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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How gambling can help make baseball America’s pastime again

Because Americans – well, Americans may well love to gamble as much as anyone, and that the country needed a multi-billion-dollar underground economy to swell for decades felt particularly un-American. Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that took away Nevada’s monopoly on legal sports gambling served as the first step to this brand-new world where our sports gambling options will be as plentiful as our minds allow.

Want to bet on whether a pitch will be a ball or strike? It’s coming.

Care to wager on the exit velocity of a batted ball? Some state will make it happen.

Need that 7-1 game between two teams 30 games under .500 on Sept. 1 to matter? In this new world, where a $50 billion economy is set to blossom, every pitch, every swing, every moment that seemed meaningless otherwise matters.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: May 15, 2018 at 03:11 PM | 114 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dollah dollah bills, y'all, make america gamble again, pete rose was here first, sports gambling

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   1. Rusty Priske Posted: May 15, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5672856)
I really don't care about sports betting (though on-line poker should absolutely be legal... luckily I live in Canada), but I am worried about one aspect of gambling joining the regular discussion about baseball.

The Spread.

I hate the concept that there are people cheering for something other than who wins. "Well done, Team X" "But they lost." "Yeah, but they covered the spread!"

Ugh.
   2. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5672863)
I hate the concept that there are people cheering for something other than who wins.


Losers always cheer when winners lose. It's what they live for.

The only sport - indeed, the only thing - I will ever bet on is fighting/boxing. It's the only area where I feel like I have better insight into the outcome than an average fan. Every time I swing through Las Vegas I put down a few hundred bucks on some upcoming fight even if it's a few months out, which if nothing else helps me remember when a fight is scheduled.

Baseball is too close to a 50-50 proposition to be of much appeal to bettors I think.

   3. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5672879)

Nobody gambles per se on baseball. Except Pete Rose.

Fantasy baseball is the only substantial baseball gambling out there, and that's generally legal anyway. Even the daily fantasy baseball variety, which after a brief enforcement thing a few years ago, states hand waved away as NotGambling.
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 04:14 PM (#5672893)
I don't have anything against people gambling on baseball, but I do object to governments and big corporations (including sports leagues) trying to horn in on the act and creating a brand new set of suckers. If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Baseball is too close to a 50-50 proposition to be of much appeal to bettors I think.

Anyone with sufficiently deep pockets can be virtually guaranteed to come out ahead in the long run, as long as they're willing to risk a serious losing streak and be satisfied with relatively small winnings. Of course you also need a place that will keep taking bigger and bigger bets as you try to recoup your losses by doubling down.
   5. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 04:21 PM (#5672902)
If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.


When I watch fights being broadcast in the UK it seems like every other commercial aired is for some form of gambling, either online or some place with a physical presence. It's obnoxious, but fleecing the rubes is a cornerstone of the economy these days.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2018 at 04:44 PM (#5672927)
Having now lived in two countries where sports gambling is rampant, this will be a major boon for broadcasters. Sports betting services may be the #1 advertiser on Aussie TV -- most obviously for sports events but also in general. They did finally draw the line when one of the "footy" broadcasters hired one of the services touts as an "expert" to come on before the game and at breaks and deliver a "report" on what odds were being offered by his service. They got away with that for at least a year before the regulators stepped in and noticed that it was advertising.
   7. Traderdave Posted: May 15, 2018 at 05:00 PM (#5672941)
I recently attended my first English football match. I enjoyed it immensely but was shocked to see bookie windows in the stadium and gambling going on all through the match. The guy next to me had a bet on the number of corner kicks in the game and was shocked that I was shocked. To him it was part of a night of football.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5672983)
Nobody gambles per se on baseball. Except Pete Rose.

The guy next to me had a bet on the number of corner kicks in the game

Exactly. This is the next frontier in gambling on baseball. I envision a futuristic dystopian hellscape where baseball broadcasts have a crawl added for constant in-game prop bets where you can text your wager on various events with the announcers being forced to shill all the while for the "official gaming partner" of the broadcast.

And at that point, I'm done watching sports for good. I don't have any sort of moral objection to gambling. I just don't want it pushed in my face for 3-1/2 hours a night every night.

Hell, I'm already turned off by the ads for Douche Kings on MLB Network.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5672992)
I don't have any sort of moral objection to gambling. I just don't want it pushed in my face for 3-1/2 hours a night every night.
Sounds like a pace of play issue.
   10. Baldrick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 07:02 PM (#5672999)
Let baseball players bet, but the only bets they're allowed to place are 'under' on length of game.

Boom.
   11. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 07:03 PM (#5673000)
I don't have anything against people gambling on baseball, but I do object to governments and big corporations (including sports leagues) trying to horn in on the act and creating a brand new set of suckers. If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.
Once again Andy shows his illiberal side and lack of understanding of free speech.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: May 15, 2018 at 08:03 PM (#5673033)
(though on-line poker should absolutely be legal.

it is legal in NV, DE, NJ, and PA. eventually other states will allow it

Americans may well love to gamble as much as anyone

try telling Europeans and Asians that, if you want to see someone guffaw

even granting a huge illegal sports betting market in the US, Americans cannot hold up to the bulk of the world on that appetite.

per Post 8, I would expect dual broadcasts like you see in NCAA March Madness games. the gamblers will watch one channel, and those not interested will watch the other. that will work itself out.

fyi, the Third Circuit ruling that was vacated yesterday had as one of the judges in the 2-1 majority one Maryanne Trump Barry - the older sister of someone beloved on the OTP threads (no, not Dave Barry).
   13. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5673087)
I don't the spread is going to be a big aspect of baseball gambling. Well, maybe as a proposition bet. It would be like and is like boxing where each team has a payout based on the likelihood that they'll win or be leading by a certain inning.


Like football about the only time I find teams that I have no rooting interest in interesting is when I have money on them. Some of the most exciting games I've ever watched were games that I either had significant money riding on or a large prize for me contingent on who won. I've only bet on baseball twice and have managed to win both times and both games were absolutely meaningless to me and I wouldn't have followed if I hadn't bet on them. IF I got into baseball betting like I once got into fantasy baseball I would watch far more baseball and seek out far more current baseball information than I currently do now. But will I get into baseball betting? I doubt it.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2018 at 08:45 PM (#5673092)
Anyone with sufficiently deep pockets can be virtually guaranteed to come out ahead in the long run, as long as they're willing to risk a serious losing streak and be satisfied with relatively small winnings. Of course you also need a place that will keep taking bigger and bigger bets as you try to recoup your losses by doubling down.

That wouldn't be unique to baseball though. I mean that isn't exactly a new and never tried approach. The problem of course is a)you need a rather large bankroll and b)a sportsbook that will take ever larger amounts of payout risks. Finding that combination is virtually impossible which is why this approach is a failed approach that casinos and sportsbooks have easily swatted a side.
   15. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: May 15, 2018 at 08:51 PM (#5673100)

it is legal in NV, DE, NJ, and PA. eventually other states will allow it

Online poker hasn't exactly thrived in these places. Few cash games run above the smallest of stakes, and tournament options are limited, with mostly small buy-ins and small fields. And it's been legal for a few years in NV and NJ, with no real growth over that time. They're starting to share player pools among states, which should help, but I think a NY or CA needs to join the fold if it's ever going to really take off. Even then, it'll never resemble what it was with a global pool.

/poker rant
   16. eric Posted: May 15, 2018 at 08:55 PM (#5673104)
Anyone with sufficiently deep pockets can be virtually guaranteed to come out ahead in the long run, as long as they're willing to risk a serious losing streak and be satisfied with relatively small winnings. Of course you also need a place that will keep taking bigger and bigger bets as you try to recoup your losses by doubling down.


Ah, yes the Martingale betting system. -EV, but with a great chance of winning. I used to teach it in my introductory math class for college freshman liberal arts majors. Not as a suggestion to engage in the system, but as part of a lecture to convince them that gambling is "bad" (ie, do what you want but don't convince yourself that you have an edge, and don't fall for BS schemes).

