Sportsbetting 101 - Prediction Machine

Welcome to Prediction Machine’s sports betting 101 glossary page where we introduce and break down commonly used terms in sports betting and handicapping like “Closing Line Value” and “Key Numbers”. We’ll cover anything and everything from across the industry from basic concepts to advanced philosophies with the goal in mind to make you a more informed, seasoned bettor.


If you want more content like this, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, where our professional handicapper Tony Farmer takes on a new term each week, which usually helps to give more context and depth to one of the topics he’s discussing.




“Analytics” are simply advanced statistics. As sports fans, we are all used to basic statistics such as batting average, ERA, FG percentage, or rushing yards. Advanced analytics take things to the next level and provide similar stats that are rarely used during sports telecasts or in box scores, but used often by handicappers and those who set the lines in Vegas as they look for an edge.


Bad Beat


Bad beat, a term used in poker and sports betting, is when something terribly unlucky costs you a win. In particular when it happens at the end of the game in excruciating fashion in a game you “should have won” and that you probably handicapped correctly if it wasn’t for the unlucky turn of events.


Beat Writers


While not a sports betting term per se, beat writers and the news they provide can be a valuable tool for sports bettors. Beat writers are press-credentialed reporters whose main focus is the team they’re covering. Beat writers attend practices and regular press conferences with players. Often, players trust local beat writers more than National reports so the quality of information they’re reporting is more accurate. By following local beat writers on Twitter, you can get access to information quicker than bettors who do not.


Closing Line Value


When a bettor gets Closing Line Value (CLV), they are getting a better number when they place their wager than when the line closes (right before the game starts). For instance, on Monday you bet Team A +7, but on game day Team B’s star player gets hurt and by the time the game starts, team A is now +2. In this example, we’d say you got CLV because you beat the market by five points. Consistently getting good CLV doesn’t guarantee you wins but it goes a long way to ensuring you’re a profitable bettor over time.




To “fade”, simply means betting against someone or something. For instance, if the Rays are playing the Athletics, you might bet on the Rays because of how good they are or how bad the Athletics are and you’re “fading” the As. Because public bettors historically lose over time, one of the more common uses of “fade” or “fading” is when talking about fading public bettors. For instance, “80 percent of bets are on the Blue Jays, I’m fading the public bettors.”




“Futures” bets simply refer to events that will be settled in the future, often at the end of a sports season. Super Bowl odds, World Series odds, and NCAA National Championship odds are all examples of futures bets. Full season awards like Heisman Trophy odds or league MVP are also considered futures bets. A well-timed futures bet can often yield large returns and give bettors flexibility to hedge.


Handicapping Tools


If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you’re already familiar with one handicapping tool, Prediction Machine’s powerful algorithm. Handicapping tools are anything utilized by professionals to forecast games. These include their own personal algorithms, trends, reading public betting patterns, weather reports, injury reports, etc.




The “juice” is a term referring to the “tax” or “rake” bettors pay to make a bet. Most standard bets cost 10 cents per dollar or -110, meaning it will cost $110 to win $100. The juice is the price of doing business with bookmakers and how books make profit even if the amount of money wagered on each side of a given matchup is identical. The juice is also sometimes referred to as the vigorish or the “vig”.


Key Numbers


When betting sides and totals, also known as point spreads and OVER/UNDERs, key numbers are the numbers that have more value because games historically have a higher probability of finishing with that outcome. For instance, on NFL point spreads, 3 is the most key number because about 15 percent of all NFL games have been decided by exactly 3 points, more so than any other outcome.


For NFL totals, 41, 40, 51, and 47 are the four most key numbers. Keep in mind that as the NFL evolves (rule changes, more coaches going for 2-point conversions, extra point attempts being backed up, etc.) these key numbers adjust, so it’s important to keep up with modern trends and balance them with historical patterns.


Live Betting


Live betting is offered by many online sportsbooks as well as in-person casinos via their apps. Odds are constantly updated throughout the game and bettors have the opportunity to hedge their original bet, create win-win “middle” scenarios, or double down on their original bet depending on how the game is going. Beginner gamblers should proceed with caution while live betting because the odds are usually even steeper than betting a game pre-flop.




Much like the “puckline” in hockey, MLB bettors have the option of betting a runline which is essentially a -1.5 or +1.5 “point spread” on each game. Unlike traditional point spreads in basketball or the NFL, which usually feature standard -110 juice, it’s common to find run lines priced at all different numbers (i.e. -150 or +175) depending on the strength of the two opponents.


Stanford Wong Teaser


The Stanford-Wong teaser is a two-team, six-point teaser in which both teams go through the key numbers of 3 and 7, there is a low total (UNDER 49) and both teams are home teams (or road underdogs). For instance, a home underdog going from +1.5 to +7 or a home favorite going from -8 down to -2. Road underdogs up through 3 and 7 are also Stanford Wong teaser legs, but road favorites are not.


Wins Above Replacement (WAR)


Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a stat used to quantify a player’s value compared to that of a replacement player of the same position. There are different formulas used to determine a player’s WAR depending on if he’s a pitcher or position player. For a more detailed breakdown of this metric, check out this article.


This page is constantly being updated with new, need-to-know terms and phrases so make sure to save it in your bookmark tab for future reference. Have something to add to the list or simply have a question about anything on this page? Hit us up on Twitter and someone from the team will be sure to connect.