I have bet baseball pretty regularly for almost 18 years and am constantly trying to fine-tune my bankroll/money management for the sport that produces the most opportunity through the year. I hear people say all the time that “they don’t get betting baseball” or “it’s a dead time in sports betting.” It’s really the exact opposite. Except for 4 days in mid-July for the All-Star Break, the MLB season gives you roughly 8-15 games to choose from every single day for 5 1/2 months. For the patient, disciplined bettor, you can be selective and find those opportunities that truly present value.
Recently, however, MLB betting has shown that if you look for the easy way out and just play those “can’t lose games”, your bankroll will be depleted fast. While having made similar mistakes in the past and also having worked in a busy Las Vegas strip sportsbook, I see so many of the same mistakes made every single day. Today, I wanted to focus in on one: betting baseball favorites of more than -200 “that can’t lose”.
In a 7 day stretch from Friday, July 27, 2018, through Thursday, August 2, 2018, there were 16 games that featured a favorite of -200 or greater on the moneyline. For those new to sports betting, a -200 moneyline represents that you must bet $2 to win $1. Since every sportsbook has closing lines that likely differ slightly, I have taken a consensus closing line to showcase the results in the above-mentioned timeframe. Obviously your preferred sportsbook (or sportsbooks) may be higher or lower slightly, but in the end, they aren’t nearly different enough to make up the difference I am about to illustrate.
As mentioned before, from 7/27/18 through 8/2/18 there were 16 games with a moneyline of -200 or greater. Out of those 16 games, 10 were winners and 6 were losers for a straight win percentage of 62.5%. That’s good, right? I mean, you hear all the time that even the most successful sports bettors only win at 55-60%. Well, that statement would be true if you were betting the standard -110 juice that you see for the majority of football and basketball games. However, when it comes to betting moneylines (and this applies significantly to sports like baseball and hockey), you have to value every cent of juice you are paying.
In the week we are examining, here are the final off lines for the favorites who had a moneyline of -200 or greater. See the infographic for exact games.
-210, -290, -310, -240, -340, -200, -320, -400, -270, -230
-290, -210, -210, -310, -430, -270
Imagine you were trying to win $100 on every play. On the 10 games you won, you would win $1000. However, on just the 6 games you lost, you would lose $1720 for a weekly loss of $720. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I went 10-6 for a week and still came out $720 in the hole, I would a) be out of money in no time and b) would probably choose to find another hobby. Bottom line…price/juice matters. In baseball (and all sports) there are no sure things in betting. Laying the heavy chalk and obscenely high prices will put you out of the game quickly.
Moral of the story is this. Do your homework and look for value. Go beyond the obvious. Sportsbetting, just like every other casino game, wouldn’t be around if the house didn’t have the advantage. They are looking for people who want the easy wins with no work. Or are betting with their hearts. Or playing the popular teams they know.
Now, I am of the belief that you can be a winning and profitable sports bettor over the long term. However, you can’t take bad lines time and time again and expect to be profitable. Does that mean you always have to bet underdogs? Of course not. However, overpriced favorites will DESTROY you. Be smart, find value and shop around for the best lines. There are plenty of resources on the internet (both free and paid services) that will help you find the best prices. If you don’t find a line you like…you don’t have to play the game. Sit it out until you find a game that fits within your comfort zone.