Large Favorites in MLB Betting

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One of the hardest things for sports bettors to do is change. That especially holds true if they had any degree of success in the past. But nothing lasts forever in the world of sports betting and what works today may not work tomorrow, let alone five or 10 years from now.

Many successful sports bettors in the 1980s and 1990s either went broke or stopped betting in the 2000s. The game had changed and they were unable to update their methods and their thinking.

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The same holds true for certain sports services, including one that had an amazing run with its Big Ten Game of the Year. For years, the line would quickly move as soon as it was released. Last year the line moved again. But it was in the other direction.

When I first started getting serious about sports betting, I read some of the all-time greats; names such as Jim Barnes and Mike Lee, one of the things that I learned was never bet large money line favorites in baseball. They were sucker bets and while you would win more games than you would lose, eventually the odds are going to catch up to you.

Lem Banker added to that warning with his story about Leroy, a dishwasher in Las Vegas who borrowed $50 and ran it into tens of thousands by backing pitchers like Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, etc., before the inevitable losses happened and he eventually found himself washing pots and pans again.

For a number of years, that warning was entirely true. In the 10-year period between 2004 and 2013, betting on favorites of -200 or more would have produced a 1628-759 record, but a loss of $10,250 due to the odds you were laying. Betting against these teams would have yielded an even bigger loss, however.

But things began to change in 2014, when favorites of -200 or greater posted an amazing 99-27 record, good for a profit of $4000. The following season saw a profit of $2500, while 2016 was good for the slimmest of profits.

So far in 2017, large favorites are 35-9, good for a $1500 profit and from the start of the 2014 season through now, large favorites have shown a profit of a little more than $8,000.

This isn’t to say to go ahead and bet every large favorite, but if your handicapping shows it’s a good bet, don’t back off of it because large favorites are “sucker bets.” They aren’t, at least for the time being, but with everything else in sports betting, that can quickly change.