My intro, which caught everybody's attention, was "I am now going to teach you how to walk into a casino and have a 98% chance of winning $100." The room would be uncharacteristically quiet, and I would see every pair of eyeballs riveted on me, for the only time all semester. I would then continue, "All you have to do is walk into the casino with $6300." Half the people would immediately drop away again. Back to normal. I would then walk through the math and why it was ultimately a losing play, but I think after those first two sentences most people got the point.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:02 PM (#5673116)
Nobody gambles per se on baseball. Except Pete Rose.

The guy next to me had a bet on the number of corner kicks in the game

Exactly. This is the next frontier in gambling on baseball. I envision a futuristic dystopian hellscape where baseball broadcasts have a crawl added for constant in-game prop bets where you can text your wager on various events with the announcers being forced to shill all the while for the "official gaming partner" of the broadcast.

BITD my favorite pool room bookie told me how he used to take a group of 15 to 20 people and sit in the upper deck behind home plate at Griffith Stadium, and make book on every pitch.

He must have known the odds, because he bought a big house and put his 4 kids through college while never working a day at a regular job in his entire life. Never stiffed anyone on a bet, either.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:07 PM (#5673123)
Anyone with sufficiently deep pockets can be virtually guaranteed to come out ahead in the long run, as long as they're willing to risk a serious losing streak and be satisfied with relatively small winnings. Of course you also need a place that will keep taking bigger and bigger bets as you try to recoup your losses by doubling down.

Ah, yes the Martingale betting system. -EV, but with a great chance of winning. I used to teach it in my introductory math class for college freshman liberal arts majors. Not as a suggestion to engage in the system, but as part of a lecture to convince them that gambling is "bad" (ie, do what you want but don't convince yourself that you have an edge, and don't fall for BS schemes).

My intro, which caught everybody's attention, was "I am now going to teach you how to walk into a casino and have a 98% chance of winning $100." The room would be uncharacteristically quiet, and I would see every pair of eyeballs riveted on me, for the only time all semester. I would then continue, "All you have to do is walk into the casino with $6300." Half the people would immediately drop away again. Back to normal. I would then walk through the math and why it was ultimately a losing play, but I think after those first two sentences most people got the point.


Yeah, that's it, although I never knew it had a formal name. I thought of it during middle of the 1975 season, when the Reds went on an absolute monster tear and never seemed to lose more than 2 games in a row. Of course it's a lot easier to "win" money in hindsight than it is going forward, which is why all those tip sheet characters have to keep finding new sets of chumps every few weeks. In hindsight I wish I'd tried it, but in real time I never had the nerve.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5673126)
try telling Europeans and Asians that, if you want to see someone guffaw
But not Canadians, because they never guffaw.
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:14 PM (#5673127)
I don't have anything against people gambling on baseball, but I do object to governments and big corporations (including sports leagues) trying to horn in on the act and creating a brand new set of suckers. If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.

Once again Andy shows his illiberal side and lack of understanding of free speech.


Or maybe I just don't like the idea of your taxes having to go up to pay for the treatment of the idiots whom the government and the casinos have talked into thinking that they can get something for nothing. I'd much rather raise your taxes in order to pay for schools and Obamacare.

Greatest ad ever, on Martin Luther King's birthday sometime in the 1990's: Picture of King, with the caption, "He, TOO, had a dream. DC Lottery".
   21. Bote Man Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5673151)
This thread needs more Downtown Bookie.
   22. Captain Supporter Posted: May 15, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5673157)
Anyone with sufficiently deep pockets can be virtually guaranteed to come out ahead in the long run, as long as they're willing to risk a serious losing streak and be satisfied with relatively small winnings. Of course you also need a place that will keep taking bigger and bigger bets as you try to recoup your losses by doubling down.


Hopefully, no one takes this advice. As Eric pointed out above, the Martingale betting system has been thoroughly debunked. But, really, anyone with a modicum of statistical training should understand that because of the spread, the gambler's expected value is always less than zero. Thus the small probability that the gambler will suffer a catastrophic loss more than balances the series of small gains that come from increasing bets after losses.

If the above does not convince you simply google Martingale systems and read the relevant Wikipedia article. It describes the problems with the system and also shows a summary of the math that debunks it. Gambling is a loser's game and has a variety of negative social costs. But with it now legalized and taxed (directly or indirectly through the corporate income tax on gambling operations), the people who are smart enough to avoid it will wind up being subsidized by dumb gamblers. You can debate the merits of that approach from a variety of perspectives (moral, societal, tax policy, the cost of externalities, etc.), but I have to admit that I sort of like it as I am one of the people who will be subsidized.
   23. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM (#5673161)
Perhaps I've overlooked it somewhere but I've never seen a spread on a baseball game. Moneylines only. You know, +130, +240, -110, etc.

I've read the bettor winning margins are better on MLB than any other sport. The problem is moneylines are confusing for the hoopleheads hence not too much action, sans Rose.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: May 15, 2018 at 10:16 PM (#5673170)
But with it now legalized and taxed (directly or indirectly through the corporate income tax on gambling operations), the people who are smart enough to avoid it will wind up being subsidized by dumb gamblers.

another version of this is "the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math"

but as long as sports bettors avoid parlays, they may get a net positive satisfaction.
meaning, even if you bet $10,000 on the NFL season, your average loss should be roughly $500 (if you consistently can lose more than $1,000, move to Vegas and apply "The Costanza Rule.). if you watch every Sunday and get an adrenaline rush from the excitement and the $500 is negligible to you, it's a wash.

I once talked to some university mathematics professors. none played the lottery, but the one from Princeton had a vaguely math-y formula proposing that for the $1 (or under $5) cost to the ticket, you get to join the lunchtime office conversation and get enjoyment out of telling your story of what you would do with the mega-million jackpot. he theorized that a very enjoyable lunchtime conversation could well be worth more than a buck or two.
   25. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: May 15, 2018 at 10:36 PM (#5673185)
I would feel comfortable paying that dollar out of pure risk aversion. Losing a dollar each week would have no effect on my life, whereas watching all my coworkers pocket millions and knowing I missed out would weigh heavily on me. Eliminating that 1/1,000,000,000 chance is well worth $1 to me, even if I know I'm punting $.50 on average.
   26. eric Posted: May 15, 2018 at 10:46 PM (#5673200)
Perhaps I've overlooked it somewhere but I've never seen a spread on a baseball game. Moneylines only. You know, +130, +240, -110, etc.

I've read the bettor winning margins are better on MLB than any other sport. The problem is moneylines are confusing for the hoopleheads hence not too much action, sans Rose.


There's the runline: you can take the favored team -1.5, or the underdog +1.5.

I once talked to some university mathematics professors. none played the lottery, but the one from Princeton had a vaguely math-y formula proposing that for the $1 (or under $5) cost to the ticket, you get to join the lunchtime office conversation and get enjoyment out of telling your story of what you would do with the mega-million jackpot. he theorized that a very enjoyable lunchtime conversation could well be worth more than a buck or two.


As a former university adjunct (impressed yet?), I can say I agree with this analysis. From grad school I now know quite a few math professors and exactly 0 of them play the lottery. I, however, will on a rare occasion--every year or two, when Powerball gets really, really big--buy a few tickets and spend a couple days dreaming.

And, of course, immediately after get reminded of how ludicrous playing the lottery is because I somehow didn't match a single number on any ticket, and lament further that I should win something because of that.

