Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Richard Burdekin

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© 2014 Philip S. Crawford


Participants in the NFL gambling market can largely be divided into two distinct groups: informed bettors (“Sharps”) and uninformed bettors (“Squares”). Empirical and anecdotal evidence suggest that the dynamic between Sharp and Square bettors is very similar to that between institutional and retail investors. Professionals tend to be far better informed and utilize rational betting/investing strategies while individuals exhibit biases which perpetuate irrational strategies and therefore pricing inefficiencies. This study finds that uninformed participants in financial markets and the NFL betting market do share similar biases, and that these biases can be exploited by informed participants to generate positive excess returns. The ability of Sharp bettors to generate excess returns, much like professional investors, is well covered in academic research. This study adds to the existing literature by analyzing whether “Follower” bettors can achieve statistically significant excess returns and higher than expected winning percentages by identifying reverse line movements and imitating the bets of Sharp gamblers.