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Baseball Betting

Strategies for betting on team totals

Feb 4, 2012

In Baseball, bettors make Team Total predictions independent of the offensive performance of one team and the defensive performance of the other – reducing the number of variables to be considered. Each side simply receives 27 outs to score as many runs as they can. This makes it ideal for strategic betting.

Baseball Betting On Team Totals – Don’t Forget the Juice

The problem with Team Totals is the same problem that all proposition bets have, the ‘juice’ or commission charged on them is higher than on the main betting lines. Most books will charge -115 (wager $115 to win $100) to bet Team Totals, whereas Pinnacle Sports prices Team Totals at -108 (wager $108 to win $100). Although this is a significant saving, there is generally not enough action for books to deal the line as sharp as they would a total or a runline, and even the Pinnacle Sports book only offers them for $2,000 per bet.

The key here is that Team Totals are closer to a main betting line than they are to a proposition bet, but they are not a true main line. When you have to pay -115 (1.87) it makes it tough to win, but it can still be done. The key is to make sure you’re getting a good number, and you have two weapons on your side:

  • You’re giving this line a lot more attention than the book probably is
  • Many books and players don’t understand what team totals are worth

Baseball Strategy – Common Mistake In Calculating Team Totals

The instinctual answer for Team Totals is that they should add up to the total for the game, but this answer is incorrect. If both teams will score 5 or more runs exactly half the time, meaning both teams have a fair Team Total of 4.5, you could safely bet the game to go over 9.5 at even money even though the Team Totals only add up to 9. That’s the way runs are distributed. It’s possible to score 24 runs in a game, but it’s impossible to score less than 0.

Baseball Strategy – OVER or UNDER?

If the two numbers add up to the total or higher, it’s safe to pay scary looking juice to go under the Team Totals. If they add up to a half run less than the total, it’s usually all right to go under as long as the combined juice is small. If you actively like the under that makes these plays that much easier, and with experience you can learn to spot which line is in error.

Going Over is harder, and there are many books where it is effectively impossible to beat the Over because recreational players or ‘squares’ tend to go over not realizing that the numbers don’t add up the natural way.

Squares often bet with an unfounded optimism on what they’d like to see happen i.e. plenty of runs, and not what is most probable.

Pinnacle Sports has much sharper players and far lower juice, making it far more common for an over on a Team Total to have value. Once again, a safe and effective way to know what Team Totals should look like is the same method recommended for runlines; look at the Team Totals in other games and they should look similar in this one.

This may sound like extra work, but you are teaching yourself to recognize value in the process and can hone in on areas where the Pinny Lean deviates from the market number, which presents another opportunity to make money.

Baseball Strategy – Soft Lines

Team Totals like Runlines fluctuate in relation to the Moneyline and Total, but unlike Runlines many books do not link them as carefully and might even trade them completely independently.

Therefore, if there is a large ‘steam’ move on a main betting line; check whether the Team Totals have been updated. If you’ve never checked that particular Team Total at your sports book, compare it to the odds at Pinnacle Sports or against your own chart or similar games.

The success rate on this is larger than you might expect, and sometimes you can even find a line that has gone in the opposite direction to the main lines.

If someone bets the mathematically incorrect side of a Team Total, especially if this happens twice, the chances are that this will move the line and cause it to offer value.

Even at PinnacleSports.com we can’t be sure that we have the best of it, especially when the person betting is sharp, so often we have to move the line and offer what we think is likely to be value. While the under is more likely to offer you value on a game where you don’t particularly like your side – especially if you’re playing at another bookmaker than PinnacleSports.com – the over is where you can have vastly the best of it in the right spot. It’s never a sure thing that a pitcher will get it done. Every now and then, it’s “Lima Time”.

Sometimes a pitcher is hurt or just plain can’t cut it in the majors. In those spots, the over on the other Team Total can be a monster favorite, much more than the over or the other team. The extra juice is a good reason to be cautious, but Team Totals are an excellent way both to find value and to bet on exactly what you like and nothing you don’t.

*Odds subject to change


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