Archive for the ‘basketball’ Category

Doing Blogs is Tedious work and at some times of the year practically impossible. The CBB Season is one of those times when lines are hopping and distracting myself from them is just not wise. We are now heading into “The Blog Season” and I will be having quite a few of them. This first one is important stuff so make sure to pay attention. I see a lot of people around the Net that Handicap Starting Pitching as their main thrust in picking MLB Games. I believe that most spend way too much time doing this, but more importantly, they spend WAY too much time doing it the wrong way. One off those ways will be spelled out in this piece.

HOW MOST HANDICAPPERS HANDICAP PITCHING
There are many ways that people handicap starting pitching but they generally are related to their performance. I guess that makes sense right? Afterall, it is important how well a Thrower is throwing now, it is important how well he has thrown over his career and this year, and it is important to know how he has thrown at home, and on the road. In addition, it can be important to know how he has done verses certain clubs. The Latter is used way too much but that is another Article altogether.

It is unfortunate though that this is exactly how Sportsbooks want you to look at games, because this is how they set betting lines. The fact is, if Pitcher A is on a 3 Game Win Streak, Odds betting him are not going to be conducive to longterm profit. Should we not be finding value betting a Moneyline Sport?

WE CAN FIND VALUE OPPORTUNITIES
I spend most of my time thinking outside of the box because that is where we learn to be better bettors and that is where we have the Advantage over The Bad Guys. I spend hours, even days, looking for situations that win and that does include with this sport having a Database on each and every Pitcher in both leagues. I have learned a lot of things doing this, and primarily the tendencies of each thrower as to how they react to good outings, bad outings, pitch totals, Home/Away performance, certain types of ballparks, certain types of hitters, etc…

One of the most important things I have learned by working extra hard is that Pitch Totals is a VERY IMPORTANT TOOL to use.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY PITCH TOTALS?
Most Starting Throwers are one Strict Pitch Counts. That simply means that regardless of how well or poor they are throwing in a particular game, the management is not going to let them exceed that number of throws in a game. However, this rule is bent to some extent. It is for instance bent when a Starter has a Shutout in the works. It is bent when a Starter has a large advantage over the particular hitters that are coming up in the lineup. There are other reasons why the rules are bent but these two are probably the most prevalent. There are also times when a Starter does not even come close to his Pitch Count. There are only 2 Reasons for this. An Injury, or Poor Performance. We are going to look at these two situations and we are going to have examples of each as to how that Thrower performs the next time on the mound.

A PITCHER EXCEEDS HIS PITCH COUNT
Starting throwers have different pitch counts but 95% off them fall in the 95 to 110 Throws per game. Exceeding this number of 110 most often means that a Thrower has Over-Worked, sometimes far Over-worked. In most cases it also means that he has thrown a Good Game, otherwise why would he be asked to Over-Work. This means 2 Things most often. It means that the next time he throws, he is likely to be Over-Valued by Oddsmakers. It also means that he is likely NOT to be as sharp. Are you following me? While Most Handicappers see a Pitcher coming off a Quality Start as a Good Thing, in this particular case, it might not be. I have randomly selected two Pitchers, one in the AL, and one in the NL, to do a case study on this. There are Edwin Jackson, and Derek Lowe. While the selections were random, I did choose two throwers that are “Better than Average” since these guys are the most likely to throw OVER their Pitch Count.

Edwin Jackson: Last Year on 5 Occasions, Jackson threw Over his Pitch Count. The Pitch Totals were 129, 149, 115, 123, and 115. While Overall his numbers for 2010 were good with an ERA of 3.24, following these 5 games his ERA was a Lofty 5.19. And the fact is, only one of these games were even close tto being a quality outing, 3 runs in 7 Innings.

Derek Lowe: Lowe had just 3 games that exceeded his Pitch Count with 114, 119, and 112. But Boy did he Suck the next time on the mound. In fact while Lowe had one of his best seasons ever, maybe his very best in fact, garnering a 2.34 ERA for the year, the 3 Outing following these Over-extended Efforts produced 14 Runs in 14.1 Innings worked. Not only was his ERA Near 9.00, but he only managed to throw 4.7 Innings per game. And in fact, his Best Effort was 5.1 innings and 4 runs allowed.

