MLB is a “Dime Line” sport, meaning the VIG (household) is 10 cents. So the expected value over a large sample for an MLB bettor that is neither -EV or +EV would be -10 cents on the dollar. This is the lowest VIG of all the sports and one of the reasons it attracts professional gamblers. So now that we know what our expected value should be, how do we get to be +EV? This is a much harder question to answer, but knowing that the house edge is much lower in this market than others it is more attainable.
Ways you can increase your Expected Value:
- Ok, I am starting with the hardest part. Decide what a fair price is. This is what separates casual sports bettors from sharps. While I can’t tell you how to decide on what you believe to be fair value, I can tell you that without knowing what price you want to pay you are flipping coins. Why is this so important? The ONLY thing that you control in a wager is the price you pay. You can’t control where the ball bounces, how the pitcher will throw or for that matter who will win the game. Literally, all you control in your betting is what teams you pick and how much you pay to play. This is why MLB is so attractive as a market in that the price to play is lower than other markets. This edge, however, is lost if you don’t know how much you want to pay to play.
- Stop trying to pick winners.The goal of a +EV sports bettor is not to pick winners, which I know that sounds batshit crazy. As stated above, who wins the game is totally out of your control. We bet numbers that after evaluating our valuation compared to market are +EV. For example: If I value LAD with Kershaw on the bump over SFN with Bum to be -285 and the market has the number at -240 it would be +EV for me to bet them at -240 as I have 40 cents of value on the line. Likewise, if I value the same event at -170 it would be +EV for me to be the other side of the game. I am not trying to pick a winner, in fact in my example of -170 I still think LAD will win the game but I am going to bet SFN. Let’s take a closer look at this below.
- Be willing to bet teams you think will lose. In the above example, I am valuing LAD at -170 and the market is valuing it at -240. My -170 line has an implied win probability of 62%, the market is setting the WE (Win Expectancy) at closer to 71%. If my valuation is correct LAD will win this game 6.2/10 times and if the market is correct they will win 7.1/10 times. With my WE, the underdog will win 3.8/10 times and the market had the underdog winning 2.9/10 times. It is important to pause here and remember sporting outcomes are binary but the valuation of these events is not. Ok, so why am I going to bet against a team that I think will win this contest 6.2/10 times? It is pretty simple: I am getting close to a full game of value over the market, which is at 7.1/10. I am willing to accept that I will lose this bet 6/10 times to take the +EV play and bet the underdog. This is also a good place to take another pause and ask a simple question. Do you know who also usually ends up holding the other side of this wager? Correct, the bookmakers! And from the hold numbers I have seen, they are doing ok. You as a bettor just need to accept that you can’t pick winners and embrace this variance.
- What the pros do. I have traveled in sharp gambling circles for most of my life. There is one conversation that we never have. Literally, inside of my tight-knit circle I can’t tell you the last time we talked about “Who will win.” It just doesn’t happen. So how do we judge if we won? It is 100% numbers-based, if I bet a line at -180 and it closed at -240, I won. The outcome of the event doesn’t even matter to me. This is a process-based business and if I can repeat that process I can succeed.
- Counting CLV. What I just described above is known as CLV, which stands for closing line value. This is the ONLY way to determine if you are a +EV sports bettor and to determine if you actually have an advantage on the house. It will also get you cut off from a sports book faster than just winning. The house knows a player that is able to consistently beat the closing like will ultimately maintain a house edge. In the above example I got down at -180 and the books closed the game at -240, I collected 60 cents of CVL, which is a massive amount. Think of it like this: I bought Apple stock at $100 and then it went to $140. Unfortunately, the key difference here is my Apple stock is liquid and I can cash out my value. In the betting world, I still need the team to perform to cash out my value. A common phase in the business is “If only I could eat my CLV,” meaning the player is beating the market but the underlying assets are not performing.
- This is something no other sharp in the world will tell you, but I am willing to share. One major key to being a +EV sports bettor is to watch and enjoy the games! I talk to so many guys that say, “I don’t need to watch,” or “All watching does is bias my opinion.” Fuck all that. This is supposed to be a fun and don’t ever let anyone talk you out of enjoying it. Just don’t think watching in any way gives you an edge or makes you better equiped than someone that does not watch.
I hope you found this article to be +EV, I’m off to eat some spicy fish sauce.