Pregame Blogs

Pregame Blogs
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 Rule:  To maximize your win you must risk more on the better bets and less on the worse bets and nothing on the bad bets.   You cannot expect to win by risking larger sums on poorer bets, and lesser sums on better bets.

Most bettors bet baseball by risking whatever is necessary to return their normal win amount.  For example, if a bettor normally bets $110 to win $100 in sports with a point line, he will bet to win the same $100 when quoted a baseball money line.  Thus, when the bettor believes the favorite will win against the money line in baseball, he will risk $125 to win $100 on a -125 favorite, $150 to win $100 on a -150 favorite, and $200 to win $100 on a -200 favorite.

Why do most bettors bet in this way?  The common answer is, "That's the way everybody does it."  Unfortunately, most people lose, and doing things the way "everybody" does them is not a prescription for winning.

When a bettor risks varying amounts based only on the line quoted by the bookmaker, the bettor is letting the bookmaker control the amount at risk.  The bookmaker, however, does not have the best interest of the bettor in mind.  

Let's use the Braves/Giants game played on August 18, 2008, as an example.  The overnight odds on Atlanta were posted at -185.  By the morning, the odds had moved up to -210.  About an hour before game time, the odds varied from -230 to -240.  Most $100 bettors who believed Atlanta would win risked $185 if they bet Atlanta overnight.   If they bet Atlanta in the morning, they risked $210 to win the same $100.  If they waited until an hour before game time to bet, then they risked $230, or possibly as much as $240, to win the same $100.  

Let's pretend that we calculated Atlanta to have a 70% probability of winning the game against the Giants.  The breakeven money line for a 70% proposition is -233.    Atlanta would be a profitable bet at odds below  -233, and a bad bet, with a negative expectation, at odds above -233.  The farther below -233 that the line on Atlanta is set, the better the bet becomes.  The higher above -233 that the line is set, the worse the bet gets.  If we can lay odds of -185 on a 70% probability, we will win much more money over time than if we lay odds of -230.  

The odds overnight were set at -185.  The breakeven at odds of -185 is 65%.  Since we calculated Atlanta to have a 70% probability of winning, the overnight bettor would have a 5% cushion and can expect a nice profit over time.  

At the odds that existed in the morning of -210, the breakeven probability is 68%.  Since the probability that Atlanta will win is 70%, the bettor's advantage in the morning is cut to just 2%. The difference between 5% and 2% may not sound like much, but the change from a 65% breakeven to a 68% breakeven is a 60% decrease in the bettor's advantage on the bet.  Despite the huge decrease in the edge, the morning bettor risks $210, which is 13.5 % more than he would have risked if he bet at odds of -185 overnight.   

The breakeven win percentage at odds of -230 is 69.7%.  Laying -230 is barely profitable when betting on a team with a 70% probability of winning.  Nevertheless, most bettors would risk $230 when the odds are -230, which is 24% more risk than the same bettor would have risked if he played overnight at odds of -185.  Betting 24% more when you have a barely profitable 0.3 % edge than you would have bet if you had a very profitable 5.0% edge makes little logical sense for the bettor, but is great for the bookmaker. The bettor should be doing the exact opposite. 

The worse the bet gets, the more money most bettors will risk based on the money line.  If the line moves from high to low instead, most bettors will risk less money as the bet gets better.  As for the poor bettor who gets a line of -235 or -240, he will riskt the most on a bet with odds that are higher than the probability that Atlanta will win, and therefore on a bet that has a negative expectation and no long term probability of a profit.  Then bettors wonder why they always end up losing money over the course of each baseball season.

If you bet baseball like "everybody," you are in serious danger of losing money while betting the same games that make money for the professional who controls his own risk.

To control your own risk, decide on the value of the selection, and then divide that risk by the posted money line.  If you normally would risk $100 per game, you would risk the same $100 in baseball to win whatever the comeback may be at the odds.  For example, if the money line on Atlanta is -200, you would risk $100 to win $50, and NOT $200 to win $100.  If the odds on Atlanta go up to -220, you would risk the same $100 to win $100 divided by 2.20 = $45.

If you are able to accurately calculate probabilities with your handicapping method, you should seek to reduce the amount you place at risk as the odds get worse, and increase the amount you place at risk as the odds get better.  Thus, if you would risk $100 at odds of -200, you would risk only $90 to win $41 if the odds are -220, and $110 to win $61 if the odds are  -180.  

If you can't accurately calculate probabilities, then you must either keep your risk the same, or obtain the services of a handicapper who can calculate the probabilities for you.  Whatever you do, DO NOT bet "like everybody else."

To get baseball selections rated based on amazingly accurate probabilities calculated for you, go to Rob Crowne's page by CLICKING HERE TO WIN.

  • Hondo--

    Sorry I haven't answered your question until now.  You asked your question 7 months after I wrote the article, and I never saw it unit now.  

    The was to figure the break-even odds from the probability you will win is to take the win probability and divide by the loss probability.  The loss probability is always the reciprocal of the win probability, which menas 100 minus the win probability.