   27. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 15, 2018 at 10:53 PM (#5673209)
But with it now legalized and taxed (directly or indirectly through the corporate income tax on gambling operations), the people who are smart enough to avoid it will wind up being subsidized by dumb gamblers.

another version of this is "the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math"

It's also an easy way for politicians to be able to avoid raising less regressive forms of taxation.

but as long as sports bettors avoid parlays, they may get a net positive satisfaction.
meaning, even if you bet $10,000 on the NFL season, your average loss should be roughly $500 (if you consistently can lose more than $1,000, move to Vegas and apply "The Costanza Rule.). if you watch every Sunday and get an adrenaline rush from the excitement and the $500 is negligible to you, it's a wash.

I once talked to some university mathematics professors. none played the lottery, but the one from Princeton had a vaguely math-y formula proposing that for the $1 (or under $5) cost to the ticket, you get to join the lunchtime office conversation and get enjoyment out of telling your story of what you would do with the mega-million jackpot. he theorized that a very enjoyable lunchtime conversation could well be worth more than a buck or two.


That's fine for people who can keep their losings down to a few bucks a day or $500 for a football season, but that's not the gambling problem that anyone's referring to.

U.S. News: Gambling Addicts Seduced By Growing Casino Accessibility

It's a sobering article, to say the least, though its implications will be brushed aside by most people who aren't affected by it, and who will never care about the problem until it hits home.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:02 PM (#5673228)
And, of course, immediately after get reminded of how ludicrous playing the lottery is because I somehow didn't match a single number on any ticket

full disclosure, I did so many lottery stories back in the day in so short a time that I once yielded and spent a buck. then I was channel-surfing that night and the lottery girl came on the TV. I rushed to get my ticket and then watched as - zero of the numbers matched.

how do people keep playing it every week? maybe Thoreau was right
   29. BDC Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:05 PM (#5673230)
Howie’s point is the key one for me. The only things I’ll bet on are horses or dogs (and rarely). It is fun to handicap a race, and by actually betting you might have the satisfaction of proving you picked the winner. It’s a social thing, for sure. You are not guaranteed to lose as you are with casino games, even though the house cut is substantial. And so with sports books, though I prefer just to root for my favorite team, not for my acumen in knowing how badly they’ll lose :)
   30. SuperGrover Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:17 PM (#5673234)
But, really, anyone with a modicum of statistical training should understand that because of the spread, the gambler's expected value is always less than zero.


I assume you mean the juice/vig, not the spread. The spread is irrelevant on one's EV.

Nobody gambles per se on baseball. Except Pete Rose.


it was a billion dollar market in legal sportsbooks in 2016. Estimates suggest twice as much illegally bet in US and that's without in game and cash out options that will almost certainly arise once it becomes legalized. While nothing compared to football, it is a big market nonetheless.

   31. eric Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:23 PM (#5673236)

That's fine for people who can keep their losings down to a few bucks a day or $500 for a football season, but that's not the gambling problem that anyone's referring to.

U.S. News: Gambling Addicts Seduced By Growing Casino Accessibility

It's a sobering article, to say the least, though its implications will be brushed aside by most people who aren't affected by it, and who will never care about the problem until it hits home.


I have many, many gambling addict stories. I have a buddy who won $50,000 playing poker...then went and lost it all at the BJ tables the same night.

I had a roommate who was so addicted to gambling he literally couldn't hold onto money. He would pay his rent by leaving the $10 or $20 he got from tips (bartender) that night, every night over the course of the month. If he held onto it, he would just gamble it away.

I had a relationship with a good friend damaged when he was teaching me craps in LV. I'd never played but decided I would watch him. He then had a few bad rolls in a row and turned around, with the look of a demon on his face, and hissed at me, literally, then tautly commanded, "go away! You're bad luck!" There's been some distance between us since then.

My own precarious close call came a few years after that when I had another buddy convince me to play craps with him. I decided, why not, just entertainment money. I can try it once. But only once. My $100 became $700 within an hour. The next time he offered, I gritted my teeth again, but again accepted. +$500. Then +$1200. Then +$300. Etc, etc, until I was up about $5500 on about a nine-session win streak.

Then. Session 10. I began playing and was down almost immediately, but that had happened before. Re-bought. Lost it again. Rinse and repeat. I ended up playing all night, until 8am, and lost about $1800, having almost literally never won a roll, but always figuring I would bounce back at some point.

I went home, realized I was on a dangerous path, further realized I was damn lucky to still be up $3700 overall in my -EV gambling career, and called it quits.

I can see why gambling is addicting. If you're down, you feel like you're owed something and need to keep playing to "get even." On the flip side, if you're up, why stop now when you're on a winning streak? When lighting strikes and you hit your bet you feel special; the gods have smiled on you. Mix in some greed and some alcohol, and...

   32. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:23 PM (#5673237)
From grad school I now know quite a few math professors and exactly 0 of them play the lottery.

The building I used to work in had a little convenience store on the first floor and one day there was some smarmy guy from the Texas Lottery standing next to the registers badgering customers about buying lottery tickets. Our conversation went a little like

"Are you interested in buying some lottery tickets to go with that Coke? Big jackpot! [some number] million dollars!"
"No."
"Why not? You can't win if you don't play!"
"My masters degree is in Applied Mathematics. I know how the numbers work out."
"Have a good day, sir."

... apparently not wanting to engage me in any further conversation with a line of customers marks behind me.
   33. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:25 PM (#5673239)
the BJ tables

!!!!!!!!

Clearly I have not spent enough time inside casinos.
   34. eric Posted: May 15, 2018 at 11:35 PM (#5673244)
Live in Vegas long enough and BJ means something completely different. :)
   35. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:39 AM (#5673269)
I'm by no means a big gambler, but it sure is a lot of fun to go to the horse track. I've done the Derby, Belmont and Breeders Cup (which is amongst my favorite sporting events I've ever attended), and a handful of other tracks including Keeneland (Lexington) which is my favorite. With some friends and some responsible betting, it really is a fun time. Having said that, I'd likely bet more (college football) if this gets off the ground.. Say no to parlays.
   36. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: May 16, 2018 at 03:28 AM (#5673273)
Exactly. This is the next frontier in gambling on baseball. I envision a futuristic dystopian hellscape where baseball broadcasts have a crawl added for constant in-game prop bets where you can text your wager on various events with the announcers being forced to shill all the while for the "official gaming partner" of the broadcast.


If anyone uses Cricinfo to track cricket games in progress, you can see that the live commentary literally offers odds on the next batsman to be out (choice of two at any one time) and a link to make a bet on it. Other 'niche' bets tend to be more accumulative, and have gotten players banned for accepting money not to necessarily tank their performance, but to do one specific thing more often than expected. "No-balls" - rough equivalent of a wild pitch - are perfect for this; the player appears to be having trouble with their delivery and creates a minor handicap for their team, but nothing which seriously affects the outcome of the game.

Apart from selecting the winner of a game, I expect that one of the most popular prop bets for viewers at home will be 'can the new reliever get out of this situation with 0 runs allowed' or similar, since that will reliably coincide with an ad break. For those attempting to get an inside angle - wild pitches, maybe bunt attempts, maybe 'errors'. Luckily MLB players are paid far better than the average cricket player, so hopefully that'll limit the risk more than it has in that sport. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cricketers_banned_for_corruption is both a longer list than I expected, and very much focused on the last 20 years or so.)
   37. manchestermets Posted: May 16, 2018 at 05:10 AM (#5673274)
how do people keep playing it every week?


It's the only chance, no matter how small, that I have of ever buying a private island in the Carribean and the weekly amount is trivial to me. This isn't meant to minimise the ill effects of gambling, but I'm fortunate enough that it's the case for me.

Other 'niche' bets tend to be more accumulative, and have gotten players banned for accepting money not to necessarily tank their performance, but to do one specific thing more often than expected.


There was a case in English football of a player not taking money, but placing a bet himself on the time of the first throw-in (the way play is restarted when the ball goes out over the sideline) in a game, with the intention of kicking the ball straight out of play at the start of the game. He failed, because a team-mate who wasn't in on it kept the ball in play.

