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With more and more people showing greater interest in baseball this is an appropriate time to review some of the basics when it comes to wagering on what for many years was considered to be America’s National Pastime.

Of course nothing is as simple as it might appear and thus baseball wagering relies on the money line to “even” things out. You will have to wager a larger amount to win a smaller amount when backing the perceived better team in a matchup. Conversely, when backing the supposed weaker team to win you will get even money or better when you are correct.

As an example the New York Yankees, the defending World Series Champions, might be listed as -220 when facing the lowly Kansas City Royals. If you want to bet the Yanks to win you’d have to wager $220 to win $100. If you think the Royals will pull the upset your $100 wager would net a profit of $200 if you are right.

A more competitive matchup might find Boston favored by -120 over the Los Angeles Angels in which the take back on the Angels would be +110.

The -120 vs. +110 is what is known as the 10¢ line and it is vital for your long term success that you only make wagers at sports books that offer the 10¢ line. Some books deal a 20¢ line – or worse – in which the gap between favorite and underdog is double that of the 10¢ line. As an example if a team is favored by -140 the takeback on the underdog would be +120, rather than +130 as with a 10¢ line.

For now, as a weekly feature, a quarter of weekend series will be previewed with thoughts on how you might wish to play the games involved.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Florida: Both teams have reputations for relying more on pitching than on offense for their success but both actually have formidable bats throughout their lineups. The top two starting pitchers in this series are the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Florida’s Josh Johnson. There is a dropoff to each team’s number two starters.

PREFERRED PLAYS: The best way to approach this series is to play either team as an underdog if getting at least +125 in any matchup. The Marlins would be playable in starts by Ricky Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez if not favored by more than -130. Look to play OVER Totals of 8 or lower in games not involving Kershaw or Johnson.

St. Louis at Milwaukee: St. Louis is the class of the NL Central while many consider Milwaukee a legitimate contender after having upgraded their pitching staff with the signing of Randy Wolf and hiring of Rick Peterson as pitching coach. Both teams have plenty of offense. That pretty much sets the betting tone for this series.

PREFERRED PLAYS: Back the underdog in matchups in which either of the Cards’ two top starters face Wolf or Gallardo or back any of those hurlers if favored by -140 or less if not opposing either of the other team’s aces. As to Totals look to go OVER 9 or lower if none of those four pitchers is involved in the matchup or UNDER 8 or higher if two of those four hurlers oppose one another.

New York Yankees at Tampa Bay: The Yankees are considered the best team in all of baseball as they seek to repeat their World Series triumph of 2009. The Yankees will be heavily favored in most of their games all season which means we have to pick our spots to back them in the situations when they are more reasonably priced. That could be the case here as Tampa has a real chance at winning 90 games this season.

PREFERRED PLAYS: Play on Tampa Bay as underdogs of +150 in any matchup or if getting at least +125 against New York’s A.J. Burnett or Andy Pettitte. The Yankees may be backed if favored by no more than -140 in starts by other than Burnett or Pettitte. Consider plays on the OVER at Totals of 8 or lower except in starts by Tampa’s Garza or Shields in which case the UNDER may be considered at Totals of 9 or higher against any Yankees starter.

Minnesota at Chicago White Sox: Both teams are considered contenders in the AL Central with Minnesota having an edge on offense and Chicago’s edge being on the mound. Neither team has an overpowering ace at the front end of their rotation but the Sox’ starters put up noticeably better stats in 2009. As a team the Twins ranked highly in most offensive categories last season whereas the White Sox were bottom third except in home runs. He did pitch well in his three Chicago starts late in the season.

PREFERRED PLAYS: Peavy can be backed in this series against any Minny starter if not laying more than -150. Matchups involving Buehrle or Peavy for the Sox against Baker or Slowey for the Twins should be looked at as UNDERs at Totals of 8 or higher.


About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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