HomeThe ShuffleFrom Sharps to Superfans: What Kind of Sports Bettor Are You?

From Sharps to Superfans: What Kind of Sports Bettor Are You?

You may think of yourself as a winning sports bettor, but you could also be a wannabe, a pretender, a status seeker or a dabbler. Check out this list to see where you stack up.

By now, many of you may have heard about a study listing the seven categories of sports bettors.

The report, released in April by research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, had the punny title, “The More You Know the Bettor: Defining U.S. Sports Betting Customer Personas.” It identified seven basic types of bettors, from dabblers to high rollers, from “superfans” who are more about the sport to “sharps,” the steely-eyed Bret Mavericks who routinely rob the house of its edge.

The goal of the study, released in April, was to help land-based and online sports books serve every type of player.

The paper pointed out that more than 90 percent of bettors are guys (ya think?); most eventually cross over to online gambling (when they’re not hogging the remote); and that virtually everyone likes to win (duh!).

Beyond that, there are plenty of variations in this player pool.

Where do you fit on the spectrum?

  • Sharps. Driven by the profit motive, these players bet at the highest frequency, playing medium to high stakes. They win more than they lose and tend to be admired by two other groups: the Would-be Pros and High Rollers. In the movies, the Sharp would be played by George Clooney or another swaggering, self-assured type.
  • VIPs or High Rollers. These players are ego-driven and bet at low to medium frequency in multiple forms. They frequent table games and the poker room as well as the sports book and generally bring in profit due to their free-wheeling high-stakes wagers. On the big screen, this guy would be played by Tobey Maguire (no kidding—in real life, Maguire is a monster bettor—just read Molly Bloom’s memoir, Molly’s Game.)
  • Would-be Pros. These players are wannabe Sharps. Their motivation for betting on sports is primarily profit-driven, they generally bet at low to moderate stakes and moderate to high frequency and are limited by their bankroll. Would-Be Pros may engage in other forms of skill-based gambling and sit between. A young Matt Damon (circa The Talented Mr. Ripley) may have done right by this type.
  • Action Chasers. These guys are straight-up gamblers. Action Chasers are the most likely of all groups to engage in other forms of gambling, regardless of whether there’s a skill-based component or a positive-expectation return. Central Casting might call Bruce Willis or Jack Black for this role.
  • Status Seekers. These poor folks are looking for social validation in their game play. Kind of sad, really. They tend to take part in bracket contests and brag about their wins on social media. With his air of arrogance combined with insecurity, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman would have nailed this type.
  • Casual Dabblers. Eilers & Krejcik calls these folks “the sports betting equivalent of people who only go to parties on major holidays.” Their primary motivation for betting on sports is implicit or explicit social pressure. Casual Dabblers bet at low stakes and low frequency, often around major sports events like the Super Bowl. Let’s cast a classic movie nebbish in this role: Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler or the equivalent.
  • Superfans. Sports fans first, bettors second, these are the guys who paint their faces in the team colors, shave the team logo into their chest hair, wear cheese hats, and otherwise humiliate themselves to show their spirit. Their primary motivation for betting on sports is to show their love for the home team or show off their sports knowledge. If their team isn’t in contention, Superfans may not gamble at all. Thanks to the cute 2005 comedy, Fever Pitch, we see Jimmy Fallon playing this part.

According to the study, sports bettors in the U.S. now number about 15 million, a pool that could grow to 45 million by 2029. It looks like soon everybody will be able to bet on their beloved Eagles or Pats, 76ers or Celtics, Yankees or Red Sox—and do so legally.

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