Many choices to winning MLB bets
April 10, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
Baseball is two weeks in and I will give you tips on making money.
There are many ways to bet baseball, unlike years ago when you were limited to either the home or road team and maybe the total. The game has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. At one time, pitchers like Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax would regularly go the distance. Bullpens didn’t have the specialists they now have.
Today, you have pitchers in the pen who only go one inning or slightly more to close out games. These “closers” are some of the highest paid pitchers outside starters. You also get setup men, who come in to hold a lead in the 6th through 8th innings to get your team to the closer. They might be tasked with keeping your team close if trailing. Baseball is about specialists.
The problem is the lines the oddsmakers put on a game are largely based on those starting pitchers. Managers want their starters to keep a fresher arm later in the season. If you pitch them too long into games you run the risk of blowing out their arms later in the season. Many pitchers are even put on pitch counts. Once they reach that count, they come out. Much more emphasis is put on bullpens now.
Understanding Money Lines: Unlike football and basketball, lines in baseball are made of money lines. That is, a team has a money value and that determines the size of the bet you must make to make one unit of profit.
If the Dodgers are -1.60, then you have to wager $160 to win $100. In football and basketball you have spreads, but the money line is usually consistent at -1.10. That means your break-even point is about 52% winners. This isn’t true for baseball, where the money line can be anywhere from a dog to a high priced favorite. That 52% could be lower if you are strictly a dog player or much higher if you play all favorites.
Favorite Parlays: A lot of players like playing favorites. Problem is losing puts you into a bigger hole by the higher vigorish (vig.). This is especially true if you are playing -200 or higher favorites. And trust me, these big favorites lose all the time.
One wager I will make, is a two or three team parlay with the bigger favorites. Sure, you have to win all your games, but now instead of laying $240 to make $100, you may be wagering $100 to win $100.
First 5 Innings: One of my favorite types of wagers. Most books now take these bets and when you play a pitcher you like, you can be assured he will go at least five innings to get that win. That is unless he’s getting shelled, then you likely will lose anyway.
You can’t rely on the bullpens to hold a lead or stay close if you are behind. Some pens are overused or have to rest the better relievers. So when you wager on first five, you can expect your pitcher to go that distance. If you are a favorites player, you will lay less in five innings than in the entire game.
Team Totals: Most people understand when you play a total in baseball you are wagering on the Over/Under of the combined runs for both teams. You can also play the Over/Under of just one team. I like these kinds of wagers when I understand how one team will perform with their starting pitcher and bullpen, but the opposing team may be a question mark.
For example, let’s say I like the Under in the Dodgers/Giants game, but I don’t like the Giants pitcher necessarily. I can bet the Giants Under for the game knowing the Dodgers will keep them down. That way, if the Dodgers win 8-1 or 7-2, I can still collect on an Under in the Giants total.
Playing against overpriced favorites: This is one way I like to bet, but it takes a lot of work. I look for pitchers that are overpriced and I play the underdog. This might require making your own lines on games before they are posted. This gives you a base to see if the favorites are overpriced and may require more homework on teams and pitchers to see if the pens are overused or the starter is only going five or six innings. You look for an edge on the dogs with your handicapping.
Run Line Bets: Call this a combination line with both a spread (in this case 1.5) and a money line. This is a good way to bet your big favorites. When laying 1.5 runs, you won’t have to give as much money or even get plus money. If Clayton Kershaw is a $2.40 favorite today, laying the 1.5 runs might drop that money line as low as -130. I know some handicappers that will parlay three big favorites and back that bet up with three run line bets on the same teams. Run Lines are also a way to bet the dog, lose the game and still win your bet. If you take +1.5 (+120) and your team loses 5-4, you still make $120 for each $100 unit you bet on that dog.
Weather: It’s always tougher to loosen up pitchers when it’s cold, especially when they were used to pitching in those warm preseason climates. This year, the season started early and we have seen games with snow and frigid temperatures. This is an early condition you need to consider when doing your handicapping and can often produce some nice dog wins. I personally like to play teams in the early season that play in warmer climates or domed stadiums.
Whatever way you like to bet baseball, be sure to explore more of today’s betting options. These will open up opportunities for you to make money where you might not have been able to in year’s past. Enjoy the baseball season and remember to do your homework.