To augment the piece in Thursday’s Post on why to avoid wagering on big favorites and how to pick the right underdog, here are a few more tips for successfully betting baseball.
Check the weather
Weather often gets overlooked. But it shouldn’t, especially with betting totals. Always check wind direction, wind speed, temperature and humidity. If the wind is blowing out, that helps an Over because it could turn a warning-track fly ball into a first-row home run. Wind blowing in benefits Unders. Wind really makes a difference only once it’s 10 mph or more. Hot temperatures and low humidity help Overs because the air is less dense and the ball travels farther.
Also keep track of juice movement with totals. It will tell you where liability exists and where the next move might go. If a total opens at 8.5 (-110) and moves to 8.5 Under -115, that indicates action on the Under and a possible fall to 8.
Track lineups, starting pitchers, umpires and roofs
Lineups change every day. If you’re putting down your hard-earned money on a game, you need to know who’s in and who’s out. The best way to stay plugged in is by creating a Twitter account and following MLB teams and resources. Wait for lineups to come out, typically in the early afternoon, before betting on a game. Make sure no star players are sitting. Also keep an eye out for starting pitchers being scratched.
To avoid the headache of a starting pitcher being scratched, bettors should place wagers with a “listed pitcher” designation instead of “action.” Lastly, know who the plate umpire is that day. Do some research on their tendencies. Some have bigger strike zones, which benefit Unders. Others might favor home or road teams. Also, be aware of domes and closed-roof stadiums. If the roof is closed, it benefits the Under because the ball doesn’t travel as well and the conditions are perfect for the pitcher. Any little edge helps.
Don’t be a victim of gambler’s fallacy
Baseball can be a very streaky sport. It’s not uncommon to see teams win or lose 10 games in a row. One of the biggest mistakes a new bettor can make is assuming a team is due. For example, if a bad team wins a game, the public will automatically fade it the next day, thinking it got lucky and is bound to get back to its losing ways. If a good team loses, a recreational bettor will often bet on it to win the next game, thinking it can’t possibly lose again. However, even bad teams can put together winning streaks, just as good teams can lose a few in a row.
Shop for the best line
One mistake new bettors make is betting only through one book. This is a bad idea because you’re forced to take whatever number that book is offering. Instead, make sure you have access to multiple “outs” so you can shop for the best number. It also helps to have a live odds page. Let’s say you want to bet on the Mets as a short home favorite. New York might be -125 at one book but -120 at another. Saving 5 cents might not seem like a big deal. But if you extrapolate it over a full season, it can make a big difference.
Many bettors fall into the trap of betting parlays because they want to turn a small amount into a big amount. Parlays are appealing, but they’re dangerous. They provide a huge edge to the house, which is why they are considered the penny slot of betting. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional parlay. But if you’re making it your most common bet type, you’re playing right into the sportsbooks’ hands.