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Educating the Gambler 101


What is a "unit" in sports gambling?

A “unit” in sports betting is a measurement of the size of someone’s bet.  Because everyone has different sized bankrolls for sports betting,  using the term unit is a way for us to show your profit or loss in  universal terms.

Someone who is betting $10,000 per bet against the spread in NFL and  is up $18,000 on the season isn’t nearly as impressive as someone who  bets $10 per bet against the spread and is up $180 on the season. Using  units gives us a tool to keep track of profits and losses without the  dollar value.

How much should I bet each game?

 Every “sharp” is well-versed in sports  betting money management. If you’re just getting started in sports betting, it’s essential to learn the basics of how to manage your hard-earned funds. In this guide, we’ll take you through the  necessities, and then move onto a slightly more sophisticated method of  money management. 


Yes. Every sports bettor should  always be conscious of their bankroll, no matter how often or how much  they intend to bet. To be successful, it’s necessary to blend your  sports knowledge and research with a tiny bit of mathematical precision.

Even if you’re just looking to inject  a bit of excitement into the week’s games – or turn a profit – you need  to know how to manage your money realistically. If you don’t know how  to handle your money, you’re going to suffer. Whether you’re looking to  maximize entertainment or your bottom line, money management is  essential.

Money Management Strategy

Many of the same principles of that  we’re going to recommend are rooted in simple financial strategy.  Serious financial advisors, money managers, and anyone of a similar mold  employ at least some form of the plan we suggested. At the heart of  sports betting money management, (and investing in general) is learning  and developing systems to manage your capital in a manner that is  conducive to long-term gains.

When you lay a bet against the  spread, how different is that than purchasing a security on the stock  market? When it comes to money management and allocation of capital, the  answer is not much different. You’re trying to come out a winner by  manipulating a system to your financial benefit. 

Gambling Lingo

Sports betting lingo can be confusing, especially those new to the  industry. The glossary below contains many of the most commonly-used  terms, concepts and strategies that you will see on this site and across  sports betting as a whole.

Action – A wager of any kind.

Added Game – A game that is not part of the regular  Las Vegas rotation. Oftentimes this will be a rescheduled game or the  second game of a doubleheader.

Against the Spread (ATS) – Refers to taking or laying points (aka the spread) as opposed to taking a game straight-up.

Arbitrage – The simultaneous purchase and sale of the same game in different markets to profit from unequal prices.

Bankroll – The available funds you have to bet with.

Bookmaker – A person who is licensed to create betting lines and take wagers.

Buying Points – Paying an additional fee in order to  get a game at a more attractive price. Often times bettors will buy  points in football around key numbers such as 3 and 7.

Chalk – The favored team.

Contrarian Betting – Also known as betting against  the public, contrarian betting finds value by betting on games with  lopsided betting percentages.

Cover – In sports such as football and basketball, a  bettor wins their bet if they cover the point spread. For example, if  you bet a 7-point favorite and they win by nine, you have covered the  spread.

Dime – A bet of $1,000.

Dog – Short for underdog, this is the team which bookmakers assume will lose the game.

Draw – Also known as a push. If a game falls exactly on the spread, there is no winner and bettors will receive their money back.

Edge – A bettor’s advantage against the house. This will typically refer to an instance where you have a positive expected value.

Even Money – A bet where you are not paying any vigorish (i.e. +100).

Favorite – The team bookmakers expect will win their game.

Field – In proposition (prop) bets, bettors are  often allowed to bet the field. This refers to an accumulation of all  the teams or players that are not specifically listed.

Future – This refers to bets that come down in  advance of an event. For example, one can bet a Super Bowl future prior  to the beginning of the season by selecting which team(s) they believe  will win the championship. A bettor receives payment at the end of the  season if their selection did claim the title.

Hedging – Placing bets on the opposite side after  you have already placed a wager on one side. This can be used to either  cut your losses, or guarantee a profit.

