My favorite sport to handicap growing up was baseball. Some of it no doubt was being able to immerse myself in the game during the summer break from high school.
I fondly remember hanging out at the municipal pool, handicapping from the USA Today sports section. There was something reassuring about each day offering a brand new slate of games.
Another appealing facet for an aspiring wonk in me was that each game, in a way, had two handicaps: the teams and the pitchers. And, even at that young age I appreciated the discounted vig of the dime line.
So why does baseball generate so much less action per game than other sports? Betting action is highly correlated to the general interest in a sport. Baseball is relatively less popular than it was 20 years ago, but there’s more than that.
The money line simply confuses many casual bettors.
Even for those comfortable with the ML, the lack of spread forces the bettor who wants to back the superior team to risk more on the favorite than he is able to win.
The average bettor wants to bet a little to win a lot. The bookies know this, and charge you a premium for the big payoff. So the average bettor either has to back the lesser team or bet more than he can win.
Including multiple favorites on a ML parlay, or laying 1.5 on the run line, can change that dynamic somewhat – but options like these take the bettor another step further from the type of betting he grows to love the rest of the year.
For the sharp bettor – one who can embrace the differences – baseball offers great opportunity.
Locate dime lines: Not every sports book offers one for baseball, but this one piece of advice can literally cut in half the bookmaker’s commission.
With typical point spread betting, you lay 110 both ways, which is a 20 cent line. With a 10 cent line, the vig is cut in half.
Imagine if there was a store next to Wal Mart that had everything half price. How busy would that store be?
Amazingly, often times a dime line offers you more than a 50% discount. The longer a sports book keeps a dime line as the favorite increases above -110, the less commission they are actually charging. For example, Jay Kornegay at the LVH keeps the dime line all the way up to -172. I cannot stress enough the value offered by this in the long run.
Another difference many savvy bettors like is when you bet a team in MLB, their interest and yours are 100% aligned. They want to win the game. You need them to win the game to win your bet.
With any spread betting (other than pick’em games), no matter if taking points or laying them, the betting outcome and the team’s primary motivation are not the same.
RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Sunday through Friday night at 11 p.m. on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Pregame.com. Contact RJ at [email protected]