A PITCHER FALLS WELL BELOW HIS PITCH COUNT
With 95 being the Bottom End of Pitch Counts, anything below 80 would be considered well below of what is expected of a Thrower and therefore I have selected that for our exercise. When a Thrower does not meet his Pitch Count it usually means 2 Things. It means that the next time he throws, he is likely to be Under-Valued by Oddsmakers. It also means that he is likely to be MORE sharp. Are you following me? While Most Handicappers see a Pitcher coming off a Poor Start as a Bad Thing, in this particular case, it might be a Good Thing. Why? Because his arm is likely to be more live, meaning his fastball has more zip, and his breaking pitches have more snap. It is also likely if he is a Quality Pitcher, that waiting 5 to 6 days to throw again, allows him time to reflect what went wrong and correct it. The Bottom Line here is that Good Throwers are Good Competitors and a Bounceback is often likely. Let’s look at Lowe last year

Derek Lowe: Last Year Lowe fell below his Pitch count 4 times. Those were on pitch counts of 78, 68, 79, and 78. While Lowe had an outstanding season last year with an ERA of 2.34, the four games following these 4 produced an ERA of just 1.77, or 5 runs allowed in 25.1 innings. His worst outing was 5.1 Innings and 2 runs allowed, his other 3 he allowed just 1 run each.

WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?
Well first of all it does NOT mean that every pitcher shows this kind of activity following a High/Low Pitch Total game. However, many do and you have to get to know each one of them. Does this mean they are automatic bets or go againsts? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that some Hurlers exhibit Tired Arms after being Over-Worked, Live Arms after being Under-Worked, and almost in every case, they are Over or Under Valued based on each instance. Can this be a Tool in your Arsenal? Yes. How about an Over-Worked Pitcher with a supporting Poor Bullpen? BINGO!

It is almost never a Happy Moment when a Major League Baseball Manager steps onto the field headed to the Mound. But it is much less happier when the Manager has to do it, not knowing whether he is making the right choice or not. I have continually proclaimed that a Good Bullpen can and will make all Major League Baseball teams better and not only because they get people out. The fact is, a Good MLB Pen makes starting pitchers better, and make hitters for the team they pitch for more productive. What did I just say?
 
MLB Bullpens Feed Success
Just two days ago, I witnessed a game in which the Washington Nationals led the Phillies 4-0 going to the the bottom of the fourth inning. After 5 innings, they trailed 7-4. Why? Because the Nats Manager left the starter in too damn long. Why did he do that? Because he had no clear alternative as his bullpen was and is one of the worst in the Major League’s. So he left Marquis in there too long and Philly had a Feast. The Nats lost that game and they will continue to lose more this year the same way. But how often do we see a team that has good starting pitching but a poor bullpen? How often do we see a team that has a good Bullpen, but poor starting pitching? Almost never, because they work together to make it happen. Regardless of how good a starter is, he is going to run out of gas at some point in the contest. That is when the manager has the decision to jerk him, or leave him in, and that decision is determined by what other choices he has. Teams with Good Mid-Relievers have more options. That means that their Starter’s Stats are going to be better and on the other side, that means their Closers are going to be also, because they get “Set Up” more often in a good spot and are more rested to make good things happen.
 
Managers Are Paid to Manage
This is what these guys do, hence their name. But they don’t get to do that as often with the throwers on the staff unless they have the confidence to to so. They also don’t have the opportunity to do more offensively with hit and runs, stolen bases, sacrifice bunts, and other offensive ploys unless they are working from strength. In this context strength simply means being in the game, trailing by small margin, tied, or ahead in the contest. Already this year we are seeing teams like the Bluejays, Twins, Athletics, Phillies and Cardinals win a lot of money for those that are betting them, and they are also winning a lot of games for their fans. Is it just a fluke that all of these teams are ranked in the Top 10 Bullpens this year so far? I don’t think so.

Baseball Season is upon us and while many Bettors will be winding down and
looking forward to the 2010 Football Season, I will be Revving it up over
the next few months and producing profits that are simply not possible
with football and hoops. Why is that? Because Baseball is not only a
different animal, it is GODZILLA and the Japanese People in my
neighborhood will once again be running for the hills. Baseball, unlike
the other two major sports allows us to actually win more money than we
bet, giving us the decided advantage over the books. Not only that, but
because Baseball is a finese Sport, the Ole Phrase, “Anyone can beat
Anyone else on any given day” is much more truer with this sport.