   38. Lassus Posted: May 16, 2018 at 08:39 AM (#5673295)
Perhaps I've overlooked it somewhere but I've never seen a spread on a baseball game. Moneylines only. You know, +130, +240, -110, etc.

I'm not any kind of gambler, but one of the few times I was in a casino in Vegas and wanted to put some money on a game just for something new to do, the betting on baseball was so incomprehensible to a novice (or maybe just me) I quickly gave up.

Granted, I also became bored with craps after 5-10 minutes of tutoring and never even bothered trying to play. Have played poker a bit in casinos. $100 buy-in. A B- player. Maybe.
   39. Zonk is One Individual Posted: May 16, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5673297)
I'm by no means a big gambler, but it sure is a lot of fun to go to the horse track. I've done the Derby, Belmont and Breeders Cup (which is amongst my favorite sporting events I've ever attended), and a handful of other tracks including Keeneland (Lexington) which is my favorite. With some friends and some responsible betting, it really is a fun time. Having said that, I'd likely bet more (college football) if this gets off the ground.. Say no to parlays.


Well, if you're just nickel-and-diming it - parlays are the way to go.

I used to make out like a bandit in HS via a parlay card my friend's ne'er do well dad used to provide for me... but then, that was back in the day when you could just take all the run-and-shoot team "over"s...
   40. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 16, 2018 at 09:06 AM (#5673301)
Greatest ad ever, on Martin Luther King's birthday sometime in the 1990's: Picture of King, with the caption, "He, TOO, had a dream. DC Lottery".


I still prefer McDonalds' actual early 1990s "salute" to Black History Month, with the slogan "Keep Your Eyes on the Fries."
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 09:35 AM (#5673308)
I found a bunch of those "Keep Your Eyes on the Fries" ads from 1978, but nothing that connected them to Black History Month. What would've really been gross would've been if they'd used the melody of the civil rights song, but that would've probably been too much even for McDonald's.
   42. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5673317)
how do people keep playing it every week?

It's the only chance, no matter how small, that I have of ever buying a private island in the Carribean and the weekly amount is trivial to me.
Exactly. People who look at it based on expected return are smart mathematically but miss the point. The utility of the $2 is virtually nil to me, whereas the utility of the jackpot is obviously huge. If at the end of the year I've spent $200 on lottery tickets (I only buy when the jackpots are over $100M), so what? That's rounding error in my budget. But on the minuscule chance I win, it's life changing. (And the thought of possibly winning is entertaining in and of itself.)

Now, what's insane is the people buying 20 pick-three type tickets (and they hold up the line because they insist on picking the numbers themselves instead of quick picking them). Yeah, you're likely to win on occasion if you play that way. But you're likely to win $50. If you're excited to win $50, then you can't afford to play. (What's even worse is that they often just plow those kind of winnings back into the next day's drawing, so they get nothing out of it!)
   43. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5673325)
I can see why gambling is addicting. If you're down, you feel like you're owed something and need to keep playing to "get even." On the flip side, if you're up, why stop now when you're on a winning streak? When lighting strikes and you hit your bet you feel special; the gods have smiled on you. Mix in some greed and some alcohol, and...

Here's my favorite gambling story, every word of it true. It's in three parts, all involving this guy, who was (and is) a total nut case, even if at one point he was a pretty good pool player.

Part one: this guy (Schwarz) was spotting this guy (Scrimma) 9 to 7 in a game of one pocket, where each player has to shoot all his balls in one of the two far corner pockets. It's the game that Minnesota Fats liked best, because it's subtle and easy to disguise your skill while still winning.

Anyhoo, the game started at $5, but when Scrimma kept winning the bet kept doubling, until it finally reached the point where Schwarz said "double or nothing" for his last $300. And that last game came down to the final ball, but when Schwarz tried a very tricky 2 rail bank, he miscalculated the angle and left Scrimma an easy shot to win the game, and a total of $600.

The game ended at 8:30, and for the next four hours, until the pool room closed, Schwarz parked himself by the pay phone, not saying a word, but counting what money he had left over and over and over and over and over....

Part two: For the next two years, nobody saw Schwarz in the pool room, but he got a job as the French Fry man at the local McDonald's, moved in with his mom, and somehow managed to save up $10,000.

Part three: Armed with that $10,000, he and his friend Big Ed drove up to Atlantic City.

Big Ed dropped Schwarz off at the casino entrance while he searched for a parking space. Yada yada yada by the time he caught up with him inside, Schwarz had lost his entire $10,000 on three spins of the roulette wheel.

Absolutely true story, and although I've seen or heard a million pool room and gambling stories, I've never known of any to quite match that one.
   44. , Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5673328)
Heh. I don't buy lottery tickets often and, usually, only powerball or Mega Million types. And it is for the fact that I'm never getting filthy rich any other way. At this point, my financial fate is pegged pretty tightly at "doing okay". If we don't face utter economic collapse, I'll be well above average. But if I doubled my income at this point, it wouldn't do much to change my life.

However, I will confess to getting bored one day waiting for my wife and I bought one of those scratch-offs. David's rant brought this to mind. I won $12 and immediately bought more tickets and scratchers. Only after I (obviously) lost on those did it occur to me I could have just paid for lunch. As others have said above, gambling is dangerous and I can see why people fall into trouble with it.

By the way, I'm not sure I get the logic of only buying when the jackpot is huge. Maybe it's just me, but $40 million would change my life almost as significantly as $100 million. My rule for buying tickets is: only buy when otherwise given the opportunity. That is, I never go out of my way to by a ticket or go only to buy one. But, if I'm making a purchase in a store that sells them (rare), I buy one.
   45. Lassus Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5673329)
Biggest gambling prize I ever won was $95 on four 3s on a $3 bet for video poker, in Reno while working for a traveling theater company. I immediately quit and bought a Ray Charles CD box set and dinner. I was superior to bunyon.
   46. Lassus Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5673335)
By the way, I'm not sure I get the logic of only buying when the jackpot is huge. Maybe it's just me, but $40 million would change my life almost as significantly as $100 million.

I think there's a fractured logic here. The lottery is over $40M frequently enough that tossing your $2 - $10 dollars away that often is notable more costly than the few times a year when it's up past $150M.
   47. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5673336)
I used to buy lottery tickets a long time ago, and one day I matched five out of the six numbers and won $52. I had spent less than $52 total on lottery tickets, so I was ahead of the game at that point. I quit and never bought another lottery ticket.

In other words, my story is exactly the same as everyone else's here: The way I play the lottery is sensible. The way other people play the lottery is insane.
   48. Nasty Nate Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5673337)
I think both moneylines and run spreads are available for baseball games. And presumably over/unders.
   49. Greg Pope Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5673338)
My rule for buying tickets is: only buy when otherwise given the opportunity.

My rule is: Only buy when it's the office pooling our money. I'm not going to be the only one coming in to work on Monday while everyone else in my department has quit.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:26 AM (#5673341)
Lottery prizes can get to positive expected value. Typically those $500M jackpots are a pretty good bet, since all the money wagered the previous N games is carried over. If the pot is $500M, but only $200M of tickets are "alive" for that drawing, playing is not a bad idea.
   51. Greg Pope Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:26 AM (#5673342)
I think there's a fractured logic here. The lottery is over $40M frequently enough that tossing your $2 - $10 dollars away that often is notable more costly than the few times a year when it's up past $150M.

This makes sense. I'm not going to spend $10 twice a week because then I'm spending $1000 over the course of a year. But doing it 5 times a year only costs me $50 and I get to dream about winning. The dreaming gets old if I do it twice a week.
   52. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5673345)

Greatest ad ever, on Martin Luther King's birthday sometime in the 1990's: Picture of King, with the caption, "He, TOO, had a dream. DC Lottery".
Hey, grandpa, you've told us all that story 20 or 30 times over the years on BBTF.
   53. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:33 AM (#5673347)
Once again Andy shows his illiberal side and lack of understanding of free speech.

