How to Prepare For Betting MLB Playoffs
by Trevor Whenham - 09/23/2008
The baseball playoffs are just around the corner. For a lot of people, the start of the playoffs mark the first time all year that they will actually bet on baseball. As you probably know, betting on baseball is a much different undertaking than betting on football. You have to be familiar with the money line, the sports move at a much different pace, and the general feel of the games and the bets is different. To make the transition from football to baseball a successful one, then, you need to spend a little time making sure you are prepared and ready to go. The road to the World Series isn't a short one, and with just a few steps you can make sure that it isn't a costly one, either.
1. Set your goals - You need to decide up front what your goals are for baseball betting. Are you looking to significantly increase your bankroll, or just to have a team to cheer for when the games are on? Most people aren't going to put the time or effort into betting baseball that they do into football. It doesn't likely make sense, then, that they would bet the same amount. If you are looking to increase your bankroll but you don't typically play a lot of baseball then you have your work cut out for you figuring out just how you are going to do that. But setting your goals and then working from there you create a basic plan of action for yourself, and that greatly increases your chances of success.
2. Re-acquaint yourself with the pitchers - If there's one thing you are going to do to help yourself out, it should be to take a close look at the pitching staffs involved. You might have a basic grasp of the key pitchers on the teams, but that's not enough. There are two main things to do here. First, look at the likely playoff rotation. You need to know who the playoff starters are going to be. More importantly, you need to know how they have been pitching recently. It can be a dangerous trap with big name starters if you make decisions based on how they pitched over the last few years instead of over the last few weeks. Looking at recent form can also help you spot potential breakout performances. When Josh Beckett was huge for Florida, for example, there were clear signs coming into the playoffs that he was on his game. The other thing you want to do is look at bullpens. Just think back to the number of games in the playoffs you have seen decided by a reliever. A team with a clear bullpen edge has a huge advantage, so it only makes sense that a bettor who can spot that edge also has an advantage.
3. Learn the lineups - Less important than pitchers, but still important to successful playoffs betting is to look at the hitters each team has. Again, you want to look not just at who is on the roster, but how they are playing coming into the playoffs. Recent form is a huge factor for hitters, and it can often carry over into the playoffs. A great way to look at hitters is to compare the likely starting rosters of the two teams that will play each other. Match up similar players on each team. For example, if each has a big slugger in decent form then they cross each other off. So do the solid leadoffs and so on. When the players have been matched up what you are left with is the unique players on each team, and by comparing those you can see what team is in a better offensive position coming into the playoffs.
4. Look at head-to-head - In the first two rounds of the playoffs it's certain that the teams have played each other. Take a look at those series - when were they, who won, how did they win, did some key players do particularly well or particularly badly, any trends emerge? Past performance doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what will happen in the playoffs, but by looking at what happened you may spot a trend or a tendency that will help you when it matters.
5. Watch some games - If you haven't been betting baseball all season then I don't think that there is anything more valuable you can do than just watching some games down the stretch of the regular season. It doesn't matter who is playing. Just look over the rosters and the lines before the game, the watch them to see what happens. By doing this you get your mind back into the flow of baseball, and you knock the rust off before the games that matter get going. There is nothing worse than putting yourself into a hole while you are working out the kinks in the playoffs. That means you have to spend the rest of the playoffs trying to dig out from the deficit. A pitcher wouldn't go into the game without warming up, so why should a bettor bet without being warmed up?