This page is to help anyone who is not familiar with the betting terminology or strategies I use on SharpClarke. If you have additional questions or terms you are not familiar with, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
Point Spread, Spread, or Against the Spread: Sportsbooks create the spread to induce equal action on both sides of a game by giving one team a certain amount of free points to make it a fair bet. A negative number (like -6.5) indicates a favorite. If you bet on the favorite, they must “cover” that number by winning the game by more than that amount. A positive number (like +4.5) indicates an underdog. If you bet on the underdog, they can “cover” that number and win your bet by winning the game or by losing the game by less than that amount.
Moneyline: A simple bet on which team will win the game. You win a money line bet if your team wins the game, regardless of the final score. These will typically not be equal odds bets, as an underdog will pay you more money for winning than a favorite. Odds are explained below.
Game Total or Total: A bet on the total number of points scored in a game. It doesn’t matter for purposes of these bets which team scores the points. So a bet of “Over 45.5” would be successful if the score was 46-0 or if it was 24-22, regardless of which team wins.
Player Prop: A bet on individual player statistics in a given game. This can include an Over/Under bet on a player’s receiving, rushing, or passing yards in a game, or whether the player will score a touchdown, or pretty much anything else. These work similar to game total bets, but for player production instead of total points.
Push: When a bet neither wins nor loses (for example, if a 3-point favorite wins by 3), your bet “pushes.” The result is that your bet is returned to you with no additional winnings, as if you had not made the bet in the first place.
Q: Every bet has a number next to it like (-110) or (+250). What exactly does this mean?
A: This number is the odds on the bet (in American Odds). A negative number indicates a theoretical “favorite” that will pay less than your bet amount if you win. The exact number represents how much you’d have to bet to win $100. So a $110 bet on (-110) odds would win you an additional $100 (in addition to getting your $110 bet back).
A positive number indicates a theoretical “underdog” that will pay more than your bet if you win. The exact number represents how much you would win if you bet $100. For example, a $100 bet on (+250) would win you an additional $250 (in addition to getting your $100 bet back).
On SharpClarke we deal with American Odds, but other notations do exist if you’re interested.
Q. Your bets have “DK,” “FD”, or “MGM” next to them. What does this mean?
A: Different Sportsbooks offer different prices (or lines) on each game. Having multiple places to place a bet increases the value of your bets in the same way that shopping around for anything else can lead to a cheaper price. If you are betting a meaningful amount of money, “line shopping” is strongly recommended. I currently use three Sportsbooks that are available in my state: DK (DraftKings), FD (FanDuel), and MGM (BetMGM). The notation by each bet shows the Sportsbook where I placed that specific bet for accountability purposes.
Parlay: Combining two or more bets on different outcomes into one collective bet. In order to win a parlay, every “leg” (individual bet on the parlay) must be successful. If only one “leg” fails, the entire bet is lost. Parlays can create “longer” odds (meaning higher payouts on lower bets). For example, a parlay of three (-110) bets will usually pay around (+600). So, if you get all three correct, a $100 bet would win an additional $600.
Teaser: A type of parlay where the Sportsbook gives you a discount on the point spread or game total for each “leg” of the teaser. So a 6-point teaser will take two or more different bets and give you an additional 6 points on each leg. You win the bet only if all legs are successful. For example: I want to tease KC -6.5 and LAC +4.5 for 6 points each. The teaser will look like: KC -0.5, LAC +10.5. If KC wins by at least 1 and LAC stays within 10 or fewer (or wins), the teaser wins. These typically have much worse odds than parlays given that the odds favor you. For example, the 2-team 6 point teaser above might pay around (-120) or (-130).
Q: All of your bets have an amount in “Units.” How much is a Unit and why do you sometimes use weird decimals?
Using “Unit” bets allows me to size my bets to demonstrate confidence and to standardize my net winnings and losses regardless of how much money is actually being bet. I recommend that 1 Unit represents 1/100th of your entire bankroll set aside for betting on the NFL. So, if you have $1,000 in your NFL betting bankroll, each Unit is $10. If you have $10,000, each Unit is $100.
I use decimals to accurately portray my exact winnings and losses. Some NFL pickers claim to have a winning record but count every win and loss the same even though most spread bets are (-110). When betting on (-110) odds you must bet $110 to win $100. Going 1-1 on 2 $100 bets will actually cost you $10 (Win $100 and lose $110). If someone claims to go 35-33 in a season betting 1 Unit per game against the spread, they might claim to have won 2 Units that season. But that’s not accurate. They actually would have lost money (around 1.3 Units) because of the juice, or the cut that the Sportsbook takes.
SharpClarke Rating or Rating: The score from 1-10 I award to a team based on its offensive or defensive performance in a given week, regardless of outcome. I determine this Rating using an analytical process that involves watching every snap and evaluating holistic performance independent of any statistical metric.
Adjusted SharpClarke Rating or Adjusted Rating: A team’s SharpClarke Rating as compared to the opponent’s average Rating allowed to teams on that side of the ball over the course of the season. The Adjusted Rating forms the basis of my team rankings as it factors in relative strength of opponents and true performance.
Break-Even Percentage: A useful number that translates a given bet’s odds into a number that represents how frequently the bet must succeed in order to be a winning bet in the long run. If I have 55% confidence in a bet, but the break-even percentage on the odds given is 58%, I will not make that bet. To calculate a bet’s break-even percentage:
1. For favorite bets, divide the odds number by (100 + the odds number). For example, the break-even percentage of a (-110) bet is 110/(100+110), or 52.4%.
2. For underdog bets, divide 100 by (100 + the odds number). For example, the break-even percentage of a (+120) bet is 100/(100+120), or 45.5%.