Hook – In spread based sports, the hook is an extra  half-point that bettors can get. Oftentimes in football, bettors will  buy the hook around key numbers like 3 to get a line of 3.5.

Grand Salami – This typically refers to the over/under total for how many goals/runs will be scored across all games in a specific league.

Juice – This is the tax that sportsbooks create for  placing a wager. Typically, books offer -110, which means that you need  to win 52.38% of your bets to break even. Some books will offer reduced  juice with lines between -104 and -107.

Key Numbers – This represents the most common  margins of defeat, and is used frequently in football where many games  end with one team winning by a multiple of three or seven.

Limit – The most money a sportsbook will take on a single event.

Lines – Another term for the odds.

Middle – This occurs when you bet on both sides of a  game and have an opportunity to win both bets. For example if you bet  on Team A +10.5 and Team B -7.5, you win both bets if Team B wins by  8-10 points.

Moneyline – In sports like baseball, soccer and  hockey, there are so few runs/goals scored that it doesn’t make sense to  only offer a spread. Instead, these sports offer a moneyline in which  you bet on whether or not a specific team is going to win straight-up.

Nickel – A bet of $500.

Off the Board – A game or event that sportsbooks  will not allow you to bet on. Oftentimes a game is taken off the board  if there is uncertainly surrounding a player’s injury status or the  weather.

Over/Under – Also known as the total, this refers to  the total amounts of points/goals/runs that will be scored in the game.  If both teams combine to score more than the total, the over wins. If  they combine to score fewer, the under wins.

Parlay – When a bettor makes multiple bets (at least  two) and ties them together, you need multiple events to all win for  higher payouts. This is a risky proposition, but potentially very  lucrative.

Pick ‘Em – An instance in which neither team is favored. In spread based sports like basketball or football, this is a line of 0.

Prop Bet – A bet on something other than the outcome  of a game. Common prop bets include an over/under on points scored,  passing yards, or strikeouts by an individual player.

Public Betting Percentage – Also referred to as  public betting trends, we offer real betting percentages from seven  contributing sportsbooks. These numbers represent real bets placed at  real sportsbooks. These percentages are integral for our betting against  the public philosophy.

Push – When a contest ends without a winner. In a  moneyline sport this happens if the game ended in a tie. In a spread  sport, this happens if the favorite wins by the exact spread.

Real Time Odds – Live lines that update immediately as sportsbooks adjust their lines.

Reverse-Line Movement – Betting line movement that  contradicts the public betting percentages. For example: if Team A is  receiving 80% of the public bets as a 7-point favorite yet the line  drops to -6.5, this is an example of reverse line movement. This  indicates that sharp money is taking Team B.

Return on Investment (ROI) – A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.

Run Line – In moneyline sports like baseball or  hockey, you can take the equivalent of a spread — the run/puck line.  This alternative allows you to add runs for the underdog, or subtract  them from the favorite. This means that a favorite has to win by at  least two runs for you to win your bet, while an underdog could either  lose by one run or win straight-up to win the bet. The benefit of this  is that you can bet more lucrative lines on favorites, but because  baseball and hockey are such low-scoring games, this can be a risky  proposition.

Runner – An individual who places a bet on behalf of another person.

Steam Move – A sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace.

Teaser – A special bet in which you are able to  adjust the point spread or total for a game. The more you change the  spread, the lower the payout becomes.

Tout – An individual who sells their picks or their sports betting expertise to others.

Units – We consistently report sports betting  wins/losses according to units won or lost. We recommend betting one  unit per game, which refers to a standard monetary measurement —  typically between 2-4% of your bankroll. For example if your bankroll is  $1,000, one unit is between $20 and $40. Then if you noticed a system  that has won 15 units over the season, you could easily calculate your  earnings by taking the units earned and multiplying them by your  standard betting unit (in this case, $20 x 15 units = $300).

Wager – Any type of bet.