WinPicks Reference Manual

Appendix A.9. Measuring the Success of a Formula

There are two ways to measure the success of a formula. The first way is to track its straight-up record (SUR). The SUR is the percentage of winners a formula picks without considering the point spread. Over the course of a season, an SUR of 65% to 70% or higher is very good for either pro football or pro basketball. In college football and college basketball, where one-sided games are common, many formulas will have an SUR of 70% to 75%, because just picking the winner is often not difficult. A high SUR (65% to 70% for pro football or basketball, 70% to 75% for college football or basketball) should make you competitive in nearly any contest you enter. Formulas with a high SUR are great for football contests, office pools, and parlay cards.

Of course, gamblers are more interested in a formula's winning percentage against the spread (ATS). It's important to remember that formulas with a high SUR often don't do well ATS, and vice versa. The ATS rules are the same for football and basketball, and the same for sides or totals. A formula that picks 55% ATS is a good formula, and one that does 60% or higher is an excellent formula. Remember, you'll break even with 52.4%, and you can get a very nice return on your investment with 60%.

Even the best formulas have bad weeks (and the bad ones have good weeks), so don't get too depressed or excited about a bad or good week. Always stay focused on turning a profit, and look for formulas that beat the line over long periods of time.

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