I am going to reference this article at the start and throughout every MLB season as a refresher. If you want to be an MLB bettor, and make money over the season, it is ESSENTIAL that you understand the dynamics of MLB value betting.
In the NFL there are 17 games in a season. It means if a sharp bettor finds a team that is undervalued and bets them, they only have 17 games to squeeze out that value. Soak this in for a minute…if there’s value to be squeezed it happens over that 17 game stretch or it doesn’t happen. It also means if they wager on that team for every game to extract that value…they need to go 9-8 at worst to achieve a slight 0.2 unit profit for the season. It’s just the nature of betting point spreads at -110…you need 52.4% winners or better. It’s not the same in baseball due to the moneylines. In baseball, you could win 30% and make money depending on what you are betting. Not to mention, the uniqueness of the MLB season lends itself to an ENTIRELY different betting experience that most casual bettors CANNOT handle.
First, in the MLB season each team plays 162 games. It’s a huge number of games for a team to play compared to NFL teams (17 games) and NCAAF teams (12 games). The 162 games in an MLB season is also roughly double the number of games in an NBA or NHL season. Throughout any sports season teams can go from overvalued, to undervalued to neutral valued. Theoretically, if an MLB team experienced an even spread of all three value categories then teams could be overvalued for 54 games, undervalued for 54 games and neutral valued for 54 games. However, with NCAAF this same value category spread is MUCH SMALLER. In NCAAF, a team would be undervalued 4 games, overvalued 4 games and neutral valued 4 games. WOW!!! So, in NCAAF…I might only follow a team for 4 games where they are undervalued. The MLB season provides roughly 14 times the number of wagering opportunities on a single team compared to NCAAF football.
What does the above mean for the value/sharp bettor when it comes to MLB versus NFL or NCAAF football? It means that instead of riding a team for AT MOST 17 games in an NFL season or AT MOST 12 games in an NCAAF season to squeeze out the value on that team…you may have to ride an MLB team for 10, 25, 35, 50, 75 or even the full 162 games before the value cream finally rises to the top on that team. At which point maybe you make +2 or +3 units in the end. “OH GOODNESS…I HAVE TO BET A TEAM 25 TIMES AND LOSE A LOT ALONG THE WAY TO ACHIEVE 1-2 UNITS OF PROFIT ON THAT TEAM??? You don’t get it TSP, I want to gain my 1-2 units of profit on a team within 1-2 bets!!” Good news for you is this sprint theory sort of works that way in football. If an NCAAF team is undervalued in only 4 games…that’s only four bets you need to make over the course of the season and four possible outcomes (assuming no pushes) of 4-0, 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, 0-4.
Getting value is not the same in MLB. Let’s use our favorite MLB team to illustrate this point…the Washington Nationals!!!! Betting the Washington Nationals over their last 10 games has you +2.5 units. WOW! Sounds quite easy…ride the Nationals over 10 games and pickup a +2.5 unit profit…until you realize that on the first 7 of those 10 games you were -3.55 units. How many bettors could handle that sort of loss, without knowing there would be a +6.05 unit profit progression in the final three games out of those 10?? How many gamblers would have given up riding the Nationals after game 3, 5 or worse…game 7…missing the entire progression??? I can tell you it would be a ton. When the Nationals were Book Needs in three game recently and lost all three, the messages I got were non-stop…
“Why do we keep betting the Nationals.”
“Are you kidding me, fucking Nationals again.”
“This is stupid!!”
In this example with the Nationals you lost money the first 7 of the last 10 games, but thanks SOLELY to their last three games, two of which were against the Dodgers (who nobody thought the Nats could beat once, let alone twice and where they were on average +270 and +225) you FINALLY got your profit betting the undervalued Nationals! Whether you should continue betting the Nationals is a whole other topic for another day. For now, I just want to illustrate the different dynamics of value betting MLB with moneylines and a very long season versus value betting spreads (point spreads…the great equalizer) and a very short season by comparison with football and what that means for how your profit is achieved betting value in each sport.
