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MLB Betting Tips: Avoiding What the Bookie Wants You to Do

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Betting on baseball pits us against our opponent--the bookie. Sure, there are other factors at play. We can be our worst enemy and undermine ourselves. Not to mention we have the whole dynamic of gambling working against us--a framework that favors the house, being that the book always thrives, while most bettors do not. But our direct opponent is the bookie.

In any type of competitive event, the key is to do the opposite of what your opponent wants you to do. It seems over-simplistic on a certain level, but it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamentals. We get caught up in all this complicated strategy and sometimes lose sight of the most elementary elements of baseball wagering.

There are certain things the bookie wants you to do. Falling into these behaviors makes you someone the book wants as part of their customer base. Obviously, the one person we do not want to like us is the bookie. We want our friends to like us. We want our relatives to like us. We want our colleagues to like us. The bookie is someone whose butt we’re trying to kick. We’re out to do things he doesn’t like.

One is that we make sensible bets. We’re not in this for thrills. You want thrills, go rock-climbing in the Himalayas. We’re in this to make money. We patiently build our bankroll, making mostly straight bets on the money-line. We take favorites, we take underdogs. We’re likely to bet on anything in a given day. We don’t lock into patterns, systems, or tendencies. We keep it wide-open as far as what we might wager.

We don’t throw hail-marys. We might make a parlay here and there, but it’s a two-team parlay, not a play where we need a ton of stars to line up correctly. We approach it like a marathon, not like a guy who is in Vegas for two days who never bets otherwise. And should we embark on a bad run, we never lose our cool and start chasing.

Easier said than done. Some can’t commit to the boring road that is necessary to succeed in baseball wagering. They want excitement. They'd rather watch Indiana Jones than whatever film won Best Picture that year. “Boring” never wins out over “excitement” in any walk of life. It conditions people to opt for the thrilling route. But boring wins.

One play the bookie loves is the chalk play. If you’re a habitual bettor of favorites, the book will roll out a red carpet for you. It’s one of the most tempting plays in baseball wagering. A first-place team has its ace on the mound facing a sub-.500 team that has been circling the drain and starting a kid up from the minors. The betting man sees a -300 line and is mesmerized. It seems like a lock.

That might work for a little bit. After all, teams in that position are supposed to win and they do more often than not. But that’s not the issue, as winning needs to be done at very high clip to make this is winning play in the long-run. The bookie knows that sooner or later, a guy who bets this way is going to hit a cold patch. When betting -300, a cold patch means going broke.

Naturally, the more commission a bookie gets for taking your wager, the better for him and the worse for you. We have choices. (The lowest house commissions can be found at 5Dimes) Willfully subjecting ourselves to steep juice is a loser move that makes it so much easier for the book. It just so happens these bets are the most interesting. Everyone wants to have a stake in who will win the division or the World Series. Futures and prop bets are designed to be compelling propositions that make you want to bet. When we cave to those cravings, however, we get juiced at a far higher rate than if we just made more conventional wagers.

Another pitfall is betting too many games. The bookie knows your knowledge and time only allows you to be capable of a few bets a day at the most. When the book sees a guy betting 10 games a day, they like it. They know you are betting beyond your true scope of knowledge and that you are not a sharpshooter. The book would obviously rather match wits with a guy charging down the middle firing away than a calculating sniper, which is what you need to be when betting on baseball.

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