By Tony George
I have been asked on numerous occasions by new visitors to the site to give a laments terms perspective for those "Newbies" who would like to invest in plays and make sensible wagers on Sporting Events against the Las Vegas Line. No doubt with the amount of experience on this website, there are plenty opportunities to give you an edge with your selection investment in the professional cappers here to make some money from sports wagering.
With my 21 years of experience heading into 2012 in this business of handicapping, and the business of gambling, I sometimes take for granted that everyone knows what ATS means (Against The Spread), but then again there are new people every day wanting to get some action down on a game or two and learn the craft in the process, so I will in clear terms lay out some general guidelines and explanations of sports wagering, and the slang terms involved with it.
57% to 60% is a GREAT record overall in any sport for a handicapper in terms of win percentage for a season. The break even point with vig or juice (10% book fee if you lose) is 52.8% If you believe loud mouthed touts that say they are 82% in winners lifetime or for a season, they are flat out lying when it comes to long term results, even 30 days of plays. There are those rare occasions where a capper gets on a roll and rips off 20 straight. Joe Gavazzi on my site last year went an astounding 31-9 in the MLB Playoffs, almost unheard of.
Handicappers who specialize in bigger plays or have a rare Top Play or Game of the Month, say a 2 or 3 unit play, you should expect a higher win percentage as those plays are rare. Mine are closer to 70% and higher on those. When you go to a website or listen to a tout on the radio claiming he has a game of the year every single weekend, AVOID IT. That simply is sales hype. Real brand name handicappers pretty much stick to the flat betting approach (equal amounts of money on every wager), throwing in some higher rated unit type games once a week or so.
My best year ever was 2004 in the NFL when I went 52-17 ATS for the season, which is near 70%. I also went 68% ATS in college football that year, and I won many awards including the Ultimate Handicapping Challenge and finished 4th in the Golden Nugget contest in Las Vegas out of over 100 guys. That is a RARE feat and almost impossible to match, but I try anyway. Managing your expectations is KEY to using discipline when wagering. YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE CLOSE TO 40% of the time. Make sure you have the financial means to cover this and the discipline and will power not to load up on 1 play with a large percentage of your bankroll to make up for losses. A sure way to find the front door to the poorhouse if you do.
The line is EVERYTHING when it comes to handicapping games. Professional handicappers weigh the line more than the game itself. It is complicated and that is a whole other article, but in football for instance here is the deal. If the Dolphins are -3.5 to the Jets, that means they are FAVORED 3 1/2 points over the Jets. They have to win by 4 points in essence for you to cover your wager. If you have the Jets in this scenario, then your number is the Jets +3.5. That means they are the Underdog. So if Miami wins the game 20-17, the winning wager is the Jets, because the half point made the UNDERDOG at +3.5 a winner. That extra half a point is what is referred to as the HOOK.
MONEYLINES - RUN LINES
These refer to MLB and Hockey. It also refers to prop type bets. In MLB if the Royals are -125 to the Tigers, that means Kansas City is basically laying 12.5/10 odds. You have to wager $125 to win a $100. If the line is Kansas City -185, they you have to lay $185 to win a $100. There is also the VIG which you can get DIME LINES or 10% of the bet, so in essence you are wagering $135 to win $100 on the opening line in this paragraph at Kansas City -125. The Minus sign in front of the number is showing the favorite. The + sign in front of a number denotes the underdog.
If you are taking the Tigers you may get +117, because the Underdog line on moneylines does not match the favorite line. So in the case of +117, you would win $117 for a $100 wager. In the case of KC laying -185, the average underdog line here would be around +165 on Detroit. So you would win $165 for a $100 wager, and of course the juice or dime line is backed out after winning. THERE IS NO SPREAD- If your team wins 5-4, they win, no spread involved, and you win your wager.
Hockey is the same way, moneylines on teams. The KEY is not get crazy with moneylines and stretch yourself out. Moneyline can go to -320 or higher, never a smart wager. Say the Yankees are playing a weak sister at home, you pay a HUGE price if they lose. I do not lay over -150 on any game in MLB, the downside is too great. Many handicappers out there will have three plays on a card, all heavy favorites. Say -185, one for -210 and one for -230. If you wager on them all and go 0-3, it breaks you quickly. Moneyline wagering looks easy because heavy favorites like the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox for instance are playing the worst team in their division at home, but marquee teams lose in pro sports all the time, so do not say I did not warn you.
