I have been commissioned by Doc’s to write a story about MLB betting systems, specifically chase betting. The question is whether I agree with this betting system. I suppose I do, but with a few exceptions.
What is chase betting? Simply put, you “chase” an underdog team through a series. That means you bet on the underdog in a series (generally against a home favorite) until you hit on a victory, and then you stop.
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Let’s use the Oakland A’s as an example. During Oakland’s late July trip through the American League East, you could have been profitable chasing the A’s in their series at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Here’s how it works: Let’s say the A’s were +145 in Game 1 against the Red Sox and Josh Beckett. If you bet $100 on Oakland, you would have lost that one because the Red Sox won, 8-3, behind Beckett on July 27.
It’s time to chase the A’s. They were slumping at that point and likely would have been a bigger dog in Game 2, let’s just say +160. You lost $100 on the A’s in Game 1, but you put another $100 down for Game 2. And in fact Oakland did upset Boston on July 28 in extra innings, meaning you are up $60 (minus the vig, you get $160 back to cover the $100 you lost in Game 1). You stop there, as the chase is over.
Oakland would have paid off in the previous series with the Yankees, who are always huge favorites at home, just like Boston (some would argue even the oddsmakers, like ESPN, have a big of a Yankee/Red Sox bias). The A’s lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium only to win Game 3. However, here is one thing you need to do after your underdog drops the first two games of a series: double your bet in the third game. It’s simply hard for any club to sweep a series in baseball – that’s the main logic behind chase betting. Even the worst teams in the league are going to win more than a third of their games, so that generally means at least one win per three-game series.
I would beware of chase betting as your MLB betting system in two occurrences, however. The first being if the road team had to travel across country without a day off to face a powerful home team. This goes double if that first game at the new park is a day game, which is rare but possible. Travel affects every team. I would also worry about a road team that is finishing up a long trip. That club, especially if it’s not in contention, might be looking ahead to the trip home and not focused 100 percent on playing yet another road series.
The second exception would be if the underdog has the back end of its rotation set up to face the favorite’s top three pitchers. Then I might have second thoughts. The good part of that scenario is you will get even better long-shot odds on the dog.
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I very much recommend chasing an underdog if the favorite is coming off a rivalry series. For example, the Yankees will be amped up for this weekend’s big series with Boston, especially with the Red Sox winning the first eight matchups this year. Whether New York sweeps or gets swept, the Yanks are due for a natural letdown in the following series against the Blue Jays. So even though New York just won two in Toronto, I would very much jump on chasing the Jays early next week in the Bronx. Ditto for the Red Sox, who host Detroit following the Yankee series.