Easter is very big in my house so before we start allow me a belated Buon Pascale as well as a Happy Passover along with my warmest messages to all who celebrate (and those who don’t!). This whole experience of being able to speak to all of you was surreal, and nothing beats reader feedback. It really meant a lot to me to be able to share this journey with you. I’m flattered and humbled by your responses, but to paraphrase the incomparable Willy Wonka: “We have so little to do and so much time to do; Cross that out, reverse it.” People always ask me why I speak so fast, and at times like this I point it out to them. Buckle up and buckle up because I have another great lesson on deck that should immediately help you on your journey to earning potential from betting. Anyone can pick a few games right, but our goal here is to provide the tools to create and deploy a viable, sustainable, and successful betting plan.
We’ve covered the consequences of patience, but also the importance of using the time before going live efficiently. During the opening month of the Games, while season-to-season unpredictability is at its peak, we don’t want to sit on our hands. I wholeheartedly encourage betting any game your heart desires from the start…. on paper (or try a site like BetPrep and their virtual book). Betting without using real money is a tried and true practice for serious students of the game, something I’ve done many times in the past as a young trader. The idea is simple; Prove profitability before risking actual capital to avoid ending up in an early hole that’s deeper than you think (sounds like wise advice to me!). Ask yourself, “If I can’t make money in 60 days, what makes me think I’ll make money in a full year?” Follow your bets as if they were live, but earn your privilege bet with real money. Do this while refining the entire process and backtesting the results.
At this stage, you should have a way to objectively quantify what games you’re betting on. I don’t want to pretend to have solved this mystery myself. What I do know is that being reactive as opposed to being proactive and emotion-based system change is a one-way street to the poorhouse. I also understand that not everyone will have developed their own model and it is not necessary. However, I will shamelessly promote myself and encourage you to follow my free daily tools and bets found on Twitter @MLBMovingAvg. You don’t have to agree with an opinion or follow a single bet, but there’s a lot to learn about regimenting your own process simply by watching an experienced one in action. Hopefully later in the season we’ll be able to offer a simple method of handicap play for beginners that you can use yourself – but for now, let’s just say don’t flip coins. Regardless of the method, you need to see them in action; but it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Herein lies our bold lesson of the day; No bet is better than a bad bet.
This little nugget might not be talking lions, but it still managed to hold on to me and influence me for years as I repeated it ad nauseam. I wonder how many of you feel the Mr. Miyagi vibes brewing beneath the surface when you realize you’re not just waxing a car or painting a fence. What if I told you that you benefited from it all along? No, I don’t give dollar value to my unique professorial approach or my rapier quip. The inactivity you have been practicing since we last met was actually positive expectation (+EV) movement for you. Well, just like that, you’re all going to experience the kind of complexities that come with the sports betting business in real-time as we touch fast… and spin a fast bowl. If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, think back to the Ed Sullivan or Gong shows, when Eric Brenn twirled a dozen bowls on sticks in what seemed like unbridled chaos while carnival music blared. The shells are my favorite analogy for complex thinking. Each bowl represents a thought and we can spin as many as we can provided we get back to them before they fall and become irrelevant. The idea of +EV is too critical to mention and otherwise ignore. As always, let’s take a second to do what we do best; Consult the experts to concisely define a term in question. I signed up personally @PlusEVAnalytics, Sports Betting Expert and Instructor at The Art of Sports Betting Analytics. I asked for a definition of +EV that new bettors can easily digest and apply (he was kind enough to devote some of his time to us, so please be sure to follow his work if you’ve ever wondered who I’m listening to ):
I would describe EV as the outcome would be without good or bad luck. The example I like to use is a $10 bet on black at a standard American roulette table with an EV of -0.53 dollars. Now it’s impossible to bet $10 on black and end up losing 53 cents, either you’re lucky and win $10 or you’re unlucky and lose $10. But if you bet $10 on black 10,000 times, the good and bad luck even out and you get a result that is very close to an average result of minus 53 cents per spin. +EV means you have a positive theoretical expectation, and the longer you play, the more likely it is that good and bad luck will even out and you win. BUT in sports it’s very easy to think you have +EV when you really don’t, so you still need to bet carefully!
The key word here is expectations, and that will tie right in to where we started today’s conversation as we hammer this lesson home. Biased expectations are at the root of most bettors’ mistakes; generally related to returns and/or odds of winning. An experienced and disciplined derivatives trader would probably tell you that he/she would sign up for a 20 percent return on investment in less time than you could print the agreement. Conversely, most new bettors expect unrealistic, exponential returns by doubling, tripling, or quadrupling each night without thinking of a drawdown or losing streak. Until you have a practical and prudent approach to managing risk and reward, and therefore your own expectations, you have a pretty literal 0.0% chance of sustained success. So it wasn’t betting all the time while refining your process, +EV. Recall, No bet is better than a bad bet is not just a catchy line. Not only is it true, it’s verifiable – and I can prove it.
Consider an example where a bettor has a $100 bankroll. That bettor then loses 10% ($10) and leaves $90 in their account. If the same bettor wins 10% ($9) later that night, they have not returned to the original $100. Winning 10% of the remaining $90 left them with a total of $99. Well, while this may seem inconsequential to some, the fact is that repeating this process will bankrupt you. Hence, it must be avoided and the only way to do that is to be extra strict in your bet selection. My MLBMA F5 Algo ranks every single one of the +2,400 MLB games each season and will inevitably recommend more winners than I can bet. It then becomes our job to objectively quantify our handicap in a way that helps us determine when it’s worth risking those extra percentage points down.
Always the giver, I wanted to leave you one last thing; my favorite visualization of that very thought. I’ve stored this image on my personal devices for as long as I can remember. I suggest you read it over and over to the end and then keep staring at it until the value of the no bet sinks in.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest edition of my MLB notebook. If there’s anything you have questions about, disagree with, or would like me to expand on, please leave a comment below or follow my Twitter handle @MLBMovingAvg. Don’t forget to check out the Corked Stats audio podcast and Corked Stats video series on YouTube on the Mayo Media Network.
(Top Photo: Pearce/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)