The trick to beating & betting any sport,  MLB baseball in particular because we’re dealing with a volatile money line and not a point spread and -110 – is simply looking way ahead. You really cannot come home from work and start picking out teams and expect them to win night after night. The teams have a plan, you make a plan for everything else in life, so why wouldn’t you make a plan with your bets, or money?

The trick to betting baseball, for me, is finding the teams that are about to crash, or the ones that have been off of most peoples’ radar and are about to start making money. For example, even the worst team in the League will eventually win six in a row, and all at +150 or better until books and the bettors catch up. By then it’s too late. It’s like the stock market in that most reasonable people wouldn’t buy Google stock today at $932 when they could have had a better price, well, yesterday. Five years ago, which is like “yesterday” in baseball, you could have bought it for $282.

The trick is to find the teams that haven’t met expectations yet, because they will eventually. A team like Toronto is a good place to start. They’re sitting at 8-17 but have won the last two, so perhaps on the uptick. And in fact as I type they’re leading the Yankees in New York. That would have been a great bet, at least the RL, especially when we noticed the total dropping, which gives that much more value to the +1.5.

Another team that fits that mold for me is the Padres. They’re not as bad as their record indicates, and they’ve won a couple, have a day off, and a home stand coming up. What’s also key is that they’re playing Colorado for three games, and honestly after watching the Rockies fail to execute in Arizona, I decided to not take them on the road for a while. They’ve got to play too good to win on the road. So, it’s almost a perfect storm there for me, and one option is a “series” bet on San Diego to win two-of-three. I happen to think they will, but there’s always a hedge option if things don’t start well.

Minnesota is yet another team that could be about to go on a money-making run. As you know this goes back and forth for six months. They started the season on a great run, then faded so bettors soured on them. Don’t sour forever, though, because they WILL do it again, and they’re at home on Tuesday against Oakland. Sadly, they opened at -140 which is more than I thought and strictly because Santana is pitching, but there’s probably a very good reason for it. Like the fact that Oakland’s bullpen is terrible, Sonny Gray is coming of the DL, and the A’s are 3-6 on the road.

The point I am making is “know before you go”. Do the work early and trust what you see. Don’t over think problems, and like I said yesterday, don’t let a few losses disrupt a winning formula. There are no short cuts and no magic formula. And remember, a teams’ W/L record doesn’t reflect their ability to make you money. Both the Phillies and the Reds are under .500, and yet if you’d have bet both of them every game, you’d be in the black.

Cleveland and the Dodgers are both comfortably above .500, but yet both would have cost you money on the young season. Baseball is a very different animal, but also the ones bookmakers fear the most, because it’s far and away the easiest (not easy, just easier!) sport for professional bettors to beat.

Dave Essler is a professional handicapper on Pregame, featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, and more.