yourself. 

Make sure to put yourself in the best situation by checking out the lines for a slate when they open. Vegas’ simulations might initially put out favorable lines that are worth betting on before there’s line movement. If you’ve heard of the saying “the early bird gets the worm”, the same thing applies here. 

Although it’s not completely indicative of sharp status, you’ll know you’re getting somewhere when books start to limit you. For example, you might be a regular $2,500 bettor but login one day to see your max bet is now $1,500. This is an example of the book catching on to your success. They place a limit to prevent you from winning too much money at too fast of a rate – or because they’re otherwise suspicious. 


If you’re looking for examples of sharp bettors, just look to where their play is allowed. Only select casinos and sportsbooks allowed professional sports bettors to take part, and among them are the Westgate SuperBook and Pinnacle Sportsbook. Many books will allow successful bettors but quickly end up limiting the amount of money they can bet on each pick. 

A prime example of a gambling sharp is Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos. Spanky has been in the industry for decades and has established himself as a betting legend in New Jersey. He’s become so good at sports betting over the years that many online sportsbooks won’t allow him to wager. 

Below is video proof of what it’s like being a sharp and showing up to certain casinos. This video was posted by Spanky himself, and it just goes to show that the books fear this man.

Being a profitable bettor is a goal for everyone who partakes, but evidently too much success can result in issues. If you’re successful, it seems like you don’t want to have a lot of fame associated with you because the books and casinos can identify you. 

Fortunately, for people like Spanky, you can use this fame to your advantage. Despite being banned from several online books, he has a successful sports betting podcast and betting software. Once you reach a certain point, your influence allows you to maintain success in the industry. 

There are plenty of sharp bettors riding a similar wave. You can quickly identify who’s legitimately good and who’s a fraud by doing a bit of research. More often than not, sharp bettors are not the type of people to gloat about their successes or put out a lot of information for free.  


You now know everything there is to know about sharp bettors. To recap, a sharp in gambling is someone who wins at a very high rate. Due to their success, these bettors can influence line movement and sometimes be banned from placing wagers. 

Throughout this article, we’ve provided a formal definition of the term and answered some frequently asked questions. Note that the information in this article is not financial advice. Look at this article as an educational resource so you can become a more informed bettor going forward. 

Thank you for reading this article! Remember to check back frequently for more betting resources and the best picks across every sport.