Underdogs Verses Favorites
I am going to try and do my best not to bore you with tons of statistics
in this exercise, but we are going to have to use a few so bear with me.
Let’s begin with Moneyline Stats over the last 8 years. This length of
time gives us enough scope to determine what has been profitable and what
has not. Betting Underdogs has not been profitable. However, we can find
some situations that have been and the fact is, some are just plain BAD
ASS Profitable. If you had bet ever Underdog in the last 8 years in
Baseball, you would have bet a lot of games and you would have lost just over 179 Units. That’s not too good but let’s look at the other side of the story. If you had bet every favorite you would lost over 730 Units. What does this mean? It means that you have over a 4 Times better chance of winning money if you bet Dogs. But you would still have lost right? Absolutely, because it can’t be that easy.

Baseball Underdogs that are Profitable
There are situations that have produced large profits over the last 8 years and the most prevalent one makes a lot of sense. Teams that play each other a lot often are more motivated to win and so it would make senses that Win/Loss Numbers would be close to 50% than any other situation. And they are. If you had bet all Divisional games (Teams in the same Division) over the last 8 years, you would have over 202 Units of Profit in your Wallet. That is a lot of money. That is GODZILLA Money. In addition to that, Dogs have done much better in the second half of the season and once again for a simple reason. Late in the year, more public money comes into play. That drives Line upward, giving you more value for your buck. I am not telling you to bet all Division Dogs, I am telling you that this is always a good starting point but there is more.

The Mid Relievers
There is a strong correlation between the strength of a team’s Bullpen and
how well they do both in the standings, and in the money made playing
them. When I talk about the Pens, I am not talking about who has the best
closer, although that does come into play. The average starting pitcher
rarely gets past the sixth inning. The average closer rarely gets past 2/3
of an inning. The fact is, as the season progresses, the starting thrower
becomes less and less important and from about May 20th until the end of
the season, starters will average just under 2/3 of an inning less than
previous games. That is based on the last 8 years and that is a
misconception to many. On average we can expect the guy who throws the
first pitch to last about 5.2 innings meaning 1 out short of 6. In
addition, we can expect him to leave the game more times than not, with
runners in scoring position and usually with less than 2 outs. That is why
the mid-line throwers are so important. Here is some info from a selected
year.

Top 6 Money Teams of 2006
Minnesota
Oakland
New York Mets
Detroit
Kansas City
San Diego

The Top 5 Bullpens of 2006
Minnesota
New York Mets
San Diego
Detroit
Oakland

These are listed in order and as you can see, the Top 6 Bullpen’s also
comprised the Top 5 Money Teams. The only excpetion was KC who won some
huge moneyline plays late in the year. Similar results can be found in
previous years and latter years. In most cases, I would rather have a mediocre starter and a good Pen, than the opposite. That works out very well since that is the exact opposite of the way Vegas would like us to think. Vegas Sets Baseball Lines on two factors. The Starting Pitcher and now good or bad he is, and the overall perception of how good or bad a team is. It is our job to determine whether those guys who set the odds have done their homework and often they have not. Let’s remember one important thing. The best pitcher in the league can have a bad outing, the worst one can have a good one, bullpens generally remain fairly consistant. We do have a rate Bullpens for teams like Tampa Bay and Colorado differently because of the venue at which they play. But in most cases, Bullpen ERA is the best way to do this.

Betting Baseball Favorites
It is a fact that over the last 11 years, Baseball favorites have won right at 58% of the time. That means that if all betting lines during this timeframe were -135 plays, one would have broken even. But they are not. And the winning percentages of those games -140 to -220 do not go up as the line goes up. Anything past -140 is the worst losing proposition in Baseball. If you are playing these, you already have one leg in the well and GODZILLA is closing fast. Run Akatsuki, run!! I am not saying that these play don’t sometimes offer value, I am saying that when you bet them, you are already starting out in the hole. Tread lightly with these.

