What does "SU" Mean in Betting?

by Big Al Staff

What does SU mean in betting?

In sports betting, there are many terms that bettors use to refer to different forms of wagering.  One of them is 'SU,' short for straight-up.  When you search for the meaning of this term, you might run into other meanings other than the actual sports betting term.  We're not here to tell you the other definitions -- we're all about sports betting.  Straight-up in sports betting refers to whether a team has won the game, without regard to the point spread.  And if a team wins the game, straight-up, then it also would be the winner with respect to moneyline wagers.

When you’re poring over gambling stats, you’ll often see references to a team’s SU record, or its SU/ATS record.  Simply put, a team’s SU record is the same thing as its W/L record.  And a team’s SU/ATS record is a juxtaposition of a team’s straight-up record, and its against the spread record, which may, or may not be similar.  Thus, if a team is 10-5/7-8 SU/ATS that would mean it is 10-5 straight-up, but just 7-8 ATS.

We'll refer to straight-up betting as moneyline betting from now on, but it is not too complicated.  It's one of the oldest ways to bet on a game, as sports bettors have wagered on this bet type for ages.  We'll quickly show you how a moneyline wager works and how you can soon master the moneyline wager.  Above all, we want you to get a solid handle on sports betting, in general, and that's why we want to share some more sports betting terms that might be of interest.

So, in this betting guide, you'll go from a novice bettor, who doesn't know anything about straight-up bets, to an expert moneyline bettor who has the knowledge to start betting successfully.

How does straight-up work in sports betting?

A straight-up bet is pretty simple.  You just put your money on the team which you think will win the game.  Only if that team wins, you end up with a winning ticket, and you can collect your payout.  That means you need to do thorough research to determine not only which team is stronger than the other, but also where the value lies with respect to the betting odds.  Because when you take betting odds into account, not every bet on a team has value.  We'll explain why by displaying the betting lines for a sample NFL match between the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals:

  • New Orleans Saints -230
  • Arizona Cardinals +190

With every moneyline wager, there's a favored team and an underdog.  These are shown by the minus sign (-) and the plus sign (+).  In this case, the Saints are the favored team, while the Cardinals are the underdog.  The way these odds are displayed is with the moneyline odds (or American odds).  As a bettor, you pick the team which you think will win the game.  But not every wager will make a lot of sense when you take the betting odds into account.  The one thing to always remember is that anything can happen in a game.  In this example, the Saints are roughly a 2-1 favorite over the Cardinals, and would have to win 69.7% of the time for you to just break even.  Who knows what could happen, but you need to understand a game’s specific odds and probability prior to the start of your research process.

Calculating your payout with straight-up bets
In the end, it all comes down to the money.  That's why most bettors are betting if we're all being sincere.  The betting odds are the starting point for seeing what the amount of money you could make from any bet.  We'll take the previous example as the starting point of our calculation:

  • New Orleans Saints -230
  • Arizona Cardinals +190

These numbers alongside each team might look odd and foreign to you, but now you know what the plus and minus sign indicate.  With the numbers following the minus or plus sign, you can calculate your payout to see the amount of money you can take home.  In this example, that would lead to two possible scenarios:

  • You pick the New Orleans Saints -- the favorite -- to win the moneyline bet.  The Saints win, and you have a winning bet.  Now, you earn $44 if your initial stake is $100.  That would make for a total payout of $144. If you wanted to earn $100 with this bet, you would have to wager $230 (for a total payout of $330).
  • You pick the Arizona Cardinals -- the underdog -- to win the moneyline bet.  The Cardinals win, and you have a winning bet.  Now, you earn $190 if your initial stake is $100.  That would make for a total payout of $290.

As you can tell, the bets are constructed based on the fact that most wagers are made to win (or lose) $100.  That's how the American odds system works, and what you have to keep in mind when checking out the odds for any given sporting event.  That's all there is to moneyline betting.  It's available for any matchup where two teams compete against each other -- hockey, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, mixed martial arts, and many others.

Straight up betting in the NFL
When you're researching any given NFL match, the Super Bowl, or just regular season, you'll stumble upon a lot of statistics.  There are giant tables behind every single team that carries many individual factors to calculate whether a team is in good form, or underperforming.  You'll look at the number of points they score each game, the yards they gain, but the most important factor is the number of games they win.  But as we’ve mentioned above, winning the game straight-up is not the same as covering the point spread.  We'll show you what spread betting is in the following paragraph.

