Finding winners onthe baseball diamond!

May 20, 2003 2:31 AM

A slight diversion this week to the world of sports betting.

I love baseball, and it is fun to bet on. Like all gambling, it should be done as entertainment, and as such it is a pleasant way to spend an evening watching the game on TV or even at the park, if you have a good bet on.

The basic bet on baseball is the money line. You will see the line expressed as a minus (for example —140) or as a plus (for example +165.) A minus line indicates the favorite in the contest. A bet at —140 indicates that you must bet $1.40 in Âí­order to win $1. Thus if you win you will be returned $2.40 (the amount of your wager plus your win, and if you lose you will of course be returned nothing. Normally the bet is returned if the game is not played or completed if you are betting "off the board" or taking your line off the posted odds.

Another way of looking at this is that if you bet at —140, your team must win 140 out of 240 games to break even, a win percentage of a little over 58%. If you bet a team at +140 your team must average 100 wins out of 240 to break even (a percentage of 41.6%).

Daily baseball parlay cards are problematical ”” I don’t normally bet them because often the odds are not as good as those offered off the board, though of course you may find an exception occasionally.

Here are my rules:

1. Don’t bet the favorites. I can tell you that year in and year out, betting the minuses (the favorites) at baseball is a losing proposition in the long run. While I don’t really know why this is (I suspect it is that the favorites are just more popular, thus the price is higher than it should be), I can tell you that it is true.

2. Don’t bet teams on the road. Same story, history shows us that road teams make bad bets. Again, I don’t know why, but of course more road teams are dogs, so this is probably just a spill over effect from number 1 above.

3. Don’t bet the run line. The run line is similar to the money line, except that you are betting (with odds) that a team will win by a certain number of runs (usually stated in half runs like 1½ or 2½). These bets look attractive, and indeed you can catch a good trend occasionally, but the problem here is that the vig paid to the bookies is typically twice what it is for the standard money line bet. And of course there are bets that just don’t seem to make much sense, like parlaying the under plus a run line bet. If you take the minus on the run line you probably will want a lot of runs scored, no?

4. Don’t bet the over/unders. Same story, the vig is twice as high in comparison.

Well then, what does that leave? Bet the favorites at home, lay anything from —1.25 or so on up. You will win some, you will lose some, but history suggests that this is the way to bet baseball.

Betting the favorites at home will sharply reduce the chances of a long losing streak, and will normally produce enough winners to overcome the unavoidable but less frequent losses.

On a scale of one to five spikes, with five being the highest, Keno Lil rates home team favorites: (4½ spikes)



That’s it, its simple. But don’t bet more than you can afford. Gambling is entertainment.

That’s it for this week. Good Luck, I’ll see you in line!