Betting Baseball Runlines
This is probably my favorite subject but not my favorite bet. Anytime I have seen anyone on the internet talk about betting runlines, they always are doing so laying -1.5 Runs. Have we forgotten that we can bet +1.5 Runs? I do that often and when I do, it is usually a Dog Division Game with a pitcher on the mound coming off a poor effort. I am going to cover that Pitcher Poor effort thing in more detail but let’s stay focused on this for now. Below is the Probability of winning by more than 1 run when a team wins the game outright. These stats are from the last 9 years. They are very interesting indeed.

-110s: 70.8%
-120s: 72.3%
-130s: 72.4%
-140s: 74.7%
-150s: 74.5%
-160s: 75.1%
-170s: 71.9%
-180s: 70.8%

Does anyone see what I see? There is not that big a difference in teams winning by more than one run as the Moneyline Spread Rises. What does that mean for us? It means that playing -110’s to -140’s at -1.5 Runs is going to be more profitable than playing anything higher. But here’s the deal. Most Bettors don’t play -1.5 Runlines until the line gets to -150 and those ar the least profitable choice of all based on line value. I do rarely play any -1.5 Runline and all the Ducks have to be lined up before I even consider it, but when I do, I am going to be betting them to give me a + Money Payout and not a -. The Most interesting -1.5 Runline Stats are below and it denotes how often teams win by more than 1 run when they do win the game.

Home Teams: 68.5%
Road Teams: 77.1%
Home Favorites: 69.7%
Road Favorites: 79.1%
Road Favorites more than -120: 80.1%

As we can see, Road -1.5 Runlines do much better than Home -1.5 Runlines. That is simply because the road team always gets their 9 times at bat whereas the home team does not. Vegas does adjust for this fact with lower runline payouts for road -1.5 runline teams.

Additional Thoughts
I could write an entire book on other situations that are winning propositions and I will have more info as the season progresses. I am going to have a separate article on Winning Baseball Totals a little later in the Spring. I do want to let everyone know that some of these stats here come from various websites as well as some that I keep myself. Let’s briefly talk about two of my favorite situations though. The first is The Bounceback Pitcher. I love this one because it gives us two things. It gives us a starter who is motivated to perform well following a not so spiffy performance. And it gives us a Betting Line that is usually out of whack. As Stated before, most bettors bet starting pitchers and these people also usually bet against throwers who are not performing well. The fact is, that is the best time to back a starter. The Second One is The Bounceback Hitter. This is along the same line as the previous one. Teams off ZERO Runs scored get good line value and over the last 6 years have turned a profit each and every year. This is one to look for throughout the season.

There is a reason why I have produced a profit betting baseball over the last 19 years and it is because I always put myself in the best possible winning position. If you do that, you will win also, and the Japanese People in your neighbohood will pay the price.

Ok, since the name of this piece is “The Four M’s” lets go ahead and get what those are out there so you won’t be skipping past all of the important stuff to see what they are. They are Momemtum, Motivation, Money, and Mo D. Now I know that Mo is not really a word and for that matter neither is D. But I was looking for a Cool Title so just humor me on this so that I can have 4 M’s. These M’s can and will give you a quick jumpstart on who is going to fair well over the next few weeks.

Momentum
This first one is kind of tricky because momentum does not necesarily mean a team that is coming into the Tourney winning a bunch of games, is going to be a good play. The fact is, often it can mean getting a better number because of this and betting against those teams because they are too overvalued. Oddsmakers are not stupid people, although we would like to think so, and as a handicapper I often do call them that. That is just simply a “Wanting to be cool Thing” going on with me so you have to overlook it. There are, however, some squads that do have a lot of momemtum coming in, and one’s that are peaking in their capabilities, but are not getting enough respect for that because their overall record for the year is not all that spiffy. These are the one’s you will want to find, and these are the one’s that you might will want to bet, if the number is a good one. The phrase “Under the Radar” comes to mind here.

Motivation
Some College Basketball Teams just want to win more than others. Finding those teams can be very good for your bankroll, but who are they? Why are they more motivated? While it is not a written rule, generally we have to have two things in place to have a motivated squad. We almost always have to have a group of Kids on the court that have been here before. It’s the Ole, been there, done that thing. But more importantly, it is teams that have a junior and senior laden roster. These guys are getting what might be their last chance to be the team cutting down the nets. In some cases, they have no real chance of doing that, but that does not mean that they will not give it the Ole College Try. These squads do not have to be the Big Boys of this Tournament, they can be the Winthrop’s, the Northern Iowa’s, the Cornell’s. These Guys are not going to go out without a fight, and in some cases they will be getting an inordinate amount of points from those Stupid Oddsmakers. Whoops, I said it again.