    In the article I said a 70% probability is the equivalent of odds of -233.  I arrived at that by saying that a win rate of 70% actually means I will win 70 games in 100.  If I will win 70 games in 100, how many games will I lose in 100.  The answer is 100-70=30 games.  I then divided the win probability of 70 games by the loss probabiliry of 30 games. , and I came up with 2.33.  The break-even odds for a 70% winning proposition are 2.33 - 1 which is the same as 233-100 as the books would quote it.

    Want to check to see if I'm correct?  Simply assume you bet  to win $100 per game.  You will win 70% which means 70 games in 100.  If you win $100 on 70 games you will win a total of 70 x $100 = $7000.  If you win 70 games in 100, you will lose the remaining 30 games in 100.   At odds of -233, you will lose $233 a total of 30 times.  30 x $233 = $6990.  The reason it is a mere $10 short of the $7000 win is that the odds of 233 have been rounded down from 233.333333.  But for all intents and purposes, if the probability that a game will win is 70%,  and you play to win $100 at odds -233, in 100 games you will win $7000 and lose $7000 for a break-even.

    To go the other way and calculate what win percentage you need at any given odds you need to use the following two formula:

    The amount you risk (your bet) divided by the amount you will get back though the window.  For ease, assume you will always bet to win $100 on favorites and you will always risk $100 on underdogs  

    The amount you will get back through the window when you win on a favorite is $100 plus the amount you originally bet on the favorite.  The amount you get back though the window when you bet on the underdog is the amount you bet of $100 + the amount you win at the odds.

    Let's use odds of -233 and +233.  If you lay $233 to win $100 and you give the book your bet of $233 up front, you will get back your $233 bet + your $100 win when you win.  If you bet $100 on the underdog at odds of +233, you will get back your $100 bet plus the win of $233 which again equals $333.  

    Thus, since we have assumed we are always betting to win $100 on favorites and risking $100 on underdogs, the amount we get back is always the odds + 100.

    At odds of 233 the amount you will bet on the favorite in order to win $100 is $233.  Divide the bet by the amount you get back.  233/333 = 69.96.  Call it 70%.  

    On the underdog you will $100.  $100/333 = 30 %  

    So now we know that if we play a +233 dog we need to win 30% of the time to break even.  If lay -233 on a favorite, we need to win 70% of the time to break even.

    Note that the two results will always add up to 100%.  Thus if you calculate the odds for the underdog, you can always get the odds for the favorite by subtracting the odds for the underdog from 100.  If you do that, the top of the formula will always be the $100 and you won't have two variables in your formula anymore which might make it easier to remember.

    You would always use 100/odds +100.  That gives you the percentage you need for the underdog.  Just subtract that from 100 to get the percentage you need for a favorite at the same odds.  

  • Rob, I do not understand how "The breakeven money line for a 70% proposition is -233". At the risk of sounding ignorant, as I really dont do a lot of baseball betting as I dont understand it much, could you explain how you came to the breakeven money line. Thanks for the great advice.

  • Jumperjack --

    You are assuming incorrectly.  

    Whether I am correct or incorrect is not dependent on whether I sell baseball selections  but on whether my logic and mathematical reasoning are correct. (actually I do sell baseball selections - mostly in my 7-day and 30-day packages and occasionally as daily single picks - click at the end of my article to get them).

    Mathematical truth is not based on a Democratic vote.  When Thorpe first developed his blackjack card counting system, "everybody," including the professional card players and the casinos, laughed.  Every pro had always said, "You can't beat the house edge."  Thorpe's theory made logical sense and was mathematically sound, however, and the casinos paid for assuming that mathematical truth was based on what all the pros and probability experts recommended before they read Thorpe's method.    

    No one is born knowing how to bet.   All smart  professionals are constantly learning new things and correcting old ideas.  

    Many professionals are great at picking games.  They make a profit no matter which method they use to control risk.  They become like the business owner who does not analyze expenses when times are good.  When money is flowing in, it is easy to ignore the fact that you may not be maximizing profits.  That, however, doesn't mean that you shouldn't maximize the money..  

    Your premise, however, that all the professional bettors recommend betting in a manner in which your risk increases as the odds increase is incorrect.  It may seem that way to "clients," but most of the analysts here are adjusting risk for the client with their rating, and never disclosing to the client the thinking behind it.  I don't know any professional who will not bring his bet all the way down to "0" if the odds go up above the probability a game will win.  They simply don't discuss it.  Reducing the rating as the odds increase is the way the pro looks at what I said in the article.  Most bettors don't understand the process.

    I believe the clients and everyone else should understand the process so that, if the odds change after they get a recommendation and my rating, they can make their own knowledgeable adjustments.  

    There is a mathematical argument that is sometimes made to justify risking more on higher odds selections.  These arguments are usually made by bettors who do not have the ability to accurately calculate the probability that a game will win.  The argument is flawed in several ways.  I'll discuss it in a later blog post.  

  • This goes against everything any pro bettor on this site has ever recommended to his clients. They are either all wrong and you are right or you are wrong. Since you don't sell baseball plays, I will assume you are the wrong one.

  • There's only one Rob Crowne!