Or maybe I just don't like the idea of your taxes having to go up to pay for the treatment of the idiots whom the government and the casinos have talked into thinking that they can get something for nothing.
Setting aside that the solution to not having one's taxes go to pay for something is... not to pay for it, that's not an "or." Your sentiment is illiberal and anti-censorship. It denies people agency to make their own decisions, and it's based on the soundly-rejected (at least in the U.S.) notion that we can deny people information because they might make bad decisions if they get it.
   54. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5673350)
By the way, I'm not sure I get the logic of only buying when the jackpot is huge. Maybe it's just me, but $40 million would change my life almost as significantly as $100 million.

I think there's a fractured logic here. The lottery is over $40M frequently enough that tossing your $2 - $10 dollars away that often is notable more costly than the few times a year when it's up past $150M.
This. It's just a way of limiting expenditures.

Also, $40 million is ashtray money, dude.
   55. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5673351)
My rule is: Only buy when it's the office pooling our money. I'm not going to be the only one coming in to work on Monday while everyone else in my department has quit.
Whereas when the lottery gets big and people in my office want to do a pool, I always refuse. My theory is that I don't want to share money with those jerks. Half the fun of winning the lottery is having money, and the other half is people you knew not having money.
   56. , Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5673352)
You guys missed that I don't ever go just to buy a ticket. I'd guess I buy between 5 and 10 a year. And one ticket. My one foray into the other games was not positive, even though I won on the first one.
   57. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5673353)

Lottery prizes can get to positive expected value. Typically those $500M jackpots are a pretty good bet, since all the money wagered the previous N games is carried over. If the pot is $500M, but only $200M of tickets are "alive" for that drawing, playing is not a bad idea.
You're forgetting about taxes. On a $500M jackpot, if you win you walk away only with something close to $200M (if you take a lump sum payout).
   58. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5673354)
Whereas when the lottery gets big and people in my office want to do a pool, I always refuse. My theory is that I don't want to share money with those jerks. Half the fun of winning the lottery is having money, and the other half is people you knew not having money.


Well you have to consider the possibility of the converse, which is how little fun it will be if those jerks hit it big and you're stuck grubbing around like a peon while they come into work every day showing off their gold teeth and rope chains.

The primary reason I want to win the lottery is to hire a small band of Gurkhas to have people beaten in a thorough but professional manner. Gurkhas are the Rolls Royce of hired goons.
   59. Omineca Greg Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5673356)
The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.

George Bernard Shaw


That is in fact very good investment advice. I have made thousands of dollars owning casino stocks. To be fair, I had to invest thousands too and the money wasn't made in an instant, but you can play a game where the odds are in your favour. So maybe it isn't as enticing for most, but...
   60. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5673357)
I understand what people are saying about the logic of playing the lottery, but there's still something off about it to me. The very large payout seems to skew people's thinking.

Let's say a lottery is basically a huge 50/50 raffle. (It's actually hard to get a sense of how much of the revenue goes to prizes, and it seems to very by state quite a lot, but let's say 50/50.)

Now, they have much smaller 50/50 raffles at baseball games. Charity motive aside, would you play a 50/50 raffle at the ballgame? The payoff is $5-15K, which will buy a lot of items, and the $5 you spend each night, as DMN notes, is still just a rounding error at the end of the year.

How low does the prize have to get before a house edge of 50% looks like a bad deal? Remember that the house edge at roulette is 5%, and roulette seems like a stupid proposition, as eric (and GBS) noted. And if it looks bad at a low level, why not at a high one?

I'm intrigued by the idea a couple of people expressed, that buying a lottery ticket for a really big payout indemnifies you against remorse. Indeed, what if you were the one dolt in the office who didn't chip in for a twentieth of the Powerball jackpot, what's two bucks to rule out that possibility :)


   61. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5673360)
while they come into work every day showing off their gold teeth and rope chains.
You know all those people who say, after winning the big jackpot, that they're going to continue to work? They're lying.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5673364)
You know all those people who say, after winning the big jackpot, that they're going to continue to work? They're lying.

I would continue to show up at the office for a while, and tell people what I really think about all their moronic ideas, and shitty behavior.

I wouldn't "work" per se.
   63. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5673372)
I would continue to show up at the office for a while, and tell people what I really think about all their moronic ideas, and shitty behavior.


"Now that I'm as rich as Trump I can be as much of an ####### too!"
   64. DJS Holiday-Related Pun Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5673386)
I do well with baseball betting; I bet a lot of prop bets. It's not something I envisioned at the time, but having a projection system that's been honed for a long time is quite useful.
   65. Lassus Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5673387)
Everyone has crazy fantasies about how they'd handle winning the big one. One of mine involves holing up for a month in a crazy-ass motel behind a convenience store along route 20 in Sharon Springs NY to get a real grip on how I want the next 30 years or so to go. Granted, I might only stay three days, but I'd like to imagine an amount of focus and zen humility being required to practice for that entire time. And just being generally odd.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5673388)
Greatest ad ever, on Martin Luther King's birthday sometime in the 1990's: Picture of King, with the caption, "He, TOO, had a dream. DC Lottery".

Hey, grandpa, you've told us all that story 20 or 30 times over the years on BBTF.


More like about 3 or 4 times, which is about a tenth as many times as you've equated taxes with slavery.
   67. , Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5673391)
Everyone has crazy fantasies about how they'd handle winning the big one. One of mine involves holing up for a month in a crazy-ass motel behind a convenience store along route 20 in Sharon Springs NY to get a real grip on how I want the next 30 years or so to go. Granted, I might only stay three days, but I'd like to imagine an amount of focus and zen humility being required to practice for that entire time. And just being generally odd.

Making the post-victory plan is at least half the fun.
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5673395)
Once again Andy shows his illiberal side and lack of understanding of free speech.

Or maybe I just don't like the idea of your taxes having to go up to pay for the treatment of the idiots whom the government and the casinos have talked into thinking that they can get something for nothing.

Setting aside that the solution to not having one's taxes go to pay for something is... not to pay for it, that's not an "or." Your sentiment is illiberal and anti-censorship.


I'll take that Freudian slip as a concession.

It denies people agency to make their own decisions, and it's based on the soundly-rejected (at least in the U.S.) notion that we can deny people information because they might make bad decisions if they get it.

Right, the "information" being that you can get something for nothing and it's all so glamorous. If the government would simply decriminalize sports gambling, bettors would quickly be able to place all the bets they want without a single advertisement being shown on any form of media.
   69. Hot Wheeling American, MS-13 Enthusiast Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5673409)
Making the post-victory plan is at least half the fun.


The definitive take
   70. dlf Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:41 AM (#5673416)
Looks like I buy more lottery tickets than most of you. If I stop for gas and I have cash, I'll get a quick pick for Megamillion and Powerball so I'm out $4. That might be about every other week or a little more frequently on average so maybe $100-150 per year. For that, I get a little day dreaming time and a ridiculously slim, but non-zero chance on having FU money.

For those who insist this is a poor return on the investment, I'll note that if, instead of spending the hundreds or thousands of hours spent arguing with idiots on-line about things tangentially related to baseball, that time had been spent scouring stock tickers, Ks and Qs, networking with colleagues, continuing education in your personal field of endeavor, or any of a nearly countless set of activities, the financial payoff would have been a lot better than the ROI on BBTF.
   71. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5673417)
I read somewhere that "real" professional gamblers bet a lot on baseball, because starting pitching is such a big swing factor. Obviously pitchers have bad games (the Kershaw vs. the Marlins earlier this season is a prime example) but over the long run it is apparently really profitable.

I play poker but never online. The stakes that I play online are so small that it almost feels like I'm playing with Monopoly money and a lot of the other players will play just like that. At real casinos I am disciplined enough that I go to the ATM before I walk in and never go back to me.

