Some days I wake up (well, actually I wake up every day) and wonder what would be an interesting or informative topic for the day. There are days I really don’t know, but inevitably something hits me over the head. Today was one of those days.

Last night we were on the “over” in the Angels/A”s game, which was a loss in spite of numerous missed opportunities. We bet the game the night before at 8.The total ended up closing at 8.5, which was obviously a good thing for us, but it didn’t matter since the final score was 2-1. A losing bet. I will never spin the results and say we could have or should have, as the bottom line is that we just didn’t.

Then came Friday and I woke up to some disappointed clients, which also happens. But one in particular hit me over the head. His comment to me was that on a baseball total, 8 or 8.5 really doesn’t or shouldn’t matter! I’m not usually at a loss for words, but that did it. There is almost nothing I could say to him that would make any sense.

I realize that most of you are intelligent and sophisticated bettors and I’m preaching to the choir. But, here’s a quick math lesson.

Baseball games land exactly on “8” 7.8% of the time.

Baseball games land exactly on “9” 10.3% of the time.

Just using those numbers there is a 33% less likelihood of at worst, a push. In this scenario, it’s actually MUCH worse since landing on 8 would have been a push for us and a loss for those that bet 8.5. The odds are not only much worse, they’re astronomically worse. And yet, people make those bets all day and every day. That is certainly the extreme and very obvious example, but if you add up all the SMALL edges people give away on a daily basis, it’s mind boggling.

If you’re a recreational bettor, which most people are, I get it. Since it’s widely accepted that only 1-2% of people actually profit from betting, we can assume most recreational bettors end up in the red at some point. There’s a fine line between winning, losing and making bets that have Positive Expected Value. That’s also a given for many people reading this, but if I can make ONE person re-think what they’re doing then the return on my time is well worth it.

So, don’t GIVE away money by taking numbers that “don’t matter”, because they do. And if you’re going to continue to be the dictionary definition of insanity, don’t either blame your handicapper or tell yourself the number doesn’t matter. It most certainly does. Perhaps on a given night or a given bet it might not, like this particular bet. But, if you add up all those “gifts” over the course of time, having a bonfire will a few thousand one-dollar bills is going to be a lot less painful.

I have customers that have only one out, or book. You need more. I had a client who’s ONE book had 8.5 on a particular game when even the sharpest of sharp books all still had 8. Find another option. I can’t stress this enough, and if you can’t get another book, or only have the bad options, they just don’t make the bet! More often than not a bet you don’t make that would have lost is better than making a winning one. A “pass” is a win. A mistake eliminated is “win”.

We all make mistakes. I make them, but I do everything in my power both mentally and from a patience standpoint not to. And my goodness, if we make mistakes let’s learn from them rather than do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Or, have that bonfire.

Dave Essler’s picks can be found on Pregame, featured on ESPN, CNN, Fox Sports, and others.