A lot of people asked me what is the best sport to bet and my answer is always the same – baseball. Bookmakers are very smart and they know how to attract bettors with all kind of promotions and other bonuses and they also know very well psychology of bettors and gamblers. They know how to attract them and a lot of people will fall into this trap. They will bet on sports, that they like to watch, not to invest. Of course NFL is great to watch, but from investing point I think, that there is no sport that is close to MLB.
Keep reading and I will explain, why I think baseball is the best sport to bet and how I bet on baseball.
Why I bet baseball?
The most popular sport in USA is NFL. There is 32 teams, that play 256 games in one season. Regular season starts in September and ends at the start of January.
Let’s take a look how much money can make one very good sports bettor in one regular NFL season if he plays every single game (1 game = 1 bet, spread for example). Let’s take an example, that he is very good and he will reach yield of 10% (some people call it ROI).
- 256 games * $1000 = $256,000 risked money
- Yield 10%: 0.1*$256,000 = $25,600
Very good NFL bettor will make $25,600 of profit if he plays every single game and if he is very good.
On the other side, take example of a very good MLB bettor, with the same yield and if he also bet on every single game in regular MLB season.
One regular MLB season has 2430 games and if we take that he bet on every single game (1 bet = 1 game).
- 2430 games * $1000 = $2,4300,000 risked money
- Yield 10%: 0.1*$2,4300,00 =$243,000 of profit
Very good MLB bettor will make $243,000 of profit, which is close to 10 times more than NFL bettor.
Of course reaching yield of 10% playing all NFL and MLB games is not possible, but I wanted to show you that potential in baseball is much bigger. Every day we have 10-15 games and if you are prepared to work hard on MLB analysis, I think there is no other sport that has so many opportunities.
There are also couple of other key reasons, why I bet baseball:
- Huge market: This is not second league in voleyball, where the lines move quickly and where the limits are low. MLB is one of the biggest markets in sports betting world and in average you can bet much more than on any other smaller leagues.
- Statistics: I am investor, not a gambler and I can not bet without analysis and without any statistics. Even if I made some intuition plays, I look first at the numbers. Statistics is very important for me. Baseball is sport with the biggest information about statistics. And we all know, that statistics and analytics is most important when it comes to predicting the future results. All successful businesses us it and I am huge believer, that traditional handicapping without analytics will be dead soon too. So, when you have a lot of data, you can also make better predictions and analysis. It is much easier to analyse a sport with 2430 games and data sets, than only 256. I hope you agree with me.
- Underdogs: An average bettor is afraid to bet on underdogs. I think the main reason for that is because most bettors bet huge proportion of their bankroll (if they have one) and they are basically in a must-win situation every day. Underdogs in general are the teams, that has less than 50% of chance and of course they don’t want to be in a must-win situation, that has less than 50% of chance. Usually public is heavily with favourites and usually public lose a lot too. But in MLB baseball league the difference between the best team and the worst team is not that big. The best teams will win around 60% of games and the worst teams will still win around 40% of games. There is a lot of underdog wins every day and because of that a lot of chance for us, who are looking for the value, not for the winners.
How I bet baseball?
Most of my plays are moneyline bets. I don’t bet special bets and I rarely play totals. I stick with high limits bets, where I can invest more money. But before I answer on this question, let’s explain couple of other things, that are important.
One baseball game is one EVENT, right? And every event has two outcomes:
- Home win
- Away win
Every outcome has some probability or if you like – Team A has a chance that will win this game and Team B has a chance to win this game.
Bookmakers estimate those probabilities and then they turn those probabilities into the odds (plus some margin of course)
At the same time, I use my my MLB BASEBALL BETTING MODEL, that I reveal and teach you in my online betting course called A Journey.
I simply estimate my own probabilities and then I turn those probabilities into the odds.
So, what are the odds? The odds are the prices, that you will pay when you bet.
So, for example if I estimate, that Boston Red Sox have a chance of 56.44% to win a game versus NY Yankees, my fair odds would be 1.77 (US odds: -130). In this case I expect, that when I bet $1000 on Red Sox, bookmakers would pay me $770 for Red Sox win. And based on this number I decide if I will bet this game or not.