Using straight up when looking at spread betting
Another popular form of betting is spread betting.  It's a form of betting that takes the final score of a matchup and then adds (or subtracts) a set number of points (i.e., the point spread) to determine which team won the bet.  It might be a little harder to understand than a simple moneyline bet, but a quick example will show you how spread betting works:

  • New York Giants -11.5
  • Washington Redskins +11.5

We're using two NFC East division rivals in this illustration.  You have two teams here that are not competitive, on the surface.  The sportsbooks have installed the Giants as an 11.5-point favorite.  In this case, the Giants would have to win by more than 11.5 points to cover the spread.  The Redskins are the underdog, and they need to either win the game or lose by less than 11.5 points to cover the spread.

Notice the half-point in the spread numbers.  Certainly, you can't score half-points in an NFL match, but oddsmakers utilize half-points for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, it allows a sportsbook to more easily balance the betting action between two sides.  And, a secondary reason is that a half-point removes the chance for a bet to end up as a tie.  When a wager ends up tied, it “pushes,” and the sportsbook will refund all monies to its players.  Bookmakers prefer that this doesn’t happen because, after all, they’re in the business to make a profit, and ties generally reduce their earnings.
When you're analyzing whether a team will cover the spread, you can always use the straight-up statistics to inform your judgment for a successful spread bet.  But bear in mind that the two statistics may be wildly different for a team during a season.  And that’s especially true for teams that are either really good, or really bad, as the point spreads in either case will tend to be far away from PK’em.

Spread betting line movement
With spread betting, you have a number alongside each team, which gets applied to a team’s final score.  You can make spread bets on any sport that has incremental scoring, but some sports, like hockey or baseball, work a little differently as their spreads are largely fixed.  And that’s because there isn’t much scoring in hockey or baseball games, as they average around six goals or nine runs in a game.  Thus, bookmakers typically set the run-lines and puck-lines at 1.5, and adjust the moneyline odds from there.  So, these bets are quite similar to point spread wagers -- but just with somewhat fixed spread numbers.

However, football and basketball point spreads are not fixed, and can have a lot of movement.  So, a game between Army and Navy might open up with the Black Knights favored by 4.5 over the Midshipmen.  But by game day, the line might be down to Army -1.5.  That’s called “line movement.”  Additionally, the moneyline odds associated with a point spread bet can move, as well.  But they’re typically around -110 for football and basketball games (unless you bet with a reduced juice sportsbook, like BetAnySports, which has -105 odds on both sides).  As you can see, with point spreads in constant flux, it’s critical to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks so you can shop for the best number.  Any day that a matchup is online, the betting lines can change, and the spread number might vary.  That means two bettors who both bet on the same team might have completely different results, depending on their particular point spread.  Keeping an eye on multiple sportsbooks is crucial, so we strongly advise you to do so!

What other sports betting terms are there?

As promised, we want to share some other sports betting terms with you to give you the complete picture of what sports betting is all about.  See it as a short glossary of terms you can use as the start of your research. Without further ado, let's dive right in:

  • Bankroll:  Your risk capital -- how much money you are willing to lose while gambling.
  • Cover:  When a team covers the spread, they win for their bettors, based on the point spread.
  • Edge:  This refers to an 'advantage.’  You have the edge over a sportsbook, for example, when you got down at the best number (in relation to the current or closing number).
  • Exotic Wager:  Any other bets than moneyline or point spread wagers, such as parlays, teasers, round-robins, prop bets, etc.
  • Futures bet:  A bet on a future event which is dependent on the outcome of other preceding events.  For example, you might predict the Super Bowl winner at the beginning of the season.
  • Handicapping:  Handicapping is the method to calculate a team’s scoring advantage (or disadvantage) in order to project by how much a team might win (or lose).  Handicappers are those bettors who engage in the process of handicapping. 
  • Hedging:  You can hedge a bet by placing a wager on the opposite side of your original bet to cover your losses and/or guarantee a profit.
  • Juice:  This is another way to refer to 'vigorish' - the fee a bookmaker charges for each losing wager.
  • Longshot:  Any team or horse which is very unlikely to win.
  • Over/Under bet:  You can wager on the combined number of points scored by both teams to be over or under a set amount of points established by the oddsmakers.
  • Parlay:  A single bet comprised of multiple bets.  Each element of a parlay needs to win for your parlay to be successful.
  • Pick:  Often you'll see it written as PK or Pk'em.  It’s a term used when there's no clear favorite in a point spread, so the point spread is zero.  Whichever team wins the game, straight-up, will cover the Pk’em spread.
  • Prop bet:  A wager on a particular factor within a sporting event, like the number of field goals made in the game, or percentage of three-pointers converted by Steph Curry.
  • Totals bet:  Another way to refer to an over/under wager
  • Value:  When you find value, you will have favorable odds on a betting proposition.  You’ll have an edge on the bookmaker.

Please note that there are tons of other sports betting terms, but you now have insight into the sports betting world.  You know what SU means and how to implement it, and much more!  So, don't hesitate any longer -- go ahead and place some wagers!

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