It really pissed me off when NJ voters struck down the referendum to allow casinos in northern NJ. Gamblers are going to gamble. Many will gamble where it is closest to them. So instead of NJ getting the casino taxes if there was a casino near the Meadowlands or Jersey City, Pennsylvania gets them when I go to Bethlehem or Philadelphia. I'm not going to Atlantic City - maybe with the sports gambling being allowed they allow casinos to open up where ever.

As for the lottery, I know what the expected value, but the minuscule chance that I never have to work again is worth the $2 or $4 "investment" if the jackpot is high enough.
   72. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5673419)
Even on a site for the thinking fan, there sure are a lot of moronic betting narratives that people use on themselves.
   73. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:18 PM (#5673502)
Hey, grandpa, you've told us all that story 20 or 30 times over the years on BBTF.

More like about 3 or 4 times,
The notoriously non-comprehensive search function on BBTF has you saying it seven times before today.


Out of morbid curiosity, I googled this anecdote on the general Internet; there were all of two hits outside of your BBTF posts. One in the WaPo and one on some random website reprinting a NYT story. Both by... you.
   74. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:18 PM (#5673504)
Trading Bases by Joe Peta was a fairly interesting book about betting on baseball. Ex Wall Street trader, turned into baseball handicapper/bettor, due to a terrible accident left him in a wheelchair.
   75. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5673529)
Hey, grandpa, you've told us all that story 20 or 30 times over the years on BBTF.

More like about 3 or 4 times, which is about a tenth as many times as you've equated taxes with slavery.

The notoriously non-comprehensive search function on BBTF has you saying it seven times before today.


Regardless, whose estimate was closer? My 3 or 4 or your 20 or 30?

Out of morbid curiosity, I googled this anecdote on the general Internet; there were all of two hits outside of your BBTF posts. One in the WaPo and one on some random website reprinting a NYT story. Both by... you.

That's probably because the ad only ran in the City Paper, where I cut it out and put it on display in my book shop for the amusement of my customers. I mention it here solely for the same purpose, not to claim that the ad was running everywhere.
   76. manchestermets Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5673532)
Hey, grandpa, you've told us all that story 20 or 30 times over the years on BBTF.

More like about 3 or 4 times,


The notoriously non-comprehensive search function on BBTF has you saying it seven times before today.


Out of morbid curiosity, I googled this anecdote on the general Internet; there were all of two hits outside of your BBTF posts. One in the WaPo and one on some random website reprinting a NYT story. Both by... you.


Will you two just #### already?
   77. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5673538)
Well, I sure as hell didn't start this silly non-argument about how many times I've mentioned the ad.
   78. Omineca Greg Posted: May 16, 2018 at 01:56 PM (#5673543)
About 30 years ago I bet on baseball games. Illegally.

My (future) wife was working at 7-11, along with about 15 Fijians. There were both Polynesian Fijians and Indian Fijians, which if you know anything about Fijians, you know that's a big deal. One of the Fijians knew a bookie, and served as sort of a business associate and client. All the Fijians would talk about gambling all day long, all the different sports, and whenever I would go in there to get a Slurpee and The Sporting News (sorry, this is really turning into an old man story), they would ask me about baseball, just for the gambling angle. Mostly the Fijians didn't bet on baseball because they didn't like it as a sport that much. The leader of the group was the only guy who ever took my advice, and he began to make out like a bandit.

My (future) wife said, "Greg, you should bet too. He's making money just listening to you. You should do it."

So I did.

Whoever was making the odds really was screwing up the effect of the starting pitchers. You know how it went when someone is just put out there because they have a big contract, and you know they're going to stink Royally (yes I'm thinking of you, Ted Power), putting their team in a hole that they'll be lucky to overcome. Well, the odds never really reflected that...it seemed biased towards the overall quality of the teams, so a good team starting their lousy pitcher against a lousy team starting their good pitcher, that's what we were looking for.

I never bet much, we were poor, it felt irresponsible to wager large amounts, but my connection went into it whole hog. I don't know, I made about $200 over the summer, but my bet runner there, he was making a lot. We only had to identify the 10 or so worst starting pitchers, and just had to wait until the right match-up came up; which was frequently enough...

So the bookie cut us off, which I guess happens when you're utilising an illegal service. No more baseball bets, only other sports, the ones that were apparently harder to figure out, or easier for the bookie to figure out, or whatever.

That's the only gambling story I have, it's never been something that's interested me that much.
   79. SuperGrover Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:50 PM (#5673973)
I think both moneylines and run spreads are available for baseball games. And presumably over/unders.


Depends upon the casino. In Vegas it's often just ML and totals. ML are odds based, typically with a 20 cent line up to -200 (meaning there is a $20 difference between what you lay on the favorite and what you win on the dog). Higher than that the vig goes up as it needs to maintain the typical 5% advantage of total bets.

Totals are standard 10 cent vig meaning you risk $110 for every $100 bet. If you do happen to find run lines, they will still be odds based, just that the odds will be shifted obviously due to the spread.

Of course, online, you get all this and more, usually with multiple run options, at least for bigger games. You also might get props for team, game and player that are generally higher vig (-115 to -120, usually). These are great money makers for casinos and will almost certainly be a major offering for legalized gambling in the U.S.

And yes, gambling is absolutely dangerous. You should understand your bankroll and never waver from it, no matter your results. Also, standard betting units prevent one from doing something stupid (like the Martingale strategy) that can get people in real trouble. Of course, that takes discipline to accept losses but is the only way to consistenyl gamble safely without unlimited funds.
   80. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: May 17, 2018 at 01:16 AM (#5673986)
The Spread.
There is no spread in baseball betting. You can bet the money line, the run line or the total runs over/under. Some places will let you bet the money line on the outcome of the first 5 innings or the second 4+ innings.
   81. Walt Davis Posted: May 17, 2018 at 04:30 AM (#5673992)
Maybe you could have a spread on a series but it makes no sense for a baseball game. The spread for your standard baseball game (say Milw-Pitt) is 0. The expected outcome of a baseball game is rarely more than an expected one-run advantage for the better team. Maybe if you have Yanks-Reds you can get it up to two. But generally if you can ever get a spread of "team + 1.5", take it.

The Tigers last year won only 64 games, pythag of 67, worst in the AL. They still had an average run differential just under 1 run per game. If you gave them a 1.5 run spread every game, you win 87 and lose 75. The only teams against which they had a run differential over 1 per game were the Indians (a whopping 48 in 19 games), Angels (8 in 7 games), Twins (30 in 19), Yanks (14 in 6), Seattle (9 in 7), TBR (10 in 7), Tex (15 in 6). So that's only 4 teams it would make sense to give them 1.5 against and that's with 20/20 hindsight.

So other than maybe really good team vs. really bad team ... and given no ties ... the spread for nearly all games is 0 and it's just a bet on win/lose. I assume they have other methods to push bets towards the Tigers when they play the Indians.

I assume people have looked at this in football and that, say, the proportion of games that actually finish within 2 points is probably really small and you're a sucker if you take a +2.5 or -1.5 bet. Just a guess.
   82. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:47 AM (#5674015)
I occasionally bet on lotteries. I figure I am getting the daydream out of it,planning how to spend the money I will never win. And for a couple bucks that is a pretty good deal. If I ever win anything* I will be WAY ahead.

*OK I occasionally win a buck or two, but I give those to my ex because we both know I am lazy and won't turn them in for the money and they will.
   83. Nasty Nate Posted: May 17, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5674028)
I assume people have looked at this in football and that, say, the proportion of games that actually finish within 2 points is probably really small and you're a sucker if you take a +2.5 or -1.5 bet. Just a guess.
I don't think they are sucker bets. For instance, if you don't think the game will finish within 2 points, you might as well take the favorite at -1.5 rather than even, because your payout will be better.
   84. SuperGrover Posted: May 17, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5674172)
Maybe you could have a spread on a series but it makes no sense for a baseball game. The spread for your standard baseball game (say Milw-Pitt) is 0. The expected outcome of a baseball game is rarely more than an expected one-run advantage for the better team. Maybe if you have Yanks-Reds you can get it up to two. But generally if you can ever get a spread of "team + 1.5", take it.


