In our membership group, we recently discussed the topic of playing underdogs vs favorites in sports betting. The debate centered on whether it’s better to play a run line (-1.5) handicap or Moneyline, or opt for the safer (+1.5) option in baseball. This question extends beyond baseball and relates to general betting knowledge. In this blog post, we’ll explore 3 essential concepts to understand when deciding between betting on underdogs or favorites.

1. The Importance of Positive Expected Value (+EV) in Sports Betting

Understanding +EV: The Key to Long-Term Success

The concept of positive expected value (+EV) is critical to the long-term success of sports bettors. By definition, +EV outcomes are those that have a higher probability of occurring than what the odds imply. This means that, as a bettor, your objective should be to identify and bet on such outcomes to maximize your potential profit.

To achieve this, you must analyze games thoroughly and seek opportunities that display value in terms of the numbers provided by bookmakers. Betting models, which use statistical data and algorithms to predict game outcomes, can be instrumental in identifying these valuable opportunities. Without such tools, you may end up merely guessing, which is not a viable long-term strategy.

Why Consistently Betting on +EV Outcomes Matters

By consistently betting on +EV outcomes, regardless of whether they pertain to underdogs or favorites, you set yourself up for potential profits in the long run. This approach aligns with the central tenet of value betting: to capitalize on inefficiencies in the market by identifying mispriced odds.

In an ideal world, bookmakers would set odds that perfectly reflect the true probabilities of each outcome. However, in reality, bookmakers often make mistakes or intentionally skew odds to maximize their profit margins. As a result, opportunities for value betting arise, allowing savvy bettors to take advantage of these discrepancies.

When you focus on +EV outcomes, you are, in essence, exploiting these market inefficiencies. Over time, the cumulative effect of these value bets can lead to significant profits, even if individual bets may result in losses.

2. Limitations of Long-Term Betting on Underdogs for Most Bettors

The Challenges of Long-Term Betting Strategies

While the idea of long-term profitability through +EV bets is alluring, it’s essential to recognize the practical limitations that many bettors face. Unlimited bankrolls and unwavering patience are rare, which can make the concept of “long-term” success difficult to achieve. To better understand these challenges, let’s delve into an extreme example.

The Extreme Example: A Divine Source

Suppose a bookmaker offers odds of 1 in 10,000, but you have divine insight revealing that the fair price is actually 1 in 1,000. In this scenario, betting on the bookmaker’s odds represents +EV, and you can expect profit in the long run. However, you might lose 567 consecutive bets before finally winning one that covers all your previous losses.

The problem here is that most bettors don’t possess for example 567 units to weather such a losing streak. Amateurs and bettors with smaller bankrolls often fail to adhere to the 1% rule, which recommends betting only 1% of one’s bankroll per game. As a result, they might bet 5%, 10%, or even more per game, reducing their bankroll to a mere fraction of what it should be. In such situations, just ten consecutive losses could exhaust their entire bankroll.

The Importance of Adequate Bankrolls and Money Management

Betting on Underdogs: Risk vs. Reward

When betting on underdogs, it’s crucial to have strong money management skills and a sufficiently large bankroll. The greater the underdogs, the smaller your bet size should be to minimize the risk of depleting your bankroll. Unfortunately, many rookie bettors are drawn to the allure of bigger payouts from underdogs and parlays, without fully understanding the risks involved or having the necessary bankroll to support their betting strategy.

3. The Mental Aspect of Betting on Underdogs: Embracing the Challenge

The Psychology of Losses

Betting on underdogs inherently involves a higher risk of consecutive losses, which can take a significant toll on a bettor’s mental state. Many bettors become anxious or upset after just 2-3 straight losses, leading them to watch games obsessively and generate unnecessary drama. This emotional response can be exacerbated when betting on underdogs, parlays, or baseball run lines of (-1.5) compared to the moneyline, as these wagers typically carry probabilities of less than 50%.

Developing a Resilient Mindset

If you’re drawn to the challenge of betting on underdogs, it’s crucial to develop a resilient mindset that can withstand the inevitable losing streaks. Here are a few strategies to help you stay mentally strong when betting on underdogs:

  1. Embrace the risk: Recognize that betting on underdogs comes with a higher likelihood of losses. Be prepared for this and understand that it’s part of the game.
  2. Stay disciplined: Stick to your money management strategy and avoid the temptation to chase losses or increase your bet size when facing a losing streak.
  3. Focus on the long-term: Keep in mind that sports betting is a marathon, not a sprint. Maintain a long-term perspective and avoid letting short-term fluctuations in your win-loss record affect your decision-making.
  4. Learn from your losses: Use losing streaks as opportunities to analyze your betting strategy and identify areas for improvement.
  5. Maintain realistic expectations: Remember that even professional bettors experience losing streaks. Set realistic expectations for your performance and understand that no bettor can win every wager.

In Conclusion: Embracing the Challenge of Betting on Underdogs

The mental aspect of betting on underdogs can be demanding, but it also offers an opportunity for personal growth and development. By cultivating a resilient mindset, practicing disciplined money management, and maintaining a long-term perspective, you can successfully navigate the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies betting on underdogs. Moreover, embracing the challenge can lead to a more rewarding and enjoyable sports betting experience.

Conclusion: Favourites or Underdogs?

In summary, always play +EV outcomes, whether betting on underdogs or favorites. How to find +EV is another story altogether. However, if a rookie bettor must choose between playing MLB run line (-1.5) or (+1.5), assuming both plays are +EV, we recommend the safer option of betting on favorites. This approach is mentally better for most bettors and more beneficial for your bankroll.

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