If bookmakers set the odds on Boston Red Sox 1.60 (US odds: -167), I will get only $600 if my bet (Red Sox) wins. In this case I was expecting at least $770 of profit, but I get only $600. And this is not a value for me. I would stay away from this game.
On the other side if bookmakers set the odds of 2.1 (US odds: +110) on Boston Red Sox, I would get $1100 of profit, which is $330 more than I would expect. And this is something I call it a value. In this case I would bet on Red Sox, because I get more for my money.
The value is something you face it every day. When you go to a store and you see two jackets, totally same quality and you like them equally, the logical decision would be to buy cheaper one. Why? Because you get more for the same money. And if you will do this constantly, you will save money. If you will look for the value constantly in sports betting, you will make a profit.
Bullpen and statistics is important!
There are two very big mistakes by bettors, that can not make a profit in baseball:
They use main stream statistics, found on ESPN, Yahoo and other main stream sites: One nice example is ERA, that is probably most popular statistics in baseball and most bettors will rely only it. ERA will show you how many runs one pitcher (or a team) allows per 9 innings. The problem with ERA is that is not the best future predictor. Much better are some other like FIP, xFIP, SIERA, whip, …
They ignore bullpen: The average pitcher will pitch around 5.5 innings per game. The game has 9 innings and most bettors simply ignore big part of the game (cca 38% of game) and this is the late game, where the game will be decided.
I don’t use main stream statistics and I pay special attention to bullpen too, because the game is usually decided by bullpens.
How I estimate odds?
I use my PREDICTIVE MODEL to project my own odds and probabilities for every single game in MLB season. The idea is to compare teams offence with other teams defence, which is combination of starting pitcher and bullpen.
When baseball season is on, I analyse every single game. Every day I calculate win% with the right starting pitcher and the formulas in the model, that I have created for baseball. Most of my data is automated and automatically pulled from the internet.
I just type:
- The name of the team
- Pitcher and his hand
And the model outputs winning percentages and my projected odds. Then I use Kelly criterium to estimate the optimal bet size.
Baseball betting requires extreme discipline, expert money management and constant analysis and research.
I can teach you how to analyse games, how to create and use betting model, but there is also one other part that we all must fight on a daily basis: Work and discipline.
I use proportional money management, I call it progressive. Most of my bets are 1-2% of my current bankroll (I use adjusted Kelly criterium to estimate the bet size). Every day I re-calculate the stake. Why? Because on the long run, progressive (proportional) will outperform flat strategy.
Is it ideal or better than flat?
No, I wouldn’t say so and in fact flat outperformed progressive in 2017. Progressive strategy will outperform flat strategy on the long run, but the results will come after very big number of picks. It will also has much bigger ups and downs and many bettors don’t have the nerves and patience to bet like this. To recover after loss takes more time too. At some point you can also not bet this way, because bookmakers could limit you.
However, both money managements are good and I would not recommend any other money management. More important than this is that you stick with 1-2% on most bets.
Intuition vs Analytics
Statistics and analytics is more and more important. This is something that I always repeat and in the world of dynamic sports betting, following other people’s picks is not the smartest idea. So, if you get the odds of 1.91 (-110) or 2.00 (+100) is a big difference and it can be the line between losing and winning. This is why I think, that estimating the numbers and betting on your own is very important.
But still I see a lot of handicappers, that say, that they have “good info” and “experience”. Of course this can not work on the long run. Good info is easy to find with the internet and intuition, which is basically some sort of experience can not be measured. Because of that a lot of bettors and also some old successful bettors can no longer make a profit.
The good example for me was a 2017 season, when I made 738 picks. 65 picks was made by my intuition, that means, that I didn’t follow my math model. In the past I made a lot of profit with some extraordinary “so-called” intuition plays, but the times are changing. At least for me. Why? Because in 2017 I made -3185 units of loss on my intuition plays. At the same time I made 673 picks that were based on my math model and I made profit of +4,109 units on MLB baseball picks.
