Sports picking basics and process with pick terms defined
For any sporting event, there are a handful of outcomes that can be predicted including:
- Which team or participant will win the event?
- Will a team win by more than a certain amount of points (or goals or runs)?
- How many total points (or goals or runs) will be scored by both teams?
The best way to learn is by example. Let's say the Indiana Pacers are playing the Indiana Pacers in the NBA. Here's how this game might be presented to you on SportsPlays in step 1 of the picking process:
What does all of this information mean? Let's take each one at a time in order:
Time – displays the date and time of the event.
Rot – this is the rotation number and is an arbitrary unique ID for each team or participant in the event.
Teams – these are the team names (or individual names for tennis, boxing and MMA).
ATS stands for Against-the-Spread ("spread"). In the Pacers/76ers example above, the spread is set at points. Indiana's spread is -3 and Philadelphia's spread is +3. Indiana is a 3-point favorite (favorites are "-" minus) and Philadelphia is a 3-point underdog (underdogs are "+" plus). The underdog (the worse team) is "getting" 3 points while the favorite (the better team) is "giving" 3 points.
The spread is a way to "equalize" the teams so to speak for picking purposes. If you want to pick either of the teams against the spread, you simply add their spread to the final score of the game to determine the winner. So if you pick Philadelphia +3 and they lose the game by 2 points, you would still win your pick (because we add 3-points to their final score). If you pick Indiana at -3, they would need to win the game by 4 or more points for you to win your pick.
So if you pick Philadelphia +3 and the final score is 110 - 112 with the 76ers losing the game by 2 points, you would still win your pick (because we add 3 points to their final score of 110). If you pick Indiana at -3, they would need to win the game by 4 or more points for you to win your pick. If Indiana was to win by exactly 3 points, any ATS picks on either team would be considered a "push." A push simply means you neither win nor lose your pick. If a push occurs, the amount you risked on the pick is returned to you without any winnings or loss (it's as if the pick never took place).
The numbers in parentheses like (-110) are called the "odds" on the pick. The odds show how much you would have to risk to win $100. A negative number like -110 means you risk $110 to win $100 (or any multiple thereof). A positive number means you receive that figure back for risking $100. So odds of +100 would mean you risk $100 to win $100. Odds of +110 would mean you are risking $100 to win $110. Remember, you don't have to risk exactly $100 - that's just the figure used to show the odds.
The total reflects the total number of points (or runs or goals) that BOTH teams will score during the entire event. In the case above, the total is set at 186.5. You can either pick that more than 186.5 points will be score (this is called picking the "over" and is designated by an "O" in the Total column. Or, you can pick that fewer than 186.5 points will be scored (called picking the "under" and this is designated above by a "U").
If you pick the "over" and 187 or more points are scored, you would win your pick. If 186 or fewer points were scored, you would lose your pick.
The moneyline is simply a way of picking which team (or participant) will win the event. There is no "spread" for moneyline picks. If you pick a team to win using the moneyline and they win the event, you win your pick. The numbers shown in the Moneyline column reflect the odds at which you will be able to place your pick. A negative number (i.e. -230) means you are picking the favorite (the better team). A positive number means you are picking the underdog. As described above, a negative number shows the amount you would have to risk to win $100. So at -230 odds, you would be risking $230 to win $100. Positive odds indicate the amount you would win if you risk $100. At +210 odds, you would be risking $100 to win $210. So, if you pick the favorite, you have to risk more to win less and if you pick the underdog, you risk less to win more.
In soccer, you are also allowed to pick a Draw in which case you are predicting the teams will tie. Other sports do not have Draw picks.
The tools provide a way to view information that can help you make wiser choices in your picks. You can view stats on the teams and the matchups, injuries and public picking numbers. Click on any icon to see examples of the tools.
Once you get the hang of making the individual picks (called "straight picks") as described above, you can try combining picks together. There are two ways you can combine picks: Parlays and Teasers.
To place a Parlay or Teaser pick, select the appropriate tab in the top row in step 1 of the picking process:
Parlays are combinations of 2 to 10 individual picks. In order for a parlay to win, all of the individual picks within the parlay must win. If just one pick within a parlay fails to win, then the parlay loses. The benefit of picking parlays is that the payouts are much bigger than making straight picks. If you can successfully combine picks in parlays, your winnings will be much higher than making straight picks.
Teasers are similar to parlays in that you are combining multiple picks into one larger pick (available only for football and basketball). Like parlays, in order for a teaser to win, all picks within the teaser must win. Teasers however are easier to win because they allow you to adjusting the spread or total in your favor. Each individual pick becomes easier to win. The downside is that the picks pay out at lower (worse) odds than if you weren't adjusting the spread or total. So, think of a teaser as a parlay with adjusted (favorable) spreads/totals.
For more information on teasers, see teasers explained.
Buying and Selling Points
In football and basketball, you may "buy” and “sell” points on sides and totals to adjust the lines and odds. You may buy or sell up to 3 full points in 1/2 point increments.
Buying points allows you to move the point spread or total for a game in your favor, increasing your chance of winning your pick by receiving a more favorable line on the game. For example, it's easier to win a pick at +3.5 than it is to win at +3. There is a “cost” associated with buying points. Each 1/2 point purchased worsens the odds by 10 "cents.” For example, buying a half a point would move the odds from -110 to -120. Buying a full point moves the odds from -110 to -130. The lower the odds, the lower the payout for a win on that pick. When buying on or off of a spread of 3 in football, you pay an additional 15 cents in odds for a total cost of 25 cents and when buying on or off of a spread of 7 in football, you’ll pay an additional 10 cents in odds for a total cost of 20 cents. When buying on or off of NFL totals of 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 51, you pay an additional 10 cents in odds for a total cost of 20 cents.
Selling points is the opposite of buying points. Selling points results in a less favorable line, but more favorable odds on the pick. For each 1/2 point you sell, you get an additional 5 cents of odds in your favor. For example, you could move an underdog from +5 points with -110 odds to +4 points with +100 odds. Or you could move a pick on the OVER from 45 at -110 odds to 44.5 at -105 odds. When selling on or off of a spread of 3 or 7 in football, you get an additional 5 cents in odds for a total increase in odds of 10 cents.
To buy or sell points, use the slider during Step 2 of the picking process: