Sharp vs Soft Bookmakers: What’s The Difference?

Sharp vs Soft Bookmakers Whats The Difference 02

The sports betting industry has continued to gain momentum over recent years and has evolved into a highly competitive global industry. Consequently, with the rise of the internet, the rapid development of software technologies, and the increased usage of mobile devices, the bookmaking landscape has also dramatically changed. There is a wide range of online sportsbooks where sports bettors can partake in online soccer betting in Singapore.

Online bookmakers are essentially the platforms that facilitate sports betting. They calculate odds on sporting events, accept bets from bettors, and pay them out if they win. There are two major types of bookmakers: sharp and soft bookmakers. Here are some key points on how they differ from one another:

Target Market

Sharp bookmakers are aimed at professional sports bettors, commonly known as “sharps” or “wiseguys.” Sharp bettors are seasoned gambling veterans with long track records of success and a goal to profit from betting. They place bets based on the value of betting numbers – only placing bets when they have a perceived advantage over the sportsbooks – and based on data they have gathered.

On the other hand, soft bookmakers are the opposite of sharp bookies: they are aimed at square bettors or the betting public. Square bettors also referred to as “average Joes,” “recreational bettors,” or “casual bettors,” often consider gambling as a form of entertainment and usually bet for fun. They place small wagers and bet based mainly on gut instinct and bias, often backing their favourite team or player. 

Business Model

Sharp bookmakers model their business on a low margin from high turnover. This means they take a smaller margin on the game’s odds, usually around two per cent. Accordingly, the low margins enable sharp bookies to provide bettors with much higher odds than their counterparts and accurately reflect an event’s probability, for instance, a team winning the game.

Meanwhile, the business model of soft bookmakers is based on higher margins, taking about five to ten per cent on the odds of a game. Hence, the odds often do not reflect the actual probabilities of winning or losing. For instance, in a game of toss coin, soft bookies will offer odds of 1.80 instead of 2.00 odds and take a 0.20 margin. 

Betting Odds

Sharp bookmakers utilise sophisticated mathematical models and systems and employ traders to create their odd lines and constantly adjust their odds based on market changes. They are essentially called sharp because they react more quickly and update their odds accordingly, typically in seconds. This rapid adjustment odds make sharp bookmakers are harder to beat.

In contrast, soft bookmakers are typically slower in changing their odds, as they still employ traders and manual systems. They manually adjust their lines or copy the lines of sharp bookies. Thus, when there are changes in the betting markets, there is a delay in changes on their odds, typically minutes behind sharp bookies. This slow change in odds makes soft bookmakers easier to beat.

Betting Limits

Sharp bettors turn to sharp bookmakers when partaking in betting activities because of the high odds and because sharp bookies allow higher betting limits. This means that account restriction or banning is less likely to happen on this type of bookmaker.

Conversely, soft bookmakers feature low max betting limits to prevent sharps from betting big on their offered betting markets. Apart from this, account restriction or banning happens more often and quickly on soft bookies. They do this when they spot gamblers whose behaviour on their website is deemed a big risk to their business.

Marketing Efforts

Sharp bookmakers spend less on marketing and usually have smaller welcome bonuses. This enables them to offer better odds and prices enticing to sharp bettors.

In contrast, soft bookmakers have active marketing efforts – spending money on advertising and offering the best bonuses and promotions. Investing in advertising and improving brand recognition enables them to reach more casual or recreational punters and increase their customer base.

Which Type of Sportsbook Should Bettors Use?

Professional and square bettors can use both sharp and soft bookmakers. There are certain advantages to using both types of bookmakers.

Sharp bookmakers offer higher odds and allow high stakes, advantageous for gamblers who want to increase their potential winnings. Of course, bettors placing bets on sharp bookmakers will also have to improve their betting skills and employ effective strategies to increase their chances of winning a bet.

Soft bookmakers offer the best bonuses, boosting bettors’ betting experience. For example, matched bettors see value in free bets. Bookies offer these bets to let bettors get a “free taste” of the betting experience from using the betting platforms.

Moreover, both sharp and soft bookmakers have their advantages for arbitrage bettors. In arbitrage betting, sports bettors make multiple bets on the same event to guarantee a profit. The advantage of using sharp bookies for arbitrage betting is that these sportsbooks are less likely to impose limits on betting accounts of bettors.

There are often arbitrage opportunities with soft bookmakers, as this type of sportsbook can be slower to update their odds. But despite the frequent opportunities for arbitrage betting, bettors should avoid arbing most of the time to avoid getting their account limited, or worse, be banned from the sports betting website.

Other Factors to Consider When Selecting a Sports Betting Site

The type of bookmaker is only one of the many factors that sports bettors must deliberate upon when choosing the best sportsbook for their betting activities. They also have to consider the different types of games or matches and the betting markets covered by the bookmaker.

Furthermore, bettors have to check the different banking options offered by the sportsbook to ensure they have reliable deposit and withdrawal methods to use. They also have to determine if the bookmaker has excellent customer service and actively offers bettors having issues with the platform. And, of course, they have to consider the bookmaker’s licensing and reputation.

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Read More: How to Bet Legally in Malaysia