In arbitrage betting, baseball can be both a blessing and a curse. With a bit of careful manual searching, some highly profitable arbs can be found, but the rules surrounding pitcher changes can catch out inexperienced arbers.
Baseball has long been considered the most profitable arbitrage sport in the US, as the US bookmakers tend to run very tight profit margins on the matches.
European and Australian bookmakers tend to be less confident and have larger profit margins built in to compensate for this. However, they are also slower to update their odds when changes occur, leaving a window for arbitrage opportunities.
While historically a US domain, baseball is popular in China and Korea with many bookies now offering markets on these matches too.
If you are brand new to the concept of sports arbitrage betting and surebets, I recommend that you read my introduction to the topic via the link below.
Brand New to Sports Arbitrage Betting?
Read my introduction to the world of arbitrage betting before going any further!
Otherwise, read on to find out how to take advantage of baseball arbitrage opportunities.
Baseball Betting Markets Explained
The following betting markets are commonly offered in baseball:
This is the same as outright or head to head betting. You are simply betting on which team will win the match.
A bet on whether the total score (for both teams) will be over or under a certain value. Usually done with half points (as per asian handicap betting) to remove the possibility of a void bet. Also possible as a bet on individual team totals or separate halves rather than the full game.
Line betting (usually asian handicap) where the bet is on a particular team to win after they are given an imaginary handicap (positive or negative).
Baseball Betting Rules - How Pitcher Changes Can Void Your Bets!
Not being aware of betting rules is one of the main ways to be caught out in baseball arbitrage betting.
The starting pitcher in baseball is usually the player that will pitch the most balls for that team in the match. If a pitcher is injured or for any other reason does not start, this can have a big impact on the outcome of the game.
For this reason, some bookmakers allow bettors to select whether their bets will be ‘action’ (ie. the bet will stand) or ‘no action’ (bet will be void) in the event of a starting pitcher change.
The team has the right to change the pitcher up until the start of the match.
The most important thing for arbitrage bettors to keep in mind is to ensure that they have the same pitcher rules applied to both teams. Generally, it is simplest to have no pitchers listed on your bet, which means that your bet will stand as long as the game is completed.
Alternatively, place bets on all outcomes with the same pitchers listed, so that if there is a pitcher change, all of your bets will be voided. This is slightly less desirable as you will not make any profit but at least you have entirely mitigated your risk of loss.
Otherwise, you run the risk of one side of the bet losing while the other side is voided (stake returned to you), which can lead to big losses.
Simple Baseball Arbitrage Opportunities
Money Line Arbs
The simplest baseball arbitrage bet is the money line. Here’s an example from Major League Baseball (MLB).
From the example above, it is clear that by selectively taking the best odds from the two bookmakers, we can form an arbitrage opportunity.
Assuming total winnings of $400, our stakes on each player would be as follows:
In the surebet above, we are staking $386.74 to win at least $399.99, which is a net profit of $13.25. Not a bad profit at all.
If you can't figure out how I arrived at probability and stake numbers in the tables above, I highly recommend that you check out my in depth guide to arbitrage betting calculations.
It runs through all of the formulas and calculations with tables, graphs and quizzes!
Want to know how to calculate the stakes in the table above?
Read my article on arbitrage betting calculations!
Baseball middles are often possible on the total game score markets. When there is an overlap between the scores set by different bookmakers, there is a potential for middling.
Astute observers will notice that the arbitrage row above does not actually constitute a real arbitrage opportunity as the probability is greater than 100%.
This is what is known as a negative middle. This will become more clear in a minute. Let’s treat it as a regular arb and calculate stakes based on winnings of $500.
Here are the potential outcomes:
- Total score is 7 or less. Payout is $500 from Bwin. Net loss is $5.88.
- Total score is 9 or more. Payout is $500 from Pinnacle. Net loss is $5.88.
- Total score is exactly 8 points. Payout is $500 from Bwin and Pinnacle bet is voided and your stake is returned to you. Net profit is $236.84.
In this situation, you can see that most of the time, you will be losing $5.88 per hit, but every now and then, you will win $236.84!
You need to hit the spread at least 1 in every 40 games for it to be profitable.
As the line is set by what the bookmakers feel is the most likely score at the end of the match, the middle is achieved more often than you might initially think.
Advanced Baseball Arbitrage Opportunities
There are a few advanced baseball arbitrage opportunities that the alert services usually can’t find. An excellent example is combining the outright league winner market with an individual game.
If a team at the top of the league has a single game left in a season, the odds for them to win the league outright should be the same as them winning their final game. However, they frequently differ, as the bookies can be slow to update the odds on the league winner.
Here’s an example. The final game of the MLB season is between the Mets and the Braves. The Mets are leading the league and 12BET has a betting market for the winner of the final match. Paddy Power has odds for outright winner of the league.
By combining these markets, we have found a nice 2% arb! This could last quite some time as the arb hunting software may not be able to recognise it.
It also will help keep you under the radar of the bookmakers, as the outright league winner is not a common market to arbitrage.
All in all, baseball is a great sport for arbitrage betting, but it is not without its own pitfalls.
Pitcher change rules are confusing for beginners and can lead to big losses if not managed correctly.
Money line betting markets provide decent arbs for beginners, total score markets provide good middle opportunities and for advanced arbers, cross market arbs can provide some great profits.
The RebelBetting arbitrage betting software warns you of these potential risks when you attempt to place a baseball arbitrage bet, which is a great feature and can potentially save you from setting yourself up for a loss.
Check out my RebelBetting review for more information!
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