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What Does Pick ’em Mean in Sports Betting?

Sports betting is one of the few types of gambling that relies as much on expert knowledge as it does on pure luck. If you want to do well, you need to know the sport, you need to know the players, and you also need to know how sports betting actually works. Most serious sports fans have the first two components locked down, but the actual betting can be quite tricky.

In this article, we will take a quick look at “pick ‘em” betting – what it means, how it works, what the best strategy usually works best for it.

What It Is

The vast majority of sports events have underdogs and favorites to win and the betting is adjusted according to this. As such, let’s say that the odds of the LA Lakers winning a particular basketball game against the Golden State Warriors is 1:4, whereas the Warriors only have a 1:16 chance of winning. The Lakers are the favorites and betting on them will provide a much higher chance of that bet, but with more modest winnings. The Warriors are the underdogs and betting on them will have a much lower chance of winning the bet but if they do win, you will get paid out significantly more.

A pick ‘em bet is made on a sports game where there is no favorite or underdog as both teams or players have the exact same odds of winning. In other words, the odds are firmly 50/50.

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How It Works

So, if a pick ‘em bet has even odds, how does the actual betting work and how do you decide which team to bet on. 

Simply put, the betting works the same as always – it’s just that the payout will simply be 1:2, which of course are rather good odds, if rather underwhelming in terms of how much you can win. There are some technicalities at play, like one team will be favored by the slightest, tiniest percentage and the odds will reflect it, but all a bettor really knows is that the bet is basically a flip of the coin for which team will win.  

How to Bet

So, if there’s no clear favorite, who do you decide who to bet on? After all, if even the bookies can’t decide which of the teams/ players are likely to win – when they really do their homework to ascertain the correct odds for each and every game – why would you be able to pick a team or player to bet on?

The most obvious answer is that you’d probably do well to avoid these bets if you want a more predictable outcome or a big payout from a single bet, but if you do want to go for a pick ‘em bet, this is where you really get to put your knowledge of the game to your advantage. Bookies will base their odds on the team/ players’ past performance, whether the teams played each other before, whether something has changed in their abilities (injuries, benched players) and these are to be taken seriously, but remember, bookies, by definition, take a wide look at a sport to come up with odds that will serve them best. 

Major fans of, say, the Lakers or Manchester United, may not have the experience or breadth of knowledge of most good bookies, but they have a much more up-close and personal knowledge of their favorite team. They may know how shifting team dynamics might play out or even how the mood of certain players affects the whole team. This sort of in-depth knowledge isn’t always known by bookies and you can take full advantage of that fact with a pick ‘em bet.

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