It makes plenty of sense because the odds are skewed heavily. And it is absolutely available online.

for example, my online book has the Dodgers at -155, -1.5 +110 today. That means you are laying $155 to win $100 if you expect LA to win by any amount, but if you expect a 2+ run win then you actually get $110 back for every $100 risked. This is a common wagering option in lowering scoring games such as hockey and soccer (in NHL tonight, Tampa is +100, +1.5 -280). Usually this is a losing bet as the vig is typically higher but can be fun to play very occasionally.

Run lines are just the tip of the iceberg. Online you can bet on things like game totals, individual team run totals (LA o4 is -125, u4 -105), and something called the Grand Salami which is the total runs scored across the league on a given day (86 runs for today's games). You can also bet on the first 5 innings, series prices (White Sox are +125 to win the Rangers series), player props (Justin Turner is +140 to get over 1.5 total bases), team props (scoring in the first inning and team to score first), total hits, runs and errors per game (LA-MIA is o25 -105, u25 -125) and even alternate lines where the spread is skewed and the odds are way out of whack (you can get LA -2.5 +180). These are all available to me for today's action on a pretty plain online book. When you get to bigger games (nationally televised or postseason) the options go up substantially.

While this may seem ridiculous these types of incredibly specific options are common place in England where wagering is legal and readily accessible. For example, the upcoming UCL final has 80 different bet types available on SkyBet (https://m.skybet.com/football/champions-league/event/22206800). You can bet these for tiny amounts or for large sums with the ability to cash out on accumulators. SkyBet can offer these because the vig is so high on props they make a killing anyway.

Ultimately, I see the English model making its way in the US. Serious gamblers will continue to focus on the low vig options, but the general public will have a plethora of random, specific props to wager at their finger tips before and during game action.

It will take a while for this to come to fruition. Initially, expect to see Vegas-style limited offerings popping up around the country ultimately, the user base and margins are too enticing for states not to push into more specific props.

   85. manchestermets Posted: May 17, 2018 at 05:48 PM (#5674577)
While this may seem ridiculous these types of incredibly specific options are common place in England


This is your periodic reminder that "England" and "United Kingdom" are not interchangeable.

As you were.

Edit: worth mentioning that SkyBet has similar numbers of bets on baseball games. On the straight "Match Result" bet (this is what US betting language means by "money line", right?) Detroit looks the value to me there. (For those unfamiliar with UK style fractional odds, those odds translate to Seattle -200, Detroit +162 if I've understood that notation right.)
   86. PanRains Posted: May 18, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5675202)
By the way, I'm not sure I get the logic of only buying when the jackpot is huge. Maybe it's just me, but $40 million would change my life almost as significantly as $100 million. My rule for buying tickets is: only buy when otherwise given the opportunity. That is, I never go out of my way to by a ticket or go only to buy one. But, if I'm making a purchase in a store that sells them (rare), I buy one.


I have thought this myself for a while, despite only buying tickets when the payout is huge. Some QnD math... $40M jackpot is about $24M lump sum payout. Assume a 40 % tax rate which seems high and you get about $14M after taxes.

Heck, waste $4M right up front on stupid things/new car and house/giving your friends money/etc and invest the remaining $10M. A 3% annual return (which seems doable) is $300K a year. I am fairly comfortable as a 46 year old living in suburban Ohio (although no children and I should be focusing more on retirement) and I do not currently make CLOSE to $300K. Winning a $40 million jackpot would materially change my life.

The difference in going from $40 million to... $250 million? I can think of things to do with that extra $210 million, but I doubt my life would change more making that leap than making the leap from what I'm doing now to $40 million. For you people on the coasts it is almost certainly a different calculus (obviously for David it is :) ) but that's for me.

I think there's a fractured logic here. The lottery is over $40M frequently enough that tossing your $2 - $10 dollars away that often is notable more costly than the few times a year when it's up past $150M.


Probably what I'm failing to consider. I tend to drop $10 on it when it's big, so what is that, $100 a year, maybe more? If I spent $10 a pop no matter the jackpot (cause I don't think it makes sense to STOP when it gets high), and even though there's 200 drawings a year between Megamillions and Powerball say I only play in 100 drawings... $1K per year starts to become a significant enough chunk of change to me. Whereas that $100 is paying for daydreams, I don't know that I'd be daydreaming twice a week over the teeny possibility of winning $14M.

Whereas when the lottery gets big and people in my office want to do a pool, I always refuse. My theory is that I don't want to share money with those jerks. Half the fun of winning the lottery is having money, and the other half is people you knew not having money.


Heh. I have on occasion noted to the person at work collecting the lottery money "Make sure you choose the cash option. I don't want to be tied to you people for the next 26 years."

Weird that I don't really have work friends.



   87. RMc's Daps of the Dope Artists Posted: May 18, 2018 at 03:59 PM (#5675305)
When I saw there was a casino on a cruise ship my wife and I were on a few years ago, I decided to indulge in a little fantasy I'd had for some time: gamble once, lose, then walk away, so I could tell everybody the story for the rest of my life.

So I strolled up to the roulette wheel, bet $20 on black, and...won. So, I bet the whole $40 on red, and...won again. Frustrated, I took out my original $20 and bet the other $60 on green. It came up red. My wife laughed, and we went to dinner.

It wasn't until later I realized that I could've won something like a thousand bucks if it actually had come up green! (That would've paid for the whole cruise!)
   88. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5675406)
Let's just say that I have a friend whose neighborhood included one kid's Dad who was a bookie (the kid grew up to be.... a bookie). When we - er, guys in the neighborhood - were around 20 years old, they created The Cartel. This was a group of 7 who would choose their favorite games NFL every weekend. the preferred three would be chosen, and "they" would bet $25 per game. yes, that's close to $4 per person in 1980s dollars. a small fortune. (one guy's picks were so bad, eventually we counted the opposite team of who he picked. that steamed him.)

everyone put up $100 for the season. well, we start falling behind, and near the end of the season, the $700 kitty dwindled to almost nothing. then we - er, they - started winning. and winning. maybe 10 in a row. even some college bowl games - didn't matter, win win win. so by the time the Super Bowl looms, we are up to $1000 - so a $300 profit, or more than $40 per man.

a summit meeting of the cartel is held. how much do we risk on the Super Bowl?
$100, says one. $300, says another - that way, at worst, we break even for the year. then the one member who already had a goal of becoming a millionaire and retiring at age 40 - and achieved it, by the way - looks us, er, them, in the eyes and says, "How about we bet ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! WE BET IT ALL!"

so that's what happened. it was one of those Bengals-49ers Super Bowls. I'm in Aruba with my girlfriend on game day, indulging in rum-laced drinks. close game ...... and we lost.

it still was cool to risk ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS, and total losses were just over $40 for a season of thrills. and with that, the cartel disbanded for good.
   89. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:00 PM (#5675412)
someone mentioned that baseball is the best sport to bet on, which I found hard to believe, but this article from 538, published today, says exactly that--the casinos make the least (meaning bettors make the most as a %) on baseball. That's counterintuitive to me

1992-2017 2007-2017
Football 4.66% 4.79%
Basketball 4.83 5.40
Baseball 3.17 3.98
Other sports 5.73 6.99
Total 5.06 5.39

the numbers are the share of money bet at sportsbooks that casinos kept

the other thing that the chart shows (which was one of the points of the article) is that bettors are getting worse
   90. Howie Menckel Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:05 PM (#5675416)
I would say it shows that the casinos are getting bettor - er, better - at posting odds
   91. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5675418)
I would say it shows that the casinos are getting bettor - er, better - at posting odds

could be I suppose
   92. eric Posted: May 18, 2018 at 08:27 PM (#5675434)
it still was cool to risk ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS, and total losses were just over $40 for a season of thrills. and with that, the cartel disbanded for good.


