Baseball has potential to take sports books deep

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The college basketball season has ended with baseball just beginning, signifying a change of seasons – not only by mother nature, but also in the sports books.

While basketball – pro and college – is always one of the more consistent hold percentages of all the sports, baseball is the one area where sports book directors collectively hold their breath and hope to maintain any kind of positive hold in the ensuing months before finally getting to the gravy train of football season.

It’s amazing that sports books over the years – when looking at ledgers consistently fluctuating into the red – wouldn’t have altered their approach to offering baseball odds. Although not the most popular sport to bet on by the masses, it actually should be when considering a 10-cent money-line line compared to the point-spread sports like football and basketball that offer 20-cent splits.

And when we’re talking about the masses, we have to talk parlays, which should be even more reason for them to jump all over baseball. Instead of a parlay pay-chart like basketball and football – a chart that continually drops in value as more teams are added, baseball parlays pay out in true odds.

This is why it’s not unusual to see books have losing months in baseball. The sharps aren’t the reason for books losing when they do, it’s the little guy banging away true odds parlays.

Baseball is a game about streaks and pitchers, and when three or four teams get on a roll simultaneously, or a pitcher goes on a five- or six-game run, bettors follow. Unlike football, where a hot team can be neutralized by the book with a higher point spread, baseball is just about winning and losing.

The price can be inflated, but it’s still about simply winning, as Buster Posey and the San Francisco Giants did in last year’s World Series.

It gets even worse for the books when those teams start winning by two runs or more because most of the small bettors like to play the run-line option of laying 1.5, which boosts the payouts into plus-money most of the time.

A $5 five-team parlay on a basketball or football pay chart pays out at 20-to-1 and returns $100. In baseball, with a few pluses, bettors can find themselves reaching 100-to-1 payouts and higher. Because  baseball odds multiply so high, almost every book has a maximum odds payout that caps the return at around 300-to-1.

Totals, run lines: Aliante sports book director Marc Nelson has debuted a new concept by allowing baseball bettors to list pitchers or take action on totals and run-lines in the same fashion everyone has been accustomed to on the sides. Their ability to do this is because of the software provided to them by Stadium Technologies that gives book operators the option, unlike most approved systems in Nevada that don’t.

“Baseball probably has the most complicated rules of all the sports in a book, so it will be a new learning experience for many, but one I think they’ll grow to like,” said Nelson.

At every other book, whenever there is a pitching change, any total or run-line wagered on is “no action” – forcing refunds on all straight bets or parlays to reduce regardless of the eventual outcome in the game. The Aliante book will still have run-line and total bets defaulted to pitchers listed like everyone else, but bettors now have the option of requesting “action.”

To Nelson’s point, many bettors don’t know the rules of baseball betting. Whenever there is a pitching change, there are always occurrences of customer outrage when not collecting the full amount listed on the ticket. You can sympathize because they sweated out an entire game to win their run-line bet by two runs without realizing it was a refund before the game started. Nelson is trying to change that and has been getting his staff acclimated to inform their guests about their options. Way to go Mark!

Reverse run-lines: William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich used to offer the popular reverse run-lines at his Cal-Neva books, and after merging with William Hill, he’s kept it alive. This is for the greediest of run-line players who love getting a lot back by betting a small amount.

Regular run-line wagers allow for the bettor to get more money back by laying 1.5 runs with the favorite. In this case, bettors can get even more money back by laying 1.5 with the underdog.

Last Thursday, the Marlins were +200 on the game line against the Nationals, but if laying 1.5 with the Marlins, a bettor’s payback would be +300 if winning by 2. It’s unlikely to happen and didn’t, but that’s why the price is so high. It’s just another of the many ways to bet baseball daily.

The Aliante sports book is also offering this option to their guests as well as an assortment of daily propositions.

Daily no-hitter prop: John Avello at the Wynn sports book is offering a daily prop that allows bettors to wager on whether there will be a no hitter or not. Depending on who is pitching, and as long as there are at least four games, the Wynn will post a number.

That number is usually either -6000 or -5000 on the “NO” with the “YES” fetching 40/1 or 30/1. Avello says he hasn’t taken any real big bets on this prop, but it usually gets a few wagers in the $10 to $50 range each day.

On the second day the prop was offered last Tuesday, the Rangers’ Yu Darvish was perfect for the first 26 Astros hitters until finally broken up. When the “YES” finally cashes, there’s a good chance the Astros will be the team that is no-hit.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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