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What is a Pick'Em in Sports Betting?
In sports betting, a pick’em is when both teams are seen as equal, and a bet on each is worth the same amount of money. People generally use the term loosely, meaning the odds don’t always have to be exactly the same for a matchup to be regarded as a pick’em.
To help you understand its significance and to show you how to benefit, we explain everything you need to know about pick’ems in sports betting below.
Pick’em in Sports Betting Explained
When a sportsbook gives the same odds for a particular outcome, it’s regarded as a pick’em. Let’s start with an example:
Cleveland Browns (-110) vs. Baltimore Ravens (-110)
Regardless of whether you fancy the Browns or the Ravens to win, you would need to bet $110 on the moneyline to see a return of $100, plus your stake.
As you can see, the sportsbook thinks the matchup is too tight to call, which is why it has not given a favorite and an underdog.
Let’s look at a slightly different example:
Cincinnati Bengals (-115) vs. New England Patriots (-105)
Although the odds aren’t exactly the same, the above matchup would still be regarded by many as a pick’em in sports betting, as both sides of the bet are ‘money.’
If you fancy the Bengals, you would need to bet $115 to return $100, while a $105 bet on the Patriots would return the same amount. Although this puts the Bengals as favorites, they’re only slightly preferred, which is why many people still regard this type of bet as a pick’em.
What Happens to the Spread with a Pick’em?
Lots of sports bettors like to bet on the spread, which serves as a handicap between two opponents. Typically, a sportsbook will use a spread to level the playing field between the two teams when they’re not matched by skill level. For instance:
Green Bay Packers (+3.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5)
Let’s say that the matchup above finished 24-17 in favor of the Bengals. The Bengals won by seven points and therefore covered the -3.5 spread. In other words, you would win your spread bet on the Bengals.
When a match is regarded as a pick’em in sports betting, the spread might typically be so tight that the sportsbook does not go with an option. After all, they do not need to place a handicap to even the field. Instead, the bettor will play moneyline odds. If a spread is offered, it might be so tight as not to make a bet worthwhile.
As an example, two baseball teams may be so evenly matched that the sportsbook can’t add a spread of more than 0.5 points (or runs) on either team. The bettor would instead opt for a moneyline bet on whichever team they thought might win.
How to Bet a Pick’em the Right Way
A pick’em in sports betting is a tough bet to place, as the sportsbook isn’t providing you with any insight into what is likely to happen. To improve your chances of winning a pick’em, consider the following, which might give you the confidence to back one team over the other:
With so little to choose between the two teams, home advantage is likely to play a part in the outcome of a pick’em. While it won’t be good advice every time, the home team often has a slight psychological advantage.
In sports betting, you can utilize a team’s power rating to regard how likely they are to win a matchup. Of course, this relies on you having your own power ratings set for teams in the competition or access to someone else who has done so. Power ratings are essentially a score you assign to a team out of 100.
Form and past performance
It’s always a good idea to take notice of form and past performance before placing a bet. It might be the difference between a winning and a losing bet with a pick ’em. While anything can happen on the day, the form of a team is likely to contribute to their performance.
The Verdict: Should you bet a Pick’em?
A pick’em in sports betting is a fairly regular occurrence and is something you need to look out for. Remember, it’s a situation where the sportsbook isn’t sure who is most likely to win. Therefore, you must consider various other factors to try and increase your chances of winning the bet.
If you’re keen to find out more information about other popular sports betting types, you can check out our useful training camp that’s packed with tips and explanations.
Pick’em sports betting FAQs
Should you avoid betting on pick’ems?
Just because you can’t discern a clear favorite or underdog, there’s no reason not to bet on a pick’em. You will just need to consider as many factors as possible before placing your bet to increase your chances of winning.
What are the most popular sports for pick’em bets?
While you can find pick’em bets in just about any sport, the most popular tend to be basketball and football, particularly in big matchups at the business end of the season.
How is a pick’em different from the moneyline?
In practice, a pick’em is a moneyline bet, and there is not a great deal of difference between the two. However, moneylines usually show a clear favorite and underdog, but a pick’em shows both teams as equally likely to win the match. You will always see the teams in a pick’em represented with the same or similar numbers and (-), while a standard moneyline will have one team at (+) and another as (-).
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