With Major League Baseball's spring training well underway I though I'd offer a n00b's guide to Sports betting as suggested by asciilifeform. To begin let's get a few things out of the way:
- The best outcome you can expect with perfect play is losing 30 percent of your bankroll.
- The worst outcome you can expect is losing all of you bankroll, plus whatever you "reinvest."
Now I know. Many people will read this wanting to know "Why would anyone bet in sports if the best outcome is losing money" or maybe they might suppose "But what if I only make a few bets and they all win. Well these things can be answered simply as well, but lets start with the best case scenario:
- Even if you routinely pick winning bets most of the time the House's vig is going to hurt you.
There are probably a number of people reading this who might assume that for a set number of bets they might stay above the Vig. I however insist that such assumptions are broken fundamentally. Much as calculus doesn't not consider any arbitrary stopping point, sports betting must not assume any arbitrary stopping point. The slightest contributor to this is that people tend to chase their loses hoping for a payday. More relevant is that the house has an inherent advantage priced into the betting lines it offers.
Now that you know you are going to lose some or all of the money on sports betting, how should a person pick games to bet on? I'll offer a few simple rules.
- Only bet on games you would like to watch.
- Only bet on games where the outcome is contested.
If a game doesn't fit either of those criteria, it isn't worth betting on. Even fitting one or both of these criteria many events are unbettable.
Part 2 where I offer some situations where betting might be interesting comes soon.