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Avoid Betting Big Favorites

MLB Betting Advice: Avoid Betting Big Favorites

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

In Major League Baseball betting, there will always be an urge to take big favorites. On the surface, it seems like easy money. You have a great pitcher on a winning team against usually a mediocre team at best. When you see the other games on the board, it might be tempting to take the team that seems to have the best chance of winning.

What seems like a sure thing seldom is in baseball. You see a good team with a good pitcher going off at -200 or more and there are times where it will seem like almost a sure thing (aka: Lock). Well, it isn’t. In fact, one of the least-effective ways to bet baseball is to isolate big favorites. The winning percentage you need to maintain to make this a profitable long-term strategy almost always surpasses the percentage of these bets a bettor actually wins.

First of all, no one ever gets to the top by making elementary observations--like the ones that cause a person to bet on a big favorite. Think about the thought process required to choose a big favorite. It boils down to thoughts like “Oh, the starting pitcher is way better than the other guy” or “Oh, my team is a lot better.”

Surface observations like that aren’t going to get us anywhere. Vegas was built on such foolilsh thoughts. Those free drinks they give out in the Vegas Hilton Superbook really aren't free. Not that there is never a time to bet on favorites, even at a -200 quote. But when we do wager on big chalk, we do so with a lot more ammo than the thoughtless handicapping that usually accompanies betting on big favorites in Major League Baseball.

The parity of baseball sucks the value right out of big favorites. Only the very best teams even clock in with a 60% winning percentage. The worst teams are usually good for a win 40% of the time. This isn’t the NFL or NBA, where teams can regularly have a winning percentage in the 80’s. Never happens in baseball. And when betting favorites, this is something to think about long and hard.

You will put money on some big favorite. Remember there are 161 other games that season. How sure can you be about this one guy? What if he's sick? What if he didn't sleep well last night? What if he's having woman problems and is depressed and lacking focus? With how much assurance can you expect that team to be at its best? Over the course of a long season, there will be times when even the best teams appear to be phoning it in. When you bet on a favorite in the NFL, NBA, or in sports like boxing and MMA (We cover it!), the odds can be justified to a certain extent. Those teams and guys usually win and do so at a rate higher than what even the best MLB team can claim.

When betting at -200 or higher, winning 2 out 3 won’t even cut it. Then you look at the standings and no team is good for a win 2 out 3 games. Sure, when betting -200 or higher, you will have the better pitchers going for you, but how many of them can boast of their team winning 67% of the games when they start?

A slightly better proposition is to take big favorites on the runline. Usually, when you bet a big favorite, you’re forecasting a game that won’t be terribly close. No one lays -200 on what they think will be a one-run game. On a run line wager, you lay -1.5 runs, meaning your team has to win by two runs in order to cash your betting ticket. It’s still dicey, as there is nothing more painful in baseball betting that winning a game by one run when you had -1.5 (Around 20% of MLB games end with a 1 run margin). You’ll be kicking yourself for not just betting it straight.

Runline bets move the line drastically enough to make betting favorites this way a consideration, or at the very least a viable alternative to betting big favorites at steep odds. A home team can see the line move almost 100 points on the money-line. A -200 favorite can be had at -110 now laying 1.5 runs. On the road, a -200 favorite will only get about a 50-point break on the line, being that they will bat in the 9th inning if leading by a run, whereas a home team will not.

In summary, stick with underdogs. MLB underdogs give you the opportunity to win more than you risk, which means that you can hit less than 50% of your baseball bets correctly and still turn a profit. It doesn't get much better than that!

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