In sports, there are sometimes games that are just too close to call.
From hockey, baseball and soccer, to high-scoring sports such as football and basketball, some teams are just so closely matched – on paper at least – that even the paid TV pundits are left speechless when asked to make a prediction as to who will win.
Such fixtures are known in betting circles as ‘pick ‘em’ games.
There are certain games that we might term a ‘coin flip’ affair, which means that we wouldn’t be surprised if either side came out victorious.
These pick ‘em games are usually matched with very close odds by the bookmakers, and what that means for bettors is that either team they bet on will be considered a negative expectancy wager, i.e. if you bet on Team A or Team B an infinite number of times, you wouldn’t see a betting profit, because both teams would win roughly 50% of the time.
Pick ‘em games are brilliant money-makers for the sportsbooks. By setting their odds appropriately, they can almost guarantee to take an even spread of bets for both teams; meaning that they will make a profit no matter which team wins.
Remember, the bookies build a ‘vig’ into their odds, which acts as a buffer. It maximizes their profit on losing bets and reduces risk on winners, so in pick ’em games, they rarely come out on the negative side.
With pick ‘em games, no point spread is offered: you are simply looking to bet on the team that wins.
That complicates matters, but for bettors who are students of their chosen sports, there are certain advantages to be enjoyed.
Those who hold their nerve and delay placing their wagers until just before the kick off will benefit the most. In this way, you can wait for team news to be announced, take in factors such as weather conditions and wind speed (where appropriate) and watch the teams warm up – you may find an angle here.
Remember, in pick ‘em games, where the vibe is of a 50/50 contest, a marginal gain to either team an ultimately turn a no-edge betting market around.
And let’s consider the possibilities afforded by live betting for pick ‘em matches. We know that a significant event within the game will move the market one way or another. But in a contest between two evenly-matched sides, we know that we shouldn’t get too excited should one of the teams build up a lead in the first quarter.
A good strategy for pick ‘em games is to ride out the in-play markets, and you might just find an edge as the drama unfolds.
Let’s consider the basic fact of pick ‘em games: these are two teams, players or fighters who are evenly matched, and so the end result should be close.
That can feed into other betting markets, and so while we might not want to risk our bankroll on a winner bet in such circumstances, we are given a clue as to the scoreline.
If these are two high scoring teams then we know the total point line could be breached – the opposite is true for low-scoring affairs where the quality of the teams evens itself out.
In tennis matches between equally matched players, we might look at the Total Games or Total Sets markets, and consider that a high number of games is likely.
In most cases, we would advise avoiding pick ‘em games altogether or at least delay placing your wagers until the last available moment, where all of the information you need to make a fully informed decision will be public.
The problem with betting on pick 'em matches is that they offer very little value for the bettor. We accept that either team could win the game, or that the draw is a factor in low-scoring sports, and that is enough to put many off having a wager.
But the beauty of using OddsChecker is that you can compare prices across a huge spectrum of bookmakers, and the advantage of that is that you might just find a value price even in pick 'em circumstances.
So, when a game looks like a 50/50 contest, be sure to check OddsChecker: you might just find a sportsbook out there that is offering the kind of odds that are worth betting on.
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