When gambling loses can be kept within the realm of entertainment expenditures (people spend a lot more than $40 for a single night out at dinner and a movie) then it's all fine.

That story reminded me some of an apocryphal tale I somewhat recently read (maybe here for all I know):

A newlywed couple goes to Vegas. They blow all their budgeted money by the time they're dragging themselves into their hotel room that last night. While getting ready for bed, the man finds a $5 chip he didn't realize he still had and leaves it on the dresser.

He wakes up in the middle of the night to see the chip now glowing eerily in the dark. Taking it as a sign he grabs the chip and sneaks out the door and down to the roulette wheel.

"$5 on black!" he announces. Sure enough it comes up black. What now?
"$10 on black!" he announces. Black again. He shrugs and continues.
"$20 on black!" It's black.
"$40 on red!" It's red.

He wins again and again and again, until he has over $30 million. At that point the security team comes over and informs him that the casino will no longer be taking his bets. He grumbles, see's it's almost 6am, but decides he shouldn't stop now. So he crosses the street to the next casino and triumphantly puts all $30 million on red.

Black.

Now truly broke, he trudges back to his hotel room to find his new wife just awakening. She asks him where he was. He tells her he found a little money and went to gamble one last time.

"How'd you do?" She asked.

"Not bad. Lost $5."

the other thing that the chart shows (which was one of the points of the article) is that bettors are getting worse


I suspect that as sports betting gets more mainstream, there are more casual bettors, and probably more prop bets which are significantly more lucrative for the casino.
   93. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 18, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5675450)
someone mentioned that baseball is the best sport to bet on, which I found hard to believe, but this article from 538, published today, says exactly that--the casinos make the least (meaning bettors make the most as a %) on baseball. That's counterintuitive to me


And like you, I thought the same, until I read the book I touted in #74. Again, it wasn't some kind of wake up call for me to bet baseball, but it was a very interesting read on betting baseball.
   94. Hysterical & Useless Posted: May 19, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5675587)
people spend a lot more than $40 for a single night out at dinner and a movie


At least they get a meal and some actual entertainment then.
   95. ReggieThomasLives Posted: May 19, 2018 at 11:43 PM (#5675885)
If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.


The problem with decriminalization is that it still means it’s illegal. Which always means nasty people doing nasty things to customers, breaking legs on late payers, stiffing/cheating customers, and occasionally burying people in the desert.. It also keeps pricing/vig higher, making the social cost of gambling higher.
   96. SoSH U at work Posted: May 20, 2018 at 12:01 AM (#5675892)
When I saw there was a casino on a cruise ship my wife and I were on a few years ago, I decided to indulge in a little fantasy I'd had for some time: gamble once, lose, then walk away, so I could tell everybody the story for the rest of my life.

So I strolled up to the roulette wheel, bet $20 on black, and...won. So, I bet the whole $40 on red, and...won again. Frustrated, I took out my original $20 and bet the other $60 on green. It came up red. My wife laughed, and we went to dinner.


The first time I visited Vegas, I knew I had to make one bet. So I went to the table, put $20 on black. It hit, I cashed in my chips and retired undefeated.
   97. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 20, 2018 at 12:36 AM (#5675900)
people spend a lot more than $40 for a single night out at dinner and a movie

At least they get a meal and some actual entertainment then.
What is the difference between entertainment and 'actual entertainment'?
   98. Howie Menckel Posted: May 20, 2018 at 12:40 AM (#5675901)
yeah, in my story, the cartel gathered to meet on most fall Sundays, enjoyed some laughs and highs and lows, hit a thrilling hot streak, had a chance for a "big payday" - and even when it ended, the actual entertainment value for the season far exceeded the cost. it was quite a ride - even if it's telling that nobody in the cartel requested a sequel. of course, that tends to be true of many moviegoers as well.
   99. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 20, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5675954)
If sports betting were simply decriminalized but not allowed to be advertised, that would make for the best of possible worlds.

The problem with decriminalization is that it still means it’s illegal. Which always means nasty people doing nasty things to customers, breaking legs on late payers, stiffing/cheating customers, and occasionally burying people in the desert.. It also keeps pricing/vig higher, making the social cost of gambling higher.


Not necessarily. Decriminalization would bring bookmaking out of the shadows, and it wouldn't take too long for the supply of honest books to meet whatever spontaneous demand arose. World of mouth would quickly screen out the thugs and the fly-by-nighters. But what it wouldn't do without advertising would be to create massive numbers of newcomers who had even less of a clue as to what they were getting into than the ones you now see betting illegally.

I might also add that the bookie I dealt with during the brief period I dabbled in sports betting in the 70's took the same 5% cut that you see in Vegas, always paid off promptly, never tried muscle on stiffs**, and put his four kids through college on his winnings. He was as good and honest a person as I've ever known. The rough stuff was largely a factor of illegal gambling's underground nature, but it was hardly universal.

It's not easy to draw a line between stupid prohibition and sleazy promotion that creates an entire new set of degenerate gamblers, but I think that decriminalization without advertising is the best least worst of all possible worlds. I probably shouldn't have used "best" the first time around, because in this case there's no real "best" scenario.

** He didn't need to. He just refused to take their action until they'd settled up, and he put out the word to other bookies he knew.
   100. eric Posted: May 20, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5675970)
Also, I passed over the discussion the first time, but just in case people are curious about when exactly the lottery is +EV, the answer, for the big ones like Powerball and Megamillions, is pretty much never.

Looking at both lottery's web pages, the lump sum payout is less than 60% of the advertised annuitized value. Let's call it 60% for round numbers. As well, the top tier federal tax bracket is about 40%. As well, there's state taxes. But we can pretend you live in a state with no tax.

Your chances of winning the Powerball are about 1 in 292 million. For Megamillions, it's about 1 in 259 million. Let's use Megamillions one since it has the "better" odds. For Powerball, the results will be even worse.

In order for the game to just be break even, you would need to get back $259 million for every $1 wagered. Megamillions costs $2 per ticket, so you would need to get $518 million for one ticket to be break even mathematically.

But how do you get back $518 million? Well that needs to be after lump sum and after taxes. So therefore, if we call the total advertised winnings W, then W*(.6)*(.6) = $518 million. The first .6 is the 60% payout for the lump sum vs annuitized value, and the second .6 is after the 40% federal taxes are taken out. And remember, it's actually less than 60% for the annuitized value, and taxes are likely more if you live in a state with income tax.

So, solving, we get W = $1.439 Billion. And, remember, Powerball would need to meet an even higher threshold. So the advertised value would have to be around $1.5 billion in order to be break even. That happened once for Powerball.

But then there's the final catch: EVERYONE has a 1 in 259 or 292 million chance of winning. Once the jackpots get that large, you are very unlikely to be the only winner, and you will split with others. In the famous Powerball $1.5 billion jackpot example, there were three winners. So even if you do get into the (once ever) situation where it seems +EV, you still aren't +EV as there are likely so many tickets out there that you will split the pot even if you won.

So, essentially, these large lotteries are never +EV. It doesn't mean throwing a few bucks at them every now and then doesn't have some entertainment return in the form of dreaming and debating with friends/family over what you'd do with the money. But don't ever fool yourself into thinking you're making a mathematically smart play.

The other takeaway from this is that if you ever want a rough estimate of how much money you will have after the dust settles, take the advertised annuitized value and divide by three. If you live in a state w/o income tax, round up some. If you live in state with income tax, round down some. E.G., $500 million jackpot, divide by three is $166.67 million. So in a state without income tax figure $170-175 million after lump sum/taxes. If your state has income tax, figure $160 million or so.

Then you can get your entertainment value from dreaming using that number until you hit no numbers at all when the drawing actually occurs. :)



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