Course No. MLB 104
The beautiful casinos and resorts in Las Vegas weren't built as a result of setting garbage betting lines. The folks in the gambling industry are brilliant, and they know what they're doing. Utilizing gambling lines is not only a good idea for MLB daily gamers, but it's a must. Of course, if you're not a gambler, you might not understand exactly what you're looking at. This Vegas betting line primer will educate you on the basics of what you're looking at, and how to use that information.
When you're looking at a gambling line -- unless it's a pick 'em, which is a rare instance of both teams considered equally likely to win -- you'll see a team "laying" money and one "getting" money. The team that's favored will be minus, while the underdog will be sporting a plus. The numbers typically range from -105 to as high as -275 (in rare instances). What that means is that you need to wager $105 to win $100 (in addition to getting your wager back) with a -105 favorite. The larger the negative number, the bigger the betting favorite a team is. You'll want to target the starting pitcher from monster favorite teams since they're highly likely to score fantasy points with a win.
Checking the moneylines of games is a good starting point for whittling down the list of probable pitchers to prospective daily game options. You'll quickly notice that the aces in the game such as Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and David Price are often the biggest betting favorites. Aces, such as Max Scherzer, who are also backed by an awesome offense will be sizable favorites almost every time they take the hill. When they face bad teams, the lines fly over -200. The moneyline can also help identify some pitchers who are usually marginal options in daily games most days but are more intriguing on a given day. One of my favorite sources for checking baseball moneylines is SBRForum. They offer multiple moneylines from a variety of websites and casino side-by-side for easy reference.
*Pro Tip* Keep tabs on the moneyline as close to start time as possible. Umpiring crews are named for a series, but who is serving behind the plate in a specific game isn't announced until close to first pitch and lines can shift as a result of who is calling the balls and strikes.
The over/under total is just what it sounds like. Gamblers can bet on how many runs will be scored in a game, and if the game results in more runs than the posted total it is said to have gone over, and if it falls short it is said to have gone under. A low run total for a game is 7.5. A high run total for a game is 9.5. Rarely, a total will dip as low as 7, and an over will rise to 10.5. When trying to determine which pitchers and hitters to use in daily games, the over/under total makes for a good starting point for research. Low totals lend themselves to featuring useful daily game options at pitcher. Conversely, games with high betting totals are optimal for grabbing hitters from.
After a few weeks of scanning over betting totals, a few things will become clear. The top starting pitchers in the game will often have low betting totals in their contests, and the worst hurlers will have high betting totals. More importantly, perhaps, certain ballparks will feature low totals, while others will feature high totals. The reason for the different betting totals by venue is simple, park factors. Park factors are thoroughly explained elsewhere in the MLB Daily Academy, but simply put, some ballparks are pitcher friendly and suppress run scoring, and others are hitter friendly and enhance run scoring. Low totals are commonplace when games are played at Petco Park in San Diego, AT&T Park in San Francisco and Safeco Field in Seattle. High totals are almost a given at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Chase Field in Arizona and, of course, Coors Field in Colorado. When games are played at Coors Field, you'll see DFS gamers load up on hitters from the Rockies and their opponent for the night. The thin air and ballpark dimensions at Coors Field make it a run-scoring haven, enhance BABIP, boost homers, doubles/triples and runs scored. It's the ideal ballpark for using hitters at, and the Vegas betting totals will reflect that.
*Pro Tip* Wrigley Field is unique in many ways, and one is that its location near Lake Michigan can result in some drastic wind. When the wind is blowing at at Wrigley Field it will help hitters a great deal, but when it blows in, pitchers are aided. The over/under total can move substantially depending on the wind pattern for a game at Wrigley Field.
Props are quirky bets that can be made on individual players. They aren't nearly as important as the moneylines or betting totals, but when Vegas sets a line of 10.5 strikeouts as an over/under total for Kershaw, you can probably assume he'll miss some bats that night. A quick glance at props can occasionally unearth a player who warrants a bit more research for the night, and when you've got free information at your disposal from highly intelligent people like the line setters in Vegas, you should utilize it.