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Sure Ways to Lose in the Long Run

Major League Baseball Betting: Sure Ways to Lose in the Long Run

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Riding Favorites

Betting on baseball forces us to recalibrate our ideas of what a favorite and an underdog truly are. In addition, it makes us re-examine our concept of what a good or bad team is. Take a look at the standings at the end of any season. There may not even be any teams that are winning at a 60% rate. That's right, the best teams in the league are usually in the high-50's percentage-wise. As for the "bad teams," the great majority of them win over 40% of their games.

So when we bet on favorites constantly, we're trying to battle a mathematical truth that has been in place for decades. While we will certainly bet on favorites as we place baseball wagers, it's hard to win in the longterm when betting on favorites exclusively. The numbers just don't support it. The real money is baseball betting is with the underdogs.

Not Really Following the Sport

Handicapping baseball games is obviously key and in order to do so capably, you need to be up-to-date on what is going on in the sport. First of all, it's a long season. A single season for a player can take on many forms. He can struggle, thrive, or anywhere in-between. We can't just depend on name-value and stats. A rookie getting playing time, for example, can hit a wall during the summer. A young pitcher can make a few adjustments and improve. A veteran might be nursing some nagging injuries that have rendered him a spent force.

The examples are numerous and can cover the entire spectrum. To stay on top of it, though, requires an attentive person, one who puts in the hours needed to be knowledgeable about a sport on a current basis. There is no substitute for the work that is required in watching games, following results, charting player progress, and then synthesizing it into the kind of knowledge we can use to win bets at a higher clip than the next guy.

Betting in Accordance With a Long Season

Point blank--there's no need to rush in baseball betting. You can almost understand a football bettor trying to maximize his action on the weekend because there won't be much action during the entire week. In baseball, there are games everyday. There are 30 big league teams, each of which play 162 games not counting the postseason.

Taking note of the fact that the baseball action comes fast and heavy for a long season gives rise to an awareness that baseball wagering is a more contemplative endeavor. There's no need to get in the fast lane. We need to remember to not get too hung up on temporary results because things can and will change over the course of the season. We have to pace ourselves, just like the players and teams. We have to take the ups-and-downs in stride. In other words, we can afford to adopt more of a sniper attitude when betting MLB. We can lay back and let the action come to us.

Failing to Be Selective

In keeping with the previous advice, we need to exercise the powers of selectivity. Let's face it, the bookie has most of the advantages. They're the almighty "house." The numbers are in their favor, as are the innumerable other reasons why most sports bettors fail over the long-haul. The one major advantage we have is that we get to dictate the terms of battle. Bookies need to post odds on every game being played. That's the war. The few who are able to beat the bookie are the ones who isolate the individual battles along the lines which are most favorable to them.


Where so many of us mess up is by slugging it out with the bookie in battles we have no business fighting. We spread ourselves too thin, become too opinionated and action-oriented, and we relinquish one of our few meaningful weapons as bettors. In other words, selectivity is an actual weapon. It allows us to dictate the terms of the fight. But it needs to be practiced for it to count. None of us can win a no holds barred battle-royale with the bookie. We need to pick our spots carefully and only bet when we see a clear edge. And we can never deviate from those high standards.

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