Money
Ok, here is another tricky one. While many might not agree with this statement I will throw it out there anyway. The NCAA Selection Committee wants to put the best teams on the court, but they also want the Tourney’s to make money. Including too many Big 10, Big East, and Big 12 squads in the group of 64 means that there will be high TV Revenue, high attendence, and more money. Oddsmakers know this too because these are not stupid people. (See Above) They know that we bettors as a whole, are going to bet these High Profile Teams and so they set lines that are maybe just a bit out of whack. That gives us some real bargains to work with, perhaps with those squads that are more motivated to win. You know, the junior and senior laden teams and the one’s that do what is written about below.

Mo D
No, this is not the name of a Famous Rapper. Well let me correct that. This might be the name of a Famous Rapper because I am not really up on the current one’s past MC Hammer. This Stands for More Defense. While overused a bit, it is a fair statement to make that Defense wins games. This is true in almost any sport but maybe more true in this tournament. Teams that allow less than 40% shooting are already well on their way to being competitive, especially in the Big Games, and let’s face it, all of these games are Big. You would be hardpressed to find any NCAA Champion that did not play Mo D than the rest of their opponents in these games. Mo D creates turnovers. Mo D creates fewer better quality shots by opponents. Mo D creates more fast break opportunities. The Simple fact is, Mo D allows for Mo O which gives teams Mo Memtum and therefore Mo Tivation late in games.

Mo Thoughts
The Tip of the Iceburg has been covered here but it is important to note that level of competition is also important. Not only who teams beat, but how often they played quality teams throughout the year and how they faired against them. Oddsmakers would like for you to believe that the Missouri Valley, CAA and other smaller groups of teams don’t play a good level of competition. They want you to buy into the fact that if they say Wisconsin is 10 points better than Wofford, then they are. These Oddsmaker Guys are not stupid. Have I said that yet?

This Blog is designed to provide both the Smart Bettor and Average Better with information they can use. It is not up on the Web to Promote AAA Sports as I do enough of that elsewhere to attract Quality Sports Investors. But from time to time, I do want everyone to know how good, or bad my plays are doing. Right now, they are doing very good with the Best Bet/Diamond Combo producing a Perfect 8-0 over the last 8 Investments. Overall, the Diamond Club has just been a Killer at 124-61 and the Combo since inception is 235-136. That is actually better than anticipated, but the info has been grand, and that should continue through March Madness and into the MLB Season. Many of you already know that Baseball is the best sport for me and by far the easiest to beat. Let’s look forward to some more Large Profits in the coming weeks/months.

In addition, I will have some nice articles/thoughts right here on how to beat March Madness and also how to beat MLB. That is coming within the next few days on this Blog, so stayed tuned and check back daily.

Last night prior to going out for the evening, I was at my Livingroom Window gazing out at the Mighty Mississippi River and casually mentioned to my Significant Other that I had a Big Bet on an NHL Game. Without blinking an eye, she picked up the Television Remote and exclaimed, “Is that game on TV?” I was in total shock of course since she had not expressed any interest in the NHL ever. The Olympic Hockey had peaked her interest in the sport and she had become a fan almost overnight. We did not watch the game, and instead went out for some oysters and beer. That game was the Capitals/Lightning OVER the Total and it was an easy winner with 9 goals being scored.

But What does this Mean?
This means that there is a whole lot of interest in the NHL right now and the games following the Olympics have seen a lot of new faces in the stands. This always happens after the Big International Tourney and NHL League Officials are taking note. They want to keep these new faces coming to the games, they want higher TV Rankings, and one way to make sure they obtain this, is to make sure that the games are entertaining to the newcomers. How do they do that? That is simple. They Showcase the Talent in the League by having them Score a Lot of Goals. Sports Fans love to see scoring and that is true in every sport. The NHL is no different and low and behold we are seeing a lot of goals here in the early going following the Olympics.

