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Keeping Records to Identify Strenghts and Weaknesses

MLB Betting: Record Keeping

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Major League Baseball wagering presents some challenges in the area of record keeping that you don’t find with a lot of sports. It makes keeping track a more robust undertaking, being that the odds are all over the place. Baseball betting lacks the uniformity of other sports that are bet using point-spreads.

Nevertheless, we want to keep track of more than just our account balance or our overall won-loss record. When betting on money-lines, which governs baseball wagering, we don’t learn much from our record on wagers. You can be over 50% in this sport and still be losing, just as you can be losing over half your bets and be ahead.

Record keeping allows us to see trends in our wagering--both positive and negative. We do this when betting on other sports, but we can only learn so much in a limited number of games. Over the course of a 162-game season, you will be able to develop a reliable sample pool of results so you can actually draw meaningful conclusions.

There is no fun way to do it. Record keeping in any form is drudgery. We are already spending time handicapping and watching the games--it’s enough of a time-consuming activity. Now after all that, we’re supposed to sit there and document it? By now, the wife and kids are asleep and the guy who used to be their husband and father is sitting there at 11:00 p.m. writing down stuff about his bets.

In addition, there are times after losing a wager when the last thing you want to do is chronicle your misery. You took a 3-1 lead into the 9th and lost the game in gut-wrenching fashion. Who wants to then sit there and narrate it? But like anything in life, we learn the most from our setbacks and it’s important to document it so we can later look for troubling patterns and try to correct them.

How deep you want to get into it is your decision. At the very least, you should keep track of bets along the lines of the odds. You can categorize bets by the line. After hundreds of results, you might see that you’re 48% betting teams in a range from +160 to +180. That would indicate that is a strong suit for you. Hitting almost half of your moderate underdogs is a boon.

Conversely, you might notice that you are barely 40% betting on mild favorites in the +130 to +150 range. With a big enough pool of samples, you would identify that as a weak part of your game, then you can become more discerning and selective when betting on teams in that range. You might notice that your bets on totals are coming in at 58%, so you start making that a bigger feature of your wagering profile. There are other things you want to account for besides the odds, but this should be a focal part of your records.

Also keep track of things like what part of the day the games take place. Also include any information that was out-of-the-norm. Maybe a normally-strong starting pitcher was snake-bitten by a strong wind carrying balls barely over the fence. Maybe the sun created some fielding issues. It can be anything.

When you win or lose a game, you can often sum up the reason why it happened. There will often be a few readily-identifiable themes to the game. In your record keeping, include a spot for anecdotal records like this, where you make comments on why you won or lost a game. After losing a game, you could write things like “shortstop booted two balls” or “middle reliever blew lead.”

If you do this for years, there will be so many games that you have bet. Start looking for common threads. Maybe there are aspects of Major League Baseball handicapping that you systematically neglect, like taking defense into account or evaluating a team’s bullpen adequately. When you keep expanded and thorough records, however boring it might be, you allow yourself to benefit from your experience. Without keeping track, it can be hard to hone in on your good and bad tendencies. The sheer volume of baseball betting makes record keeping a necessary tool that we can benefit from over time.

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