Takeaways From My Early MLB Betting Success
America’s past time is beautiful and unique in so many ways. One of my favorite ways in that it is unique lies in the fact that while it’s the sport with the biggest sample size, anything can happen in one game. The best hitter in the world can strike out four times, a rookie call-up can shut down a top-tier offense, BARTOLO COLON HAS HIT A HOMERUN!!! The possibilities are endless.
While this kind of variance can drive some bettors mad, I have decided to embrace it. I know others do as well. I believe it’s why I’ve enjoyed some success in the VERY early part of the baseball season.
I emphasize early because it is very early in baseball time. My early success could be a blip in the radar, and I could be broke by May. Who knows? What I do know is that I have been a winning bettor for the first three weeks, and I’d like to share some of the things I feel have been a part of that.
I keep my volume low
Last year I was so eager for baseball to return I was betting anything and everything I liked the first week. Home run props, K props, money lines, run lines, totals, first fives. I BET IT ALL! And I lost fast. I was LOOKING for action, not assessing the numbers in front of me. So even in the sixty-game sprint, I almost went broke within a month. “Oh well, stuff happens, move on” right? I could’ve done that, but while betting is only a hobby of mine, I do want to be good at it.
So towards the end of the season, I focused on money lines underdogs only. I bet one or two plays a day with the goal of hitting half of them and making a small profit. AND IT WORKED! I ended the season at a profit from the point I implemented this strategy to the end of the season.
Is it as fun as a 10 leg 1000/1 homerun parlay? I guess not, but what I DO find fun is seeing my account balance grow; seeing more money in my account at the end of the day than was in there at the beginning. Green on my balance sheet is much more fun than losing.
I only bet underdogs
I talked about the variance of baseball a bit above. Given those facts, why would I ever lay juice (the odds on any given bet) on a baseball bet? I realize that some favorites are still values at their price. To be honest, though, I don’t have a model assisting me in evaluating favorites. While I am leaving some money on the table eschewing favorites entirely, I feel I’m saving more by not burdening myself with the “is this favorite not favored enough” question.
It also goes against my long-term strategy of only having to hit half of my bets to be profitable. As long as I take odds of +101 or longer and have a 50% winning percentage, I will be a profitable bettor.
Here’s a quick rundown of what odds truly mean and how that affects your bottom line: The odds you see next to a bet represent not only your potential return on investment but also the implied probability of that event happening. +100 (sometimes labeled EVEN by sportsbooks) represents 50% implied probability. That means, in order for that bet to be profitable you have to have an expected winning percentage above 50%.
The bigger the odds you lay, the more that event has to happen for you to be profitable (I’ll leave a link to an odds calculator at the end of this post). So while laying odds as low as -105 or -102 may not seem like a big deal, I still don’t know what my break-even percentage is. Maybe if I do this long enough and am comfortable assessing my own winning percentage I’ll add favorites to my bet sheet. But for now, I only take odds of +101 or better as I only need to hit half of them to be profitable.
Betting on probabilities, not predicting outcomes
It’s getting a bit long so I will keep this part short. Much like in DFS, we aren’t trying to predict who will score the most points on any given day. Rather, we’re trying to beat our opponents. We don’t care what the best plays of the day are, we only care about betting on outcomes happening more or less often than the field thinks they will or won’t.
This mindset exists in sports betting as well. I don’t know if team A will beat team B on that specific day, but I’m betting it happens more often than the odds listed. As bettors, we can’t control what happens on the field. What we CAN control are the bets we make and the odds we take. As long as we bet on outcomes happening more often than the implied odds indicate, we did our part. What happens after that is out of our control.
As of this writing (April 22, 2021) I am 32-25-3, 53% winning percentage, +19.967 units.
The total unit figure includes my 0-15 record on parlays. I’ve only lost 4.229 units on them, but my point of “never betting parlays” stands. The 0-15 is not included in my record, however. Take that for what it’s worth, but I wanted a true reflection of how often I win my individual bets.
Anyways, I hope you guys got something useful out of my ramblings. Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading.