A strategy that has been profitable on betting baseball teams' win totals

A strategy that has been profitable on betting baseball teams' win totals

Jeff Haney spells out a strategy that has been profitable on betting baseball teams' win totals

Oddsmakers at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book have just posted regular-season victory totals for the 2007 major league baseball season.

One of the most popular forms of season-long baseball betting, season-wins wagering allows gamblers to bet "over" or "under" a projected total of victories for each major league team.

For the 2007 season, totals on the board at the Hilton range from an opening line of 96 1/2 wins for the New York Yankees to an opener of 66 1/2 wins for the Washington Nationals.

The Yankees went 97-65 last year to win the AL East; the Nats finished 71-91, last in the NL East.

Bettors who take what could be called a "macro" approach to baseball season wins might look to play under on the teams with the highest win totals attached to them, and over on the teams carrying the lowest win totals.

Their thinking goes something like this: Professional sports teams tend to gravitate toward their league's mean number of victories over time, and the betting marketplace overvalues the top teams while underrating the cellar-dwellers.

Following this template - betting under the five highest totals and over the five lowest on the baseball betting board - has been a profitable strategy the past two seasons.

Last year this approach yielded a total of 12 plays because the totals of two teams "tied" for the fifth spot. Two years ago it yielded 11 plays.

In 2006 bettors using this angle would have achieved a record of 5-1 playing under the six highest totals, cashing tickets on the Yankees (97 1/2 posted total, 97 actual wins), St. Louis Cardinals (93 1/2, 83), Boston Red Sox (92 1/2, 86), Chicago White Sox (92, 90) and Cleveland Indians (90 1/2, 78) while losing on the New York Mets (90 1/2, 97).

Playing over the six lowest totals went 3-3, winning on the Florida Marlins (66 1/2, 78), Colorado Rockies (69 1/2, 76) and Arizona Diamondbacks (72 1/2, 76) while losing on the Kansas City Royals (63 1/2, 62), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (69, 61) and Baltimore Orioles (72 1/2, 70).

In 2005 playing under the six highest totals went 3-2-1. It won on the Yankees (101 1/2, 95), Minnesota Twins (89 1/2, 83) and Chicago Cubs (89 1/2, 79). It lost on the Cardinals (93 1/2, 100) and L.A. Angels (91 1/2, 95) and pushed on the Red Sox (95, 95).

Playing over the lowest totals in 2005 went 3-1-1. It won on the Nationals (68 1/2, 81), Toronto Blue Jays (69, 80) and Milwaukee Brewers (69, 81). It lost on the Royals (65, 56) and pushed on the Rockies (67, 67).

Overall, that's a record of 14-7-2 (.667), certainly strong enough to make good money at the betting windows.

It's also worth noting that even in this small sample of 23 wagers, there were two pushes, or ties against the posted total. This illustrates the importance of securing the best possible number before betting.

By opening day, it's likely a handful of Las Vegas sports books will have placed baseball season-wins over/unders on the board. It's not unusual for the total on particular team to vary by a half-game or a game - and finding a more attractive betting line by just a half-game on the Rockies and Red Sox would have turned two pushes into winning tickets, raising that 14-7-2 mark to 16-7 (.696).

There are never any guarantees in sports betting, but gamblers subscribing to this strategy will be looking at plays on the following teams under for 2007: Yankees (96 1/2), Red Sox (90 1/2), Angels (89 1/2), Dodgers (88 1/2) and Phillies (88). It's telling that bettors would have to play under three totals in the 80s, more than in 2006 (zero) and 2005 (two) put together.

They'll be looking to go over these teams' posted 2007 regular-season victory totals: Nationals (66 1/2), Royals (67), Devil Rays (67), Pittsburgh Pirates (71 1/2) and Orioles (73 1/2).

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