Sports Book Rules for Suspended Games
by Robert Ferringo - 05/08/2007
You know, it's hard enough to turn a trick and make a buck in this business. But when you make a bet on a Major League Baseball team that ends up winning the game and still end up losing money it's enough to make you throw up your arms and vow to only bet on bingo and illegal cockfighting from then on.
If you're unsure what I'm talking about then you clearly didn't have any loot down on the Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game that began on Tuesday, May 1 and was completed on Wednesday, May 2. A new rule change helped assist the Cubs in picking up the win but it didn't favor the gamblers that backed the Northsiders on this particular day.
At the end of the sixth inning in a rain-soaked game in the Steel City the Cubs were down 5-2. They rallied for four runs in the top of the next inning, but during the seventh inning stretch the umpires decided to call it a night. "To be continued," they said. The Cubs didn't have their momentum blunted by the sunrise and they held on to win 8-6 on Wednesday to earn an official victory in the standings.
Under the old rules the Pirates actually would have been bestowed the W because they were winning at the end of the last completed inning (the sixth). Even though the visitors took the lead in the top half of the inning, if the game had been called - like it was here - then the official score would have reverted back to the score of the last completed inning.
With the new rules the game was suspended and was resumed exactly where it left off on the next day. Officially, Rule 4.12 (a) states: "A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated ... (due to) weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead."
Yet, both the offshore sportsbooks and Vegas casinos paid out to Pittsburgh backers, following the standard of the ancient code. Since the Pirates were up 5-2 at the end of the sixth they were deemed the victors. Unfortunately, I was one of the poor souls who fell victim to this seemingly ridiculous situation. Now, my local guy credited my account with a win but my offshore book scored it a loss. The difference wasn't just some cheddar: the game occurred while I was in the middle of what would have been a 12-game winning streak.
This is actually the second instance this season where a game was postponed and finished the following day. Back on April 10 a game between the Brewers and Marlins was halted in the 10th inning with the score tied 2-2. The contest resumed the following afternoon and the Brew Crew managed a 3-2 victory.
According to Bodog the books classify their wagers according to the old rules. First, a suspended game's wager doesn't carry over to the following day. Second, run lines and totals were graded as "no action" because games need to go nine innings for these to qualify. Finally, Bodog's official policy is that "If a baseball game is called or suspended, the winner is determined by the score after the last full inning (unless the home team scores to tie or takes the lead in the bottom half of the inning, in which case the winner is determined by the score at the time the game is called). The money will be refunded if the home team ties the game and then it is suspended."
"What made dealing with this easier for us was that these rules are universal across all Internet sports books and in Vegas," said Bill Beatty, a spokesman for Bodog. "In terms of policy for this situation we have had the rules in place since the beginning of the season."
Even though, personally, I wasn't thrilled with the outcome of my wagers I will say that I agree with Beatty. As long as the rules are standard across the board and consistently enforced than we can't complain. The bottom line is that while we were on the wrong side in this instance these things have a way of evening themselves out. Next time a ruling could go for us and someone else will be left holding the bag.
This is also a great opportunity to mention how important it is for you to go over all of the rules, regulations and policies with your book - whether it's in Vegas, online, or a local guy - before the season starts. It's imperative that all these situations are addressed before they happened so that everyone is on the same page and an ugly situation can be avoided. You wouldn't jump into a poker game without knowing which hands beat which, so you shouldn't expect to get into sports betting without understanding what the rules are.
I don't necessarily think that the specter of a shortened game should alter your betting patterns. I would be careful backing a large favorite if you know there's a good possibility that a prolonged rain delay could ensue. But these situations are so freakish that I think your best course of action is to approach these games as you normally would and understand that while you may suffer the occasional bad beat you may also one day be the recipient of a cheesy score. Like I said: these things have a way of evening themselves out.
Finally, a new rule and a new set of circumstances means a new system for cappers to consider. Thus far I'm 2-for-2 on my initial system. It's simple, yet effective, as most of the best systems are. In the case of a suspended game that is either tied or a one-run affair, play on the team that wins the postponed game.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com or check out his Insider Page here.