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If it Doesn't Work - Get Rid of It

MLB Betting: If It Doesn't Work--Get Rid Of It!

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

MLB Betting is a form of sports wagering with dozens of different approaches. The lines upon how you can view baseball wagering are numerous. Sometimes, we can get stuck on a particular way of thinking and therefore, handicapping. With all the different perspectives, we need to know when it's time to throw in a different ingredient.

Our handicapping is like a big stew. We throw in different ingredients, tasting it along the way. We get it to a brisk boil then unleash it on the book. There are times where we need to change it up. What won Stew of the Year in 2005 might no longer be among the top stews. That's usually how we got stuck doing one thing--it was successful at one point. Then we end up going to the well too often. We ignore the writing on the wall.

I had a friend who from age 21-25 made a killing betting heavy chalk in baseball. He would hone in on big favorites and aces, which at the time were guys like Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. He'd bet them at -250 up to almost -400 in some spots. He got on an incredible roll. He was pretty discerning too. He wouldn't bet more than a few times a month, but he bet big and almost always won.

Naturally, he kept betting big on heavy favorites. He lost one. He lost two. Next thing you know, he lost about 5 in a row. His bets had kept getting bigger, so after a bad run--he was wiped out. To this day, he is still convinced this is the way he should bet. It's been 15 years since this strategy ceased to be effective. And you can't tell him a thing. He still can't bring himself to bet on, say, a -130 favorite or, god forbid, an underdog.

A lot of otherwise intelligent people fall into the same trap. Something works for a while and they are SOLD. For some bizarre reason, it doesn't matter if it stops working. They are so intoxicated on their prior success that no amount of negative reinforcement will dissuade them.

This has probably happened to you before. You have a great meal at a restaurant and it will take 20 bad ones before you acknowledge that the one good meal you had might have been a fluke. You meet a few women at a certain bar then strike out for the next decade, yet you still go back trying to recapture the magic. We all have a bunch of different examples in our lives where we "chase the dragon," searching for something that is long gone.

For obvious reasons, this form of stubbornness is not beneficial in any form of gambling, much less baseball wagering. We have to adjust on the fly, constantly tinkering with our game to get it to a point where it's up-to-snuff. We can't be prone to betting a certain way, whether it be a system or just some over-prevalent characteristic in our handicapping.

It may have paid off in the past. If it's working, knock yourself out. It is difficult psychologically for a person to break old habits, especially if they were successful. The way they bet is in their DNA at this point. Their issues aren't so much baseball-related as they are psychiatrically-based. It's just human nature to go to the well long after it has dried up and stopped producing.


At the same time, be careful not to jump the gun. The example before illustrates a man who has been coming up short for 15 years. That's an extreme example, but the point is that it takes a lot of results before one can even begin to determine if something is working or not. If something was working for you before and hasn't been for the past few weeks, that's not nearly enough time to suggest that you should make an overhaul to your handicapping.

It requires a lot of volume and time before conclusions can be drawn. Just as a bettor having a hot month shouldn't move out to Vegas to do this full-time, a guy on a bad run shouldn't panic. Some of us have an overly-heightened sense of immediacy. If we're winning for a few weeks, we feel like winners and vice-versa. Therefore, we need to be sure to draw the line between what might be a systematic failure in our handicapping and just having a bad run.

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