Sunday, 11 August 2019

MLB Favourites, In General

I'm not sure Betfair are being too selective with how they are targeting the above offer, nor do I think they are being too honest about the 5% commission given my Premium Charge status, but at least they suggest that "other charges may apply". Indeed they do. 

Having opened my account in 2004, this might have been interesting at that time, but 15 years on, there's not quite so much to learn, nor are the markets as giving as they once were. 

So no traveling for me this month as was previously the plan. The sick dog appears to be on the mend after surgery although, unlike her owner, she really needs to put on a couple of pounds. Holiday plans have now been rescheduled for late October, which means I have the rest of the baseball season pretty much uninterrupted. 


Unfortunately the Baseball Overs System had its worst day of the season on Friday, with none of the five selections successful. 

For the three systems I play combined, it was the busiest day of the season so far with 14 bets (including Money Line and Run Line), but an overall loss of 1.26 points. It happens. 

Yesterday was a lot quieter, but again, we were out of luck.

Even though consecutive losing days are a rarity, for anyone following along, perspective is always helpful, and 32 points or so in the last month and a season long ROI of 12.3% brightens the overall picture.

I received an email regarding baseball betting, espousing rationale for why value has tended towards favourites in recent seasons:
Handicapping baseball is so different than handicapping any other sport because of two factors. It is the most random of the major sports and because the predominant wager is the moneyline. The key to beating MLB is to find reliable favorites. When paying for selections, you certainly can feel "ripped off" when the service releases a bunch of 160 favorites - especially when they lose.

However, a serious, thorough investigation into the results reveals that betting favorites, in general, is the way to make money in baseball. The reason is simply that it is MUCH more satisfying to win with a 150 underdog than it is to win with a 150 favorite. In fact, when a handicappers wins with a 150 favorite, it is embarrassing to promote this success because a 150 favorite is supposed to win. When a handicapper wins with an underdog, he is blasting it all over social media.

Also, there are sports monitoring services that do not accept favorite of more than 200 and there are handicapping websites that do not allow their handicappers to release favorites of more than 200. The reason is simply that customers are much more forgiving if a handicapper loses with underdogs than with favorites. When a customer pays for three plays and they are all 150-plus favorites and they go 1-2, the customer is likely to never buy picks from that handicapper again.
All of this has tilted the value towards favorites.
I guess the term 'handicapper' sounds better than 'tipster', and I'm not sure who finds it embarrassing to generate a long term profit from short priced selections. Anyone following the free basic T-Bone System is up 5.6% on the Money Line, 6.8% on the Run Line since 2016.  

I don't follow any monitoring services but the idea of not accepting selections because they have a higher probability of winning is nonsensical. 

A selection can offer value at any price and the the favourite-longshot bias means that, on average, bettors have a tendency to overvalue "long shots" and undervalue favourites.

Readers of this blog will know that over the past few seasons, the supposedly "permanent" value on outsiders observed over many years, has moved to favourites:
"In contrast to the consistently observed favourite–longshot bias found in racetrack betting markets, it has been shown that gamblers in the market for Major League Baseball games reveal the opposite behaviour. This paper updates the previous study with ten years of additional data for the 1990–99 seasons. The strength of the reverse favourite–longshot bias is virtually identical to the original paper. The result suggests that, contrary to most reported inefficiencies in gambling markets, this bias appears to be permanent."
Nothing in betting markets should be permanent, although some biases are certainly stubborn.

The -200 (1.5) price is coincidentally one that I use for my 'shorties' system, the results of which are regularly updated here, and it does show the value over recent seasons:
All favorites are not the same of course, and returns from the hotter favourites in baseball exceed those of the weaker favourites.

This chart might be interesting to some of you, showing the outcomes from betting favourites from weak to strong, with the seasons broken down into four year intervals to show changes in the markets over time:
Note that there are no Run Line prices available for 2004 to 2006, and that this is correct to the end of Saturday.

Coincidentally, given that we are discussing favourites, the Houston Astros today became the shortest ever (since 2004 anyway) priced road team at around -430 but they lost 7-8. I saw that the price touched -500 at some places, but in a game like baseball, you really are playing with fire at those odds. Fortunately this match was an Overs qualifier for me, but as the chart above shows, there's a point at which backing the favourite does not offer value. 

The writer of the email states that:
...a serious, thorough investigation into the results reveals that betting favorites, in general, is the way to make money in baseball. 
It's the "in general" qualifier that makes all the difference of course.

Finally, while no one seems to leave comments on blogs any more, I do get emails from time to time. One such email today from Rob was appreciated, and he wrote:
Love all the stuff on your blog and that you are so helpful to like minded punters.
Just looking at your draw systems....you state you look to back draws when there is less than 25% difference between the teams. Using today as an example Leicester 42% win chance Vs Wolves 29.4% win chance. Am I right that this would qualify as approx 13% between each teams win chance %?
Is it really that simple ?
The numbers for win probability I had were Leicester City at 0.435 and Wolverhampton Wanderers at 0.269, but the way I calculate the difference between them is by dividing the raw difference of 0.166 (0.435 - 0.269) by the higher probability, e.g. 0.166 / 0.435 = 38%.

It's not complicated, but an easier strategy using just the eye is to back the Draw in EPL games where every raw price (Home, Draw and Away) starts with a 2 or a 3, i.e. 2.0 to 3.99. 

Since the Pinnacle era, this has an ROI of over 3%, but when an outlier of a season comes along as was the case last season, you're going to take a hit. 

Incidentally, Draws in the EPL this season are currently hitting at a 30% strike rate, the highest since 1998-99! 

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