What is a ‘Sharp’?

A sharp, more commonly known as a ‘card sharp’, is someone with a lot of skill in their game. A sharp might be good at handling the cards, using sleight of hand to stack or strip the deck, or using their showmanship and dexterity to entertain the table.

A card sharp might also be someone who can read the game well, play on weaker players’ abilities and come away with wins more often than not. A ‘sharp’ might also be known as a ‘shark‘ in certain contexts.

‘Sharp’ Explained

In casino card games, such as poker, a sharp is a player who demonstrates a lot of skill while playing. It could also mean a player who cheats at the game, although this is more usually a ‘shark’. Card sharps are more commonly skilled players who have a knack for reading the game and predicting the plays of others.

Sharps might employ techniques which are underhand but not illegal, such as card counting, to assist with their play. A card sharp will often walk away with the whole table’s chips at the end of the game and they may or may not do this through fair play.

In some circles, ‘sharps’ are the most respected of players. They have the ability to make strong decisions and they play well against weaker opponents, often intimidating them into folding. Sharps will play a variety of hands, although they might give the impression of tight play in order to throw the other players off their own game.

Some players will avoid going up against anyone they perceive as a ‘sharp’, preferring to play among others of average ability and skill. Others will enjoy the challenge of a little competition and will welcome the chance to go ‘heads-up’ against a good sharp.