What Constitutes a Unit in MLB Betting?
by Robert Ferringo - 04/17/2007
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The money management system discussed in the following article is something that Robert advocates as his personal betting strategy. However, it does not reflect the formula used by Doc's Sports for its record keeping and accounting. All of our handicappers' records are tabulated based on one standard system, and that is if a 4-Unit Play at -150 wins then the handicapper is posted as a +400 profit. If that same play loses then the selection is graded as a -600 loss (150 x 4).
We understand that there are an array of opinions, styles, and systems for each individual bettor when it comes to how they place his or her bets. We just want to avoid any confusion over how our Official Records have been kept here at Doc's Sports Services during our 36 years of operations, and how they will be kept. Enjoy the article and best of luck to all of you from everyone here at Doc's!)
I've said it before and I have no shame about it: when it comes to money I can be a huge pansy. Now, this is ironic because I make my living as a gambler and handicapper. I'm involved in an ongoing struggle with Fickle Fate as I entrust my livelihood to mutant athletes playing games of skill and chance, and I do so willingly.
But I'm still a wuss sometimes.
By that I mean that I'm a pretty conservative handicapper. I don't subscribe to the Go Big Or Go Home School of Gambling, where it's all or nothing and the difference between hammering Mai Tai's in Maui and missing the mortgage payment is just a shanked field goal or clanged free throw. That's not my style. I don't bet to get my adrenaline fix or in order to somehow relive old athletic glories vicariously through others. I play to win. That's it. Having fun is a distant second - and to me nothing is more fun that winning.
So why do I bring this to your attention today? Well, I've noticed a reoccurring theme in some emails that I've received from my clients over the first two weeks of the baseball season. They're usually asking me how much they should wager in regards to how I rate my selections. Because baseball deals exclusively with money line and adjusted run lines it can be a complicated situation to deal with, and one with an ongoing impact on your bankroll.
Let's take two abridged examples from my selections from April 14:
4-Unit Play. Take Minnesota (-140) over Tampa Bay (7 p.m., Saturday, April 14)
Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson has an ERA of over 23.00 (yeah, you read that right) in three games against the Twins. At the Metrodome his ERA is 27.00. Minnesota is great at home and the D-Rays struggle on the road. They kind of lucked into a win against Johan Santana yesterday and I don't see them beating the Twins twice in a row in The Dome.
1-Unit Play. Take Milwaukee (+115) over St. Louis (7 p.m., Saturday, April 14)
It's always dicey when a hero returns to face his former team. NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan will be back in St. Louis today and I think he gets the better of Kip Wells. Home teams in this moneyline range (+125 to -125) are just 50-23 over the past 10 years when they enter the game hitting .250 or worse and after allowing two or fewer runs in two straight games."
Let's start with the underdog bet because it's pretty clear what I'm advising my compadres to do. In the 1-Unit Play I'm obviously suggesting a wager of a single unit on the Brewers to win straight up against the Cardinals. To some bettors one Unit represents $1,000, to others that's $100, and to some other people one Unit equals $25; that all depends on your bankroll. (For the purposes of this article one unit will equal $100).
So it's simple: bet $100 to win $115. Good times.
But it gets a bit trickier in the 4-Unit Play. In this situation we are laying 40 cents, meaning that we would have to bet $140 in order to win $100. Now, here is where I get the questions: my clients ask me if they should be wagering $400 (or the equivalent of four Units) to win $286 or should they be risking around $560 (or 5.6 Units) in order to win $400?
As you can tell, there's literally hundreds of dollars difference in those two scenarios. Here is my reply to my clients - use the more conservative wagering method and bet $400 to win $286. I consider this Risk Betting, as opposed to To Win Betting. The names say it all: Risk Betting means that you wager exactly what I, or any other capper, suggests while To Win Betting means that you gamble enough so that you win an amount equal to what your handicapper rated the selection.
That is my advice, but some handicappers are different. As much as I jest, my recommendation has nothing to do with being overly conservative or some kind of gambling miser. My methodology when it comes to baseball is that a plethora of value plays over the course of a season will add up to a nice chunk of change by the time football rolls around. But you also don't want to put yourself in a position where you're digging yourself a hole or blowing everything that you've spent the fall and winter building up. As a handicapper I'm a risk manager, not a psychic. I don't know who's going to win each night (though that would make things a lot easier) but I understand the odds and base all of my plays and ratings on value and expected return on investment.
Basically, it's a matter of exposure and of risk vs. reward. I generally won't play favorites over -170, but some handicappers make a living on eating chalk. However, a 6-Unit Play at -170 with the To Win Betting system means that you'd have to risk OVER 10 UNITS just to make a 6-Unit profit. That's gambling suicide and is deficient money management.
Finally, another way to avoid the situation altogether is making a significant amount of your plays on underdogs. I'll cover this strategy in later articles but for the meantime you just need to know that puppies pay and that favorites shouldn't be relied on exclusively. To this point around 37 percent of my selections are on underdogs, and a nearly 16 percent are on run lines and totals. I expect those ratios to continue through the season and hopefully we'll continue to experience the level of success that we've experienced thus far.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.