Most casual gamblers are not good with betting endurance. Most gamblers are betting sprinters. They want to make their profit on an undervalued team in 3 games or less…preferably 1 game! Bet sprinting sort of works in football which is why following sharp money in football is actually the least stressful and highest profit season of content I cover. It’s because if you are truly following sharp money in football, there isn’t really much of a “long game” in football betting. You only have 18 weeks (which is basically 18 Sundays because that’s when almost the full slate of games occur) to make your regular season profits in NFL. You have even less time in college football to get your value! So, that’s basically 18 betting days of NFL football each season. In May alone there were 31 betting days of MLB…almost double the NFL season in terms of betting days.
The greater the quantity of bets you are making, the greater the volatility of performance on those bets and thereby the greater the importance of playing the long game. When you have a high quantity of bets in anything, it takes more time for the volatility in performance and variance (luck) to smooth out. Every betting season no matter the sport is some degree of a grind. However, the longer the season…the greater the grind!
With a sport like MLB, with such a long season…6 months and 2,430 regular season games…you have no choice but to play the long game. It means the sharp bettor needs to be prepared for a marathon (162 games per team) not a sprint (NCAAF with 12 games or even NFL with 18 games). Casual bettors are fueled by instant gratification…I want to bet and win my money TODAY. Casual bettors don’t like the idea of, “I have to bet today, tomorrow, the next day, etc. and after 7-10 days I will have hopefully worked a value angle and made my money.” It gets worse if the profit was not achieved over those 10 days like the Nationals…but instead 20, 25 games. Most casual bettors can’t stomach waiting 5-6 games to extract value…how in the hell could they handle riding the losses over maybe 20 games until they finally hit the 5 game run where they make back their loses and end with 1-2 units of profit. Yes, waiting through 25 GAMES OF RISK, SWEAT AND TEARS to collect 2 units at the end of the rainbow!!! There’s definitely no instant gratification waiting through 25 games for your profit.
I have one more for you and then I will let you go. YANKEES UNDERS!!!! Yes, the Yankees UNDERs are the bane of TSP follower existence. They are usually always a value of some kind and sharp money bets them regularly. Now if I asked you how you feel placing bets on Yankees games to stay UNDER…you would punch me in the face. However, going into the All-Star break, Yankees UNDERs were 47-44!! Yes, thanks to the lower juice on the UNDER you would have ground out a 1.4 unit profit betting the UNDER in every Yankees game…not much…but a profit. Since the All-Star break, Yankees UNDERS are 2-4. Giving some of that profit back. Point being, Yankees UNDERs will make people in TSP Live shudder, however through the All-Star break they were a winning proposition. Simply blindly betting the UNDER in every Yankee game provided a profit at the midpoint of the season. Let’s see where these stand after the current regression finishes.
So, if you are sitting there and saying “I can’t win at baseball”, “MLB is rigged toward the public”, or “Baseball sucks,” you might be missing the big (long-term) picture. You are correct, baseball isn’t as instant gratification as football…and thereby it isn’t as easy to be an MLB bettor. You have to have patience, discipline, proper bankroll management and an understanding of how profits are achieved in MLB (see the above article). When there’s only 12 or 18 games for a team in a football season, it becomes a situation where you get your value in a quick burst and it’s over. With a 162 game MLB season, it is a whole different ballgame…pun intended. Yes, in some ways this article is simplifying things, but that’s the goal. I could write a doctoral thesis on the topic above using statistical analysis, but I don’t have that kind of time right now, very few would read it, and the above breaks down a complicated topic (why MLB betting requires a different type of betting mentality) very simply and using real life examples from recent wagers (NATIONALS!!!). Anyway, just some food for though. If you want to be an MLB bettor, you have to run the marathon. If you try to bet MLB in a sprint you will find yourself dead on the track…because the finish line isn’t for 2430 games versus 272 games for NFL. If you only want to sprint in your betting, don’t worry…football is right around the corner! Oh and that doesn’t mean it is easy to bet football, just that football is better at fulfilling instant performance gratification in shorter periods of time than professional MLB betting.
Good luck in your action!