FLAT BETTING - Units
What does this mean? Flat betting is the heart and soul of sports wagering. Any handicapper that does not tell you this is not a good handicapper. It simply means equal amounts of money on every wager. UNITS or a UNIT is your normal wager. If you play $50 a game or $100 a game for instance, then a 1 Unit Play is a $100 wager plus your $10 vig or juice. So a 3 Unit Wager would be 3 X that amount or a $330 wager. 90% of my plays are 1 Unit Plays. So when a game writeup shows up after you purchase, at the end it says Play 1 Unit on Detroit -4, then you are laying $110 on the Lions if you are a $100 player.
Run lines involve moneyline wagering as explained above, HOWEVER there is a spread involved now. The good thing is a run line lowers the odds on heavy favorites, the bad news is they need to win by 1.5 runs.
EXAMPLE: Yankees are laying -230 in a game to Baltimore at home with Sabathia on the hill for them. Lets assume the O's are as bad as they usually are(unitl last year) and have a pitcher starting with a 6.25 ERA against Sabathia's 2.30 ERA. Lets also assume the Yankees bullpen has a recent 5 game ERA of 2.75 versus the O's bullpen ERA of 5.87. WOW, now that smells like a blowout but I hate to lay this kind of number at -230. If I bet a runline, it would look like this. Yankees -1.5 (-125). So what I have done is reduced the overall moneyline from -230 to -125 BUT I have to lay 1.5 runs or in essence the Yankees have to win this game by 2 runs in order to cover the bet.
On the other side, you could take +1.5 runs and lower the odds from an example on Baltimore at +220 down to +140 but you get the 1.5 run or 2 run cushion to cover. So if NY wins 5-4 and you have +1.5 on the runline on the O's, you cash the wager although they did not win and still get them at underdog odds.
Sounds easy but again, I put out maybe 5-8 run lines all season, they are tricky. How many times do you see the team always expected to win big having a final score of 5-4 or 3-2. Tread lightly with sure things, they usually never are.
THE VIG with Lines Against the Spread
The Vig, or Juice is 10% of your wager with any sportsbook online or in Las Vegas. If you bet a $100 you actually bet $110. If you win that $10 refunded, and if you lose you lose it to the book. This in essence is how large sportsbooks make money at 11 to 10 odds with straight bets against the line. Their ultimate goal is to balance their action, pay everyone out and make 10% on their overall handle.
Meaning on a Super Bowl where 3 million dollars is bet at the Hilton in Las Vegas, they would prefer even action on both sides, and they move the lines as to best balance the action at their book 50/50 on any game. So in the case of 3 million dollars at 50/50 on the Favorite and the Underdog, they payout 1.5 million but keep 1.5 million PLUS the 10% or they rake in $150,000 on that game. Lines are adjusted and move based on a sportbook trying to balance their action and move incoming wagers in a different direction.
This is exactly what it says. Over or Under on a stated total. So on Monday Night football the total is 41. You either wager that the total goes Over 41 or Under 41. That is total points combined by both teams. Same thing in Hockey, Baseball, NBA and College sports. Over or Under the stated line.
A Push is a tie, no money changes hands the wager is written off as a tie. So if you took +3 points on an underdog in football or basketball, lets say football, and the final score was 21-24 and you either laid the 3 or took the 3, there is no winning or losing wager. The same thing with a totals play. If you took a toal in the NBA at 203 and the score was 101 -102 then it landed on 203. If you had either Over or Under, the bet is graded as a tie and no money changes hands, you wager is refunded along with the vig.
Parlay cards, 3 team parlays, round robin parlays, Teasers. All are exotic wagers including Prop Bets. A prop bet is like betting -130 on a team to win a divisional playoff series in the NBA. Say you want to bet the Bengals as a long shot to win a Super Bowl. So you bet 30 to 1. So if you bet a 100 dollars on that wager, your payout is $3000.
The moneylines on props are the same as baseball or hockey. If you want to play a super bowl prop bet that Peyton Manning in the super bowl throws over or under 3 TD passes and you like the Over 3 TD passes, at -140, then you are laying a moneyline wager at $140 to win $100.
are multiple games wagered and all have to come in and cover the spread, to cover the bet. Again, If you have a 3 team parlay then all 3 teams must cover the number in order to win. They payouts can be big but winning 3 to 5 games in a parlay against the spread is difficult and a waste of money, but I am a conventional wagerer. 2 team parlays can be a good deal and the payout is decent. Just Google parlay payouts and you can see a table of what they payout. It is better than even money but again with high reward, comes high risk.
in football are worth your time, but you need to know what you are doing. I do them in the NFL weekly and make big money from them for my clients. Let me give you an example. They are either 11/10 odds or 12/10 odds. I only do 2 team teasers but you can do as many teams as you want. So a 2 Team 6 Point Teaser means this: Oddsmakers are making you wager 2 sides or totals plays, and they are giving you 6 points to use on EACH wager. I use them soley in the NFL to get off fall numbers (see below) or watch my Teaser Video on this site for a more in depth look I did for Pregame TV this year.
EXAMPLE: Kansas City is a +5 road dog at Denver. Washington is a +4 home underdog to the Giants. With a 2 team Teaser, where I like both underdogs, I will add 6 points to each line. So my wager is now Kansas City +11 and Washington +10. Both bets have to cover in order to win money. I will take double digits in the NFL and get away from all fall numbers many times.
EXAMPLE 2: Now lets do the opposite. Lets say the Steelers are laying -10 to the Browns at home and San Fran is -3 at home to the Seahawks. I like both favs but want some added points so I do a 6 point, 2 team Teaser. So my wager is down teased down on the favorites. So my wager is now Pittsburgh -4 and San Fran +3. Both have to win to cover the Teaser bet.
You can tease totals up or down 6 points depending on what you like as well. A total is at 42 and you like the OVER on a wager but in a teaser you can tease it down to 36 and then take the over. Simple Match here. You can mix Sides and Totals on a 2 team teaser together as well.
I only do Teasers in the NFL. They are a waste of money in NCAA Basketball or the NBA because you get just 4 points to work with in many cases. I never play these in NCAA Football, just the NFL You can as a bettor do what you want, but I find the most value using them in the NFL at a high success rate.
Fall numbers are mainly used for reference in football. These fall numbers are what I refer to in Teaser writeups and promo's and my TV vids and their importance in handicapping a game. Professional handicappers in football especially, handicap the line as much if not more than the game. You often hear, "that is a bad number". For instance laying 5 points in football is simply a bad number. Another one is 3.5 points. You see a lot of those 3.5 point spreads on Monday Night Football for instance or in big college games between ranked teams in a conference game.
The numbers are 3-6--7-10-13-14.
These are numbers or the difference in the final score that allot of games land on. Teasers can manipulate your wager to get them either off a fall number or on a fall number. In 2011 in the NFL season for example to bring this to light, Weeks 12 and 13 of the NFL season the final scores landed on fall numbers 75% of the time in those 2 weeks.
Here are some betting terms:
Juice / Vig
- The 10% you lay when you wager at 11 to 10 odds
- The half point attached to a line.
Buy the Line down -
a team that is laying -3.5, and you want to get rid of the half point or hook, you can buy the line down to -3 but have to increase the vig, or you lay 20%. So instead of a normal football wager at -3.5 for -110 or 11 to 10 odds, you are now laying -3 at -120 or 12 to 10 odds. I rarely do this if at all but it is possible.
- Not betting the game, but betting season totals, player props, teams to win divisions or leagues. Heads or tails in the Super Bowl is a prop bet
- Against the Spread
- Straight up
- Points per Game
- That means tie - no one wins the bet
- A website or company a handicapper submits play to to be graded and ranked against other cappers
Fade a Team
- That means to go against a team
- You hear lines are chalky. That means heavy favorites or the number being laid by the favorite
Nickel Bet - Dime Bet
- A dime bet is $1000 and nickel bet is $500
- The amount of money you have set aside for wager purposes.
Hedging a bet
- Taking the opposite side in a wager of your original position or wager in a game
Fade the Public
- Go against Public opinion
- This means a line is not sharp, it means there is an advantage to sharp players with a posted line - value in the line
- The lines are tight and offer little advantage
Laying the wood
- Means you are will to lay a big number in a game.