Why You Shouldn’t Bet on Baseball

I really liked the comments to my final article about why umpires should be biased in favor of control pitchers. The majority of the folks with a solid statistical background reacted favorably, although the unwashed masses believed that I was ridiculous and should be run from the blogosphere on a rail. (Maybe I do not give the detractors enough credit; when they were washed and educated, then it was an equally entertaining Ask Marilyn-esque experience.) Anyhow, I thought I’d repeat the experience by simply picking on a different low hanging fruitbetting on baseball games. I know a fair amount. They do not know that betting sports is an investment in amusement, not a workable means of turning baseball knowledge into cold hard cash. This post should be much less iconoclastic than the biased umpire post, but the central point does not seem to be widely known.
So here’s the skinny: you should not gamble on baseball. In the long run, you are going to lose. No version which you’re able to develop can be anticipated/demonstrated to beat Vegas. I really don’t care how good you (think you) are. I don’t care how much you think any line is crazy. You can’t be expected to triumph. You might believe (as I did) that many people who wager on baseball may make poor predictions, which the smart bettor could have the ability to profit off of them. You’d just have to be better than the average bettor, right? Wrong. I’d assert that Vegas profits from these folks (because they set the lines), however, the rest of us should not get involved.
A couple caveats: First, I have been recording the Vegas chances for a couple years, and have analyzed data for 2007 and 2008. I forgot to download them this year until they vanished off of the internet service I use, so that I don’t possess this year’s odds. But I’d be happy to bet that nothing has changed because the machine Vegas uses hasn’t changed. Second, I’m only considering betting on who wins individual games; there are a range of other bets you could place, and maybe you could earn money betting on which pitcher is most likely to start the top of the 7th inning, or which batter is likely to correct their cup . I’m not touching those wagers.
In 2008, Vegas came really close to being flawless. The variance between the actual results of all regular season games and Vegas’ forecast for those games was within the scope that one can blame to random chance. If we begin by assuming that Vegas’ lines perfectly reflected the probability of each team winning every single match, the variance between the predictions and the actual outcomes would be greater than it had been in 2008 75 percent of their time.
That does not mean that Vegas is 75 percent likely to be ideal. We’d have to go all Bayesian and get started imagining ridiculous things to find out precisely how great Vegas is. But consider that statistic: if Vegas were ideal, they still would have had a 75% chance of earning a worse set of predictions than they did in 2008. So somehow, by hook or by crook, they made some ridiculously accurate predictions in 2008.
It’s still possible that the bookmakers got lucky, and that there is money to be produced in betting on baseball. So I conducted a few more simulations. According to my numbers, it’s crazy unlikely (p<.01) which Vegas is off greater than 4 percent per game. This is because almost all baseball games have a true home-win probability of somewhere near 50%. Even when the Yankees fulfill the Royals, the chances are not far from 50 percent.

Read more here: https://www.lmhnegoce.com/2019/09/25/mma-betting-favorites-vs-underdogs-which-is-better/