How do I know which is my intuition bet and bet that was supported by my math model? Because I tracked all bets and I wanted to see what are my results based on my model and my intuition. This is why I mark Intuition plays as GUT PLAYS (G) and my math model plays with (M)
HERE ARE ALL MY BETS IN 2017: DOWNLOAD MY MLB RESULTS
Chart 1: All bets (including Intuition bets) vs Betting Model bets
Performance with different odds
In previous chart I showed you how important is to use analytics and my intuition bets were disastrous. On the other side my model has an edge and I made a profit.
So I went little bit deeper to see what results my model has with the different odds and I found that the best yield would be if I would play the odds between 1.80 and 2.20. But then again, I would play less games and I would make less profit. So I also wanted to see what is the odds range with the best profit and the most profit I made with the odds between 1.75 and 2.85.
Chart 2: Betting Model vs Adjusted Betting Model
Chart 3: All Bets vs Adjusted Betting Model
Flat vs Kelly Criterium
I use kelly criteirum to estimate my bet size. In a very simple explanation, when I see bigger value, I bet more and when the value is lower, I bet less. Or if you like, when the difference between my odds and bookmakers odds is bigger in my favour, I bet more and when the difference is smaller I bet less.
I wanted to see MODEL performance in the difference between flat strategy, where I would ignore kelly criterium and actual betting (with Kelly Criterium).
The average bet size was 1.777 units/game, so I couldn’t use 1 unit for flat, because the profit would be lower with flat analysis, right? This is why I use 1.777 units/game for flat analysis. I also didn’t take proportion strategy for this comparison.
FLAT STRATEGY (1.777 Units/game):
ACTUAL KELLY CRITERIUM STRATEGY:
As you see, both methods would make a profit with my model, but still if I use kelly criterium, when I estimate actual bet size has better results.
How much money would you make using this model in 2017?
I can not imagine sports betting without using analytics anymore. My MLB Betting Model is the heart of my sports betting.
Because I estimate the winning percentages for the games and then I calculate my own odds. This is the only way I see how to beat a bookmakers.
But there is a big difference between some systems and betting models. Systems are not betting models. Systems usually use some bettors, when they try to find the edge with different odds, different stakes, etc… But they don’t estimate winning percentages or spreads for games. So we can not call this as a betting model, but more as a system. And there is not one system that works on the long run.
With my model, I look at each game independently and I see one game as one event, where I estimate probabilities for outcomes.
If you used my math model and if you stick strictly with model, you would make a profit with combination of progressive strategy and my adjusted Kelly Criterium you would make:
- 673 Picks
- 338 Wins
- 316 Losses
- 19 Pushes
- +3.17% of yield
If you used my math model and if you stick strictly with model, you would make a profit with combination of flat (not proportional) strategy and my adjusted Kelly Criterium and if you are $100 bettor you would make:
- 673 Picks
- 338 Wins
- 316 Losses
- 19 Pushes
- +77.64 Profit
- +6.49% of yield
Despite progressive will outperform flat on the long run, if you used flat strategy with combination of Kelly criterium for bet size, that was the best option in 2017.
I always recommend, that if you are $100 bettor (1 unit = $100), then you must have $10,000 of starting bankroll. In this case you would make +$7,764 of profit. Or in other words, if your starting investment is $10,000 at the start of MLB season, your ROI (return on investment) at the end of the season would be +77.64%.
If you played the odds between 1.75 and 2.85, then you would make +$10,520 of profit.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
When I decided to run this site, I also decided, that I will not sell picks. Focusing on picks is wrong and we all must and can write our own successful sports betting story.
If you pay for picks, you will pay from $100 up to $1000 per month for their picks. Maybe you win, maybe you lose, most bettors don’t have any edge anyway and nobody can guarantee winning month or even a season.
When we take into account odds dropping and how hard is to follow other people’s picks on a daily basis, the only way to make money is to learn how to bet on your own.
I don’t give you picks, I show you how to make a picks. I reveal my MLB betting model. I teach you how to create one. This is exactly the same that I use for myself.