Why Are We Seeing a Lot of Scoring?
Sometimes it pays to have good contacts when betting sports for a living and I happen to have a very good NHL Guy that gives me info from time to time. He is a very good source and most reliable. He tells me that over the weekend, NHL League Officials sent a note to all NHL Referees strictly enforcing holding and interference penalties as set forth in the rule book. The Note pretty much said that this has not been done as it should have been done this year and that they expect it to be done now. It does not take a Genius to know that more penaties mean three things. (1) More Power Plays. (2) Less Defensive Intensity. (3) More Scoring.

Let’s Look at the Results So Far
Prior to Last Night’s Action OVER in NHL Games have hit at 19-4-2 since the break. That is more than just a small abberation even on the small sample. Whether this trend continues remains to be seen but one thing is for sure. Oddsmakers might be slow to react since the NHL does not get anywhere near the volume of bets that other sports do. That is going to be especially true with the NBA coming down to crunch time and NCAA Touneys here upon us. So are this Odds that Oddsmakers are putting out going to continue to go Under the Radar. Certainly not. Vegas will, if not already, take note of this trend. However, they have not yet to the most degree. That might give us some good opportunities until this well runs dry and they start re-adjusting Totals upward.

Some Final Thoughts
This does not mean that we should bet all NHL Totals OVER without looking into the games further. This does mean that we should consider these changes when we do look at the games. Perhaps that Under Play you thought might be a good opportunity is not. Perhaps that Over Play you like, might be bumped upward. As a Professional Handicapper, I am always looking for an edge, whether that be longterm or shorterm. This might be a good shortime Edge for sure and already has been. Incidentally, the Capitals/Lightning game last night featured only the 11th time this year that we have seen a Posted Line at 6.5 Goals. With last nights win, OVER is now 11-0 in those games. Is that an Edge? I think so. It looks like we will be watching some NHL here at my house with the Peaked Interest that my mate has for it. I just hope that I am not zapped with any holding or interference penalties during the games. (smile)

Handicapping Professional Sports and College Sports are very similar in many ways, but in some ways they are totally different and distinguishing between the two can be good for your bankroll. While I have not reached Senior Citizen Status just yet, I have been around the block a few times and I certainly have grown as an individual along the way. I still have a way to go before I grow up and of course I would like to keep it that way. However, there are certain things in my life that are much more stable now than when I was a young brash college athlete of 18 years old.

Distractions
When I was growing up, we did not have this fancy texting device that we have now. All we had was a home phone, and of course a CB Radio. Today’s kids have got it all, with texting, internet chat, and video games galore. And let’s not forget about those IPods. These are clearly distractions to everyday life and in fact they are everyday life. Young Girls today can also be a huge distraction to a young man trying to grow up, and although it is a nice distraction to have, they can deter one from doing and concentrating on things that are most important.

What Does This Mean?
It means that College Age Athletes have a lot more to deal with. They don’t come home everyday to the same routine, and in some cases, they don’t come home at all. Emotionally, they can be a Rollercoaster and Physically, they can be a disaster sometimes unless they are watched over carefully. They tend to wear everything on their sleeve and that makes them less predictable in how they will perform in a game situation. Or does it? I like to refer to college athletes as Unpredictably Predictable. That means that there are certain situations where we can most likely expect them to act accordingly. They simply have more highs and more lows and know when that is going to happen is paramount to betting success with College Sports.

Let’s Put This to Use
Last night the Kentucky Wildcats hosted a team that gave them their first loss of the season. They were flying high at the time of that first meeting, doing a lot of texting, playing a lot of video games, and getting plenty of “Comfort” from their girlfriends as the made their trip to Columbia, South Carolina. They were simply unfocused and certainly felt like they were unstoppable. As a 7 point favorite, they got their ass handed to them. Last night, they were focused in a Big Way, and they returned the favor. I have seen this scenerio time and time again and spotting this behavior gives you a great advantage. West Virginia for instance has had unfocused and focused behavior this year as well, most recently losing at UConn to a very focused Husky Squad. I can look at most every quality team’s record this year game for game and see letdowns, and also see moments of greatness. There are more and better opportunities to spot this behavior in College Sports because of the Highly Emotional and Highly Unstableness of those that play at these ages. Let’s always remember that going forward.