Note: Before you read this, note that I’m not in any way advocating, promoting or recommending gambling. This is just a tutorial for people who have questions about the sports picks section of our website.
Since we are starting this sports handicapping section, I understand that some of our readers might not know everything there is to know about sports betting. Here are some frequently asked questions:
How does the spread work?
Picking a straight-up winner is easy; all you have to do is select which team has the highest score at the end. That’s why the spread exists. Let’s look at this example: Redskins at Ravens (-7.5). This means that the Ravens are favored by 7.5 points over the Redskins in this particular game. Therefore if I pick the Redskins, they can either win or lose by up to 7 points and I still win. For me to pick the Ravens with the spread and win I would need the Ravens to win by 8 or more points.
On the other hand sometimes the spread will read Redskins (+7.5) at Ravens. This is saying the same exact thing as the first spread just in a different way. Basically what it’s saying is that it gives the Redskins plus 7.5 points to start and to win on either side of the spread, it’s the same exact thing as the one right above, just written differently.
Why the .5? Why isn’t the spread just -7?
A lot of spreads are even but when you add the odds makers add the .5 on the end, it guarantees that there will be no ties (pushes) and one side or the other of the betting spectrum will win.
What happens when you push? Do you get your money back?
Yes, almost always.
What does it mean when I see Redskins (-7) (-200)?
This is more common in straight up bets, but when you see that, that means you will get half of your money back plus your original bet if you win.
OK, I get the spread and total, but I’ve seen something like +200 or -300 on some of betting lines. What’s that about?
Baseball and hockey don’t use point spreads; they use the money line. A typical baseball line might look like this:
Nationals (+160) at Orioles (-180).
In this case, all you have to do is pick which team wins. The catch is, taking the Mets comes at a price. Let’s say you want to win $100 by betting on the Mets. If they win, you collect $100. If they lose, however, you have to give up $180 (hence the -180). It also occurs all the time in football for example:
Redskins at Ravens (-13.5 -110).
The -110 is standard, so it’s applied to all the lines. However, it’s not uncommon to see something like this:
Redskins (46.5 -105) at Ravens (-13.5 -125).
In this case, the juice for taking the Colts is 25 percent. So if your Colts cover, you win $100. If they don’t, you lose $100 plus the $25.
Now going back to the baseball example. Say you don’t think the Mets are going to win and you select the Nationals.
Let’s say you bet $100 on the Nationals. If they lose, you only lose $100. If they win, you collect $160 (hence the +160).
This happens because the Nationals are an underdog. The juice in this case is actually in your favor because the odds are already stacked against that team.
What are Units?
If you only like one team to cover, and you love another to cover, you’re not going to bet the same on each game, right? That’s why the unit system exists. A unit is how much you ordinarily bet on a team. For our site we are going to use each unit as $10 dollars because that is a good and fairly reasonable starting point for most people. Almost all of our games will range between 1-10 units, which in effect equals between 10 and 100 dollars. Every once in a while we will go for more than that, but only if we are extremely confident, usually our max is 10. (Once again we are not actually betting any money, it’s strictly for entertainment purposes only)
What does ATS mean?
Against the spread, we will post our concurrent record against the spread for every season and every different sport, as well as our career numbers.