Starting Five: DraftKings’ Johnny Avello Touts Five Trends for MLB Second Half

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DraftKings bettors are riding the streak of Julio Rodriguez and the Mariners (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill).

Play Ball. Again.

The second half of the MLB season, beginning Thursday, highlights several interesting betting trends.

Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, shared five of his favorites with Gaming Today during the All-Star break.

1. Mariners Try to Extend Magic

The Seattle Mariners, riding a league-high 14-game win streak, will try to show they were not cooled off by the All-Star break. But they have a daunting task in hosting the Houston Astros right out of the box. Ten of their next 13, in fact, are against the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.

This is an interesting call for the bettors. They must decide whether they think the M’s will continue the wave, or if they are essentially starting over because of the four-day break.

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It’s an important distinction because bettors love a streak. Especially a maturing one.

“Bettors don’t care about the first three wins of a streak,” Avello indicated. “But once they see the streak is sustained, it’s a different story. The Mariners played one weak team (Oakland A’s), but by the time they beat very good teams like the San Diego Padres, and the Toronto Blue Jays, the bettors were with them.

“These type of bettors follow the streak, not the game. To them, it’s not the pitcher against the pitcher or the overall matchups.”

Toward that end, Seattle ended with a six-game road trip against the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers. Neither team has a winning record, but it is still difficult for any team to win all seven of those road games.

“It doesn’t matter who is pitching, and it doesn’t matter where they are playing. They could be playing in Japan,” Avello laughed. “Bettors will stay on a hot team until the end.”

2. Chalks Give Gamblers a Temporary Edge

While the Mariners have been a streak-betting darling, a handful of teams fit two particular extremes. The haves and have-nots have been clearly defined, giving the sportsbooks some headaches. The upsets they count on in other sports happen less during this point of the MLB season.

“Bettors like to take teams that are going well and go heavily against teams that are not,” Avello said. “The Yankees, Dodgers, and the Mets always get bet — they are all having great seasons. A team like the Chicago Cubs is always being bet against.

“This is one of the rough patches for us as a sportsbook during the baseball season.

“Baseball is the toughest sport for the books,” Avello noted. “We have a low hold on the straight bets.

“Last Saturday was a bad day for us. All the favorites won and then the bettors co-mingled them together either for a multi-legged parlay or part of a parlay.”

3. Illegal Books Had An Even Tougher Time with ‘Favori-titis’

“You know, this is why illegal books used to shut down during the baseball season,” Avello recalled of the time before PASPA’s 2018 repeal launched legal betting across the United States.

“The illegal books did not have the stomach for it. They would shut down and start again during the football season. If they are a small operator, these multi-leg parlays can really hurt you.”

4. The Growth of the Big-Time Spender

The repeal of PASPA has unleashed a market wave of whales — bettors who wager telephone numbers — and a percentage of enriched, mature gamblers.

“Some of my players have been with me 20, 25 years,” Avello continued. “They gambled with me at the brick-and-mortar books in Las Vegas for a long time. Now they do that or go online.

“At one time, they used to bet $200 a game, and now that’s $2,000. Or they bet $2,000 a game and now that number might be $20,000. The reason is that over the course of time, their businesses have continually gotten better, and they have made more money.

“You have another application of this idea, too. We used to always get the guys who would make the trip to Vegas four or five times a year, and we would get their big action.

“Now they don’t have to come out here. They can stay at home and make the same kind of bets. We are seeing a lot of that. We are their daily provider, so now they are going to bet more often.”

Avello said players fall into numerous categories these days. They can range from players gambling $20, $50, $100, or $500 a game to the whales who won’t think twice about laying out $50,000-100,000.

And players go big on multi-legged parlays. There are many cases of players who invest a few dollars and might walk away with several thousand because they are willing to take multi-legged parlays, even adjusting the lines on many of the games.

It’s a new age.

5. Wild Card Nuggets

Avello notices two trends bettors are hitting out of the park.

One involves the Mets.

“As of the All-Star break, they hadn’t lost a game all year when they had the lead after eight innings. That’s remarkable. Some players have been taking an in-game bet after eight innings, regardless of the price.”

The other nugget is one that Avello disclosed early in June. When the Dodgers win, they cover the 1.5 runs, almost invariably.

How prophetic has that been?

From June 1 until the All-Star break, the Dodgers won by a single run only three times. And none for all of June and the first five days of July.

That’s three times among 27 victories. Dodger bettors who were on them during those victories prevailed by taking the run line. If the payoff in the neighborhood of -135 seemed insufficient, they could link it with another game.

Avello said baseball is a major sportsbook staple because it unfolds every day. The consistency of action, he says, is worth the rough waters that come when multiple chalks stay hot for a few weeks:

More MLB betting: World Series odds | Daily betting lines

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970’s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. He has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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