This strategy guide is not intended to go in-depth on the intricacies of predicting player stats, nor is it going to give Pick ‘Em entries. Instead, it's meant to be a high-level strategy road map for Underdog Pick ‘Em as a whole.
Pick ‘Em is a game offered on Underdog Fantasy that is centered around player stat predictions. Underdog offers stats for various sports and the goal is to make a 2-5 leg entry consisting of a choice of “Higher” or “Lower” for each selected leg. In order to win, all selected legs must hit (unless you opt for Insurance, but more on that below). If one or more of your legs pushes - goes neither higher or lower - the entry is treated as the next viable size. For example, a push on a 5-leg is treated as a 4-leg with the remaining legs, and so on. A push on a 2-leg is voided and refunded.
Underdog Pick'Em Strategy
There are a variety of strategies to gain a sizable edge when it comes to being a profitable Pick ‘Em player.
Depending on how many legs you choose, Underdog offers different payout multipliers. The following table summarizes the data behind different entry sizes:
|Implied Leg Odds
|Break-even Rate (leg)
|Break-even Rate (entry)
Given the multipliers, it is evident that 3 and 5 leg Pick ‘em entries are far and away the optimal choices. They offer the longest odds and require the lowest break-even pick rate. While -122 and 55% don’t seem that different from -128 and 56.2% (or even -136 and 57.7%), in the long run, the difference is massive. Below are the ROI discrepancies for each Pick ‘em entry’s implied leg odds:
2-legs are clearly the worst option by far. 4-legs look good at first glance, but include a high break-even rate and only out-perform 3-legs at unrealistic long-term leg win rates. As a result, we strongly recommend sticking to 3 and 5 leg Pick ‘em entries only.
Underdog also offers an optional Insurance for any entry with more than 2 legs. This means you sacrifice your payout multiplier for a one leg cushion on your entry.
|Multiplier (All hits)
|Multiplier (One miss)
|Implied Leg Odds
|Break-even Rate (leg)
|Break-even Rate (entry)
Even with Insurance, you need a higher leg and entry rate to break even. NEVER use Insurance on 3-leg entries. As for 4 and 5-leg entries, Insurance is actually a viable option. If you have a few picks you feel strongly about and one you’re on the fence over, feel free to take advantage of this option.
Let's start with a basic Underdog Fantasy pick'em strategy.
Just like with DFS, it is smart to correlate your entries if possible. It is not as crucial with Pick ‘Em, so it shouldn’t be forced, but in the right spots it can lead to profitable entries. Here are some examples of correlating entries:
Higher for both a QB’s passing yards and pass catcher’s receiving yards:
If Jalen Hurts were to go Higher, it increases the likelihood A.J. Brown goes Higher. This is definitely the strongest type of Pick ‘Em correlation.
Higher for both a PG’s assists and a teammate’s points:
If Tyrese Haliburton goes Higher on assists, there are more potential points for Buddy Hield.
Higher for a C’s rebounds and Lower for their teammate’s rebounds:
If Rudy Gobert goes Higher on rebounds, that means there are fewer potential rebounds for KAT.
Again, this is not something you should go out of your way to force, but if it falls into place nicely it can become an additional edge. You should almost always actively avoid negative correlation (e.g. Hurts Higher passing yards and A.J. Brown Lower receiving yards).
Expected value betting, or EV betting, is a sports betting strategy that eliminates silly, arbitrary logic such as feel or trends.
“Ant is due. He hasn’t been knocking down the shots he usually does… and he scored 40 against Houston last time they played!”
“Draymond has had 8 or more rebounds in 5 of his last 7 games. Odds are in his favor to do it again tonight.”
These are thoughts of losing sports bettors. If you think like this, it is a good thing you are reading this guide! There are two main concepts of EV betting:
- Past performance is not indicative of future results
- Very few proprietary models are going to consistently beat sportsbooks in the long term
Now you might be wondering what EV betting leverages if not trends or modeling. The answer? Real-time market data. The odds that sportsbooks are offering will give us a baseline of the implied probability for any given player stat. Essentially, the sportsbooks are our projection system - and a very good one at that. The ultimate catch here is that Underdog occasionally offers stats that deviate from the sentiment of major sportsbooks, and if we are quick enough, we can take advantage before/if they eventually bump their numbers. Here is an example:
Remember, assuming we are constructing our Pick ‘em entries optimally (3 or 5-legs), each leg’s implied odds are -122. Getting a -150 prop that is consistent across the major books for -122 is a massive edge.
A step further would be to remove the “vig” or “juice” from these lines, which simply put is the fee paid to the sportsbook on each bet (there are many no vig calculators out there). Removing the vig from the average of the above Taylor Hall lines (-150, +109) leaves us with an implied probability of 55.63% for the under. Since no-vig probability for any Underdog leg is 50%, we have ourselves a near 6% edge. The good thing for us is that 3 and 5-legs will always consist of -122 legs, as Underdog does not have the luxury of changing their odds like traditional sportsbooks do. Instead, they can only change their stats - hopefully after we’ve already beat them to it.
The ultimate goal is to create entries exclusively using +EV legs such as the Taylor Hall u2.5 shots on goal. Using real-time market data to EV bet against Underdog using this strategy is technically a mathematically guaranteed long run profit, so long as the average of the major sportsbooks is sharper than Underdog, which we believe to be the case, and you are disciplined in your entry construction and stay persistent through short term variance.
The Bottom Line for Underdog Pick'Em Strategy
Stick to traditional 3 and 5-legs while welcoming 4 and 5-leg Insured when you feel necessary. Never submit any other Pick ‘em entry type. Don’t force correlation, but keep an eye out for it. Be very disciplined in your leg selection, only playing stats with at least a 3% no vig advantage. These steps are an incredibly sharp and solid foundation to help you build your bankroll.
Important Terms for Underdog Fantasy Pick'Em Strategy
Leg: Synonymous to “Pick”. Your entry is made up of legs.
Expected Value (EV): The average value of a variable over a large sample.
Vigorish (“Vig”)/Juice: Fee paid to sportsbook for a given bet.
This Underdog Fantasy pick'em strategy guide was produced by bismo, a data scientist and writer at Occupy Fantasy. You can follow bismo on Twitter at @mnpykings.